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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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51 Squadron Crest
18/19.08.1941 No. 51 Squadron Whitley V Z6731 MH-A P/O. W. J. Loney

Operation: Köln (Cologne)

Date: 18/19th August 1941 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron

Type: Whitley V

Serial: Z6731

Code: MH-A

Base: RAF Dishforth, Yorkshire

Location: Lime Tree Farm north west of Laxfield near the B1116, Suffolk

Pilot: P/O. Wellington James Loney J/3706 RCAF Age 25. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. ‘Jack’ John Leonard Gilman 989975 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Richard Edward Bennett 968187 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Taylor 998674 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest John Lowater AUS/402464 RAAF Age 26. Killed


Taking off from RAF Dishforth, Yorkshire at 21:29 hrs going a total force of 62 aircraft on an unsuccessful operation to Cologne. Returning crews reported many fires on the west side of the Rhine however Cologne report that very few bombs were dropped on the city, with just one building destroyed and no casualties. It is thought that the bomber stream were diverted to decoy fires away from the target area.

On the return the aircraft was seen coming in from the south east at a height of approximately 2.000 ft on fire. No communication was received from the aircraft, the cause obscure. Since the W/T was apparently U/S it is possible that the fire originated from damage caused by enemy action. The aircraft crashed at Lime Tree Farm, north west of Laxfield in Suffolk at 03:15 hrs.

Subsequent inspection (28th October 1941) revealed that the port engine appeared to have broken away from the aircraft in the air though signs of bearings having been subjected to heat. The engine was discovered some 70 yards from the main wreckage. Crew made no attempt to escape by parachute.

Weather conditions reported at the time was a west south west wind but not strong - visibility very good -trace of cloud at 2.500 ft. Previous aircraft inspection took place at 11.:30 hrs on he 18th August 1941 - aircraft and engines passed fit for flight. Engines - Port: Merlin X 148758 Starboard: Merlin X 148380

51 Squadron lost 4 aircraft on this operation:

Whitley V Z6566 MH-Q Flown by 20 year old, Sgt. William Birdsall James DFM. MiD. 989723 RAFVR from Leeds, England - taken PoW with all his crew after bing hit by flak. (Sgt. James was to die in 1944 after contracting TB and repatriated.
Whitley V Z6569 MH-S Flown by P/O. H.B. Robertshaw RAFVR - taken PoW with 3 of his crew, 1 died from wounds received.
Whitley V Z6811 MH-D Flown by 20 year old Sgt. John Alexander Barrie Jamieson 1002131 RAFVR from Kerriemuir, Angus, Scotland - killed with 3 other crew, 1 taken PoW after what has been a thought of a collision with a Luftwaffe nightfighter.

Honington graves of some of the crew as visited by Aircrew Remembered 2014

Burial details:

P/O. Wellington James Loney. Honington Churchyard, Suffolk (All Saints) Row D. Grave 2. Son of John A. Loney, and Catherine C. Loney, of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. Trained on Yale (33.20 hours with another 33.00 solo) , Harvard (12.25 hrs with 21.25 hrs solo), Whitley IV (4.55 hrs with 14.50 hours solo) and Whitley V (105 hrs of these 82.35 hrs at night). 

Sgt. ‘Jack’ John Leonard Gilman. Birkdale Cemetery. Sec. D. Grave 130. Son of Ellis Philip and Dorothy Grace Gilman, of Southport, Lancashire, England. Trained on Magister (26.15hrs with 26.50 hrs solo) Whitley III (2.10 Hrs with 2.20 hrs solo) Whitley V (37.25 hrs with 9.15 hrs solo)

Sgt. Richard Edward Bennett. Ostermouth Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 277. Son of Joseph and Ellen Bennett, of Swansea, Wales.

Sgt. John Taylor. Widnes Cemetery. Sec. 5U. Grave 1888. Son of Frank and Bessie Taylor, of Widnes, Cheshire, England.

Sgt. Ernest John Lowater. Honington Churchyard, Suffolk (All Saints) Row D. Grave 3. Son of Frederick Morton Lowater and Louisa Jane Lowater, of 78 Wanganilla Street, Balgowlah, New South Wales, Australia. Born 21st July 1915. Homebush Primary School 1927 - 1928. Sydney Technical High School 1929 - 1930. A tyre retreader prior to service. 

Researched for Floyd Low and the niece of the pilot. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.

KTY 18.06.2015

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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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