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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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432 Squadron Crest
15/16.10.1944 No. 432 Squadron Halifax VII NP723 QO-D Fl/Lt. Speller

Operation: Wilhelmshafen Germany

Date: 15/16th October 1944 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 432 Squadron

Type: Halifax MkVII

Serial: NP723

Code: QO-D

Base: RAF East Moor

Location: Jackstede, Wittmund, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Donald Wesley Speller J/12262 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Colin Moss 2205500 RAFVR Killed

Nav: F/O. Thomas Francis Fisher J/40190 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. George Lyon Gilbert J/40032 RCAF Age 30. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. John Douglas Hogg J/95086 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gordon Thomas Cook R/267712 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Keith Earl Odobas R/269308 RCAF Age 19. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF East Moor at 17:30 hrs to take part in the last of 14 Bomber Command raids on Wilhelmshafen - 506 aircraft taking part from which the Command reported severe damage to both business and residential areas. Reports later retrieved show that just 30 people were killed on the ground and only severe damage was to the Rathaus, which was totally destroyed. This important Naval town despite some 26 similar operations suffered just 510 civilians, 24 service personnel, with 30 foreign workers killed during the whole of WW2!

The pilot, Fl/Lt. Donald Wesley Speller survived a crash just days earlier on the 12th October when Halifax VII NP738 QO-J crashed during approach to RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk after being hit by flak over the target of Wanne-Eikel. All but one of the crew survived, 24 year old, Air Bomber F/O. Frank Gilmour Todd J/27271 RCAF of Manitoba, Canada was killed during the attack.


It is thought that Halifax NP723 was “probably” lost due to a mid-air collision with a 466 Squadron Halifax III MZ299 HD-H over Jackstede west of Wittmund at 20:20 hrs. The pilot of that aircraft, 21 year old, F/O. Albert Henry Munroe AUS/426647 RAAF of Townsville, Queensland, Australia was killed - along with all but one (PoW) of his crew killed.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Donald Wesley Speller. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.8. Son of Maj. Randall, Speller and Gertrude Lilian Speller, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Colin Moss. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.11. No further details - are you able to assist?

F/O. Thomas Francis Fisher. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.15. Believed to be from Toronto, Canada - no further details - are you able to assist?

F/O. George Lyon Gilbert. Sage War Cemetery Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.7. Son of Louis T. and Beck W. Gilbert, of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada.

P/O. John Douglas Hogg. Sage War Cemetery Grossenkneten Germany. Coll. Grave 3.C.4-6. Son of Harry D. Hogg and Addie Jean Kirk of Thamesford, Ontario, Canada. Further information: Educated at Thamesford Public School 1928-34 and the Thamesford Continuation School 1934-1939, he completed Grade 13 at Sir Adam Beck School in London. After leaving school, he was employed as a blueprint chaser for the Charles Morrow factory in Ingersoll, a trucker for Massey Harris Limited of Toronto and a tool chaser at John Inglis and Company in Toronto.

Douglas Hogg enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in London on August 11, 1942. He completed recruit training at 1 Manning Depot in Toronto and on October 24, 1942 went to 14 Service Flying Training School. He was posted to 4 Wireless School in Guelph on December 28, 1942 for training as a radio operator. On August 7, 1943 he was transferred to 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario and on September 27 he went to 4 Air Observers School at London, Ontario.

On February 26, 1944 Sergeant Hogg was posted to 3 Air Gunnery Training School at Three Rivers, Quebec to complete his training.

Hogg sailed to England on March 25, 1944 and arrived there April 3. After a brief pause at 3 Personnel Reception Centre, he was posted to 6 (Operational) Advanced Flying Unit on April 18, 1944. On May 30, he was transferred to 22 Operational Training Unit where he was placed in an operational crew. On completion of training at 22 Operational Training Unit, Sergeant Hogg and crew were then trained on the Halifax bomber from September 4 to October 3 at 1664 Conversion Unit. Finally, on October 3, the crew was posted to 432 Squadron. On October 14, Sergeant Hogg was promoted to Pilot Officer although it would appear that the promotion was approved retroactively and that Hogg knew nothing about it.

Sgt. Gordon Thomas Cook. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.9. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Cook, husband of Helen G. Cook, of Taymouth, York Co., New Brunswick, Canada.

Sgt. Keith Earl Odobas. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten,Germany. Coll. Grave 3.C.4-6. Son of John and Ellsa Rina Brown Odobas, of Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

With thanks to Michel Beckers who researched this page for Aircrew Remembered - October 2016. Further thanks to Paul Harding, James Sander for photographs - others from the Michel Beckers collection.

MB - 15.10.2016

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 15 October 2016, 09:36