15.02.1941 217 Squadron Beaufort I W6493 MW-G Fg.Off. Gair
Operation: Admiral Hipper
Date: 15th February 1941 (Saturday)
Unit: 217 Squadron. 5 Group (motto:'Woe to the unwary')
Type: Beaufort I
Base: St. Eval, Cornwall
Location: Plouguin, France
Pilot: Fg.Off. Ronald William Gair 36171 RAF Age 21. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Ronald Holmes Webster 958761 RAF Age ? Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Arthur William Richard Beeden 552724 RAF Age 18. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Willia Noel Abbott 903156 RAF Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
One of three taking off from St. Eval at 16:40 hrs. to bomb the Admiral Hipper which had been reported in dry dock at Brest.
Some 20 km north of the target they were intercepted and quite simply outclassed as far as aircraft are concerned. The three Beaufort’s were claimed shot down near Lannilis by Uffz. Rudolf Schmidt, his 7th claim, from 5./JG 77 at 18:47 hrs; Hptm. Helmut Henz, his 5th claim, from 4./JG 77 at 18:50 hrs; and Ofw. Ertel, his 3rd claim, from 5./JG 77 at 18:53 hrs. (OKL Fighter Claims Reich & Western Front 1941)
Beaufort I L9807 MW-A Flown by Plt.Off. Francis Adrian Burdett Tams - taken PoW with 2 others of his crew, 1 killed.
Beaufort I L9794 MW-R Flown by Plt.Off. Cilmyn George Lane Williams DFM. - missing believed killed with all 4 crew.
Fg.Off. Ronald William Gair. Lannilis Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Born on the 12th March 1919 at Wellington, the son of Charles Gair and of Emma Laura Gair (née Greenwood), of Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Student prior to service, joining the RAF in 1937. A total of 778 flying hours logged and completed an amazing 131 operational sorties, yet still no decorations? Grave inscription: "His Country, The British Commonwealth, Needed Him".
Sgt. Joseph Ronald Holmes Webster. Lannilis Communal Cemetery. Grave 4. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Arthur William Richard Beeden. Lannilis Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Son of Arthur and Lily Beeden, of Sandgate, Folkestone, England. Grave inscription: "At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Him".
Sgt. Willia Noel Abbott. Lannilis Communal Cemetery. Grave 5. Son of William George and Martha Jane Abbott, of Titchfield, Fareham, Hampshire, England. Grave inscription: "He Died That We Might Live".
Sgt. James Francis John Sheridan (905697 RAF). La Forest Churchyard. Son of John and Frances Louisa Sheridan, of Crayford, Kent, England.
Plt.Off. Francis Adrian Burdett Tams 43076 RAF. PoW No: 586 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan.
Fg.Off. Alan Howard Stratford 76593 RAF. PoW No: 585 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan.
Sgt. C.W.D. Cannon 550494 RAF. PoW No: 489 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus.
Plt.Off. Cilmyn George Lane Williams DFM. (45542 RAF). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 35. Son of Arthur Solomon Williams and Ada Lane Williams and husband of Violet Williams.
Sgt. Norman Victor Pusey (580555 RAF). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 50. No further information.
Sgt. Henry 'Harry' Cowling (526616 RAF). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 41. Born 1908, was the youngest son the late Henry Cowling, stationmaster Princetown, Devon, and his wife Ethel Eliza Barnicoat (Maddock) Cowling, later Welsford.
Sgt. Joseph Thompson (526413 RAF). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 53. Son of Colin and Amy Thompson, of Middleton, Manchester, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand Thanks to Victor Cowling for the NoK details for Sgt. Cowling, other sources as quoted below: