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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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15 Squadron Crest
23.07.1941 No. 15 Squadron Stirling I N6038 LS-R F/O. Robert B. Campbell

Operation: La Pallice

Date: 23rd July 1941 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 15 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: N6038

Code: LS-R

Base: RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire

Location: North Sea

Pilot: F/O. Robert Balmain Campbell AUS/400025 RAAF Age 27. Missing believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Arthur John Mitchell 902867 RAFVR Age 23. Missing believed killed

Nav: Sgt. George Thomas Friend 549040 RAF Age 20. Missing believed killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Donald Alfred Lewis NZ/40193 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Cockburn 614847 RAF Age ? Missing believed killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. John Henry Eric Warner 102984 RAF Age ? Missing believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Ronald Norman Whitcher 751366 RAFVR Age 22. Missing believed killed


Taking off from RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire a 18:05 hrs to attack the battle cruiser, Scharnhorst with 5 other aircraft.

They encountered heavy flak and were attacked repeatedly by Me109s from JG2 which forced the bombers to dive to low level to make good their escape. One Stirling (N6038) was fatally damaged and it crashed into the sea claiming the lives of the crew. (From the book "Short Stirling Units in World war 2" - Jonathan Falconer)

Initial reports stated that the aircraft came down 50 miles off Milford Haven - but after the Missing Research Enquiry Service after lengthy investigations discovered the body washed up at Anrum and buried at Nebel was that of P/O. Donald Lewis - so very likely the aircraft came down in the North Sea.

Burial details:

F/O. Robert Balmain Campbell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 62. Son of Robert Balmain Campbell and Edith Jessie Campbell, of 28 Sunnyside Avenue, Camberwell, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Born on the 18th May 1914 at Wagga, New South Wales, Australia. Enlisted in Melbourne.

Sgt. Arthur John Mitchell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 48. Son of Arthur and Hannah Mitchell, of Penylan, Cardiff, Wales.

Sgt. George Thomas Friend. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 43. Son of Herbert John and Nora Friend.

P/O. Donald Alfred Lewis. Kiel War Cemetery. Grave 5.B.1. Son of Vincent Lewis, and of Isabelle Marie (neé Campbell), of Levin, Wellington, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. William Cockburn. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 35. No further details - are you able to assist?

P/O. John Henry Eric Warner. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 35. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Arthur Ronald Norman Whitcher. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 54. Son of Arthur and Amy K. S. Whitcher, of Southampton, England.

A simple cross placed at the Remembrance Sunday service in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk prompted the webmaster to place a page to Fl/Sgt. Cockburn and crew. Thanks to John Jones for the aircraft loss information. or further details our thanks to the sources shown below.

RS 29.11.2018 - Addition of loss information and source

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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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