13.01.1945 486 Squadron Tempest EJ577 SA:F Sqn Ldr. Umbers DFC
Operation: Air cover
Date: 13th January 1945 (Saturday)
Unit: 486 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force
Type: Tempest V
Base: ALG B80 (Volkel)
Location: Near Euskirchen, Germany
Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Arthur Ernest Umbers DFC and Bar. 404003 RNZAF Age 25. Safe (1)
V1 Diver victories - 28; Aerial victories - 4+1 shared; Ground victories - 1+1 shared; Probable - 2+1 shared.
REASON FOR LOSS:
A disastrous operation for 486 Squadron.
Requested to provide air cover support for United States 1st Army during the Ardennes offensive. On arrival at 14:00 hrs they came under light anti-aircraft fire from the US forces. Sqn Ldr. Umbers was hit and forced to crash land within the American lines but escaped injury.
Fg Off. Kalka (2) was also hit and his Tempest EJ606 SA:E caught fire, he baled out and despite further shots being fired at him he also survived.
Flt Lt. Appleton also hit by the friendly anti-aircraft fire, Tempest EJ752 SA:H crash landed after hit within the American lines. He suffered severe injuries to his neck and face and after treatment at American hospitals posted home to New Zealand to recover.
(1) Sqn Ldr. Arthur Ernest 'Spike' Umbers DFC and Bar was shot down in Tempest V NV715, and killed on the 14th February 1945 during an attack on barges near Meppen.
(2) Fg Off. William Arthur Kalka was also shot down and killed on the 25th March 1945. Drowned after baling out from his Tempest NV981.
All pilots survived this operation, later:
Sqn Ldr. Arthur Ernest 'Spike' Umbers DFC and Bar. Munster Heath War Cemetery. Grave 1.D.21. Born on the 30th June 1919, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Arthur Umbers, of Abbotsford, Otago, New Zealand and husband of Pamela Marie Umbers, of Lyall Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, one daughter, Jennifer Ann, born on the 13th April 1945.
DFC gazetted on the 3rd September 1943. Citation reads: 'This officer has taken part in a very large number of varied operations. In operations against shipping he has always pressed home his attacks with great vigour and has obtained several hits. In air combat, Flight Lieutenant Umbers has displayed great keenness and determination, setting a fine example. He has shared in the destruction of an enemy bomber'.
Bar to DFC gazetted on the 21st July 1944. Citation reads :’This officer has led his flight on very many sorties during which military transport, railway communications, ammunition dumps and other targets on the ground have been attacked with excellent results; on one occasion 8 locomotives were destroyed. By his great skill and unbeatable determination, Flight Lieutenant Umbers has played a worthy part in the successes achieved. He is a most inspiring leader’.
Fg Off. William Arthur Kalka. Uden War Cemetery. Grave 6.F.8. Son of Richard John Kalka, and of Annie Kalka (née Boggs), of Grey Lynn, Auckland City, New Zealand. 642 flying hours logged and on his 186th operational sortie.
Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) (Aug 2017) and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks Errol Martyn and his research into New Zealand aircrew lost. Also to Auckland Cenotaph and Weekly News of New Zealand. Update to Sqn Ldr. awards by Aircrew Remembered (Feb 2022).
Other sources as quoted below: