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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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455 Squadron crest
06.02.1942 455 Squadron Hampden I AE308 UB:L Sgt. Brown

Operation: Gardening

Date: 6th February 1942 (Friday)

Unit No: 455 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Hampden I

Serial: AE308

Code: UB:L

Base: RAF Swinderby, Lincolnshire

Location: North Sea, 70 km (44 mls) west of Terschelling

Pilot: Sgt. Bernard Edward Brown 1281447 RAFVR Age? MiA

Obs: Sgt. Robert Anthony Bilington 1169761 RAFVR Age 20. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. David Michael Pickersgill 1356057 RAFVR Age 24. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Eric Bland 1051834 RAFVR Age 19. Missing


Took off at 12:05 hrs from Swinderby to lay mines off the Frisian Islands in broad daylight! 46 aircraft took part in this operation made up with 33 Hampdens and 13 Manchesters.

455 Squadron Hampden

The only aircraft lost on this raid was 455 Squadron Hampden AE308. Under his own initiative Hptm. Helmut Lent (Already an ace with 30 victories at this time) took off from Terschelling Island and under radar guidance closed in with three other Bf110's. The flight spotted the minelaying operation and Hptm Lent of Stab II./NJG2 attacked AE308 over the North Sea, 70 km (44 mls) west of Terschelling and shot him down at 15:10 hrs. All crew were lost and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Above Oberst. Helmut Lent

Oberst (Posth) Helmut Lent went on to claim 102 night fighter victories and a further 8 victories before on the 7th October 1944 he died after suffering injuries sustained during a crash landing on the 5th October 1944 during a crash landing in his Ju 88 G-6 at Paderborn Airfield following engine failure and subsequent collision with a high tension cable. His crew were rescued - injured from the crash. Walter Kubisch (radio operator) and Hermann Klöss (2nd radio operator) died the same day, Werner Kark (War correspondent and Air Gnr) died the next morning.

Burial details:

Sgt. Bernard Edward Brown. Runnymede Memorial Panel 79. Next of kin details currently unavailable - are you able to assist?

He is remembered on the Buckden War Memorial, Huntingdonshire, England

Sgt. Robert Anthony Bilington. Runnymede Memorial Panel 78. Son of Robert and Dorothy Theresa Billington, of Beckenham, Kent, England.

Sgt. David Michael Pickersgill. Runnymede Memorial Panel 91. Born on the 26th December 1917. Son of Ernest Broadbent and Gertrude Annie Pickersgill, of Hunslet , Leeds, England.

Sgt. Eric Bland. Runnymede Memorial Panel 78. Son of John and Annie Evelyn Bland, of Halifax, Yorkshire, England.

Researched for Graham Turner relative of Sgt. Eric Bland by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) (Apr 2016) and dedicated to this crew and their families. Thanks to Caroline Cook for the Next-of-kin details for Sgt. Pickersgill and memorial information for Sgt. Brown (Apr 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 29.04.2023 - Next-of-kin details updated

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'
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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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