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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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40 Squadron crest
12.10.1941 No. 40 Squadron Wellington IC X9619 BL-M P/O. Field

Operation: Nürnberg, Germany.

Date: 12th October 1941 (Sunday)

Unit: No: 40 Squadron

Type: Wellington B MkIC

Serial: X9619

Coded: BL-M

Base: RAF Alconbury, Cambridgeshire.

Location: Sautin, near Chimay, Hanuilt, Belgium.

Pilot: P/O. Ian Murray Vass Field NZ/401757 RNZAF Age 26. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Paul Fraser Collis 745249 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Obs:F/O Eric John Sugg AUS/407141 RAAF Age 30. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas Lincoln Duxbury R/59125 RCAF Age 25. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Richard Anthony Dundon 995903 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Raymond Gordon Chapman 1377590 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Following assistance from Mr. Brian Ramsey in New Zealand - relatives of the pilot are now in contact with us, we hope that additional information may follow.


330 aircraft taking place on operations this night. Targets included Nürnberg, Bremen and Hüls.

According to a statement made to 2 MREU on the 16th October 1946 by a Mr. Lobet Marcel a schoolmaster of 63 Rue de France in Satin, he stated that a twin engined bomber crashed at 22:30 hrs in a field adjoining the farm of Monsieur Wardquier a farmer at Sautin. The aircraft came down in two pieces and did not explode or catch fire. Six bodies were recovered all with unopened parachutes. A cap marked P/O. Sugg E.J. belonging to F/O. Eric John Sugg was found near one of the bodies, which fell about 100 yards from the aircraft.

On October 16th 6 bodies were taken away for burial at Dinant (on the same day some 21 RAF bodies from 4 different crashes were also buried at a collective funeral in Dinant)

X9619 Took off at 19:24 hrs from RAF Alconbury in Cambridgeshire, 40 Squadron's target being Nürnberg.

Attacked and shot down by a Luftwaffe night fighter flown by Oblt. Heinrich Griese (2) of 1/NJGI.

The Wellington came down between 22:16 hrs and 22:59 hrs (British time) at a place called Les Culots, in the village of Sautin, 8 km south of Beaumont in southern Belgium.

Above instruments recovered at the time of the crash.

We are indebted to Martin from the Wehrmacht Awards website (see link below) for these photographs.

The instruments were removed by his Uncle, a boy of 16 at the time, during the transit of the aircraft pieces under the noses of the Germans. His father also assisted in the covering and removal of the crews bodies.

There were no survivors and the entire crew were laid to rest in Dinant (Citadelle) Military cemetery, they were provided with a full military funeral with honours by a Luftwaffe detachment - this is also the last resting place for a further 25 airman of the second world war.

The squadron also lost another aircraft, with all crew killed, that of Wellington IC X9822 BL-J flown by Sgt. George F. Bateman aged just 21, from Blackpool, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Henry Raymond Gordon Chapman (Taken sometime in 1939 we understand - courtesy of Debbie Davies - granddaughter of Henry)

Snapshot of just pilot training course for RNZAF boys - clearly showing the sacrifice made by New Zealand.

No. 3C War Course, Woodbourne, Blenheim, New Zealand (courtesy of the relatives of P/O. Ian Murray Vass Field - published in the Weekly News 22nd January 1941)

Rear row: A.G. Herbert (1), F.W. Letchford (2), A.B. Clark, I.J. McNeil, J.R. Court (3), L.M. Ralph, Middle: C.S.V. Goodwin, D.B.S. Lee (4), D.G.A. Price, D.F.P. Jennings, P.R.C. Clark (5), A.O. Hawkins, C.J. Salt (6), C.H. Butt (7). Front: H.K. Horne, W.R. Massey, W.M. Golden, J. Pybus (8), D.M. Mackenzie, D.S. Hunter (9), I.M. Field (10), D.A. Scrimggeour (11), G.D. Askew.


(1) Fl/Lt. George Alexander Herbert NZ/401763 RNZAF 139 Squadron. Blenheim IV V6261 - Tuesday 12th August 1941. Operation - Cologne - Pilot, killed with all crew. Age 23. Son of Frank and Eva Emma Herbert, of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand. Buried at Bergen General Cemetery, Plot 1. Row E. Grave 24.
(2) Fl/Lt. Frederick William Letchford NZ/401770 RNZAF 353 Squadron. Hudson IIIA FH291 - Wednesday 28th April 1943. Operation - Shipping patrol Bay of Bengal - Pilot, missing with all crew. Age 27. Son of Edward Alexander Letchford and of Annie Letchford (Née Vango), of Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand. Singapore Memorial. Column 431.
(3) Fl/Sgt. James Ross Court NZ/417028 RNZAF 90 Squadron. Lancaster I ME802 - Saturday 26th August 1943. Operation - Rüsselsheim - Air Bomber, killed with all crew. Age 22. Son of Thomas and Alice May Court, of Woodville, Wellington, New Zealand. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.A.7.
(4) Fl/Sgt. David Bruce Smaill Lee NZ/401769 RNZAF 100 Squadron. Wildebeest III K6386 - Monday 26th January 1942. Operation - Endau, Malaya - Pilot, missing with one other crew member, one PoW. Age 29. No next of kin details. Singapore Memorial. Column 422.
(5) F/O. Philip Robert Colfox Clark NZ/401752 RNZAF No. 2 OTU (Operational Training Unit). P-40E Kittyhawk NZ3104 - Friday 22nd September 1944. Operation - Formation practice - Pilot, killed. Age 23. Son of Basil Edgar and Muriel Elizabeth O'Brien Clark, of Mission Bay, Auckland City, New Zealand. Auckland Crematorium (Waikumete).
(6) Sgt. Cecil James McLaughlin Salt NZ/401782 RNZAF 100 Squadron. Vilderbeest III K6369 - Thursday 22nd May 1941 - Operation - Oblique photographic exercise - Pilot - killed with all crew. Age 28. Son of Frank Eli Salt, and of Sarah Agnes Salt (née Mulhern), of Geraldine, Canterbury, New Zealand. Singapore Memorial. Column 412.
(7) Fl/Lt. Charles Henry Butt MiD. NZ/401751 RNZAF 1518 Beam Approach Training Flight. Oxford I AT663 - Wednesday 4th November 1942. Operation - Meteorological Air Test - Pilot, killed with co-pilot 24 year old, F/O Robert Simpson Shaw J/10132 RCAF. Age 22. Son of Ernest Alexander and Hilda Jessie Butt, of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand. Scampton Churchyard (St. John The Baptist) New Part. Grave 10. Fl/Lt Butt had already completed a full operational tour. (903 flying hours solo with 590 hours on the Oxford)
(8) F/O. Jack Pybus NZ/401778 RNZAF 95 Squadron. Sunderland I L5805 - Thursday 11th June 1942 - Operation - Escort to convoy - Pilot - killed with all crew. Age 28. Son of Ralph and Edith Annie Pybus, of Herne Bay, West Island, Auckland, New Zealand. Malta Memorial. Panel 5, Column 1.
(9) W/O. Douglas Stanley Hunter NZ/39634 RNZAF 62 Squadron. Hudson III AE485 - Wednesday 4th April 1942 - Operation - Kluang, Malaya - Pilot - killed with all crew. Age 24. Son of James Stanley Hunter and Ernestina Maud Hunter, of Paraparaumu, Wellington, New Zealand. Kranji War Cemetery. Coll. grave 34. C. 10-13. (see Scrimgeour)
(10) P/O. Ian Murray Vass Field NZ/401757 RNZAF Wellington B Ic X9619 - Sunday 12th October 1941 - Operation - Nurberg, Germany - Pilot - killed with all crew. Age 26. Son of Gordon and Dothy Field (née Lewis) of Hope, Nelson, New Zealand. Dining Military Cemetery (Citadel) Grave 8.
(11) W/O. Denis Allan Scrimgeour NZ/401783 RNZAF 62 Squadron. Hudson III AE485 - Wednesday 4th April 1942 - Operation - Kluang, Malaya - Pilot/Obs - killed with all crew. Age 24. Son of Arthur Raymond Scrimgeour, and of Phyllis Scrimgeour (née Lewis), of Richmond, Nelson, New Zealand. Kranji War Cemetery. Coll. grave 34. C. 10-13. (see Hunter)

(Information courtesy Errol W. Martyn ‘For Your Tomorrow’, also Auckland Cenotaph, CWWG)

(2) Oblt. Heinrich Griese shot down no less than three aircraft on this night. He was credited for a total of 13 kills, before being shot down and wounded by a 239 squadron Mosquito, flown by F/O. Breithaupt and F/O. Kennedy, on 12/13th September 1944, at Annweiller near Landau. No further details known if he survived the war.

During the ceremony a group of local schoolchildren attended and read out a poem they had specially written for the occasion

(1) Duxbury Lake in Manitoba is named after Fl/Sgt. Duxbury

Burial Details:

P/O Ian Murray Vass Field. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 8. Son of Gordon Field and of Dorothy Field (née Lewis) of Hope, Nelson, New Zealand

Sgt. Paul Fraser Collis. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 1. Son of Hugh Henry Fraser Collis and Gladys Olive Collis, of Bristol, husband of Joyce Mabel Collis of Cliftonville, Bristol, England

F/O Eric John Sugg. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 9. Son of Bentham and Sarah Ann Sugg, husband of Lois Catherine Sugg, of Edmunda, South Australia.

Fl/Sgt. Thomas Lincoln Duxbury. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium, Comm/grave 12-21. Son of Thomas and Ethel Duxbury, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Sgt. Richard Anthony Dundon. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 10. Son of Patrick Joseph Dundon and of Margaret Dundon, of Lydiate, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Henry Raymond Gordon Chapman. Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 11. Husband to Helena Grace (née Richardson) Chapman (deceased January 1991). Father to Patricia Helen (née Wheeler) Chapman (born on 1st February 1936) and Terence Raymond Chapman (born in 1937).

Aircrew Remembered would like to thank Jean Michel Dominique and Pierre for attending the memorial ceremony and also for sending us the many photographs. We are proud that they work closely with us. Thanks also to the great New Zealander researcher Errol W. Martyn and his series of publications - ‘For Your Tomorrow’, also Auckland Cenotaph, CWWG. Thanks also to Martin of the fine website Wehrmacht Awards for the photo of the instruments recovered. Also to Graeme Young, who contacted us in January 2017 advising correct id and details on Fl/Lt. Charles Butt. NoK details for Sgt. Chapman provided by Debbie Davies, his granddaughter. Other sources as quoted below.

We would very much like to appeal to New Zealanders who would like to place a page to their relatives - not important that they were lost - proud to place pages to the chaps (and girls) who served.

RS 16.05.2019 - Update to Sgt. Chapman's NoK details

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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