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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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206 crest
04th September 1939 206 Squadron Anson I K6183 P/O. Edwards

Operation: Patrol

Date: 04th September 1939

Unit: No. 206 Squadron (motto: Nihil nos effugit - 'Nothing escapes us'). Coastal Command

Type: Anson I

Serial: K6183

Code: VX-B

Base: RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk

Location: North Sea, off Friesian Islands

Pilot: P/O. Laurence Hugh Edwards 31687 RAF PoW No. 16 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan (L3)

Obs: Sgt. Alexander Oliver Heslop 566050 RAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed (on loan from 9 squadron)

W/Op: AC1. Geoffrey Sheffield 552231 RAF Age 18. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: LAC. John Quilter 524808 RAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 05:25 hrs. on a reconnaissance patrol with 11 others.

K6183 at 300 ft spotted and attacked a He115 (M2+FH of 1./KuFlGr 160 flown by Lt. Bruno Battger). During the 15 minute encounter LAC. Quilter was hit, leaving the Anson almost defenceless.

P/O. Edwards attempted to shoot down the He115 with the forward firing gun but was shot down by return fire. The German crew spotted survivors in the water and set down recovering only P/O. Edwards. Ironically, it was the floatplane-equipped Heinkel He115 that shot him down that came to his rescue landing on the sea to retrieve him.

Lt. Bruno Battger was later also shot down by an Anson from 206 squadron on the 08th November - all 3 crew killed.

Above: Anson Mk. I K6183 (ZK-RRA, NZ registry) - the world's only airworthy Anson Mk I, and is a result of a 10 year restoration project undertaken in Nelson, New Zealand by Robin and Bill Reid and their team. (courtesy John Ironside)

P/O. Edwards (shown left) became the first Allied officer to fall into German hands. He was treated for facial burns and other injuries by the Germans. Initially he was held at Itzerhoe prison near hamburg where conditions were described as almost perfect, they were fairly free to wander about within the grounds and he was treated and fed well. After a short time he then moved to Spangenberg Castle near Kassel. (later designated as Oflag 9/A/H. F) There he met up with Sgt. George Booth and AC1. John Slattery of 107 squadron (first PoW's of the war) shot down in Blenheim IV N6240, finally to Stalag Luft Sagan.

He was released at the end of the war, initially to Trelleborg in Sweden then to England. From Patea, in South Taranaki District, New Zealand. He had been a well known rugby player at Wellington plating for the North Island team. Worked for W.R. Fletcher Limited of Wellington and Patea prior to service. Enlisted in June 1938 and arrived in England in May 1939.

Burial details:

AC1. Geoffrey Sheffield. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 3. Son of Fred and Nellie Sheffield, of Sheffield, England.

Sgt. Alexander Oliver Heslop. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 2. Son of Isaac and Clara Heslop, of Wolsingham, Co. Durham, England.

LAC. John Quilter. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 2. Son of James and Lily Kate Quilter, of Mottingham, Kent, England.

Above: L-R: Rear; James Alfred Paterson 36193 Killed 27 September 1940, JA Poulsen, MJ Hunter, Frank Hugh Long 36190 - Killed 13 March 1941, Farnsworth 1964 - Killed 21 March 1945, Albert Samuel Agar 1063 Died 13 December 1985, IL Gray.
Front; Arthur Mitchell Paape 36192 - Killed 3 April 1943, TA Stewart, Laurenc (401787)e Hugh Edwards NZ/2341 PoW 05 September 1939, George Rodoway MacDonald 36191 Killed 20 October 1942, Ernest William Tacon 36196 - Died 9 September 2003.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Lawrence Paterson 'Eagles over the Sea', Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 28-09-2021

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Acknowledgements
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', 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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