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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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No. 9 Squadron
18.12.1939 No. 9 Squadron Wellington 1A N2827 WS-? Sqr/Ldr. Guthrie

Mission: Reconnaissance, Wilhelmshaven, North Sea

Date: 18th December 1939 (Monday)

Unit: No. 9 Squadron

Type: Wellington 1A

Serial: N2872

Code: WS-?

Base: R.A.F. Honington, Suffolk

Location: North Sea off the coast of Germany

Pilot: Sqr/Ldr. Archibald John Guthrie. 34155. RAF Age 28. Missing (1)

2nd Pilot: F/O. John Edgar Atkinson. 39646. RAF Age 21. Missing (2)

Obs: Sgt. Harold Walter Tyrrell. 516328. RAF Age ? Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. Thomas Leo Marlin. 550205. RAF Age 21. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bertie Joseph Pickess. 580809. RAF Age 21. Missing

Air/Gnr: LAC. Josias Melville Fletcher Key. 520262. RAF Age ? Missing (3)


No. 9 Squadron Wellingtons 1A


Wilhelmshaven November 1939


Wellington N2872 took off at 09.00hrs with eight other 9. Squadron Wellingtons from RAF Honington to carry out a reconnaissance in the Schilling/Jade Road and Wilhelmshaven to attack any battleships or cruisers. 

No. 9 Squadron Wellingtons flew in formation with 9 aircraft from both No. 149 Squadron and No. 37 Squadron. The formation were attacked South of Wilhelmshaven at 12.30hrs by approx. 30/40 enemy aircraft and the attack continued until reaching Wilhelmshaven when heavy A.A. fire was encountered from both shore based batteries and Navel craft. No suitable enemy battleships or cruisers were seen. 

After leaving the Wilhelmshaven area the aircraft were followed for some 70/80 miles to the German coast by the enemy fighters. A total of 12 aircraft were shot down on this reconnaissance mission. 

Situated on the island of Wangerooge the Germans had been tracking the bomber force for many miles using the experimental early warning Freya radar system and this information was passed on to the German fighters. Wellington N2872 may have been shot down or hit by flak and is thought to have been lost near Wilhelmshaven. 

Of the remaining No. 9 Squadron aircraft - Wellington N2964 and N2981 managed to land at their home base at 16.00hrs. Wellington N2873 was so badly damaged it was forced to land at RAF Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire at 17.30hrs two of the crew having been wounded and Wellington N2871 was forced to land at RAF Northcoates Fitties at 17.30hrs again due to the extensive damage to the aircraft. 

The total loss for No. 9 Squadron from the mission was 24 killed and four injured. No. 9 Squadron Losses ( N2983) (N2941) (N2940) (N2939)


Runnymede Memorial, Surrey

Burial details:

Sqr/Ldr. Archibald John Guthrie. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 1. Son of William John and Annie Maud Guthrie. Husband of Barbara Alice Guthrie of Tamworth, Staffordshire. (1) Archibald was born on the 13th December in Pipestone, Manitoba, Canada and is remembered on the Reston War Memorial, Pipestone, Manitoba. In 1934, 16th March Archibald John Guthrie was granted a Short Service Commission with the RAF. 1935, 4th March Acting Pilot Officer Guthrie was posted to No. 99 Bomber Squadron, Mildenhall. 1935, 16th September Pilot Officer Guthrie was promoted to Flying Officer. 1937, 28th June Flying Officer Guthrie was posted to No. 115 Bomber Squadron, Marham. 1938, 16th October Flying Officer Guthrie was promoted to Flight Lieutenant

F/O. John Edgar Atkinson. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 1. Son of Revd. Lewis Atkinson, M. A. (Cantab) and Emily Atkinson. (2) In 1937, 9th March John Edgar Atkinson was appointed a Short Service Commission with the RAF and posted to No. 8 Flying Training School, Montrose, Scotland. 1939, 9th May he was granted a Short Service Commission as Acting Pilot Officer. 1939, 8th December Acting Pilot Officer Atkinson was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer  

Sgt. Harold Walter Tyrrell. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 2. No further information as yet of next of kin

LAC. Thomas Leo Marlin. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 2. Son of Anne Marlin of Blyth, Northumberland

Sgt. Bertie Joseph Pickess. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel. 2. Son of Bertie and Lily Pickess of Edmonton, Middlesex

LAC. Josias Melville Fletcher Key. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 2. No further information as yet of next of kin. (3) LAC. Key is remembered on a family headstone in Cathcart Cemetery, Renfrewshire, Scotland

Researched by: Kate Tame for aircrewremembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew

Acknowledgements: With special thanks to Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - The Bomber Command War Diaries 1939 - 1945, UK National Archives Air 27/125 and Air 27/131, W. R. Chorley Bomber Command Losses 1939 - 1940 and Prewar July 1936 - September 1939, Imperial War Museum, Flightglobal Archives

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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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