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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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466 Squadron Crest
30.01.1943 No. 466 Squadron Wellington X HE471 Sgt. Axby

Operation: Emden

Date: 30th January 1943 (Saturday)

Unit: No: 466 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE471

Base: RAF Leaconfield, Yorkshire.

Location: North Sea - 10 km North Terschelling

Pilot: Sgt. Leslie Frederick Axby 1335145 RAFVR Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Donald Durham NZ/413702 RNZAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Obs: Sgt. James Hay Armstrong Beath 655653 RAF Age 25. Killed - believed killed (1)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Wilfred Jackson 1379812 RAFVR Age 32. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Terrance George Watson 119462 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killedREASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 11.06 hrs for a daylight raid on Emden together with 8 other aircraft from 466 squadron. Aircraft were prepared overnight by what is described as a magnificent effort by the ground crews (O.R.B description, probably due to the freezing conditions at the airfield during this period).

One aircraft Wellington HE153 flown by F/O. Frank Mackelden (2) suffered a complete failure of the port engine and he returned to make a very skilful emergency landing at 13:37 hrs.

Weather for the take off was medium cloud, thundery showers and fresh south westerly winds and over the target area cloudy. The operation was to be at low level and hopefully to use the cloud cover. Light flak was encountered over the city but no aircraft were hit. By the lack of cloud cover for the return trip they were exposed and suffered attacks by fighters from both 3./JG1 and 12./JG1.

It is now known (Nachtjagd Combat Archives Part 1 published 2019 Theo Boiten) that Wellington HE471 was shot down at 13:31 hrs by Lt. Wolfgang Kuthe and his Bordfunker, Uffz. Helmut Bonk of 11./NJG1. Combat taking place over the North sea some 10 km. North of Terschelling.

The other Wellington HE397 was flown by Fl/Lt. Cyril John Simmonds killed with all 4 other crew members.

(1) Sgt. James Beath's body was washed ashore on the 25th February at Mano Island.

(2) F/O. Frank Mackelden was to be killed later on the 12th June 1943 when his Wellington X HE154 was lost with all 5 other crew over München Gladbach.

Left: Panels at Runnymede Memorial (Archives)

Burial details:

None (Apart from Sgt. Beath) as all classed as missing and commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Leslie Frederick Axby. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 141. Son of Joseph Richard and Ada Louise Axby and husband of Queenie Sylvia Axby, of Luton, Bedfordshire, England.

Sgt. Donald Durham. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Born on the 09th March at Waipu, the son of John William and Ruby Jane Durham (née Hill), of Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a motor driver for Dodd and Bowman of Waipu. A total of 259 hours flying hours logged and on his 3rd operational sortie.

Sgt. James Hay Armstrong Beath. Esbjery Cemetery Grave AIII.7.3. Son of Frank H. and Mary A. Beath, of Glasgow, Scotland. Husband of Jessie Andrew Beath. M.A., Hons.

Fl/Sgt. Wilfred Jackson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 154. Son of William Harold and Lillian Jane Jackson, of Gorton, Manchester and husband of Leah Jackson, of Gorton, Manchester, England

F/O. Terrance George Watson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 130. Son of Thomas Frederick and Betty Watson; husband of Audrey Pauline Watson, of Stafford, England.

Researched for Geoffrey Watson (Nephew of F/O. Watson) and for relatives/friends of the crew. With thanks to the following: Geoff Watson for the Photo and copies of 466 Squadron O.R.Bs for this period, 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', Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

KTY Updated 19.11.2019

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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