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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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Transport Command Crest
13.02.1946 435 Squadron Dakota III KG397 12432 Sqn Ldr. Joyce AFC, MiD

Operation: Transit

Date: 13th February 1946 (Wednesday)

Unit:435 Squadron. Transport Command (motto: Certi provehendi - 'Determined on delivery')

Type: Dakota III

Serial: KG397

Code: 12432

Base: RAF Croydon, Surrey

Location: Worms Heath, Chelsham, Surrey

Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. Robert Gray Joyce AFC, MiD. J6168 RCAF Age 25. Killed

2nd Pilot: Fg.Off. Alfred John Clark J36345 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Nav: Flt.Lt. R.J. Mitchell J26015 RCAF Injured - survived

WOp/Air Gnr: Fg.Off. A.W. Gallup J85422 RCAF Injured - survived


Dr. John Brittain PhD. Civilian Age 38. Killed

Wg.Cdr. Stanislaw Brzezina VM. 76782 PAF Age 42. Killed

Wg.Cdr. Stanisław Grodzicki VM. 76623 PAF Age 41. Killed

Wg.Cdr. Oliver William Durdin C3622 RCAF Survived

Maj.Gen. Maurice Somerville Chilton KBE. 13379 Army Age 48. Survived

Maj: Charles William Wheeler 131810 R.C.S. Seriously injured - Survived

Maj. G.C. Howarth 85811 Army Injured - Survived

Maj. D.F.C. Fleming Army Seriously injured - Survived

Capt. S.M. Braithwaite 296381 Army Seriously injured - Survived

Capt. Frank Reginald Francis 224794 Army Slightly injured - Survived

Flt.Sgt. Albert Roberts 643945 RAFVR Seriously injured - Survived

Sgt. Gerard T/170118 Army - Survived

Sgt. Jakubowicz 5340541 - Survived

LAC. George Arthur Doxey 2205894 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

LAC. Denis Palmer 2216688 435 Squadron RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Pte. W. Campbell 7403076 Army Slightly injured - Survived

Pte. H. Jewell Army Slightly injured - Survived

Dvr. Donald Ivan Glover 2113226 Royal Engineers Age? Killed

Gnr. N. Fenwick 1726079 Army Slightly injured - Survived

Spr. L.W.F. Bailey 2016710 Army Slightly injured - Survived


The aircraft was returning from Germany (Buckeburg) four crew and some 20 passengers, included a top rocket scientist and several very high ranking officers of both the Canadian and Polish Air Force as well as other Air Force and Army personnel.

All of whom have a story to be told - we welcome new information from relatives and researchers who are abet contribute further information and or photographs.

The pilot initially landed at Manston to check weather conditions for the final leg of the journey taking off from there at 10:55 hrs.

They were over Croydon at about 11.20 hrs and intended letting down from the North. Witness told the Captain of the plane that he could start letting down and he, the Captain, had replied that Croydon had told him to maintain his height until further instructions. Witness proposed that they complete a circuit of the airport at that height. When they were about five miles South of the airport the Captain told the witness that he had received a message to let down.

The crew encountered poor visibility with low clouds and mist. While descending at a too low altitude, the aircraft hit a hill and crashed near Warlingham at around 11:30 hrs, about 9 km south of Croydon Airfield (shown on map).

The Coroner, recording his verdict, was undoubtedly due to the 'plane having lost height at the South-East of Croydon airport, where there was a particularly high piece of ground, when visibility was severely reduced owing to intense fog.

The British Pathe news has a 54-second, silent clip of the aftermath of the crash of Dakota III KG397. The images of the crash site above appear to have come from this clip.

Above relaxing in German restaurant near Cuxhaven 1945. L-R: Dr. John Brittain, unknown, Joseph Salmon who was killed in a rocket accident at Wescott in 1947, unknown, Frank Micklethwaite official photographer for the 'Operation Backfire' project. (Please see credits)

Dr John Brittain , the only civilian, on board the flight, was a rocket scientist, employed by the Ministry of Supply. Educated at King Edward VII School Lytham, and Manchester University where he had a brilliant career. In 1929 he gained his B.Sc. with first class honours and was awarded a University prize, a graduate research scholarship and the special scientific and industrial award. A year later he obtained his M.Sc. and a few years afterwards was given his PhD. for another thesis. He was also a D.Sc. Dr. Brittain was returning from the continent before sailing for America as rocket expert to the Scientific Investigation in Explosive Projectiles. A great deal of information can be found regarding his work on 'Operation Backfire' on the 'V-2 Resource Site'.

Burial details:


Sqn.Ldr. Robert Gray Joyce AFC, MiD. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 58.B.9. Born on the 17th October 1920 in Denzil, Saskatchewan. Son of Amos R. Joyce and Elsie Joyce, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The AFC awarded to Sqn.Ldr. Joyce was gazetted on the 13th June 1946.
He was MiD, gazetted on the 1st January 1945

Fg.Off. Alfred John Clark. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 58.B.10. Grave inscription: "SEEKING NOTHING, GIVING ALL, ANSWERING TO HEAVEN'S CALL". Born on the 1st October 1921 in Middle River, Victoria County, Nova Scotia. Son of Daniel Alexander and Catherine Margaret Clark, of Cape Dauphin, Victoria Co., Nova Scotia, Canada.


Dr. John Brittain. Greatness Park Cemetery, Sevenoaks. Born on the 5th September 1907. Son of Mr. John and Mrs. Bessie Brittain of Tunbridge Wells. Husband of Mary Lucia Lofthouse of 8, Broomfield- road, Sevenoaks, Kent, England. It is understood that they also had a son, Michael born in 1937. A research scientist involved with explosives and rockets at the Ministry of Supply.

Wg.Cdr. Stanisław Brzenina. VM. St. Mary Cray Cemetery, Orpington. War Graves Plot E Div 3 Grave 94. Born on the 5th March 1905 in Łódź, Poland. Had been Commanding Officer of 305 (Polish) Squadron.

Wg.Cdr. Stanisław Grodzicki. DFC. VM. St. Mary Cray Cemetery, Orpington. War Graves Plot E Div 3 Grave 95. Born on the 1st March 1905 in Ostrołęka, Poland.

Commanding Officer (CO) of 317 (Polish) Squadron. Also CO of the 2nd Polish Wing. At the time of his death he held the position Chief of Staff Polish Air Force.

LAC. George Arthur Doxey. Ripley Cemetery, Derbyshire. Grave 1197. Grave inscription: "WE MISS HIM MOST WHO LOVED HIM BEST". Born in September 1922 in Ripley, Derbyshire. Youngest son of Son of Arthur William and Florence (née Cooke) Doxey, of Pease Hill, Ripley, Derbyshire, England. His father predeceased him in October 1930. He had two older brothers (one in the Army, one in the RAF) and was returning to the UK from Germany for posting to Gibraltar.

LAC. Denis Palmer. Leeds Cemetery (Holbeck). Grave 9189. Born on the 29th August 1924. Son of Ernest and Ethel (née Sykes) Palmer, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England.

Dvr. Donald Ivan Glover. Chase Terrace Church Cemetery (St. John). Row D. Grave 2. Born 9th January 1918 in Chasetown, Staffordshire. Son of Roland George and Lucy Ann (née Downton) Glover and husband to Olwen (née Dewsbury) Glover from Chasetown, Lichfield, Staffordshire, England.

Sir Maurice Somerville Maurice Chilton KBE. CB. Quartermaster-General to the Forces, passed away on the 21 August 1956, age 58.

Maj. Charles William Wheeler - Later awarded the MBE

Wg.Cdr. Oliver William Durdin - Later awarded the MBE passed away on the 28th October 2004, age 96.

Flt.Sgt. Albert Roberts Passed away on the 14th November 2014, age 95.

With many thanks to Ian Macdonald from the great RAF Commands Forum for some information on the crew. To Colin Cummings - 'Final Landings'. Also to Andy Micklethwaite for the use of the photograph of Dr. Brittain and others. Andy's father Frank took the photo as well as many others regarding 'Operation Backfire' (British Army evaluation of the V-2 Rockets post war) Also to Tracy Dungan and the amazing detailed, 'V-2 Resource Site'. Finally to John Brittain grandson of Dr. Brittain who submitted further details. Thanks to Paul Allonby for the Next of Kin details for LAC Doxey (Dec 2020). Other updates (Dec 2020). Thanks to Craig Cholar for the link to the British Pathe news clip. (Jun 2021). For other details our thanks to the sources shown below.

RS 11.06.2021 - Addition of link to British Pathe news clip

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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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