458 Squadron Wellington XIII HZ594 F/O. Gerald Louis Barker
Operation: Shipping Reconnaissance
Date: 21/22nd July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 458 Squadron (RAAF) (motto: 'We find and destroy').1 Group
Type: Wellington XIII
Base: Protville, Tunisia (1)
Location: Tyrenanean Sea
Pilot: F/O. Gerald Louis Barker J/20378 RCAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed
Pilot: Sgt. Frederick Charles Kingston 1384540 RAFVR Age? Killed
Obs: Fl/Sgr. Ivan Kippenberger NZ/413429 RNZAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Herbert Johnson 1333888 RAFVR Age? Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Lawrence Sidney Hill 1332496 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Wilkinson 1239994 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Protville at 21:30hrs to carry out an armed recce west of Sardinia and from Corsica to Toulon, coastwise to Spezia and returning west of Corsica and Sardinia. At 0135 hours a sighting report was broadcast and acknowledged by ‘R’. At 0320 hours the aircraft sent out a message to base ‘request instructions’ and it was directed to return to base. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft and it did not return to base.
In 1946 and 1947 the RAF Missing Research and Enquiry Unit interviewed locals who stated that in the early hours of 22nd July 1943 they saw an aircraft flying very low just out to sea off Bastia. A group of Italian ships outside the harbour and a number of shore-based flak units opened fire and shot down the aircraft.
They also reported that the Italians took three dead and 3 seriously injured aircrew from the aircraft and that the three dead were taken to either Piobino or Livorno. Italian records have not been available but it is a strong local story. The cemetery custodian informed the MREU that the name of the third body was that of Sgt. Ronald Wilkinson but they found that nothing was found in the exhumed grave 1.A.8.
(1) Protville Airfield: 25 km north-northwest of Tunis. Built by United States Army engineers in 1943 during the Tunisian Campaign.
Above: Pilots course 18b, No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School, RNZAF Harewood. 30th July 1941.
L-R: Rear; Williams, J Brown, Hancox, Milliken, Gerard, Stewart, Rhoades, Mygind, J Smith, Burns.
Third Row; Lamason, Bennett, A Scott, Harris, Eathorne, Webb, Riley, PL Singer, Muir, Korte, Kierman, Kidd, Peryman, Shattky. Second Row; Nicholson, Patrick, F Smith, TR Palmer, Hyde, Ashworth, Lister, Dockery, Trigg, Pye, Sebire, Juson, Clark, Moore, Pitts, Regan, Cronin.
Front; Gamlin, WJB Scott, Millar, CN Palmer, Lindup, McLean, A Singer, G Brown, Nicholls, Dyer, Kippenberger, Marshall, Houlton, Pocock. (Courtesy Air Force Museum of New Zealand)
F/O. Gerald Louis Barker. Malta Memorial. Panel 10, Column 1. Worked for Hudson Bay Mining in Manitoba prior to enlisting.
Trained with No. 7 Operational Training Unit. Son of Henry E and Mary Barker of 511 Gertrude Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and husband of Shirley O. Barker of Niagara Falls, New York State, USA.
Barker Lake northeast of Waterloo Lake, Manitoba was named after F/O. Gerald Louis Barker in 1969.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Kingston. Biguglia War Cemetery. Grave 1.A.7. No further details - are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Ivan Kippenberger. Malta Memorial. Panel 12, Column 2. Also remembered on parents grave at Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne. Born on the 27th July 1922 at Gisborne. Worked as a machinist for Gisborne Publishing Ltd prior to service. Enlisted as a pilot under training on the 14th of June 1941. Started training with No 3 Elementary Training School on the 27th July 1941. Pilot training terminated on the 15th August 1941 and re-mustered as navigator on the 05th October 1941.
Embarked for Canada on the 17th November 1941. Navigator badge awarded on the 25th April 1942 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for England on the 20th of July 1942. Further training with No. 5 Operational Training Unit. On 28th May 1943 training on the Wellington with 303 Flying Training Unit. Crewed a Wellington to Tunisia via Morroco and Algiers - 23-30th June 1943 and joined 458 Squadron.
Son of Maurice Philip (died 1964, age 78) and Selina Lena May Kippenberger (Inée Warren - died 23rd January 1942, age 54), of Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand.
Sgt. Leslie Herbert Johnson. Malta Memorial. Panel 8, Column 2. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Lawrence Sidney Hill. Malta Memorial. Panel 8, Column 2. Son of Joseph James Hill and Miriam Elizabeth Hill, of Carshalton, Surrey, England.
Sgt. Ronald Wilkinson
. Biguglia War Cemetery. Grave 1.A.9. Also remembered on the family grave at Liversedge Cemetery, Yorkshire. Son of Harold and Penelope Wilkinson (died 30th June 1961), of Liversedge, Yorkshire, England. Gave inscription on his grave at Biguglia: 'In Loving Memory Of A Beloved Only Son. Mother And Dad'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Australian War Memorial, Paul Mcguiness RAAF Archives, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand (AWNS19431013-20-38: 13 October 1943), Air Force Museum of New Zealand, 458 Squadron, other sources as quoted below: