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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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429 Squadron Crest
31/01.08.1944 No. 429 Squadron Halifax III LV950 AL-C P/O. Irish

Operation: Coquereaux, France (Flying bomb storage site)

Date: 31/01st August 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 429 Squadron RCAF (Bison)

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LV950

Code: AL-C

Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire.

Location: St-Martin-au-Bosc, France

Pilot: P/O. John Roy Irish J/87468 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Reginald Thomas Walsham 55891 RAF Age 26. Killed

Nav: P/O. John Alexander Santo J/88290 RCAF Age 23. Killed (1) (2)

Air/Bmr: F/O. John Ernest Gloeckler J/28762 RCAF Age 26. Killed (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. William John Louis Wright J/88779 RCAF Age 27. Killed (4)

Air/Gnr: P/O. Hugh Boyd Gilmore J/90250 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Gordon Leroy Lindensmith J/90312 RCAF Age 20. Killed


In the early morning hours of June 13, 1944, the first V1 flying bomb fell on the railway bridge across Grove Road in East London badly damaging the bridge and a number of houses. A young mother and her eight month old baby were killed as well as a 12 year old boy and three other adults.

Above left and centre: P/O. John Roy Irish (courtesy Marilyn Irish) Right: P/O. Hugh Boyd Gilmore

By the end of June to the first week of August 1944, V1 attacks on London were at their height with over 100 falling on some days mostly in the south eastern suburbs.

During the eight week period commencing with the first attack on the night of 16/17 June, Bomber Command launched over 60 raids on flying bomb launch sites, storage areas and supply points in the Pas de Calais and other parts of north western France. Some of the sorties were very large, one involving in excess of 1000 aircraft, bombing multiple targets others were smaller raids against individual launching sites.

Above extreme left: P/O. Reginald Thomas Walsham (courtesy Shaye-Louise Jolley) Right: P/O. John Roy Irish (courtesy Marilyn Irish)

The raid on the night of 31 July/1 August was comprised of 202 aircraft, 104 Lancasters, 76 Halifaxes and 22 Mosquitos - of No's 1, 6 and 8 Groups. Two launch sites and the storage areas at Forêt de Nieppe and Conquereaux were to be targeted. Reports later showed that the storage area at Nieppe was the only one to receive significant damage.P/O John Irish and crew took off from Leeming at 21:51 hours after which nothing further was heard from the aircraft. Possibly brought down by Flak, Halifax LV950 crashed at St. Martin au Bosc in the Seine-Maritime department of northern France.

Right: P/O. John Santo (courtesy David and Patrick Santo)

(1) P/O. John Alexander Santo lost his twin brother W/O. Frank Robert Santo on the 5th May 1943.

Left: W/O Frank Santo

(2) Santo Bay in Saskatchewan is named after P/O Santo
(3) Gloeckler Lake in Saskatchewan is named after F/O Gloeckler
(4) William Wright Lake in Manitoba is named after P/O Wright

Above: Translation of a letter sent to F/O Gloeckler's fiance Miss Lola De Long of Halifax, Nova Scotia by an Italian POW assigned by the German authorities to assist with the burial of the bodies. Sgt. De Roma discovered her address in the pocket of his uniform while searching Gloeckner's body for identification. Originally written in Italian, Miss De Long sent it to the RCAF in Ottawa who translated it for her.

St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Full resolution images of the graves are available to relative - please contact us.

P/O. John Roy Irish, P/O. Reginald Thomas Walsham, P/O. John Alexander Santo F/O. John Ernest Gloeckler,

P/O. William John Louis Wright, P/O. Hugh Boyd Gilmore and P/O. Gordon Leroy Lindensmith

Burial details:

P/O. John Roy Irish. St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Son of Roy Charles and Agnes Loretta Irish (nee Gove), of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Until The Day Break, And The Shadows Flee Away. Song Of Solomon. II.I7”.

P/O. Reginald Thomas Walsham. St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Grave 7. Son of Thomas and Ellen Annie Walsham, of Aldershot, Hampshire, husband of Lilian Elsie Walsham (nee Clarke), of Roehampton, London. England. Grave inscription reads: “I See Above The Hill Tops Of Time The Dawn Of A Fairer And A Better Day”.

P/O. John Alexander Santo. St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Grave 5. Further information (supplied by Patrick Santo): Son of Alexander and Margaret Santo, of Bender, Saskatchewan, Canada. John Santo (twin brother to Robert Santo) was born on September 20th 1920 and grew up in the Bender district of Saskatchewan. (near present day Kipling). Joined the RCAF in May 1942. Graduated as a Navigator from the A.O.S. at Edmonton. Posted overseas in September 1943 to 429 (Bison) Squadron.

Of note, there were 9 children in the family of Alexander and Margaret Santo including two sets of twins. My father is half of the second set of twins (his twin brother died at 6 weeks of age of whooping cough). 8 of the nine children enlisted in the military during the 2nd WW. The second youngest, Edward, was underage at the time but managed to get into training. The youngest was only 11 when the war ended. Margaret Santo was honoured as Silver Cross mother of the year in 1973 when the island and the bay were named after her two fallen children. No grave inscription.

F/O. John Ernest Gloeckler. St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Son of Henry J. M. and Verna L. E. Gloeckler, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Gone But Not Forgotten. Remembered By My Mother, Arthur and Bob”.

P/O. William John Louis Wright. St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Grave 4. Son of William and Agnes Wright, husband of Evelyn Wright, of Langley Prairie, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “God Loved My Husband Who Died For His Country”.

P/O. Hugh Boyd Gilmore. St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of Samuel Hugh and Gertrude Elsie Gilmore (nee Kidd), of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That A Man Lat Down His Life For His Friends”.

P/O. Gordon Leroy Lindensmith. St. Martin-au-Bosc Communal Cemetery. Grave 5. Son of William L. and Gertrude Lindensmith (nee Wiegand), of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “It Was Said Unto Them, That They Should Rest Yet For A Little Season. REV.VI,II”.

Researched and written by Colin Bamford for the Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the all relatives of the crew of Halifax LV950. With many thanks to Marilyn Irish, Hugh Boyd Wylie, Dave Plummer, David and Patrick Santo for so kindly providing their family photographs and also Michel Coste for following up my leads in France. With thanks to Pierre Vandervelden "In Memory" website, also to Shaye-Louise Jolley for photograph of P/O. Reginald Thomas Walsham - July 2017 (her Grandmother, R. Jolley - formerly Walsham) was his only child) Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - "Bomber Command War Diaries", Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 5", Commonwealth Graves Commission, Les Allison and Harry Hayward - "They Shall Grow Not Old".

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Canada; Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947; Series: RG 24; Volume: 28991

CHB 02.05.2012
KT added headstone pictures. 12.12.2015 New photo added 10.07.2017.
CHB 24.02.2020 Additional crew photographs and details 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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