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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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75 Squadron Crest
04/05.11.1943 No. 75 Squadron Stirling III EE897 AA-G F/O. N.C.B. Wilson

Operation: Gardening

Date: 04/05th November 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron (New Zealand)

Type: Stirling III

Serial: EE897 (1)

Code: AA-G

Base: RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire

Location: Skagerrak, North West Skagen, Denmark.

Pilot: F/O. Norman Clarence Bruce Wilson NZ/417139 RNZAF Age 23. Missing

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Raymond Walter John Stratton 1166593 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

Nav: F/O. Tom Lodge NZ/417284 RNZAF Age 34. Missing

Air/Bmr: F/O. Alfred Thomas Dance NZ/42495 RNZAF Age 25. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Charlton 644136 RAF Age 22. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leonard Charles Gaskins 1392668 RAFVR Age 21. Missing

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arnold Goodrick Fawcett NZ/422698 RNZAF Age 31. Missing

Aircrew Remembered visited the Runnymede Memorial again in September 2014. A note had been placed by one of the panels by a relative of a crew member. They would like contact with any relatives of the crew - please contact us in the first instance.

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 15.57 hrs to lay mines in the ’Silverthorne’ area - 36 aircraft taking part in ‘Gardening’ operations on this night. Operating from as far south as Lorient in France to the Kattegat area off Denmark. The 16 Wellingtons concentrated on the French coast, whilst the 20 Stirlings headed for the Kattegat area.

Understood to be the crew - we await a better quality photograph (courtesy Simon Jocelyn)

Four aircraft were lost during the night, three from 75 Squadron, the others:
Stirling III BK778 AA-U Flown by 21 year old P/O. William S. Masters NZ/421077 RNZAF from Auckland, New Zealand. Killed with all 6 other crew.
Stirling III BF461 AA-B P/O. G.K. Williams RNZAF PoW with 4 other crew, 1 evading capture, 1 killed. During the encounter it is known that the gunners of this Stirling hit the Night fighter with the pilot being shot through the thigh. Lt. Rechberger managed to nurse his Ju88C-6 D5+AX back to his base at Grove airfield. He was hospitalised and is thought to have never taken part in operations again during the war.
Another 75 Squadron Stirling III EJ108 was also attacked, but despite serious damage the pilot, F/O. E.F. Whiting RNZAF managed to return to RAF Mepal. Sadly, the rear gunner, 28 year old Fl/Sgt. Walter Hurdle NZ/421279 from Wellington, New Zealand was found to have been killed during the attack. (This aircraft was lost on the 18th April 1944 during a take off accident whilst with 1657 HCU (3) - piloted by 21 year old, Fl/Lt. Hugh C. Wilkie DFC NZ/415397 RNZAF From Wellington, New Zealand - details listed on another page of remembrance)
199 Squadron Stirling III EF453 EX-F Flown by 26 year old P/O. Donald F. Moore AUS/412627 RAAF from New South Wales, Australia. Missing with all 6 other crew.

Above: Obllt. Hans-Hermann Müller of 11./NJG3 (courtesy Tom Kracker)

It is understood from our research that Stirling EE897 was a ‘probable’ abschüsse of Obllt. Hans-Hermann Müller of 11./NJG3 at 20.02 hrs at the location detailed. Combat took place at 1.500 metres. See Kracker Archive on this site

All 4 aircraft lost were confirmed victims of Luftwaffe night fighters, none from flak or other causes.

(1) EE897 was delivered to 75 Squadron on the 29th June 1943 from Short and Harland under contract number 774677/38
(2) This was the 10th confirmed claim for the Luftwaffe nightfighter ace, Obllt. Hans-Hermann Müller. He survived the war with a total of 11 night abshcüsse, a further 5 during day operations. It is understood that as at January 2014 he was still living in Germany.
(3) HCU - Heavy Conversion Unit

Burial details:

F/O. Norman Clarence Bruce Wilson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 198. Son of Walter Bruce Wilson and Amy Margaret Wilson, of Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand. He flew a total of 560 hours, this final operation was his 13th.

Sgt. Raymond Walter John Stratton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 166. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Right and below: Runnymede Memorial, September 2014

F/O. Tom Lodge. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 197. Son of Tom Lodge and of Rosaline Maude Lodge (née Wren), husband of Jean Caroline Lodge, of Rotorua, Auckland, New Zealand. He flew a total of 369 hours, this final operation was also his 13th.

F/O. Alfred Thomas Dance. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 197. Son of Albert William and Elizabeth Dance, of Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand. He flew a total of 398 hours, this final operation was his 17th.

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Charlton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 135. Son of John William and Lydia Ellen Charlton, of Billingham, Co. Durham, England.

Sgt. Leonard Charles Gaskins. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 150. Son of Charles Fredric John Gaskins, and of Mabel Gaskins, of Hilborough, Norfolk, England. He was engaged to be married. His fiancé later married an RAF Sgt. Manning who visited with Sgt. Gaskins’ mother until her passing in 1961.

Fl/Sgt. Arnold Goodrick Fawcett. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 198. Son of George Fawcett and of Annie Fawcett (née Goodrick), of Stratford, Taranaki, New Zealand. He flew a total of 204 hours, this final operation was his 7th.

For further details our thanks to the following, Simon Jocelyn - relative of Sgt. Raymond Stratton, also to Alan Manning for additional family details for Sgt. Gaskins, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Errol Martyn - For Your Tomorrow Vol’s 1-3, 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. 'Runnymede Memorial Database', 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.

We also recommend that relatives visit the 75 Squadron blog, where they have further information on operations flown. Also the official 75 Squadron website.

RS 20.06.2019 - Update with additional NoK details for Sgt. Gaskins

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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Last Modified: 20 June 2019, 09:02

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