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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 432 (Leaside) Squadron, RCAF Halifax VII NP723 QO:D Flt Lt. Speller

Operation: Wilhelmshafen Germany

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

Unit No: 432 (Leaside) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Halifax VII

Serial: NP723

Code: QO:D

Base: RAF East Moor

Location: Jackstede, Wittmund, Germany

Pilot: Flt Lt. Donald Wesley Speller J12262 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Colin Moss 2205500 RAFVR Age? Killed

Nav: Fg Off. Thomas Francis Fisher J40190 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. George Lyon Gilbert J40032 RCAF Age 30. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. John Douglas Hogg R184796 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Keith Earl Odobas R269308 RCAF Age 19. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Gordon Thomas Cook R267712 RCAF Age 22. 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, Flt 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, Bomb Aimer Fg Off. Frank Gilmour Todd J27271 RCAF of Manitoba, Canada was killed during the attack.

On the first leg of the mission NP723 collided with 466 Sqn Halifax III MZ299 HD:H over Jackstede west of Wittmund at 20:20 hrs. The collision was probably due to Emden-based heavy Flak which reported an unknown Lancaster Abschuss near Jackstede. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (16 October 1944 - 31 December 1944) Part 5 - Theo Boiten).

The pilot of MZ299, 21 year old, Fg Off. Albert Henry Munroe 426647 RAAF of Townsville, Queensland, Australia was killed, along with all but one (PoW) of his crew.

Burial details:

Flt Lt. Donald Wesley Speller. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.8. Born on the 4th May 1923 in Galt Waterloo County, Ontario. Grave inscription: "LOVINGLY REMEMBERED. "THY FAITH DID NOT FAIL"". Son of Maj. Randall and Gertrude Lillian (née Horne) Speller. Husband to Beatrice Evelyn Hazel 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?

Fg Off. Thomas Francis Fisher. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.15. Born on the 11th August 1923 in Lindsay, Ontario. Son of Thomas and Annie Elizabeth (née Anderson) Fisher of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Fg Off. George Lyon Gilbert. Sage War Cemetery Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.7. Grave inscription: "SON, BROTHER, FRIEND, YOUR LIGHT WILL EVER SHINE IN OUR LIVES. REST IN PEACE". Born on the 3rd September 1914 in Montreal, Quebec. Son of Luis (deceased) and Beckie (née Wisnitzer) Gilbert, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Plt Off. John Douglas Hogg. Sage War Cemetery Grossenkneten Germany. Coll. Grave 3.C.4-6. Born on the 13th December 1921 in Thamesford, Ontario. Son of Harry Douglas (deceased) and Addie Jean (née Kirk) Hogg of Thamesford, Ontario, Canada.

John Douglas Hogg was 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.

He 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 Sgt. Hogg was posted to 3 Air Gunnery Training School at Three Rivers, Quebec to complete his training.

He sailed to England on March 25, 1944 and arrived on the April 3. After a brief pause at 3 Personnel Reception Centre (PRC), he was posted to 6 (Operational) Advanced Flying Unit on April 18, 1944. On May 30, he was transferred to 22 Operational Training Unit (OTU) 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 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU). Finally, on October 3, the crew was posted to 432 Squadron.

He was posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. J95086 with effect 14th October 1944

Sgt. Keith Earl Odobas. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten,Germany. Coll. Grave 3.C.4-6. Grave inscription: "AT REST". Born on the 1st March 1925 in Brantford, Ontario. Son of John and Elsie Rena (née Brown) Odobas of Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Gordon Thomas Cook. Sage War Cemetery, Grossenkneten, Germany. Grave 3.C.9. Grave inscription: "AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE REMEMBER YOU". Born on the 5th May 1922 in Hamilton, Ontario. Son of Thomas Arthur and Elizabeth (née May) Cook of Hamilton, Ontario. Husband to Helen Gertrude (née Nicholls) Cook of Taymouth, New Brunswick, 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. Update to the NoK details and confirmation of aircraft loss by Aircrew Remembered (Jun 2022).

Other source listed below:

RS 11.06.2022 - Update to narrative and NoK details

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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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