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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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232 Squadron Crest
11.04.1943 232 Squadron Spitfire Vb ES147 Sgt. Keller

Operation: Interception

Date: 11th April 1943

Unit: 232 Squadron, 322 Wing, 242 Group (motto - 'Strike')

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: ES147

Code: EF-?

Base: Souk el Khemis (Victoria), Tunisia (now Algiers)

Location: Gulf of Tunis

Pilot: Sgt. Ronald Frederick Keller 415765 RNZAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

At 0900 hours the CO of 232 Sqn, Wg.Cdr. Berry, led 12 Spitfires from 81 Sqn, 11 from 154 Sqn and 11 from 232 Sqn, including Sgt. Keller on a sweep over Tunis Bay at 23,000 ft. Over El Aouina a number of Ju52/3ms were observed taking off and 232 Sqn dived to attack. Bf-109s appeared overhead and attacked the Sqn on their dive and on their way back to base. Sgt Keller was seen to shoot down one of the Ju52s but was himself shot down by a Bf-109 and seen to crash into the sea. (Extracted from the History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945 Vol 3).

Sgt. Keller also had a half claim of a JU87 on the 7th April 1943. (Extracted from the History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945 Vol 3).

The Sqn claimed 5 probably 6 enemy aircraft but lost three Spitfires on this mission. Besides Sgt. Keller, Plt.Off C.F. Sorensen was also MiA (note: no record of him in the CWGC database but there is a record of a C.F. Sorensen J/15811, RCAF as a PoW in Stalag Luft 3, PoW No. 1088) and Flt.Lt. G.J. Lynes 46631 who bailed out behind enemy lines and became a PoW (Stalag Luft 3, PoW No. 1100).

Photograph of 232 Sqn pilots taken at Tingley airfield, Algeria. Some time during February-March 1943. (The photograph was provided to Vicki Sorensen by Plt.Off. Arthur F. Sherwin in 2011). (Courtesy Vicki Sorensen)

Sgt. Keller; back row 1st from the right; Plt.Off. Sherwin: back row 2nd from the right.

Plt.Off. Arthur F. Sherwin 127324 was in Spitfire V EP542 scrambled over Souk el Khemis at 1600 hrs on 18th April 1943. Failed to return. (Stalag Luft 3, PoW No. 1280)

The family lost his older brother during the very early stages of the war. 20 year old, Plt.Off. Hubert John Keller 36173 RAF was flying Hudson N7284 with 220 Sqn, 18 Group when it crashed into the North Sea off Seaham, County Durham, England, on Sunday 19th November 1939. His observer 20 year old, Plt.Off. John Whyte Crighton Robertson 41533 also missing - believed killed.

Burial details:

Sgt. Ronald Frederick Keller. Malta Memorial. Panel 12, Column 2. Born on the 26th January 1923 at Taumarunui, the son of Peter and Mary Gertrude D'Oyly Keller (née Bayfield), of New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a clerk for the Social Security Department at Dunedin. A total of 329 flying hours logged and having completed 20 operational sorties.

His brother and other crew member:

Plt.Off. Hubert John Keller. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 1. Born on the 28th April 1919 at Maungaturoto. Selected as RAF short service commission straight from being a student.

Plt.Off. John Whyte Crighton Robertson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 1. Son of William and Elizabeth Emmeline Robertson, of Woking, Surrey.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below. Thanks to Pierre Lagacé for the 232 Sqn photograph.

RS 06.02.2020 - Addition of link to the story of Plt.Off. Sorensen

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Acknowledgements
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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