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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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40 squadron badge
24/25.11.1943 No. 40 Squadron Wellington X HZ552 BL-M Fl/Sgt. Haegi

Operation: Turin, Italy

Date: 24/25th November 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HZ552

Code: BL-M

Base: Oudna One, North Africa

Location: Monte Molinatico, Italy

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Henry Haegi 659090 RAF Age 25. Killed

Nav: F/O. William Albert Eagles 136527 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. James Cameron Harthill 139772 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Charles Andrews AUS/410614 RAAF Age 24. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Stevenson Colvin 1691852 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Took off at 16.53hrs to bomb a ball bearing factory in Turin, Italy. A total of 76 aircraft took part in the mission. The weather conditions were extremely poor with low cloud and very strong winds which hampered navigation.

This aircraft crashed 1,550 meters up on Monte Molinatico a mountain near the small towns of Pontremoli and Parma in North Italy.

This was not a successful raid with only 9 of the 76 aircraft reaching the target and with a huge loss of 17 aircraft.

Above left: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Henry Haegi, (Courtesy Mark Haigh) right: P/O. James Cameron Harthill (Courtesy Kate Tame)

Every year the people of Bratto hold a memorial service to the crew at the local church where the crew were originally buried.
With the microphone is Professor Caterina Rapetti and it is belied that the lady on her left is one of the people who buried the crew in 1943.
(Courtesy Paul Pini)

The pictures above are part of Wellington HZ552 which had been removed from the crash site shortly after the accident and had remained in a loft until 2013. The first two pictures are of the oxygen tank dated 1942 and the third picture is of the exhaust manifold. (Courtesy Paul Pini)

Left: The new cross of remembrance shown on the church wall in top photo's (Courtesy Professor Caterina Rapetti) Right: Staglieno Cemetery (Courtesy CWGC)

Burial details:

These airmen were initially buried by Eugenio Necchi Ghiri, Alberto Necchi Ghiri, Agostino Corsini and Marie and Cesare Schia all residents in Bratto in a comrades grave on 29th November 1943.

A Catholic blessing was given by the Parson of Bratto - Don Antonio Scortini.

All were re-interred on 6th February 1946 at Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa. Coll.grave III. A. 12-15

Fl/Sgt. Frederick Henry Haegi. Son of Rudolph Edwin and Margaret Jane Haegi of Colindale, Middlesex, England.

F/O. William Albert James Eagles. Son of William Henry and Edith Victoria Eagles of Walworth, London, England.

P/O. James Cameron Harthill. Son of James Falconer and Bella Harthill of Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland.

Fl/Sgt. William Charles Andrews. Son of Thomas Sydney and Violet Ellen Andrews of Hampton, Victoria, Australia.

Sgt. Robert Stevenson Colvin. Son of James and Crawford Colvin of Riddrie, Glasgow, Scotland.

Researched by: Sandra Colley and Kate Tame and dedicated to the relatives of the crew, With thanks to: Professor Caterina Rapetti, Culture Secretary for Pontremoli the region of the crash site. Also to Paul Pini, has a house in the next village (Braia) to the crash site and attended the ceremony at Bratto Church in 2010 where the cross was remounted. To Jill and husband Pat Housden, niece of Fl/Sgt Andrews, Mark Haigh nephew of Fl/Sgt. Haegi and to Marco, who has written a book (only in Italian at the moment), about various crash sites in the region with three pages dedicated to this crash. Also thanks to Marco Cazzulo who sent us the grave photograph in December 2016.

KT - 12.12.2016 Grave and map photo 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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