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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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40 Squadron Crest
19/20.07.1942 No. 40 Squadron Wellington Ic HX399 BL-S Fl/Sgt. Kingsford

Operation: Anti-shipping

Date: 19/20th July 1942 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron (205 Group)

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: HX399

Code: BL-S

Base: RAF Shallufa, Egypt

Location: Wadi Natrun, Egypt

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Peter Reginald Kingsford NZ/41482 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - known to have been killed (1)

Pilot 2: Sgt. John Alexander Tovey NZ/411474 RNZAF Age 28 Survived (2)

Obs: Sgt. John Clarke 1375151 RAF Age 22. Survived (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Richard John Laing AUS/403191 RAAF Age 21. - Missing - known to have been killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Lachlan McTaggart AUS/407486 RAAF Age 24. Survived

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ian Edward Goss AUS/401211 RAAF Age 24. Survived


Taking off at 22:10 hrs from RAF Shallufa in Egypt to bomb the harbour and shipping in Tobruk harbour. About an hour later whilst climbing to 6,000 ft the starboard engine exploded which then caught fire. The bomb load was jettisoned and attempts made to extinguish the fire. The pilot ordered the crew to bale out, the captain, Fl/Sgt. Kingsford remained in the aircraft along with the W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Laing and attempted to land the Wellington after transmitting several SOS messages.

They belly landed the aircraft at 23:15 hrs in an isolated area some 10 miles west of Wadi Natrun - sadly the aircraft burst into flames fatally injuring the two crew members, both died shortly afterwards.

(1) Fl/Sgt. Peter Reginald Kingsford - his father, Major Alfred Reginald Kingsford, served both as a Medic and then joined the Royal Flying Corps during WW1. Served in both 33 and 100 Squadrons. Also served in WW2 with the final rank of Major. Author of two publications: 'With The Earth Beneath' and 'Night Raiders Of The Air'. Owned the well known Broma Photographic Studios - he passed away on the 11th April 1987 age 96, in Stoke, England.

(2) Sgt. John Alexander Tovey was lost as a passenger on a 138 Squadron Halifax II W1002. Aircraft on a ferry flight to Malta from LG224. Understood to have come down in the Mediterranean Sea, possibly as a result of a night fighter attack. All 15 crew and passengers were lost - missing believed killed and remembered on the Alamein Memorial.

(3) Sgt. John Clarke received his commission to Pilot Officer on the 08th March 1943 service number: 144761. He was lost on the 27th January 1944 whilst serving as the specialist operator, Then a F/O. with 101 Squadron. Lancaster III DV231 SR-A Hit by flak and then shot down by a night fighter on an operation to Berlin - all but one of the crew were killed.

Burial details:

Sadly, it is known that both these crew member bodies were indeed recovered and buried near to the crash site, a senior RAF chaplain conducting the service. It seems that the graves of the two crew members were possibly lost by subsequent sand storms. Consequently they are now remembered on the Alamein Memorial.

Fl/Sgt. Peter Reginald Kingsford. Alamein Memorial. Panel 265. Son of Alfred Reginald and Charlotte Kingsford, of Nelson, New Zealand.

Sgt. Richard John Laing. Alamein Memorial. Panel 266. Son of John Clarence Leslie Laing, and of Georgiana Laing, of Lavender Bay, New South Wales, Australia.


Sgt. John Alexander Tovey. Alamein Memorial. Panel 266. Son of Alexander Martin Tovey and of Jessie Clare Tovey (née Roberts), of Auckland City, New Zealand.

Sgt. John Clarke. Hanover War Cemetery. Collective grave 4.A.1-10. Son of William Frederick and Agnes Louisa Clark, of Ruislip, Middlesex, England.

With thanks to Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, Ralph McLean for Alamein Memorial Photo, MystikNZ volunteer at Find A Grave for family grave photo, Nelson Provincial Museum for photo of Major Alfred Reginald Kingsford. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.

KTY - 20.11.2017

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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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