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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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78 Squadron Crest
21/22.11.1944 No. 78 Squadron Halifax III MZ810 EY-F Fl/Lt. Buchanan DFC

Operation: Sterkrade

Date: 21/22nd November 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 78 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ810

Code: EY-F

Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire

Location: Spaldington range, Yorkshire

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Malcolm Stjernqvist Buchanan DFC 414641 RAAF Age 31. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert James Barron 1822881 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Wilbert James Robertson J/20244 RCAF Age 25. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Lawrence Albert Welsh J/87795 RCAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. James Hedley Rice 185745 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. James McCannon 184087 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. James Vincent Reddington 187488 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Friends and relatives of this crew travelled over from Australia to England in May 2013. They have compiled a book of letters which they presented to Aircrew Remembered for their part in the research of this loss.


Taking off from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire at 17.21 hrs to attack the synthetic oil refinery. The operation was not a success although some local barracks were damaged. 270 aircraft taking part in the raid - 232 Halifaxes, 20 Mosquitoes and 18 Lancasters. 

L-R: F/O. Malcolm S. Buchanan, F/O. Donald F. Rayment, Sgt. William J. Bailey, P/O. John R. Harmer, Sgt. James H. Rice, Sgt. James McCannon and Fl/Sgt. Alistair L. Mackenzie (courtesy Bev Goodall)
No losses due to combat reported by Bomber Command, although a 51 Squadron Halifax NR129 MH-M, flown by Fl/Lt Gordon Chapman RAFVR and a 346 Squadron Halifax NA557 H7-L, flown by Sgt. A.L. Fauges of the FFAF collided over Belgium with the loss of all 14 crew members.


Above: Pilot of Halifax MZ810 (courtesy Goodall family) 

Halifax MZ810 completed the operation but on return to its home base were ordered to circle the airfield at 1,200 feet as the duty runway had to be altered due to wind change.

At 23.21 hrs called 'funnels', expecting them to reply 'pancake' but flying control ordered him to go round again. It was established later that the aircraft had struck a tree on the Spaldington rage and crashed, bursting into flames.

The pilot with some of this crew had escaped an earlier crash landing in Halifax MZ788 EY-F earlier in the year.

The funeral of Fl/Lt. Buchanan DFC at Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery on the 27th November 1944. The service was read by Sq/Ldr. Selwyn Harris. Tom Phillips and Jack Goodall also attended. (courtesy Goodall family) 

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Malcolm Stjernqvist Buchanan DFC. Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery. Sec H. Row C. Grave 9. Son of Malcolm and Ada May Buchanan, of Goomboorian, Queensland, Australia..

Sgt. Robert James Barron. Insch New Cemetery. Sec. B.A. Grave 127. Husband of Agnes Barron, of Sauchen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Fl/Lt. Wilbert James Robertson. Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery. Sec H. Row C. Grave 10. Son of Mark Wilbert and Bessie Mae Robertson, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

P/O. Lawrence Albert Welsh. Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery. Sec H. Row C. Grave 8. Son of William John and Clara Elizabeth Welsh, of Regina, Saskatchewan. Canada.

P/O. James Hedley Rice. Ashby-De-La-Zouch Cemetery Sec. 3. Grave 1808. Son of Alfred and Annie Frances Mary Rice, husband of Euphemia Isabella Rice, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England.

P/O. James McCannon. Ahamplish Church of Ireland Churchyard. Son of James and Mary McCannon, of Sligo, Ireland.

P/O. James Vincent Reddington. Huddersfield (Edgerton) Cemetery. Sec. 18R. Grave 99. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Researched for Beverley Goodall, niece of the pilot and dedicated to all the relatives of this crew lost in such a cruel way. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Les Allison and Harry Hayward - "They Shall Grow Not Old”.

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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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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