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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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218 Squadron Crest
20/21.04.1944 218 Squadron Stirling III LJ448 HA-D F/O. Gregory McG. Doolan

Operation: Railway depot at Chambly, France.

Date: 20/21st April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No.218 Squadron

Type: Short Stirling III

Serial No. LJ448

Code: HA-D

Base: RAF Woolfox Lodge, Rutland

Location: Asnières-sur-Oise, France.

Pilot: F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan AUS/421008 RAAF Age 23. Killed

Nav: F/O. Anthony Edward Vidler 137146 RAVFR Evaded

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Cecil Thomas Bishop 1608815 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Arthur John Douglas Levy AUS/422210 RAAF Evaded

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Francis Herbert O'Neil AUS/420989 RAAF Evaded

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dennis Rupert Pepall 1416755 RAFVR Evaded

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Clive Robinson 631248 PoW No: 3595 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus

Reason For Loss:

Taking off at 21:03 hrs from RAF Woolfox Lodge to bomb the railcards at Chambray, France - together with 13 other aircraft from the Squadron. Weather conditions for the operations on the outbound flight were recorded as good with no moon. 

LJ448 was hit by flak during its bomb run with an explosion at the flight engineers panel and then a fire had taken hold forward of the mid upper turret. 

The pilot, 23 year old Australian F/O. Doolan ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. Five of the crew escaped from the front hatch at 6,000 ft.

Left to right: F/O. Gregory Doolan, Sgt. Cecil Bishop, Sgt. Dennis Pepall.

F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan and friends

Written on the back: Beside the wheel of my  'Old Faithful' (F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan)

The aircraft crashed near Asnières-sur-Oise, throwing the bodies of the two crew who were killed some 200 yards from the wreckage.

Statement of account from P/O. Francis Herbert O'Neil:

As bombs were released over the target, a very loud explosion occurred in the bomb panel region. The Flight Engineer immediately reported that the aircraft was in flames from the mid-upper turret. Intercommunications were now unserviceable. We opened the front hatch but saw no sign of the bomb aimer. F/O. Vidler jumped first followed by P/O. O’Neil - the others followed. 

Burial details:

F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan. Asnières-sur-Oise Communal Cemetery, France. Son of Ambrose Vincent and Kathleen Violet Doolan, of Binnaway, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Cecil Thomas Bishop. Asnières-sur-Oise Communal Cemetery, France. Son of Thomas J. Bishop and Ethel L. Bishop, of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

With thanks to Ambrose and Lisa Doolan for photographs of the pilot and graves. (nephew) Sent in to Aircrew Remembered June 2015.

KTY 03.06.2015 name of pilot corrected - further photo's added. 14.10.2015 F/O. Vidler details changed - with thanks to James Vidler.

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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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