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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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166 Squadron Crest
15/16.08.1943 No. 166 Squadron Wellington X HF596 AS-A Fl/Sgt. Albert P. Bates

Operation: Gardening

Date: 15/16th August 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 166 Squadron

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HF596

Code: AS-A

Base: RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire

Location: North Sea - 80 Kms. North West Vlieland

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Albert Peter Bates 1066641 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Nav: F/O. Robert Philpot Swallow J/14504 RCAF Age 23. Missing

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ronald Carlon 1515883 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Bromby 1451959 RAFVR Age 21. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gordon William Davidson Dean 1314707 RAFVR Age 20. Missing


HF596 left RAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire at 20.49 on this night of August taking part in a Gardening Mission (1) around the Nectarine region of the Frisian Islands. 


Some of the Wellington HF596 crew. L-R: Sgt. Carlon, F/O. Swallow, Fl/Sgt. Bates, Unknown, Sgt. Bromby and Sgt. Dean in front. (courtesy Margaret Simpson)


Above: Pilot of HF596, Fl/Sgt. Albert Bates and Bf110 pilot, Lt. Heinz Grimm (courtesy Margaret Simpson and Tom Kracker)


At 00.36 hrs on Monday 16th August they were intercepted and shot down by Lt. Heinz Grimm (2) of 12./NJGI, flying Bf11OG-4 5346 G9 +CE. The combat took place at very low level of 80 metres resulting in the Wellington crashing into the North Sea 80 kilometres north west of Vlieland.

A total of 63 aircraft were mine laying this night - 3 failing to return. The others:

Stirling III EE891 AA-Q from 75 squadron flown by Fl/Sgt. Neville Bruce Whitta, age just 20, from New Zealand, was killed along with all his 6 other crew members.
Wellington X HE768 BH-N from 300 squadron (Polish) flown by Fl/Sgt. Maksymilian Rech from Poland was taken pow along with another crew member Fl/Sgt. Czeslaw Poddany. They survived some eight days adrift before being rescued by the Germans. The 3 other crew members were all killed.
(1) For map of Gardening operation and code names download low resolution copy. (Higher resolution to use on your website / research, available free on request)
(2) Lt. Heinz Grimm already a multi ace at this time with 20 kills, was later mistakenly shot down by German flak over Bremen on 8/9th October 1943. Lt. Grimm escaped by parachute, but died on the 13th October 1943 from severe burns, aged 23. Buried in Bergen op Zoom War cemetery. He gained a total of 25 night kills and a further 1 daylight claim.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Albert Peter Bates. Runnymede Memorial Panel 134. Further information: Son of Albert Peter and Gertrude Bates and brother of Margaret and Walter Bates of Blackpool, Lancashire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Bates was the second eldest of seven children and an accomplished pianist, also excelled at languages and prior to volunteering for the R.A.F. at the start of the war, served in the Grenadier Guards. However, he had a strong desire to become a pilot and his parents had to reimburse the Guards quite a sum of money in order for him to join. 

Left and below: Runnymede Memorial (archives)

Albert, known as “Bert”, earned his wings in Southern Rhodesia. While returning home to the U.K., both of the transport boats were torpedoed and he was fortunate to be rescued from the sea. He declined a commission in the RAF for financial reasons as he thought that he would be more able to make an allotment home as enlisted, due to the extra expense of being an officer. He was promoted to W/O. but had not put on the rank at the time of his death. 

His death had a devastating impact on his parents and family. They lived in hope that he would return home but his elder brother, Walter, an Air Gunner in 630 Squadron visited the base at Kirmington, where returning crews confirmed that they had seen the Wellington go down in flames, a fact that he kept to himself rather than cause his parents more pain. Albert would have celebrated his 23rd birthday in November 1943.

F/O. Robert Philpot Swallow. Runnymede Memorial Panel 175. Son of Herbert and Mary Ann Swallow of Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Ronald Carlon. Runnymede Memorial Panel 144. Son of Mr and Mrs T Carlon of Northwich, Cheshire, England.

Sgt. Arthur Bromby. Runnymede Memorial Panel 143. Son of Mr and Mrs T Bromby of Wawne, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Gordon William Davidson Dean. Runnymede Memorial Panel 147. Son of William Davidson and Dorothy Mavis Dean of Four Marks, Hampshire, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Margaret Simpson (Nee Bates), sister, for photographs and information, also to Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2',  Tom Kracker for further information on  Lt. Heinz Grimm via his data base "Kracker Luftwaffe Archives", Les Allison and Harry Hayward - "They Shall Grow Not Old", Commonwealth Graves Commission. With additional details from Aircrew Remembered own archives. 

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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