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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
14/15.02.1943 No. 15 Squadron Stirling I BF448 LS-T Fl/Lt. Owen C. Chave

Operation: Köln

Date: 14/15th February 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 15 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: BF448

Coded: LS-T

Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire.

Location: 3 km NNW of Helchteren (Limburg)

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Owen Cecil Chave 82955 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Lewis Lee Gladwin R/103897 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Flt/Eng: Sgt. James Falshaw Cook 524567 RAF Age 34. Killed

Nav: P/O. William Alexander McLean Archibald 125650 RAFVR Age 29. Killed (posthumously promoted to F/O)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Alfred Arthur Self 1449163 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O.John Neville Macmillan Muir 124744 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Frederick Stocks 1544089 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Ernest Nicholls 927758 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Took off at 18:25 hrs. from RAF Bourn in Cambridgeshire, 243 aircraft taking part in this operation attacking Köln between 20:04 hrs. and 20:41 hrs. All 9 aircraft lost were victims of the night fighters attacking in bright moonlight conditions.

Shot down by a night fighter flown by Ofw. Fritz Schellwat (1) from 5./NGJ1 with combat taking place at 4,500 mts. Crashing 3 km NNW of Helchteren (Limburg) which is 14 Km NNE of Hasselt, Belgium at 20:56 hrs.

Fl/Lt. Owen Cecil Chave. "Winged Victory" Poems of a Flight Lieutenant and "Passing of a Hurricane" One of the many great poems written by Owen Chave.

Fl/Lt. Chave was the son of Sir Benjamin Chave KBE and Lady Chave of Highfield, Southampton. He had been a keen poet and many were published in "Punch" magazine during the war years, another was published in "The Empire Review" and one was published in the "RAF Quarterly". A selection of his poetry was also published in a small booklet titled 'Winged Victory' Poems of a Flight Lieutenant. (see poetry section)

We are hoping to be in a position to republish many of his poems and have received valuable assistance from his son.

Memorial to four crews at Houthalen Cemetery

Pieces recovered at the crash site by a Belgian Historian and presented to Chris Chave during a visit in 2013.

(1) Ofw. Fritz Schellwat survived the war with 17 claims during night fighter operations. See Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site for further details.

Above: Heverlee War Cemetery - full resolution photographs of the remainder of the crew graves are available to next of kin / relatives (courtesy Victoria Fifield)

Burial details:

All were initially buried on the 17th February at St. Truiden, though their graves are now located at Heverlee War Cemetery.

Fl/Lt. Owen Cecil Chave. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll.Grave 10.E.2-8. Son of Sir Benjamin Chave, KBE., and of Lady Rachel Agnes Chave (née Morgan), of Highfield, Southampton, England husband of Joan Chave (née Sanders).

Sgt. Lewis Lee Gladwin. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll.Grave 10.E.2-8. Born on the 18th January 1922, the son of Lewis Casson Gladwin and Aletta Louise Gladwin, of Saunders, Alberta, Canada. Flying as co-pilot on this flight to gain operational experience (2nd Dickie)

Sgt. James Falshaw Cook. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll.Grave 10.E.2-8. Son of James Falshaw Cook and Catherine Jane Cook, husband of Barbara Cook, of Hunstanworth, Co. Durham, England.

F/O. William Alexander McLean Archibald. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll.Grave 10.E.2-8. The son of Alexander and Elisabeth Robertson Archibald of 14, Links Place, Musselburgh, Midlothian. Husband of Jessie McIntyre Archibald of 83, Holmlea Road, Cathcart, Glasgow, Scotland. Father to Alexander Carmichael Archibald who contacted us in July 2017.

Sgt. Alfred Arthur Self. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll.Grave 10.E.2-8. Son of Arthur James Self and Winifred Mary Self, of Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, England.

P/O. John Neville Macmillan Muir. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll.Grave 10.E.2-8. Son of David Macmillan Muir, and of Lilian Maude Muir, of Elham, Kent.

Sgt. Thomas Frederick Stocks. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 10.E.1. Son of Thomas Frederick and Catherine Stocks, of Penwortham, Preston, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. James Ernest Nicholls. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll.Grave 10.E.2-8. Son of James Ernest and Hilda Nicholls, husband of Mary E. Nicholls, of Newtownards, Co. Down, Northern Ireland

Aircrew Remembered acknowledge the kind assistance of Christopher Chave, son of the pilot Fl/Lt. Owen Cecil Chave, for the supply of the photographs and the book of poems. Victoria Fifield for grave photographs. With thanks also to the sources as quoted below. Thanks to Alexander Archibald, son of P/O. William Alexander McLean Archibald who contacted us in July 2017 with further information on his father.

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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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