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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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90 Squadron Crest
26/27.04.1943 No. 90 Squadron Stirling I BF383 WF-T F/O. Ian F. Mackenzie

Operation: Duisburg

Date: 26/27th April 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 90 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: BF383

Code: WF-T

Base: RAF Ridgewell, Essex, England.

Location: IJsselmeer, Netherlands

Pilot: F/O. Ian Fraser Mackenzie 123952 RAFVR Age 31. Missing

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Joseph Wilson 1372169 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Nav: F/O. Philip Alsop Walker 127545 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ronald Francis Cocking 1312110 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor George Leak 1194348 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Riby Boyes 1101061 RAFVR Age 25. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Edward Hardingham 927795 RAFVR Age ? Killed


561 aircraft left to bomb the city of Duisburg between 02:17 and 03:12 hrs. This Stirling took off at 00:37 hrs from RAF Ridgewell in Essex, England.

The operation was a partial failure - the pathfinders claimed to mark the target accurately - later recognisance revealed that most of the bombing had fallen to the North-East of the City. The city still suffered with more than 300 buildings destroyed with on the ground death toll of between 130 - 207.

The Luftwaffe night fighters engaged the bomber stream both on the outbound and homeward part of the journey.

There are reports that Stirling was shot down by both Hptm. Husemann (1) and Uffz. Vine (2). But we believe that it was more likely that Hpt. Werner Husemann of Stab/NJG1 shot the aircraft down (his second abschüsse of the war) which crashed into the IJsselmeer approximatly 4 km North West of Lelystad at 03:37 hrs.

On November 6th 1965 parts of the aircraft (mainly the tailplane assembly) were salvaged out of IJsselmeer due to the snagging of nets from the various fishing vessels in the area. No human remains were recovered.

Left: Uffz. Heinz Vinke Right: Hptm. Werner Husemann (courtesy Kracker archive)

(1) Hptm. Werner Husemann - Born on the 10th November 1919 the holder of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. He went on to claim a total of 32 night abschüsse surviving the war. Awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross - 250 combat operations. Died 2nd February 2014.
(2) Heinz Vinke (total of 52 abschüsse) went missing on the 26th February 1944 some 15 km. north west of Dunkirk after being shot down by two typhoons from 198 Squadron (Fl/Lt. Cheval L'Allemand and F/O. George Hardy)

Left: Sgt. Robert Edward Hardingham (courtesy Victoria Wakefield)

Right: Sgt Joseph Wilson (Courtesy Glenn Bradford)

Above: Sgt. Wilson's Flight Engineer's course at RAF St. Athen dated 12th November 1942. (Courtesy Glenn Bradford).

Burial details:

F/O. Ian Fraser Mackenzie. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 126. Son of James Purves Mackenzie and Catherine Mackenzie, husband of Christina Graham Mackenzie, of Uddingston, Lanarkshire, Scotland. M.A., LL.B.

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Joseph Wilson. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Coll. Grave 6. Born on the 29th October 1908. Son of George and Catherine Wilson, father to Vivienne and David of Hebburn-On-Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England.

Bio for Sgt. Joseph Wilson

A Geordie lad through and through, Joseph Wilson was born in Hebburn on Tyne on 28th October 1908. He was educated at the local secondary school before serving an apprenticeship to become a skilled signwriter. By 1931, Joe had fallen in love with Marion Proud, and the couple married in August 1933. Two children soon came along. Their daughter Vivienne was born in 1935; a son named David followed four years later.

As Joe’s trade was not on the list of protected occupations at the outbreak of the war, he decided to volunteer for one of the armed forces. His personal interest in modelling and aeroplanes made the choice an easy one, and Joe joined the RAF on 17th January 1941. He was posted to No. 10 School of Technical Training at Guild Farm, Kirkham, Preston in Lancashire. Then onto No. 207 Squadron based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, where he spent about twelve months, before posted to No. 4 School of Technical Training at RAF St. Athan in South Wales to undertake his Flight Engineer training. Joe also spent some time with the No. 3 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF South Cerney in Gloucestershire.

During this period, Marion and the children moved out of Hebburn. Fearful of enemy bombing campaigns targeting nearby docks, the family relocated to Leicester, where Marion’s parents were living. This made things difficult for Joe, as he was forced to split his leave between his beloved Hebburn and the new family home. Nevertheless, he used the little free time he had to be a proud, caring father to his children.

Come April of 1943, Joe completed his training on the Short Stirling at No.1651 Conversion Unit at RAF Waterbeach. He and his crew were posted to No. 90 Squadron at RAF Ridgewell. In a final letter home, having just had seven days leave, Joe wrote: "Well, Honey, I think I’ve got a new crew and I expect to start right away. The skipper is a pilot officer Mackenzie, a Scotsman, so I’ll be okay. I’ll try to write to you on Tuesday morning if I wake up in time. I hope this crew is ready for leave, soon, because I’ll go with them. All the other lads are fixed up, too. Say a little prayer for me, now and again. Your loving husband, Joe".

On the 27th of that month, at 0037 hours, as part of a force of 561 Bombers, Joe’s crew took off for a raid on the city of Duisburg. It was later reported that his Sterling I, BF383, WP-T was shot down by a German night fighter and crashed into the IJsselmeer with the loss of the entire crew. Joe and three others were recovered and buried in Holland. The rest are commemorated on the Aircrew Memorial at Runnymede.

Joseph Wilson was 34 years old when he was killed. It was a terrible loss for his young family which left a huge hole in their lives. Though Vivienne was just 8, and David not yet 4, their father has lived long in the memory, with Joe’s photograph still taking pride of place in the family home.

Nav: F/O. Philip Alsop Walker. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Coll. Grave 6. No further details, are you able to assist?

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ronald Francis Cocking. Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Plot 69. Row C. Coll. Grave 7. Son of William Terrell Cocking and Florence Kate Cocking, of Plymouth, husband of Lilian Winifred Cocking, of Keyham, Plymouth, England.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor George Leak. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 156. Son of George Alfred and Mary Henrietta Leak, of Parkstone, Dorsetshire, England.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Riby Boyes. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 143. Son of Robert Riby Boyes and Sarah Boyes, of Scarborough, Yorkshire, England.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Edward Hardingham. Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery. Plot 13. Row 6. Grave 106. Husband of Dorothy May Hardingham, of Downham Market, Norfolk, England.

For further details our thanks to Victoria Wakefield - relative of Sgt. Robert Hardingham. Also to Vivienne Tucker (née Wilson) who contacted us with further details on her father. Thanks also to Glenn Bradford, the Great Grandson of Sgt. Wilson, for the images and information. With information from various sources as quoted below.

RS 28.02.2019 - Update to include details for Sgt. Wilson

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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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