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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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05/06th August 1943 150 Squadron Wellington X HE952 Sq/Ldr. Garrad

Operation: Messina, Cape Peloro,

Date: 05/06th August 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 150 Squadron (motto: Αιει Φθανομεν - 'Always Ahead'). 330 Wing. 205 Group

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE952

Code: JN-L

Base: Kairouan West, Tunisia

Location: Target area

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Gordon Keith Fison Garrad 39658 RAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Obs: F/O. William Granville Smith NZ/416695 RNZAF Age 36. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Frederick Williams 137634 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor Thomas Walter Sherwood 1320988 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Hardwick Burgess Wilkie NZ/416674 Age 22. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 20:00 hrs to bomb the evacuation beaches between Pellaro and Messina in Sicily. In support of Operation Husky - the invasion of Sicily. 100 aircraft from various units taking part, 2 failed to return but only 1 from 159 squadron.

The other Wellington X HE629 QT-C from 142 squadron flown by Fl/Sgt. Alfred Charles Wiltshire Aus/412789 missing - believed killed with all his crew.

In 1948 some bodies were recovered by the Missing Research Unit but identification proved impossible and were buried as unknown at the cemetery in Catania.

Failed to return and assumed lost in the target area by flak.

The German and Italian evacuation schemes proved highly successful. The Allies were not able to prevent the orderly withdrawal nor effectively interfere with transports across the Strait of Messina. The narrow straits were protected by 120 heavy and 112 light anti-aircraft guns.

The resulting overlapping gunfire from both sides of the strait was described by Allied pilots as worse than the Ruhr, making daylight air attacks highly hazardous and generally unsuccessful. Night attacks were less hazardous and there were times when air attack was able to delay and even suspend traffic across the straits but when daylight returned, the Axis were able to clear the backlog from the previous night. Nor was naval interdiction any more practicable.

The straits varied from 2–6 miles wide and were covered by artillery up to 24 centimetres in caliber. This, combined with the hazards of a 6 knots (11 km/h current and fear that Italian warships were preparing to attack the Straits of Messina in a suicide run, made risking warships unjustifiable.

On 18 August, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht recorded that 60,000 troops had been recovered and the Italian figure was about 75,000. In 2004, Tomlin wrote that the Italians evacuated 62,182 men, 41 guns and 227 vehicles with the loss of only one motor raft and the train ferry Carridi, which was scuttled when Allied troops entered Messina. The Germans evacuated some 52,000 troops (including 4,444 wounded), 14,105 vehicles, 47 tanks, 94 guns, 1,100 tons of ammunition, and about 20,700 tons of gear and stores.

Sicily was finally in allied hands on the 17th August 1943 but at a huger cost of lives - from both sides.

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Gordon Keith Fison Garrad. Malta Memorial. Panel 6, Column 1. Son of Arthur and Audrey Garrad and husband of Margaret Garrad, of Scarborough, Yorkshire, England.

F/O. William Granville Smith. Malta Memorial. Panel 12, Column 1. Born on the 03rd August 1907 at Auckland. Worked as a dairy farmer on a self employed bases. Enlisted on the 30th November 1941 at Levin. Son of William Smith (died 22nd December 1946, age 84) and of Susan Wesley Smith (née Hare - died 31st August 1950, age 72) , of Matakoke, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 369 flying hours logged and on his 20th operational sortie.

Left: F/O. William Smith.

F/O. Frederick Williams. Malta Memorial. Panel 6, Column 2. Son of Frederick and Mary Williams and husband of Evelyn Annie Williams, of Ranskill, Nottinghamshire, England.

Sgt. Victor Thomas Walter Sherwood. Malta Memorial. Panel 9, Column 1. Son of Walter Herbert Sherwood, and of Gladys Alice Sherwood (née Groves), of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England.

Fl/Sgt. George Hardwick Burgess Wilkie. Malta Memorial. Panel 12, Column 2. Born on the 14th November 1920 at Marton. Worked as a grocer for A.S. Fagg of Wellington. Son of Alexander Wilkie and of Edith Maud Wilkie (nee Pelham), of Marton, Wellington, New Zealand. The family lost two other sons, 26 year old, Alex Anderson Wilkie killed on the 01st December 1941 serving with 6 Field Regiment in the Western Desert, 25 year old, Harry Taylor Wilkie killed on the 05th August 1942 serving with 5 Field Regiment in the Western Desert. A total of 266 flying hours logged and on his 17th operational sortie.

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, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 17-11-2021

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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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