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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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No. 15 Squadron Crest
19/20.02.1943 No. 15 Squadron Stirling I BF378 LS-T F/O. Bernard Verdun Crawford

Operation: Wilhelmshaven

Date: 19/20 February 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 15 Squadron - Motto: Aim Sure

Badge: A hind's head affrontee erased at the neck between wings elevated and conjoined in base - approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936. The badge was a modification of the hart emblem used previously, changed to highlight the fact that the Hind aircraft was in service when the badge was authorised.

Type: Short Stirling I

Serial: BF378

Code: LS -T

Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire

Location: Probably in the Wadden Sea

Pilot: F/O. Bernard Verdun Crawford NZ414256 RNZAF Age 26 - Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Henry Macklin 959456 RAFVR - Killed (2)

Nav: F/O. Clarence Roy Long J/11238 RCAF - Killed (3)

Air/Bmr: F/O. Paul Terence Howson 125164 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Stuart (Ken) Keeble 1114757 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (5)

Air/Gnr (MU): F/Sgt. Charles John Jay Wellesley Aus/405370 RAAF Age 23 - Killed (6)

Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. Arnold Harvey Borrett Aus/406769 RAAF Age 25 - Killed (7)

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A force of some 338 aircraft comprising 120 Wellingtons, 110 Halifaxes, 56 Stirlings and 52 Lancasters was despatched on this operation to bomb Wilhelmshaven, the third such raid by the RAF in 8 eight days. Though the first raid on 11/12 February had been deemed a success the second of 18/19 February had been a failure when most of the attack had fallen in open country west of the target. German sources reported only three injuries.

This third raid yet again turned out to be a failure due to the Pathfinders being issued with out of date maps that failed to show recent town developments and their subsequent marking causing the Main Force to bomb north of Wilhelmshaven. 5 Stirlings, 4 Lancasters and 3 Wellingtons representing 3.6% of the force failed to return.

Stirling BF378 took off from RAF Bourn at 17:55 armed a bomb load of 6 x 1000lb and 1 x 1500lb general-purpose bombs. This was the first operational mission flown by Bernard Crawford and probably the first for the rest of the crew.

After crossing the East Anglian coast at Cromer the aircraft joined the assembling force before setting out for the target. Nothing was heard of the crew or aircraft after take-off but it would seem that they reached the target, dropped their bombs and set out on the homeward journey.

Reports of enemy bombers approaching Wilhelmshaven were received at the Luftwaffe Fighter Airfield at Leeuwarden in Friesland in the Netherlands but the area was shrouded in a thick layer of mist and due to the resultant bad ground visibility the fighters were unable to take off. However despite the weather conditions three experienced crews were later permitted to take off and attempt to intercept the returning bombers. Whilst Leutnant Wolfgang Kuthe of 2./NJG1 accounted for two Stirlings and Oberleutnant Paul Gildner of 1./NJG1 flying a Dornier brought down two Lancasters, Obertleutnent Hans-Joachim Jabs (see Biographical detail No. 8 below) of 2./NJG1 flying his Messerschmitt Bf110 shot down three Stirlings in the space of 44 minutes. These three aircraft, all from No. 15 Squadron were:

Stirling III BF457 piloted by F/O. David Joseph Hopson at 21.00 hours and flying at 6000 feet.

Stirling I BF378 piloted by F/O. Bernard Verdun Crawford RNZAF at 21.14 hours (some sources state 21.18 hours) and flying at 8000 feet

Stirling I BF411 piloted by P/O. John Charles Monteith RCAF at 21.44 hours and flying at 3000 feet

Stirling BF378 is believed to have crashed in the Wadden Sea, an intertidal zone in the south-eastern part of the North Sea.

The following day the body of the navigator, Clarence Roy Long was found washed up at Holwerd, a coastal village in the northern Netherlands province of Friesland and opposite the island of Ameland. He was buried on 24 February at Wierum, a village in the Municipality of Dongeradeel, Friesland some 8 miles east of Holwerd.

Two months later on 18 April the body of rear gunner Anthony Harvey Borrett was recovered and buried the following day on the Friesland island of Schiermonnikoog .

Almost a year after the crash on 17 January 1944 the body of wireless operator Ken Keeble was washed up at Nes on the Friesland island of Ameland and buried there the following day.

The body of Bernard Crawford was also recovered and buried on the island of Ameland.


(1) F/O. Bernard Verdun Crawford was born on 18 July 1916 at Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand the son of Herbert Henry Crawford and Catherine Grace Crawford nee McEwan. He had three brothers John Herbert Crawford born 1911, Philip McEwan Crawford born 1912 and Leonard Hitchings Henry Crawford born 1991. He attended Southland Technical College at Invercargill where he captained the First XV. Prior to enlisting in the RNZAF he was employed as a Watersider (wharf labourer) at Bluff port. He enlisted in July 1941 and after initial training at RNZAF Levin was posted to No 1 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Taieri near Dunedin where he trained on DH.82 Tiger Moths. He embarked for Canada where on 5 December 1941 he was posted to No. 4 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Saskatoon on Saskatchewan where on 27 March 1942 he was awarded his "Wings" and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer.

He embarked for the UK on 1 May and after arrival was posted to 3 PRC until 30 June when he was posted to No 3 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF South Cerney in Gloucestershire. On 11 August he was posted to No. 20 Operational Training Unit at RAF Elgin at Moray Scotland then on 13 November to 1657 Conversion Unit at RAF Stradishall, Suffolk for experience on Stirlings. He was posted to No. 15 Squadron for operational flying on 6 February 1943. Bernard Crawford was married to Clara Patterson and they had one son.

(2) Sgt. William Henry Macklin - nothing further known, if you have any information please contact us via the helpdesk

(3) F/O. Clarence Roy Long was born on 20 September 1918 at St. Vincent Township, Grey County, Near Meaford, Ontario the second child and second son of George Sproule Long (a Farmer) and Alice Luella Long nee Vickers. He had five siblings, Wilfred Joseph Long born 1917, Marjorie Long born 1921, George Arthur Long born 1924, Edith Isabel Long born 1925 and Gordon Long born 1927. The family later lived at 829, 4th Avenue East, Owen South, Ontario. After primary school at St Vincent, Clarence attended Meaford High School from 1929 to 1935 followed by a year at Owen Sound College leaving in June 1936. In January 1937 he commenced employment at the Bank of Toronto as a Clerk/Ledger Keeper. He remained a bank employee until 12 June 1940 when he enlisted in the Grey and Simcoe Foresters (army reserve) and 9 months later on 21 March 1941 he enlisted in the RCAF at Toronto. He was described as being 5' 7" tall weighing 132 lbs with a dark complexion, brown eyes and hair. He partook in skating, skiing and baseball all moderately.

After initial training at Toronto he was posted to No. 5 Service Flying Training school at RCAF Brantford, Ontario on 4 May and afterwards on 9 August to No. 12 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Goderich, Ontario. He ceased pilot training whilst here and transferred to Observer training at No. 1 Air Observer School at RCAF Malton, Ontario on 27 October 1941 and on 1 February the following year to No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Jarvis, Toronto, Ontario. He was awarded his Observers Badge and commissioned as a pilot officer on 14 March 1942; the following day he was posted to No. 2 Air Navigation School RCAF Pennfield, New Brunswick. He embarked for the UK on 9 May 1942 arriving 14 days later and after postings to No 3 and 7 Personnel Reception Centres was posted to No 1 (Observers) Advanced Flying Unit and RAF Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. He was posted to No. 14 Operational Training Unit at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland on 22 August and later to 1651 Conversion Unit at RAF Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire on 8 December 1942. Having been promoted to Flying Officer on 1 October 1942 he was posted to No. 15 Squadron on 9 February 1943 for operational flying.

(4) F/O. Paul Terence Howson was born in 1922 at Romford, Essex the son of Gordon R. Howson and Tina M. Howson nee Merckel. He had an elder brother, Gordon B. Howson born in 1917.

Paul Howson was promoted to Flying Officer on 8 December 1942 (London Gazette 12 February 1943)

(5) Sgt. Kenneth Stuart (Ken) Keeble was born in 1922 at West Derby, Lancashire the son of John Keeble and Eva Keeble nee White formerly Mackenzie of Liverpool.

(6) F/Sgt. Charles John Jay Wellesley was born on 25 May 1919 at Grafton, New South Wales, Australia the son of Charles Jay Wellesley and Evelyn Jane Wellesley, later of "Stockton" 2A, Hope Street, Balgowlah, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He was educated after the age of 12 at Hurlstone Agricultural College, Glenfield, Sydney. After leaving school he was employed as a Jackeroo eventually rising to Overseer at Myall Plains Pastoral Company at Thallon in Queensland. On enlistment he at 3RC Brisbane on 3 March 1941 he was described as being 5'8" tall weighing 129lbs with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He played football and cricket.

After training at No. 2 Wireless Air Gunner School at RAAF Parkes NSW, and No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School, RAAF Evans Head, NSW he was awarded his Air Gunners Badge on 13 December 1941. He embarked for the UK on 30 March 1942 and after arrival was posted to No. 7 Air Gunners School at Stormy Down, Bridgend, Wales on 20 June 1942 to 1653 Conversion Unit at RAF Burn, near Selby North Riding of Yorkshire on 14 July and to 1657 CU at RAF Stradishall, Suffolk for Stirling conversion on 16 November 1942. He was posted to 15 Squadron for operational flying on 6 February 1942.

He is commemorated on the Australian War Memorial, Canberra on Panel 132.

(7) Sgt. Arnold Harvey Borrett was born on 12 December 1918 at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia the son of Harry Britain Borrett and Emily Eliza Borrett later of 17 Wasley Street, Mount Lawley, Perth, Western Australia. His father died on 14 November 1938 at Subiaco, Perth Western Australia.

He was educated at Perth Boys School (1931-1933) and Perth Technical College (1935-1939). After leaving school he worked for the Government of Western Australia as a Clerk in the Treasury Department and during 1940 undertook a part time home studies course in accountancy.

From 1938 to 1941 he served in the Militia as a Sapper in the 13th Field Company of the Royal Australian Engineers.

He swam and played lawn tennis.

He enlisted at 4RC Perth on 31 March 1941 when he was described as being 5' 8" tall weighing 145lbs with a medium complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.

After initial training was posted to No. 1 Wireless and Gunnery School at RAAF Ballarat, Victoria and later to No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School at RAAF Port Pirie in South Australia. He was awarded his Air Gunners Badge on 13 November 1941. The following year he embarked for the UK on 21 March disembarking on 21 May 1942. On 29 June he was posted to No 3 Air Gunners School at RAF Castle Kennedy near Stranraer in Scotland, to No. 20 Operational Training Unit at RAF Elgin, Moray in Scotland and to 1657 Conversion Unit at RAF Stradishall, Suffolk for Stirling conversion on 3 November 1942. He was posted to 15 Squadron for operational flying on 2 February 1942.

His brother F/Sgt. Frederick Britain Borrett was killed on 19 August 1942 when his aircraft Blenheim V, BA597 crashed north of Oshogbo, Nigeria. He is buried at Oshogbo Cemetery. For details of the crash see

Both brothers are commemorated on the Australian War Memorial, Canberra on Panel 119 and on the War Memorial at Perth, Western Australia.

(8) Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Jabs was born in Lübeck, Germany on 14 November 1917 and joined the Luftwaffe in December 1936 and initially operated as a day fighter pilot from March 1940 over France and the British Isles accumulating 16 victories before being withdrawn in December 1940 and the following year took part in the invasion of Crete and later that year in missions in Norway and the North Sea. In November 1941 after undergoing two months of transition training the now Hauptmann Jabs was transferred to Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 where he became Staffelkapitän of 9 Staffel. On 1 November 1942 he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 2./NJG1 and on 1 August 1943, he was appointed the new Gruppenkommandeur 4./ NJG 1.

When Germany capitulated in May 1945, Oberstleutnant Jabs was captured by the British and was held as a prisoner of war for a year. Having flown 510 combat missions Oberstleutnant Jabs achieved a total of 50 victories.

After his release he started a business in Westphalia selling heavy farm equipment. The business enjoyed great success over the ensuing years.

He died on 26 October 2003 at Lüdenscheid, Germany aged 85. At his funeral on 31 October the Bundes-luftwaffe provided a guard of honour and the President of Fighter Pilots Association Luftwaffe, Toni Weiler gave a eulogy.

During his Luftwaffe career Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Jabs received the following awards:

15 May 1940 Iron Cross 2nd Class

28 May 1940 Iron Cross 1st Class

1 October 1940 Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

29 March 1943 Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe

31 August 1943 German Cross in Gold

24 March 1944 Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

(see Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site)


(1) F/O. Bernard Verdun Crawford was buried at Ameland (Nes) General Cemetery - Plot D. Row 13. Grave 15


(2) Sgt. William Henry Macklin - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 158

(3) F/O. Clarence Roy Long was buried at Wierdum Protestant Churchyard, West Dongeradeel - Row 2. Grave 5.

No epitaph

(4) F/O. Paul Terence Howson - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 125

(5) Sgt. Kenneth Stuart (Ken) Keeble was buried at Westdongeradeel Ameland (Nes) Protestant Churchyard - Row 33A. Grave 2.

Epitaph reads:

Sacred to the memory

Of our dear son Ken.

And may his peace be deep

(7) F/Sgt. Charles John Jay Wellesley - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 194

(8) Sgt. Arnold Harvey Borrett was buried at the Schiermonnikoog (Vredenhof) Cemetery - Grave 98

No epitaph

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - September 2016

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 28.09.2016

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