Operation: No. 38 Group Special Operation "EXECUTIVE" target Ostler 2
Date: 30/31 March 1945 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 298 Squadron (Airborne Forces) - Motto: "Silent we strike"
Badge: A hand holding a dagger in bend sinister thrusting to the dexter
Type: Handley Page Halifax III
Base: RAF Tarrant Rushton, Dorset.
Location: Not Known
Pilot: F/O. Peter Ireland 143752 RAFVR Age 23 - Missing believed killed (1)
Fl/Eng: F/Sgt. Thomas Reynolds 1482109 RAFVR Age 34 - Missing believed killed (2)
Nav: F/Sgt. Kenneth Woodhart 1180936 RAFVR Age 23 - Missing believed killed (3)
Air/Bmr: F/Sgt. Cyril Alexander 1800497 RAFVR Age 22 - Missing believed killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/Sgt. Alfred George King 1396360 RAFVR Age 22 - Missing believed killed (5)
Air/Gnr (Rear) W/O II. James Alexander (Jim) Buzza R/197961 RCAF Age 24 - Missing believed killed (6)
We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our HELPDESK
REASON FOR LOSS
With Flying Officer Peter Ireland at the controls Halifax PN243 8T-S took off from RAF Tarrant Rushton at 20.26 on 30 March 1945. Detailed for an SOE supply drop code named Ostler 2, the aircraft and its crew were to fly some 500 miles north east across the North Sea to the south coast Norway where they were to turn roughly NNE and fly a further 175 miles to their drop zone in the Gudbrandsdalen area of Norway, some 10 miles west north west of the southern tip of Engere Lake and 60 miles NE of Lillehammer (61.33.08 N 11.48.23E).
After take off, nothing further was heard of the aircraft or from the crew. The aircraft being on a lone mission there were no other aircraft flying with them that might have observed what happened, neither are there any Luftwaffe claims that might involve the aircraft. No wreckage or remains of the crew have ever been found.
In view of the foregoing the most reasonable assumption would seem to be that due to circumstances unknown the aircraft crashed into the North Sea with the loss of all the crew.
Mike Wickham, the nephew of the navigator Flight Sergeant Kenneth Woodhart would very much like to contact any relatives of this crew. If you have any information regarding such relatives please contact our HELPDESK
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) F/O. Peter Ireland was born in 1921 at Kings Norton Staffordshire the son of Claude Ireland and Lily Kathleen Mary Ireland later of Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire. He had an elder brother Richard C. Ireland born at Wokingham, Berkshire in 1918.
1575277 LAC Peter Ireland was commissioned as a Pilot officer on probation (emergency) on 8 May 1943 (London Gazette 13 July 1943) and promoted to Flying Officer on probation (war subs) on 8 November 1943 (London Gazette 12 November 1943)
(2) F/Sgt. Thomas Reynolds was born in 1910 at Prescott, Lancashire the son of Elizabeth Reynolds and stepson of James Aspinall, of Hayton, Lancashire.
(3) F/Sgt. Kenneth Woodhart was born in 1921 at Nantwich, Cheshire the son of George Woodhart and Jessie Woodhart nee Butler. He had siblings George A Woodhart born 1920, Jessie A. Woodhart born 1924, Denis R. Woodhart born 1926 and Hilda M. Woodhart born 1928. In 1944 he married Sybil Newton at Crewe and they had a son, Peter.
(4) F/Sgt. Cyril Alexander was born in 1922 at Bromley, Kent the son of Charles Robert Alexander and Mabel Florence Alexander nee Major. He had siblings Lilian A. Alexander born 1912 and Charles H Alexander born 1917. He married Joan Maureen Fitzsimmons in 1942 at Dartford. They lived at Bexley Heath, Kent. No known children.
(5) F/Sgt. Alfred George King was born in 1922 at Southwark, London the son of Stanley George King and Edith B. King nee Pegg believed to be the stepson of Hetty King. He had siblings Stanley E. King, born 1918 and Laura E. M. King, born 1920. In 1944 he married Hilda Elizabeth Englefield at Essex SW and lived at Leyton, Essex. No known children.
(6) W/O II. James Alexander Buzza was born on 9 April 1920 at Vancouver, British Columbia Canada the son of David Edgar Buzza and Effie Adina Buzza nee Morley of 2824 East 24th Avenue of Vancouver, British Columbia. He had five siblings: Willis Morley Buzza born 1908, May Buzza born 1910, Cecil Edgar Buzza born 1912, Grace Buzza born 1914 and Allan George Buzza 1918 (later RCAF Overseas)
He was educated at Beaconsfield School Vancouver 1926-1933 and after leaving school worked as a Truck Driver for a lumber business of which his father was a partner (Clarke and Buzza).
On 20 April 1940 he married May Thomson Buzza nee MacAuley (born 1920) at Vancouver. The couple lived at 2724 East 15th avenue Vancouver and later at 1355 East 14th Avenue Vancouver
He played football, baseball, lacrosse and skated
When he enlisted at Vancouver on 5 November 1942 he was described as being 5' 9½" tall weighing 148 lbs with a fair complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair.
After training at No. 17 Service Flying Training school, RCAF Souris, Manitoba, No. 23 Pre-Aircrew Education Department, Toronto,
No. 2 Air Gunners Ground Training school at RCAF Trenton, Ontario and No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, RCAF MacDonald, Manitoba he was awarded his Air Gunner's Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 17 September 1943.
He embarked at New York for the UK on 8 October 1943 and after arrival on 16 October was posted to No.3 Personnel Reception Centre at RAF Bournemouth the following day. On 26 October he was posted to No.22 Operational Training Unit atRAF Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire for night bomber training on the Vickers Wellington. Posted to 1664 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Dishforth, North Riding of Yorkshire on 31 January 1944 for conversion to the Handley Page Halifax four engine bomber and ultimately on 29 March 1944 to 298 Squadron at RAF Tarrant Rushton, Dorset.
He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 17 June 1944 and to Warrant Officer Class II on 17 December 1944.
On 28 March 1967 the Province of British Columbia honoured the memory of W/O II James Alexander Buzza by the naming of Mount Buzza
(1) F/O. Peter Ireland - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Air Memorial Panel No. 267
(2) F/Sgt. Thomas Reynolds - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Air Memorial Panel No.272
(3) F/Sgt. Kenneth Woodhart - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No.273
(4) F/Sgt. Cyril Alexander - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No.270
(5) F/Sgt. Alfred George King - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 271
(6) W/O II. James Alexander Buzza - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel No. 281
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Mike Wickham, relative of Flight Sergeant Kenneth Woodhart, and all the other relatives and friends of the members of this crew - January 2018
With thanks to the sources quoted below.