18/19.09.1942 No. 15 Squadron Stirling I R9351 LS-R P/O. Steel
Date: 18/19th September 1942 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 15 Squadron
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Bourn, Lincolnshire
Location: Great Belt, Denmark
Pilot: P/O. John Miller Steel 126588 RAFVR PoW No: 720 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria L3
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Thomas Beatty Brown 538671 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed
Nav: P/O. Jack Godfrey Newman 128436 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Roy Alan Heathcote 1382823 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stanley Greenbeck 1161457 RAFVR Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Charles Smith 1334598 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Arthur John King 1272009 RAVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off for a Gardening operation at 20:05 hrs from RAF Bourn in Lincolnshire to lay mines in the Asparagus area (Kattegat) (code names for RAF Mine laying areas see here) 115 aircraft taking part in this operation dropping mines in various areas. 5 aircraft were lost, 2 Stirlings, 2 Lancasters and 1 Wellington.
Hit from anti-aircraft fire from both Sprogø and Korsør with the Stirling hitting the water at around 00:39 hrs. The pilot was knocked unconscious during the impact but soon recovered and managed to swim to the surface where he boarded one of the aircraft’s dinghys prior to being picked up by a passing Ferry. He was then handed over to the Germans for interrogation and subsequently sent to the PoW camp as described above.
The wreck of the Stirling was located and blown away on 15 June 1990 when the bridge over Store Bælt was constructed (Courtesy: Air War Over Denmark).
Also lost from the Squadron on this operation:
Stirling I N3759 LS-Q Flown by 22 year old, P/O. James Edward Land J/85241 RCAF - missing with all his crew.
Sgt. Thomas Beatty Brown. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 79. Son of T. B. and Annie Brown, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
P/O. Jack Godfrey Newman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 71. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Roy Alan Heathcote. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 85. Son of Sydney John and Harriet Heathcote, of Enfield, Middlesex, England.
Sgt. Stanley Greenbeck. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 84. Son of James Peter and Ethel Greenbeck, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England.
Sgt. Thomas Charles Smith. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 94. Son of Thomas and Alice Victoria Smith, of Brixton, London, England.
Sgt. Edward Arthur John King. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 87. Son of Charles and Ada King, of Norbury, Surrey, England and husband of Dorothy King.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Ronald Steel (son of the pilot) for photograph of his father - June 2017. Thanks also to Julie Smith, niece of Sgt. Thomas Smith who contacted us in November 2017. Thanks to John Jones for the information regarding the aircraft Wreckage. Other sources as shown below.