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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.
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138 Squadron Crest
27/28.04.1944 No. 138 Squadron Halifax V LL356 NF-U Fl/Sg. George H. Williamson

Operation: SOE Osric 59 (Special Operations Executive)

Date: 27/28th April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 138 Squadron

Type: Halifax V

Serial: LL356

Code: NF-U

Base: RAF Tempsford

Location: North Sea off Terschelling, Holland

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. George Herbert Williamson AUS/414741 RAAF Age 29. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Partridge Croad 1890979 RAFVR Age 19. Missing

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Herbert Dootson 1032035 RAFVR Age 33. Missing

Air/Bmr: W/O.2 Arthur John George Barnes R/157147 RCAF Age 22. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hubert Francis Benbow 1046454 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Eric Raymond Clayworth AUS/423063 RAAF Age 25. Missing

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James Ethelred Smythe R/190191 RCAF Age 21. Missing


We hope with the kind assistance of W/ Cdr. Williamson, to add further pages of remembrance to our boys from the RAAF who gave everything.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Tempsford, Gibraltar Farm in Bedfordshire at 23.10 hrs to drop much needed supplies to the Belgium resistance.

Standing L-R: Sgt. Croad, Fl/Sgt. Smythe, Sgt. Benbow, W/O. Barnes. Seated L-R: Fl/Sgt. Williamson, Fl/Sgt. Dootson, Fl/Sgt. Clayworth (courtesy W/Cdr. John Williamson)

It is thought that they were hit by flak (no nightfighter claims made for this aircraft) and that they came down off the Island of Terschelling, Holland. All the crew were missing with the exception of the pilot, Fl/Sgt. Williamson, the pilot who’s body was to wash up on the island on the 16th June 1944.

Wing Commander John Williamson RAAF (Ret) cousin of the pilot explains further:

This ‘search’ tells the story of my wife Noeleen and I, following our visit to George’s West Terschelling War Grave in 1998, searching for the family descendants of the other 6 lost crew. It was an amazing and heart-warming experience and we found them all, after 3 years! This was largely due to several kind-hearted people acting upon our letters and emails in the search. We then all met for the first time in various parts of the UK and in Ottawa, Canada. One of our commemorations was in Lowestoft, where we dedicated a public park seat to the memory of the crew, with the wonderful help of the Lowestoft District Council Officers and the RAFA Lowestoft Branch.

The Formation of the Australian Tempsford Veterans And Relatives Association (ATVARA): In close collaboration with Bob and Helen Body and TVARA in the UK, we now have since 2012, Annual Commemorations of all multi-national Air Force personnel who served and flew at RAF Tempsford during WWII – No’s 138 and 161 'Special Duties' Squadrons. (see below)

Naturally we do focus particularly upon the RAAF and RNZAF personnel and RAF such personnel who are now Australian citizens. ATVARA now has both New Zealand and Polish/Australian families involved in our activities.

These activities happen on (or as close as possible to) Bastille Day (14 July) annually, at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance. The association between France and the RAF Tempsford SD Squadrons is more than appropriate, mindful of their crucial support of the French Resistance Forces throughout the War, but especially leading up to and following D-Day.

ATVARA have our own Memorial Plaque in a prominent place within the Shrine Reserve and our own large Forecourt SD Squadrons flag that flies on each Annual Commemoration in the Shrine Forecourt. We also have a smaller banner flag (plus another which we donated to TVARA).

Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, ATVARA ‘Special Duties’ Squadrons Memorial Plaque, on the right.

The large Shrine Forecourt officially dedicated ATVARA Flag being hoisted for the first time in the world, in the Forecourt (the Shrine WWII Memorial Area) of the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance, Sunday 14 July 2013. On the right Shrine Custodians. This first flying of the SD Squadron Flag had a clear and profound impact upon those present! 


Included in this page of remembrance as support for our friends in Australia for the work they carry out to remember 'Our boys'.


Jill Wilson, niece of 425800 Fl/Lt. Reginald Ronald Witham DFC, RAAF. No 138 (SD) Sqn. KIA 27th November 1944 (1), with Veteran SD Airman of No. 138 Sqn., 429212 W/O F. A. Bowman RAAF, standing in the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance Forecourt, 14th July 2013, admiring the SD Squadron flag flying for the first time anywhere.


ATVARA’s first Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance Wreath Laying Ceremony, 14th July 2012.-R: Wg/Cdr John Williamson RAAF (Ret.); Sq/Ldr. Ron Ledingham RAAFR, Shrine Governor; 429212 W/O Fred Bowman RAAF, WoP, a No. 138 (SD) Sqn.Veteran; Mrs Betty Trotter; 415368 Flt/Lt Lloyd Trotter RAAF, P, a No. 138 (SD) Sqn. and POW Veteran. Ms. Hailey Berkhout, Shrine Officer, is holding the SD Sqn. Banner. 

Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance (Photo courtesy of Matt Smith, founder of the Australian War Graves Photographic Archive - AWGPA)

(1) 26 year old, Fl/Lt. Reginald Witham from Annerley, Queensland, Australia - killed on an SOE operation over Denmark. All the crew of 7 from his Stirling IV LK151 NF-E missing and commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. (2 crew from the RCAF, 4 from the RAFVR)

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. George Herbert Williamson. Terschelling General Cemetery. Grave 117. Son of Herbert George and Grace Elizabeth Williamson, husband of Jessie Louisa Williamson, of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. George Partridge Croad. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 227. Son of Frederick John and Grace Beatrice Croad, of Richmond, Surrey, England.

Fl/Sgt. Herbert Dootson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 217. Son of Frank and Katherine Dootson, husband of May Dootson, of Levenshulme, Lancashire, England.

W/O.2 Arthur John George Barnes. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 254. Son of Walter George and Bessie Barnes, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Sgt. Hubert Francis Benbow. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 225. Son of Martin and Edith Mary Benbow, of Caersws, Montgomeryshire, Wales.

Fl/Sgt. Eric Raymond Clayworth. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 260. Son of John Harold and Amelia Ethel Clayworth, husband of Pearl Clayworth, of Willoughby, New South Wales, Australia.

Fl/Sgt. James Ethelred Smythe. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 255. Son of Harold Hastings Smythe and Jessie Maud Smythe, of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada.

For further details our thanks to the following, W/Cdr. John Williamson RAAF (Ret) - cousin of the pilot. The ATVARA. Bob Body of the Tempsford Special Duties Squadrons. Michel Beckers for grave photograph. AWGPA, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page. 'Runnymede Memorial Database'.

Aircrew Remembered visited the park placing a poppy and card on the bench in November 2014

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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), 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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