13.10.1942 No. 156 Squadron Wellington III BJ775 Fl/Sgt. Jack Taylor
Date: 13th October 1942
Unit: RAF No. 156 Squadron
Type: Wellington III
Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire
Location: North Sea
Pilot:Fl/Sgt. Jack Taylor 656277 RAF Age 22. Killed
Nav:Fl/Lt. Gordon Arthur Kidder Mentioned in Dispatches (MiD). J/10177 RCAF Age 29. Prisoner of War (PoW) No. 42822 (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. E.E. MacDonald R/65412 RCAF Age ? PoW No. 837
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Wesley Lott R/99690 RCAF Age 25. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Donald Willard Congdon R/88022 RCAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS
On this night 156 Squadron contributed eight aircraft as part of a force of 288 bombers targeting the German naval base at Kiel.
As a strategic sea port and shipbuilding centre, it was heavily defended by flak and searchlight batteries. Over the target BJ775 was coned by search-lights and hit by several burst of flak.
Turning for home the damaged aircraft soon lost altitude and crashed into the North Sea off of the German coast. The next day the two survivors of the crash and the bodies of the three dead crew members were recovered by a German naval vessel.
Sgt. MacDonald was imprisoned at Stalag Luft 6 at Heydekrug for the duration of the war.
After spending sometime in hospital recovering from injuries suffered in the crash, Fl/Lt. Kidder was sent to Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan.
In the early morning hours of March 25, 1944, Fl/Lt. Kidder was among 76 airmen making a mass escape. The original plan called for an escape of more than 200 men in what was to become known as ‘The Great Escape’.
Fl/Lt. Gordon Arthur Kidder MiD. (Courtesy Canadian Museum of Civilisation Corporation CMCC)
The plan was foiled when a prisoner was spotted leaving the exit of the tunnel which, by miscalculation, had come up some distance short of the woods outside the camp perimeter.
Fl/Lt. Kidder and his escape partner Sq/Ldr. Thomas Kirby-Green were among the 76 who did get away (The 20th and 21st out of the tunnel). At the nearby Sagan railway station they managed to board a train with the intention of getting to Yugoslavia and meet up with the resistance movement.
The pair got as far as Czechoslovakia before they were recaptured near the town of Zlin.
As a reprisal Hitler ordered that 50 of the escapers were to be rounded up, handed over to the Gestapo and murdered.
On March 29th Kidder and Green were taken to a remote location near Mahrisch Ostrau (now Ostrava in the Czech Republic) where they were shot and their bodies cremated.
Fl/Lt. Kidder was an honour student in high school and won a scholarship in modern languages at the University of Toronto where he completed his BA degree prior to enlisting in the RCAF in 1941.
The escape committee at the camp compiled a list of the men who they felt had the best chance to evade recapture. Kidder’s language background and thorough knowledge of German made him an ideal candidate.
F/L Kidder was a 1942 graduate of No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School at Jarvis, Ontario participating in his ninth sortie when he was shot down.
(1) Kidder Lake in North West Territories is named after Fl/Lt. Kidder.
Fl/Sgt. William Wesley Lott, Becklingen War Cemetery
Fl/Lt. Gordon Arthur Kidder MiD, Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery
Fl/Sgt. Jack Taylor. Runnymede Memorial Panel 76. Son of John and Cordelia Taylor, of Brynteg, Denbighshire, Wales.
Fl/Lt. Gordon Arthur Kidder M.i.D. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery Grave 8 D 5. Son of Arthur G. Kidder and Ethel M. Kidder, of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. William Wesley Lott. Becklingen War Cemetery Grave Ref. 27 B 10. Son of Richard and Alda F. Gallagher, of London, Ontario, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Donald Willard Congdon. Sage War Cemetery Grave 13 C 3. Son of James Dynham Congdon and Elizabeth Congdon, of Great Village, Colchester Co., Nova Scotia, Canada
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. Acknowledgments: Canadian Virtual War Memorial VAC, Canadian Museum of Civilisation Corporation CMCC., 156 Squadron website.