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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.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database

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627 Squadron Crest
08/09.06.1944 627 Squadron Mosquito IV DZ353 AZ:B Flt.Lt. Harry Steere DFC, DFM

Operation: Rennes, France (Railways)

Date: 8/9th June 1944

Unit: 627 Squadron

Type: Mosquito FB.IV

Serial: DZ353

Code: AZ:B

Base: RAF Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire

Location: St. Erblon, South of Rennes, France

Pilot: Flt.Lt. Harry Steere DFM, DFC. 46016 RAF Age 30. Killed

Nav: Fg.Off. ‘Windy’ Kenneth William Gale DFC. 404241 RAAF Age 24. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Yorkshire, England. C. 1942-02. Group portrait of the crew of Wellington aircraft 'N for Nuts' of 458 Sqn RAAF at RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor. (Courtesy of Australian War Memorial)

Left to right: WOp: Sgt. Cedric Charles Chambers, DFM, 1359874, RAFVR (Survived the war); Obs: Plt.Off. Keith Swift Campbell, DFC 404371, RAAF (Survived the war); 2nd.Pilot: Sgt. Neil Gordon Stewart DFM, 400497, RAAF; Pilot: Plt.Off. Kay Moore, DFC 400595, RAAF; Obs: Flt.Sgt. Kenneth William Gale, 404241, RAAF; Air Gnr: Sgt. Sidney Bruce Gray-Buchanan, 404376, RAAF (Survived the war).


Sgt. Cedric Charles Chambers, DFM, 359874
DFM awarded awarded whilst with 148 Sqn, Gazetted 16th February 1943

Plt.Off. Keith Swift Campbell DFC 404371
DFC awarded whilst with 148 Sqn, gazetted 16th February 1943: Citation reads: "As a navigation officer, Flying Officer CAMPBELL, has always set an extremely high standard, his astro-navigational operating in adverse weather being a fine example of technical skill. He has always shown a marked initiative in methods of attack, resulting in many successes. On two occasions he has obtained exceptionally fine photographs of Tobruk Harbour. By his cheerful disposition this officer has been a great inspiration to his crew."

Sgt. Sidney Bruce Gray-Buchanan DFM 404376
DFM awarded whilst with 148 Sqn, gazetted on 16th February 1943. Citation reads: "Flight Sergeant Gray-Buchanan has distinguished himself by his coolness and determination. On two occasions the aircraft in which he was flying as rear gunner was attacked by enemy fighters. He obtained hits on the attacking Junkers 88 despite the fact that his own aircraft had been struck by the enemy’ fire and bullets through his flying clothing. Throughout his operational career, which includes a number of sorties against targets in Europe while serving in England, he has maintained a high standard of efficiency."

Took off at 23:47 hrs from Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire to attack railways to prevent German troop reinforcements reaching Normandy. The first "Tallboy" (12,000lb bomb) was used on this night by 617 squadron. Classed as successful raid with, out of a total of 483 aircraft used on this and other railways, only 4 were lost (3 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito).

DZ353 being the only Mosquito lost on this raid. A transmission received by another aircraft was that they had been hit and that they were on fire. The aircraft Crashed between Orgeres (Iiie-et-Vilaine) and St-Erbion, two villiages roughly 7 km and 8 km respectively south of Rennes.

Flt.Lt. Harry Steere was a former Battle of Britain fighter pilot flying Spitfires with 19 Squadron and was awarded his DFM (June 1940) for his claims during 1940 (6 with a further 5 shared destroyed, a further claim unconfirmed as destroyed, with two other probables). Prior to joining 627 Squadron both had served with 139 Squadron.


Burial Details:


Flt.Lt. Harry Steere DFC. DFM. St. Erblon Communal Cemetery. Grave. 1. Inscription reads: “A BELOVED HUSBAND OF JOAN AND FATHER TO ROBIN. HE DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE”. Son of Ernest and Bessie Steere, of Wallasey, Cheshire, husband of Joan Margaret Steere, of Wallasey, England.

Flt.Lt. Steere was awarded the DFM whilst with 19 Sqn, gazetted 25th June 1940. Citation reads "564959 Flight Sergeant Harry STEERE. Flight Sergeant Steere has destroyed three enemy aircraft and has assisted in the destruction of three others. He has displayed considerable coolness and gallantry in the face of the enemy, and has at all times set an example to his fellow pilots by his devotion to duty."

Flt.Lt. Steere was awarded the DFC awarded whilst with 627 Sqn, gazetted 23rd June 1944. Citation Reads: "Recently, this officer piloted an aircraft detailed to - attack gun emplacements sited on the French coast. In spite of continuous heavy anti-aircraft fire, Flight Lieutenant Steere spent much time over the target area in order to identify accurately the precise target. Finally, his aircraft was struck by a shell which severely damaged the starboard elevator, forcing the aircraft into an uncontrollable climb. Displaying great coolness, Flight Lieutenant Steere promptly transmitted clear instructions to his deputy to assume control of the operation. He afterwards succeeded in regaining a measure of control and flew the damaged aircraft back to this country. He displayed a high degree of skill, courage and devotion to duty. This officer has completed a large number of varied sorties."

Fg.Off. Kenneth William Gale DFC. St. Erblon Communal Cemetery. Grave. 2. Born 12th April 1920.Inscription reads: WITH LOVING REMEMBRANCE”. Son of William James Gale and Margaret Frances Gale, of Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. Also of Coronation Drive Milton, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. A clerk prior to service.

Fg.Off. Gale was awarded the DFC whilst with 627 Sqn, gazetted 21st April 1944. Citation reads:" Accomplished numerous operations the majority of which have been established in the Middle East and the remainder in Great Britain. The aircraft in which he was navigator has on several occasions been damaged by the enemy and has subsequently been forced to make crash landings, but these incidents have not arrested this officer's determination to bring every operational flight to a successful conclusion."

Researched by Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Updated by Aircrew Remembered (Aug 2015). Updated by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2020).

RS 05.12.2020 - Consolidation of narrative with updated information.

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', 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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