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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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70 Squadron Crest
20/21.10.1944 70 Squadron Wellington X ME957 Fg.Off. Sandman

fOperation: Szombathely Airfield

Date: 20/21st October 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 70 Squadron. 231 Wing. 205 Group

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE597

Code: ?:K

Base: Tortorella - Foggia No.2

Location: Gostola, Croatia

Pilot: Fg.Off. Donald Ansley Sandman 425943 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

Nav: Fg.Off. Yves Ernest Edward Rolin 153203 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Lawrence Geoffrey Robertson 418581 RAAF Age 21. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt.Off. George Arthur Palmer 424450 RAAF Age 27. Killed

Air Gnr: Plt.Off. Norman Albert Stevens 429675 RAAF Age 27. Killed


Taking off at 18:57 hrs, some 74 aircraft taking part with 5 being lost.

The others:

34 Squadron Liberator V1 EW194 Flown by Sgt. Peter Stockley Foster - all eight crew killed.
614 Squadron Halifax II JP232 Flown by Flt.Lt. Ian Henderson Bruce - six crew killed, one taken PoW.
104 Squadron Wellington X LP501 Flown by Sgt. Normand William Flight - taken PoW with all other four crew.
37 Squadron Wellington X MF298 Flown by WO. Walter Scobie Robson - all five crew killed.

Nothing was heard since the aircraft took off. It was reported that the aircraft was shot down by a night-fighter at around midnight close to the Yugoslav border some 70km due south of the target and crashed in flames at Gosztola.The crew were initially buried there but reinterred after the war.

Burial details:

Fg.Off. Donald Ansley Sandman. Budapest War Cemetery. Collective grave III.E.1-5. Born on the 15th March 1917 at Christchurch, the son of Donald McKay Sandman and Jessie Sandman (née Ansley), of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. Prior to enlisting worked as a storekeeper. A total 652 flying hours logged and having completes 38 operational sorties.

Fg.Off. Yves Ernest Edward Rolin. Budapest War Cemetery. Collective grave III.E.1-5. Son of Baron Daniel Rolin and of Baroness Rolin (née Genevieve Thys), of New York, United States of America. Holder of the Chevalier de l'Ordre de Leopold and the Croix de Guerre (Belgium). Grave inscription reads: "The Best Of Sons, The Best Of Brothers, For Ever Loved, For Ever Regretted".

WO. Lawrence Geoffrey Robertson. Budapest War Cemetery. Collective grave III.E.1-5. Born on the 01st November 1922 at Edenhope, the son of Victor William and Flora McLean Robertson, of Edenhope, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "R.I.P. Loved Son Of Mr. And Mrs.V.W.Robertson Of Edenhope, Victoria".

Plt.Off. George Arthur Palmer. Budapest War Cemetery. Collective grave III.E.1-5. Born on the 09th February 1917 at St.Peters, the son of Ernest and Beatrice Palmer; husband of Betty Eileen Palmer, of Clovelly, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Dearly Loved And Sadly Missed By Loving Wife Betty And Son Billy".

Plt.Off. Norman Albert Stevens. Budapest War Cemetery. Collective grave III.E.1-5. Born on the 02nd January 1917 at Mount Lawley, the son of Samuel and Frances Louisa Stevens and husband of Catherine Jessie Stevens, of 23 Scaddan Street,Bassendean, Western Australia. A so remand prior to service. Grave inscription reads: "Dearly Loved Husband Of Cass. Father Of Eleanor And Roslyn".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of these crews with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

RS 23.04.2020 - Correction to aircraft serial no.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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