30/31st May 1942 22 OTU Wellington IC DV701 F/O. Blake DFC
Operation: Cologne (Köln)
Date: 30/31st May 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 22 Operational Training Unit. 91 Group
Type: Wellington IC
Base: RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire
Pilot (Inst): F/O. Harold Roger Blake DFC. NZ/401164 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed (1)
Obs: F/O. Donald Stewart Maclean J/4767 RCAF Age 30. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr (Inst): Fl/Sgt. Ralph Nelson Adams Creswell R/59557 RCAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr (Inst): Fl/Sgt. Julian Robert Wanbon DFM. 902718 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed (2)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Noel Grattan R/92093 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:48 hrs from Elsham Wolds for participation in the first 1000 bomber raid with target Köln (Cologne) in Nordrhein-Westfalen. The total bombers thing part was 1046 and the high concentration was classed as a success, despite 46 aircraft shot down. To make up the numbers aircraft from various Operational Training Units were to take part.
The aircraft was coned by the 2./Reserve-Scheinwerfer-Abteilung 648 and hit by the 3./Reserve-Flak-Abteilung 133 and crashed at location shown at 01:17 hrs.
22 Operational Training Unit lost 4 aircraft this night, the others:
Wellington IC R1235 Flown by Fl/Sgt. Cyril James Matthews 1160730 RAFVR - killed with all other 5 crew.
Wellington IC R1714 Flown by Fl/Lt. Alwyn Crampton Hamman DFC and bar 42501 RAFVR - killed with all other 5 crew.
Wellington IC DV843 Flown by P/O. William Arthur Fullerton DFM RAFVR - killed with all other 5 crew.
The body of the pilot and at least 2 others from the crew were recovered and buried at the time, sadly post war their graves could not be located. The pilot was serving with 20 OTU at the time, based at Lossiemouth in Scotland but attached to 22 OTU for this operation.
(1) F/O. Blake was involved in an earlier incident - whilst with 150 squadron on Wellington R1716 flown by Sgt. Sgt Ian Harrington Fenton on an air test on the 29th September 1941. At 15:40hrs the aircraft was landing at RAF Snaith in a strong cross wind, on landing it swung off the runway and struck a large mound of sand that was being used to level the airfield. This mound of sand caused the undercarriage to collapse. No injuries reported.
(2) Fl/Sgt. Wanbon was involved in two earlier incidents - on the 17th November 1940 with 51 squadron on an operation to Gelsenkirchen ran into a severe electrical storm which knocked out some instruments crashed landed at RAF Usworth. All crew safe with Fl/Sgt. Wanbon and pilot Sgt. Alfred Ellis Prior the only crew members to suffer injuries. Then whilst whilst with 51 squadron on Whitley V P4974 on an operation to Bremen on the 11th February 1941 all the crew abandoned the aircraft after running out of fuel. All crew safe and uninjured. On this operation 3 other aircraft from the squadron suffered a similar fate, all with no fatalities.
F/O. Harold Roger Blake. DFC. (shown left) Runnymede Memorial. Panel 114. Born on the 23rd June 1917 at Christchurch. A mechanical engineer cadet for NZR at Christchurch. Served with RNZAF as civil reserve pilot with Canty Aero Club - first solo in February 1938, awarded his 'A' licence on the 01st June 1938. Enlisted ion the 09th April 1940 at Levin. Trained with No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School on the 07th May 1940 then with No. 1 Flying Training School on the 29th June 1940. Pilots badge awarded on the 24th August and commissioned on the 26th October 1940. Embarked for England on the 31st October 1940. Further training with 22 Operational Training Unit before joining 103 squadron on the 07th March 1941. Joined 150 squadron on the 11th July 1941. Attached to 20 Operational Training as instructor on the 06th January 1942. Son of Harold Rockwood and Margaret May Blake (née Hellyer), of Papanui, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. DFC awarded whilst with 150 squadron on the 150 Squadron on 30th January 1942.
F/O. Donald Stewart Maclean. (shown right) Runnymede Memorial. Panel 99. Son of Donald and Marjorie F. MacLean, of Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada. (B.Sc. New Brunswick).
Fl/Sgt. Ralph Nelson Adams Creswell.(shown left) Runnymede Memorial. Panel 103. Worked for Worked for Timothy Eaton Company Ltd (department store chain later known as Eaton's). prior to service. Enlisted July 1940. Son of Horatio Nelson (died 11th November 1941, age 59) and Ruth Bertilla Creswell (née Adams - died 07th November 1962) of 125 Nassau Street, Winnipeg, Canada. Sisters Doris Anita, Irene Bell, Mildred and Constance.
In 1985 Creswell Lake, north east of Split Lake was named after Fl/Sgt. Creswell.
Fl/Sgt. Julian Robert Wanbon. DFM.(shown right) Runnymede Memorial. Panel 76. Also remembered on the Sprowston War Memorial. Son of James Robert and Madeline Ethel (née Sheldrake) Wanbon. Husband of Margaret Jean Wanbon, of 29 Wall Road, Norwich. Sister Margaret Anne Maud (died 2010)
Fl/Sgt. Noel Grattan. (shown left) Runnymede Memorial. Panel 104. Born on the 19th December 1921 in Yokohama, Japan. Enlisted in February 1941. Son of Francis Edwin (died 08th October 1945) and Eveline Margaret Grattan (née Snowball - died 30th January 1969), of 1515 Fort Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Theo Boiten 'Nachtjagd combat archives, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: