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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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12 squadron crest
15/16.10.1942 12 Squadron Wellington III BJ606 PH:S Sgt. Robert Bayley

Operation: Köln (Cologne)

Date: 15th/16th October 1942 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 12 Squadron

Type: Wellington III

Serial: BJ606

Code: PH:S

Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire

Location: North West of Wintershoven

Pilot: Sgt. Robert Bayley 1210044 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (1)

2nd Pilot: Fg.Off. Jack Johannesen 412146 RAAF Age 22. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Willis 1023440 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alec Gordon Willans 1381545 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. John Edward Freese Martin 403060 RAAF Age 31. Killed

Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Edmund St. Aubin Richardson R82608 RCAF Age 31. Killed

Photograph possibly depicting five of the crew of BJ606. Thought to have been taken at RAF Wickenby in front of a Wellington on a date unknown. Only two airmen have been tentatively identified, that of Flt.Sgt. Richardson, 1st from the left and Sgt Willis, 3rd from the left. (Courtesy Bryan Lee)


Took off at 18:42 hrs. from RAF Wickenby to join a total of 289 aircraft (109 Wellingtons, 74 Halifaxes, 62 Lancasters and 44 Stirlings) to bomb Cologne.

Not a successful raid as the weather forecast was not as predicted with the winds different. The Pathfinders had great difficulty marking the target away from the huge decoy fire site which attracted the majority of the bombs.

The report from Cologne states that 1 x 4,000 lb. exploded in the city (71 were carried by the bombers), 3 x high explosive bombs (out of 231 carried), 210 incendiary bombs exploded (68,590 carried!) causing very little damage with 226 houses hit and only 2 of these were classed as serious damage. 4 people on the ground were injured.

The Allies suffered terrible losses on this raid with 21 aircraft being lost. 106 aircrew lost their lives, 15 made Prisoners of War and a further 12 survived after crash landings on return to their bases in England. All of these aircraft were lost after the raid. being intercepted on the homeward bound flight.

Wellington BJ606 was intercepted at 23.24 hrs by Oblt. Wilhelm Telge (2) of 4./NJG1 and shot down 1 km. North West of Wintershoven at 2,500 mtrs. This was his first kill of the war. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives -The Early Years part 3 by Theo Boiten)

In December 2017, Ann Wijgaerts of the Patton Driver Club contacted and informed us of the wonderful tribute placed to this crew by the people of Wintershoven.

(1) Sgt. Robert Bayley. A former pupil of Moseley Grammar School having left on 23rd December 1937 and recorded on their memorial in the West Foyer.

Further details follow on another member of his family that would sadly also lose his life.

(2)( Right) Hptm. Wilhelm Telge, St.Kpt. of 5./NJG1 was killed ramming 75 Sqn Stirling EH905 of the Berlin raid on 31st Aug/1st Sep 1943. The right wing of his Bf110 G-4 G9+AN was sheared off. The Bordfunker, Oblt. Freymann managed to bail out at the last moment but Telge was killed when the aircraft crashed between Jütchendorf and Siethen, south or Berlin. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives -1943 part 2 by Theo Boiten)

Burial details:

Sgt. Robert Bayley. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.15. Son of Walter and Kate Bayley, husband of Edna Bayley, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England.

Fg.Off. Jack Johannesen. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.14. Born on the 10th November 1919 in Balmain, New South Wales. Son of Jakob Bertin Johannesen and Bessie Johannesen, of Punchbowl, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Alec Gordon Willans. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.13. Son of Thomas Gordon Willans and Edith Willans, of Bardsey, Yorkshire, England.

(Left: courtesy Karen O'Shaughnessy) Sgt. Geoffrey Charles Willis. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.17. Son of Alfred and Edith Willis, husband to Norah Willis, father of 3 children, of Manchester, England. Born in 1910.

Flt.Sgt. John Edward Freese Martin. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.12. Born on the 24th May 1911 in Sydney, New South Wales. Son of Edward James Martin and Jessie Eleanor Martin, of Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia.

(Right: Flt.Sgt. Richardson when he was a Leading Aircraftman (LAC) - Courtesy and Bryan Lee) Flt.Sgt. Edmund St. Aubin Richardson. Heverlee War Cemetery. 3.D.16. Son of Edmund St.Aubin Richardson, and of Helen Richardson, of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Researched for the Moseley Grammar School Historical Society, we would like to thank Keith Townsend (Moseley Grammar Historian) for his valuable assistance on this and many others that we hope to be able to assist with. With thanks to the following: Karen O'Shaughnessy, granddaughter of Sgt. Willis who contact us in August 2014. Thanks to Bryan Lee, the Great Grandson of Sgt. Willis, for the crew & image of Flt.Sgt Richardson

RS 13.08.2020 - Correction to crew Photograph identification

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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