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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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51 Squadron Crest
30/01.05.1940 No. 51 Squadron Whitley IV K9039 P/O. E. Cotton

Operation: Oslo-Fornebu

Date: 30/01st May 1940 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron (4 Group)

Type: Whitley IV

Serial: K9039

Code: MH-?

Base: RAF Dishforth, Yorkshire

Location: Forest of Bowland, Lancashire

Pilot: P/O. Edward Cotton 43417 RAF Survived - injured with a broken thigh (1)

Pilot: P/O. John Martin Gilmer NZ/41690 RNZAF Age 23. Survived - seriously injured (2)

Obs: Sgt. Walter Richard Coveney 580764 RAF Age 19. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC.1. Peter Duncan Salmon 551589 RAF Survived - cuts and shock (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC.1. H. Maylin 626629 RAF Survived - cuts and shock (4)


Taking off from RAF Dishforth at 19:00 hrs. to join 50 aircraft - 24 Whitleys, 16 Wellingtons and 10 Hampdens from various squadrons attacking airfields at Stavanger, Fornebu and Aalborg. 35 of these actually bombed their targets.

Returning from this operation K9030 in poor weather the aircraft was running very low on fuel, eventually crashing between Burnside Fell and Dunsop Fell west of Slaidburn in the Forest of Bowland.

Above as described (courtesy Juliana Austen)

P/O. Gilmour was taken to the Queen Victoria hospital, in Morecambe for treatment.

(1) P/O. Edward Cotton recovered from his injuries and continued to serve. Thought that this was his second operational tour. Later awarded the DFC whilst with 502 Squadron, Coastal Command. (L.G: 07th July 1942) Survived the war and retired from the RAF on the 17th October 1964 holding the rank of Wing Commander.

(2) P/O. John Martin Gilmer although he initially survived the crash, succumbed to his injuries on Thursday the 02nd May at 02:00 hrs. Flying as second pilot, with a total of 204 flying hours logged. (See credits below)

(3) Sgt. Peter Duncan Salmon was sadly killed just 3 months later - see details and link to his loss page below.

(4) Sgt. H. Maylin, after spending a period in hospital he also returned to service. Unfortunately on Wednesday the 04th September 1940 he was one of 4 crew taken PoW (Sgt. Maurice Herbert Jones 741975 RAFVR missing - believed killed. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 16) and served the rest of the war as PoW No. 280 at Stalag Kopernikus. Flew a total of 17 operational flights, passed away in 1971.

Above written on the back: air force boys on the Rangitiki somewhere in the Pacific. (courtesy Juliana Austen)

Burial details:

P/O. John Martin Gilmer. Dishforth Cemetery. Grave 1. Son of Hugh and Margaret Gilmer, of Tokoroa, Auckland, New Zealand. Grave inscription reads: "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends".

Sgt. Walter Richard Coveney. Greenwich Cemetery. Sec. G. Collective grave 68. Son of Arthur Richard and Minnie Elizabeth Coveney, of Blackheath, London, England.


Sgt. Peter Duncan Salmon. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 5.G.8. For further information we have a full page dedicated to his loss on Whitley V P4986 MH-F lost on Wednesday the 07th August 1940.

For further details our thanks to Juliana Austen who P/O. John Gilmer had been her mother-in-law's sweetheart. They had planned to marry after the war. The research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, other sources as quoted below.

KTY - 02.03.2018

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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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