07/08.05.1944 70 Squadron Wellington X MF144 DU:H Fg Off. Sydney J. Hanney
Operation: Bucharest, Romania.
Date: 7th/8th May 1944 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit No: 70 Squadron
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Foggia, Italy
Location: Talpa Bâscoveni, Romania
Pilot: Fg Off. Sydney James Hanney 159459 RAFVR Age? KiA
Nav: WO. Alfred Charles Weppler 413919 RAAF Age 30. PoW (1)
Bomb Aimer: Flt Lt. Clive Hugh Masters DFC. 42783 RNZAF Age 25. KiA
2nd Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Percy Raymond Billingsley 152751 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Charles Frederick Pope 1033297 RAFVR Age 33. KiA
Air Gnr: Sgt. Alexander Francis Rowlands 2204416 RAFVR Age 19. KiA
Anyone who has further information on this crew or details of the loss Sarah Rowlands would very much like to hear from you
REASON FOR LOSS:
205 Group to attack the capital of Romania, Bucharest. Industrial targets in the city were chosen as well as the railway yards in the North West. Barracks were ht during the raid as well as the main railway yards.
It is thought that Welington MF156 was hit by flak with the aircraft coming down at Talpa Bâscoveni, north east of Vartoapele, Romania.
(1) WO. Weppler was a PoW in an American PoW Camp in Romania, either in Bucharest, the Sinai Hospital, the Regina Maria Brasov (Military Hospital) or the Timisil de Jos (Camp No.18). Romania switched from their support of Germany and declared war on the Axis powers on the night of 23rd August 1944. WO Weppler was then repatriated to Australia in September 1944.
He was granted a commission and promoted to Plt Off on the 5th June 1945 and was discharged from the RAAF with effect 7th September 1945. He was then transferred to the Reserve on the 1st April 1946 and appointed to No. 9 Flight NSW Sqn for instructor duties with effect 30th June 1947. Promoted to acting Fg Off. on the 1st November 1948.
After leaving the service he returned to his pre-war employment as an Assistant Supervisor of Physical Education in New South Wales with effect the 17th July 1950.
Alfred Charles Weppler was born on the 2nd July 1914 in Bega, New South Wales - Died on the 3rd March 1968 in Belmont
Above: Bucharest War Cemetery. This crew also are remembered on a special plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, England. (photo shown above courtesy Sarah Rowlands)
Photographs of the graves are available at a higher resolution free of charge to any relative / friend of the crew.
Fg Off. Sydney James Hanney. Bucharest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.6. Probate information has him living at Acorn House, The Common, Rochester and he left effects to a Sydney George Hanney. No further details found.
Flt Lt. Clive Hugh Masters DFC. Bucharest War Cemetery. Grave 1.D.6. Born on the 15th March 1919 at Ongaonga, North Island. Son of James Ethelbert Masters and of Gertrude Ethel Masters (née Powell), of Onga Onga, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
Worked as a farmer on his mothers sheep farm in Te Hunga prior to service. Enlisted in the RNZAF on the 18th April 1942 at Rotorua. Awarded his navigators badge and promoted to Sergeant and he was commissioned on the 23rd October 1942. A total of 444 flying hours logged and on his 35th operational sortie he was the Squadron Bomber Leader.
DFC was posthumously awarded to acting Flt Lt. Masters whilst with 70 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette 23rd March 1945.
Fg Off. Percy Raymond Billingsley. Bucharest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.8. Son of Percy William and Fanny C. M. Billingsley, of Birmingham, England.
Sgt. Charles Frederick Pope. Bucharest War Cemetery. Grave 1.C.5. Son of Charles Frederick and Janet Pope, of Rhos-on-Sea, Denbighshire, Wales.
Sgt. Alexander Francis Rowlands. Bucharest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.7. Son of Richard Francis and Ada Rowlands, brother of Austin, Mary and Monica of Liverpool. England.
Researched and dedicated to Sarah Rowlands (great niece of Sgt. Rowlands) and all the relatives of this crew with thanks to Patrick Macdonald 'Through Darkness to Light'. Also to Julia Zhu - relative of Flt Lt. Masters who contacted us in Mar 2017. Narrative updated by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) (Mar 2021). Thanks to Mark Gordon for the clue that WO Weppler was repatriated to Australia in September 1944 (Dec 2022). Further research by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2022).
Other sources listed below: