23/24.04.1942 No. 77 Squadron Whitley V Z9363 KN-H Sgt. Bryan Whitham
Date: 23/24th April 1942 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 77 Squadron
Type: Whitley V
Base: RAF. Leeming, Yorkshire
Location: Grevenkrug, Germany
Pilot: Sgt. Bryan Whitham 1175416 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
Obs: Fl/Sgt. Allan Wilson Johnson AUS/400118 RAAF Age 31. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Whitaker 1105947 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Wilde 1051977 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Leeming to join 160 other aircraft to bomb the medieval port city of Rostock.
Whitley Z9363 was hit by flak and crashed at 01:11 hrs. at Grevenkrug, 4km N.N.W. of Bordesholm, 12km N.N.E. of Neumunster.
This was the first in a series of 4 incendiary raids on this city on consecutive which resulted in its almost total destruction.
Wireless operator / air gunner for Whitley Z9363 Sgt. Arthur Whitaker
Reports after the series of operations list: 1,765 building totally destroyed, 513 suffering severe damage with 204 people on the ground killed. This casualty figure would have been far higher if the local population had not fled the city after the first raids. This was the first time that the Germans used the words "Terrorangriff" (terror raid) and Goebbels wrote in his diaries that "community life in Rostock is practically at an end!"
Originally buried in a communal grave at Bordesholm, the crew were reinterred, then individually buried in Hamburg Cemetery at Ohlsdorf after war end.
Sgt. Bryan Whitham. Hamburg Cemetery. Grave 10A.L.6. Son of Fred and Jessie Whitham of Brooklands, Cheshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Allan Wilson Johnson. Hamburg Cemetery. Grave 10A.L.7. Son of James David and Normana Johnson of Derrinallum, Victoria, Australia. Born at Terang, Victoria, on the 3rd of May 1910,he enlisted at Melbourne on the 27th of May 1940. Fl/Sgt. Johnson was a Presbyterian Minister in Derrinallum and is remembered on the Derrinallum war memorial (shown left)
Sgt. Arthur Whitaker. Hamburg Cemetery. Grave 10A.L.8. Son of Fred Harrison a baker and confectioner, of Guisley, Yorkshire, England and Martha Alice (Staveley) Whitaker. Arthur had five siblings, Fred, Elsie, Harry, Mary and Edwin. In letters from the Air Ministry to the family, it would appear that they had no information till the beginning of 1948 as to where Arthur was buried. An earlier letter of the 8th of November 1946 was never received.
Sgt. Reginald Wilde. Hamburg Cemetery. Grave 10A.L.9. Son of Herbert and Mary Wilde of Birkenhead, England.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom and dedicated to Joyce Armitage and all the relatives of this crew. Special thanks to Joyce Armitage, niece of Sergeant Whitaker for the photo and family information. Also to Mr. Graeme Saunders for the photo of the Derrinallum War memorial plaque.