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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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408 Squadron Crest
03/04.04.1943 No. 408 Squadron Halifax II HR713 EQ-F Fl/Lt. Robert H.P. Gamble

Operation: Essen

Date: 03/04th April 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)

Time: 21:45 hrs.

Unit: No. 408 Squadron (Goose) RCAF

Type: Halifax II

Serial: HR713

Coded: EQ-F

Location: Lake Ijssel, north east of Amsterdam.

Pilot: F/O. (Acting Fl/Lt) Robert Hodgson Perry Gamble J/9337 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Walton Barker 9889712 RAFVR Age: ? Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air gunner: P/O. Charles Noola Black AUS/405437 RAAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Nav/Bomber: Sgt. Albert James (Jimmie) Hawkins 919537 RAFVR Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Nav/Bomber: W/O 11. Donald Leslie Jarrett T/90781 RCAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Kenneth Septimus McColl AUS/401712 RAAF Age 30. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Edmond Rothwell Ray J/11851 RCAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed


Took off at 19:45 hrs, part of a huge raid on Essen. 325 Lancasters, 113 Halifaxes - led by 10 OBOE Mosquito's. Due to return at 00.57 hrs - failing to return with nothing heard from them.

HR713 was shot down by Oblt. Eberhard Garddiewski (3 victories) from 12./NJG1 at a height of 4000 metres. The aircraft reported to crash into the North Sea 60 km's North West of Vlieland at 00:47hrs.

Left: Sgt. Albert (Jimmie) Hawkins (courtesy Peter Bilbrough) Right: Sgt. Robert Walton Barker (courtesy Victoria Southgate and Sylvia Gardiner)

408 Squadron being awarded their Crest. The pilot F/O (Acting Fl/Lt) Robert Hodgson Perry Gamble seen on extreme right. (courtesy Peter Bilbrough)

Burial details:

None - still classed as missing. All remembered at the Runnymede Memorial

F/O. (Acting Fl/Lt) Robert Hodgson Perry Gamble. Panel 172. Further information: The only son of Robert Clifford Gamble and Edith Belle nee Hodgson of 37 Old Forest Hill Road, Toronto, Canada. Born 13th May 1920 at Gowanda, Ontario and enlisted at Toronto on 25th April 1941 while studying mining engineering at Queen’s University. He joined the squadron on 8th September 1942 and had flown 16 sorties and 91.38 operational hours. Also recorded in the Canadian WWII Book of Remembrance – p162

Sgt. Robert Walton Barker. Panel 141. Further information: Son of Robert and Lily Barker, of Tanfield Lea, near Stanley, Co. Durham. He had flown 13 sorties and 75.48 operational hours. His peacetime occupation before joining the R.A.F. was above ground, at the coal mines, working as a mason.

P/O. Charles Noola Black. Panel 190. Further information: The son of William Browning Black (1876-1949) and Mary Black (1888-1934) of ‘Mia-Mia’, Brigalow, Queensland, Australia. Born 27th June 1920 at Chinchilla, Queensland and enlisted at Brisbane on 29th March 1941 having previously worked as a wool-classer. He had flown 22 sorties and 137.33 operational hours. Recorded on the Australian War Memorial, Canberra – Panel 133 and on his parent’s headstone in Toowomba Cemetery, Queensland – CE8 7 19/20.

Sgt. Albert James (Jimmie) Hawkins: Panel 152. Further information: Eldest son of Albert John Hawkins (c1879-1932) late Sergeant in the Royal Engineers and Florence Jane nee Snell (c1894-1974) of 11 Castle Road, Newport, Isle of Wight and fiancé of my late mother Elsie Bilbrough nee Worsley who remembered him during the rest of her life. Educated in the local secondary school, he worked in the rating department of Newport Corporation and later as a rating and valuation officer for Epsom Council prior to joining the RAF in March 1940. He trained at the Initial Training Wing in Rhodesia in 1942, and had flown 12 sorties and 69.08 operational hours. His commander wrote “The loss of your son and the other members of the crew is greatly felt by everyone in the squadron. He was very popular with the boys, especially in the sergeant’s mess where he was looked upon as a good fellow and his loss is regretted by all. Your son… was fast becoming an ace air bomber.” (Isle of Wight County Press: 14 April 1943). His brother William George Hawkins (1919-?) served in the Royal Artillery. Panel 152 [Also recorded on the Newport (IOW) War Memorial and on his parents grave in Carisbrooke (Mount Joy) Cemetery, Isle of Wight – Y 203/215]

W/O 11. Donald Leslie Jarrett. Panel 180. Further information: The son of Albert Francis Jarrett (1875-1946) and Helen Matilda nee Groome (1886-Jun 1943) of Galt (now Cambridge) and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Born 4 May 1920 at Weyburn, Sask., Canada and was engaged at the time of his death. His parents had at least one other son – Wilbert C. He had flown 14 sorties and 80.54 operational hours. Also recorded in the Canadian WWII Book of Remembrance – p174 and on his parents headstone in Cambridge (Mount View) Cemetery, Ontario – 22E 47 1.

P/O. Kenneth Septimus McColl. Panel 191. Further information: The fifth son of the six sons and four daughters of Bernard Francis Whitegreave McColl (1872-Oct 1943) and Elsie Mabel nee Howard (1880-1936), of 35 James Street, Northcote, Victoria, Australia. Born 5th September 1913 in Westgarth, Victoria and enlisted at Melbourne on 28 March 1941. He had flown 13 sorties and 71.42 operational hours. At the time of his death he was a Flight Sergeant and was posthumously promoted in June 1943 backdated to 8 January 1943. Also recorded on the Australian War Memorial, Canberra Panel 133

F/O. Edmond Rothwell Ray. Panel 174. Further information: The fourth son of the four sons and three daughters of William Butler Ray and Lula Victory nee Mobley of 601 West 44 Street, Savannah, Georgia, USA and husband of Helen Barbra nee Jezmis of 6690 Frankstown Ave, Pittsburgh, USA whom he married on 16th April 1942 at Pittsburgh. Born 28th November 1917 at Hinesville, Georgia and enlisted at Montreal on 16th September 1941 having previously worked in various hotels in the USA. He had flown 14 sorties and 81.50 operational hours.

Researched by Peter Bilbrough. These extensive details have been supplied by Peter from Worthing, Sussex, England. Peter's late mother was Sgt. Hawkins fiancee when he went missing, however she kept in touch with his family despite remarrying. Peter has also supplied us with the complete remembrance loss list for 408 Squadron and the records of all decorations made to 408 squadron aircrews. We hope to publish this soon.

We are also grateful to Linda Ibrom, Aircrew Remembered volunteer researcher and specialist genealogist. Thanks also to Victoria Southgate and Sylvia Gardiner sister) of Sgt. Robert Walton Barker. With thanks to information supplied by Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2’.

CHB 31.07.2021 Link to previous crew for P/O Charles Noola Black added.

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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', 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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