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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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408 Squadron Crest
25/26.06.1943 No. 408 Squadron Halifax II JB858 EQ-S P/O. Bruce Milligan

Operation: Gelsenkirchen

Date: 25/26th June 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 408 Squadron (Goose)

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JB858

Code: EQ-S

Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire

Location: Holtwick, Germany

Pilot: P/O. Bruce Ryerson Milligan J/18184 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Pilot 2: Fl/Sgt. John Frederick Male R/131168 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Banks Wright 52814 RAFVR PoW No. 290. Camp Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (promoted to P/O. 4th December 1943)

Nav: F/O. Frederick Campbell Culbert J/13839 RCAF Age 33. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. John Henry McNess 155095 RAFVR Age 33. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. David Aiken J/18207 RCAF Age 24 . Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. John Douglas Bruce Hunter J/18041 RCAF Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. George Nelson Acton J/18289 RCAF Age 31. Killed (1)

Relatives of P/O. David Aiken are very keen to visit the actual crash site of this Halifax. If you are able to supply details - they would very much like to hear from you.

Update June 2015: Local researcher contacted us and is planning to guide them to the actual crash site in September 2015 - further details will follow.


Taking off at 23:34 hrs from RAF Leeming on an operation to bomb the oil refineries in Gelsenkirchen with another 217 Lancasters, 190 Halifaxes and 10 Mosquitoes. Weather was cloudy with no moon until about 03:00hrs.

The raid was not at all as had been hoped. Equipment failure in half of the Mosquitoes and another dropping target markers 10 miles off target! The bombing as a result of this made the Germans think that the raid was actually on Bochum. However some industrial target were hit in the town.

Above: Probably the crew, minus the 2nd pilot who was on this operation. We know that P/O. David Aiken is the chap at the rear, 2nd from right. Going by the others insignia they show, rear L-R: Pilot: P/O. Bruce Ryerson Milligan, Air/Gnr?, W/Op/Air/gnr: P/O. David Aiken, Nav - F/O. Frederick Campbell Culbert, front L-R: P/O. John Henry McNess, Air/Gnr?, Fl/Eng: Sgt. R.B. Wright, (courtesy Dan Aiken) Can you positively identify them?

Understood to have been shot down by Hptm. Wilhelm Dormann (2) of 9./NJG1 at 01:28 hrs. Flying a Me110 with combat taking place at 5,800 mrs. (see Kracker Archive on this site.)

(1) Acton Lake in Saskatchewan was renamed after P/O. George Nelson Acton

(2) This was the 12th abschüsse for Hptm. Wilhelm Dormann who survived the war having total claims of 14. Shot down on the Tuesday 17th - Wednesday 18th August 1943 over Lingen/Elms by a Beaufighter from 141 squadron flown by F/O. Harry E. White and F/O. Mike Seamer Allen. Baled out with severe wounds, his radio operator, Obfw. Friedrich Schmalscheidt was killed when his parachute failed to open. Wilhelm Dorman never flew on operations again, died age 78 in 1984. (see Kracker Archive on this site)

Another great photograph sent into us by Dan Aiken - not known who the others are but P/O. David Aiken is thought to be the gentleman shown on far right - are you able to assist further? (courtesy Dan Aiken)

Series of photographs of P/O. David Aiken, left on graduation, extreme right, with his wife Helen Dorothy (courtesy Dan Aiken)

Above: F/O. Frederick Campbell Culbert with right, family - showing his wife Margaret with his son, Richard. (courtesy Richard Culbert)

Burial details:

Crew initially buried in the Parish Cemetery in Holtwick, Germany. Reinterred after war end.

P/O. Bruce Ryerson Milligan. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Joint grave 12.D.1-2. Son of George Leo and Eva Jane Milligan, of Orillia, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. John Frederick Male. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 12.D.6. Son of Walter and Ethel May Male, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Frederick Campbell Culbert. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Joint grave 12.D.1-2. Born on the 17th June 1910 in Waskada, Manitoba. Son of George Arthur and Jean Culbert, husband of Margaret Rachel Culbert (Nee Sanders), father of Richard of West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Enlisted 24th November 1941 in Winnipeg, Canada.

P/O. John Henry McNess. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 12.D.7. Son of Henry James McNess and Maud Rebecca McNess, of Leyton, Essex, England.

P/O. David Aiken. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 12.D.3. Son of Hedley James Aiken and Ethel Aiken, husband of Helen Dorothy Aiken (née Springgay), of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Born 15th September 1918.

P/O. John Douglas Bruce Hunter. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 12.D.5. Born 29 June 1918 in Victoria, British Columbia. He was the son of Joseph Douglas, a physician and RCAF medical officer, and Anita Alice Matthews (née Hunt) Hunter. He was married to Phyllis Joan (née Carmichael) in Ottawa on 21 September 1940. At the time of enlistment on 17 January 1942, he was employed by Boeing Aircraft in Vancouver as an aircraft inspector.

P/O. George Nelson Acton. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 12.D.4. Born 2nd March 1912. Son of George and Mary Acton, of Dorintosh, Saskatchewan, Canada. Enlisted 28th June 1942 in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Page of remembrance placed after some great research by Dan Aiken, nephew of P/O. David Aiken. Dan also submitted various newspaper articles which we are researching further. Further sources for additional information as quoted below. Thanks also to Richard Culbert. In July 2018 Dave Champion submitted further details as well as photographs.

KTY 04.09.2015 Additional photographs/information placed.

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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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