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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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424 Squadron Crest
15/16.10.1944 No. 424 Squadron Halifax III MZ901 QB-N Fl/Lt. Robert D. Guild

Operation:Gardening (Mine laying in the Kattegat)

Date:15/16th October 1944 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit:No. 424 Squadron (RCAF-Tiger)

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ901

Code: QB-N

Base: RAF Skipton on Swale, Yorkshire.

Location: Simonstrup, Denmark.

Pilot:Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild J/18064 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Norman Alfred Smith J/89362 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Jack Griffin Lee DFC. J/9311 RCAF Age 30. Killed (1)

Air/Bmr: F/O. Virgel Lee Riley J/35063 RCAF Age 33. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. John Peter Grace J/35251 RCAF Age 20. Killed (2)

Air/Gnr: F/O. William Edward Jory J/22936 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran J/41353 RCAF Age 30. Killed

Update February 2018: Our researchers have now expanded on this page with a great deal more information.

This can now be read here.

Update December 2017: A Danish family has started a tradition of remembering this crew every Christmas eve by placing candles on the graves. The local school also places flowers on the graves every year on May 5th , the daughter of the same family has been one of those attending.

Relatives of Sgt. Norman Smith would very much like contact with other relatives of the crew and the pilots family, Hptm. Johann “Hans” Dreher of 6/NJG-3 who claimed this loss. Please contact us in the first instance and your details will be forwarded.


Taking off from its base at 18:22 hours, Halifax MZ901 was intercepted over Denmark by a night fighter flown by Hptm. Johann “Hans” Dreher (3) of 6/NJG-3. Witnesses observed the bomber taking evasive action while exchanging fire with the German aircraft before it was hit, crashing into the ground and exploding on farmland near Simonstrup. Engagement took place at 20:50 hrs. at 4,400 mts. This was his first of two kills this night - the second a Lancaster from 207 Squadron NG143 fell later at 22:40 hrs.

Rear: L-R: F/O. William Edward Jory, F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran, P/O. Norman Alfred Smith, F/O. John Peter Grace. Front: Ed Matus (not on flight), Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild, F/O. Virgel Lee Riley.

The crew members all perished and were initially buried near the crash site by the occupying German forces. After the war their remains were retrieved and reburied in the churchyard at Idom where seven grave markers now stand together with a memorial cross made from wreckage of the aircraft.

Fl/Lt. Guild and his crew were very experienced having flown together on numerous missions with the exception of the navigator, on this, their last operation.

For this sortie, the navigation duties were undertaken by the Squadron Navigation Officer Fl/Lt. Jack Lee, filling in for their regular navigator who was unable to fly due to illness.

Two days after the loss, it was announced that Fl/Lt. Lee had been awarded his DFC for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.” Fl/Lt. Lee also served as an instructor at No.2 ANS Pennfield before being posted for operations in the Middle East and subsequently to England.

(1) Lee Island, Nunavut is named after Fl/Lt. Jack Lee

(2) Grace Island in Lake St. Joseph, Kenora, Ontario, is named after F/O. John P. Grace.

(3) Hptm. Dreher - killed on the night of the 3/4 March 1945 during a ground strafing attack when he hit trees at Sutton near Derwent, Yorkshire. 7 abschüsse to his credit - making him an "ace".

Right: P/O. Norman Alfred Smith (courtesy Gordon Hoyle)

Burial Details:

Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of John Herbert Guild and Jennie Winnifred Guild (nee Armstrong), of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

P/O. Norman Alfred Smith. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Alexander James Smith (1893-1958) and Florence Essex Smith (neé Hooper 1893-1977) Brother to Douglas, Dorthy, Irene, Enid and Una. Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Norman worked in his fathers garage (Smith Garage) before he was called to duty.

Fl/Lt. Jack Griffin Lee DFC. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark. Joint Grave 2. Son of Edward and Ethel Geraldine Lee; husband of Mary Jean Lee, of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Virgel Lee Riley. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Arthur S. and Annie I. Riley; husband of Ivy K. Riley, of Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada.

F/O. John Peter Grace. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of William and Barbara Grace of Renfrew, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. William Edward Jory. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Phillip Henry and Emma Jane Jory, of Midland, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Belfast, N. Ireland. No further details, are you able to assist?

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Gordon Hoyle, son of Una the sister of P/O. Norman Smith who contacted us in December 2015. Also to Peter Richter and family who visit the graves every year and place candles.

CHB 23.09.2010
CHB 21.11.2019 Commemorative place name links 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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