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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 408 (Goose) Squadron Halifax II HR713 EQ:F Flt Lt. Robert H.P. Gamble

Operation: Essen

Date: 3rd/4th April 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 408 (Goose) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Halifax II

Serial: HR713

Code: EQ-F

Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire

Location: Lake Ijssel, north east of Amsterdam.

Pilot: Flt Lt. Robert Hodgson Perry Gamble J9337 RCAF Age 23. MiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Robert Walton Barker 9889712 RAFVR Age? MiA

Navigator: WO2 Donald Leslie Jarrett T90781 RCAF Age 23. MiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Albert James 'Jimmie' Hawkins 919537 RAFVR Age 25. MiA

WOp/Air Gunner: Plt Off. Charles Noola Black 405437 RAAF Age 23.MiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Plt Off. Kenneth Septimus McColl 401712 RAAF Age 30. MiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Fg Off. Edmond Rothell 'Eddie' Ray J11851 RCAF Age 26. MiA


Took off at 19:45 hrs, part of a huge raid on Essen. 325 Lancasters, 113 Halifaxes - led by 10 OBOE Mosquito's. The aircraft was due to return at 00.57 hrs. They failed to return and nothing heard from them.

HR713 was claimed by Oblt. Eberhard Gardiewski, his 3rd Abschuss, from 12./NJG1 over the sea 60 km NW of Vlirland at 4.000m at 00:47 hrs.

Oblt. Gardiewski and his regular Funker Uffz. Abromeit was flying Bf110 G-4 G9+AZ and returned to Leewarden at 01:17hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 22 June) 1943 Part 1 - Theo Boiten)

On the 25th July 1943 Oblt. Gardiewski, the Kapitän of the 12. Staffel, and his Funker Uffz. Abromeit, flying their 6th daylight mission in G9+AZ, was the last to attack a B-17 while to the NW of Texel. During a running fight lasting 10 mins, they heavily damaged the b-17. A lot of tracer was flying about and although the crew did not notice any strikes on their Bf110, one engine packed up and Oblt. Gardiewski was forced to ditch in the North Sea at 19:00rs. Oblt. Gardiewski and his Funker were, quite by chance, picked up by a RN MTB the next night and spent the remainder of the war as PoWs in Canada. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 June - 22 September) 1943 Part 2 - Theo Boiten)

Note it has not been possible to identify the B-17 that was attacked or the fate of the aircraft and crew.

Left to Right: Sgt. Hawkins (courtesy Peter Bilbrough); Sgt. Barker (courtesy Victoria Southgate and Sylvia Gardiner); Fg Off. Ray (Courtesy of J. Brandon MacMillan)

408 Squadron being awarded their Crest. The pilot Flt Lt. Robert Hodgson Perry Gamble seen on extreme right. (courtesy of Peter Bilbrough)

Burial details:

Above: The Runnymede Memorial

Flt Lt. Robert Hodgson Perry Gamble. Runnymede Memorial Panel 172. Born on the 13th May 1920 at Gowanda, Ontario. The only son of Robert Clifford Gamble and Edith Belle nee Hodgson of 37 Old Forest Hill Road, Toronto, Canada.

Robert 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. Runnymede Memorial Panel 141. 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.

WO2. Donald Leslie Jarrett. Runnymede Memorial Panel 180. Born on the 14th May 1920 in Saskatchewan. Son of Albert Francis and Helen Matilda (née Groome) Jarrett of 199 Riverside Drive, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

He was the youngest of three brothers. His second brother served in the RCAF as a Pilot; Fg Off. Harvey R. Jarrett, J38847 (No further information).

Sgt. Albert James 'Jimmie' Hawkins. Runnymede Memorial Panel 152. Born on the 4th May 1920 at Weyburn, Saskatchewen, Canada. 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]WO2. 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. 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.

Plt Off. Charles Noola Black. Runnymede Memorial Panel 190. Born on the 27th June 1920 at Chinchilla, Queensland. The son of William Browning Black (1876-1949) and Mary Black (1888-1934) of ‘Mia-Mia’, Brigalow, Queensland, Australia.

Charles enlisted at Brisbane on 29th March 1941 having previously worked as a wool-classer. He had flown 22 sorties and 137.33 operational hours.

He was on the original crew of Flt Sgt. George C. Heming. All were KiA on the 17th April 1943 aboard 408 (Goose) Sqn, Halifax II JB854.

Also Recorded on the Australian War Memorial, Canberra – Panel 133 and on his parent’s headstone in Toowomba Cemetery, Queensland – CE8 7 19/20.

Plt Off. Kenneth Septimus McColl. Runnymede Memorial Panel 191. Born on the 5th September 1913 in Westgarth, Victoria. The fifth 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.

Kenneth 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

Fg Off. Edmond Rothell 'Eddie' Ray. Runnymede Memorial Panel 174. Born 28th November 1917 at Hinesville, Georgia, USA. The fourth 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, USA.

Edmond enlisted in 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 Sqn and the records of all decorations made to 408 Sqn 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. Barker. Reviewed and updated by Aircrew Remembered (Aug 2023). Many thanks to J. Brandon MacMillan for the photograph of Fg Off. Ray, which was given to his father (Aug 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 31.08.2023 - Reviewed, updated and photograph of Fg Off. Ray 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', 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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