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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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06/07th July 1941 115 Squadron Wellington IC R1063 Sgt. Matthews

Operation: Munster, Germany

Date: 06/07th July 1941 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron (motto: 'Despite the elements'). 3 Group

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: R1063

Code: KO-D

Base: RAF Marham, Norfolk

Location: North Sea

Pilot: Sgt. Oswald Arthur Matthews NZ/391842 RNZAF Age 20. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Charles Stanley Rutherford Edwards R/69694 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Walter Bent 963269 RAFVR Age 23. Initially listed as missing - believed killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth George MacLeay 995759 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Webster 1356429 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Alexander Strachan R/64240 RCAF Age 25. Killed


Taking off at 23:26 hrs on an operation to Munster, some 47 aircraft taking part. All aircraft reached the target and bombed successfully.

R1053 sent a message at 00:45 hrs stating that they were going to ditch. Despite extensive searches no trace of the aircraft was found.

4 bodies were later recovered Sgt. Matthews and Sgt. Strachan were washed ashore at Schiermonnikoog and one other unidentified, the body of Sgt. Albert Webster was also recovered washed up further down the coast.

Some websites list that it was shot down by Oblt. Helmut Woltersdorf of the 4./NJG 1. However according to the 'Nachtjad Combat Archive - The early years part 1' no claim was made for this aircraft. The only claim was for N2843 as shown below.

Also lost on this operation Wellington IC N2843 from 40 squadron flown by 29 year old, Sgt. P/O. John Edwin MacKenzie Steeds NZ/401417 RNZAF killed with all 5 other crew after an engagement with enemy fighters over the North Sea at 02:17 hrs. Further details here.

(1) A body unidentifiable was recovered at around the same date as the others but placed in a grave marked 'Known Only To God'. He was therefore remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 39. It was not until 2016 as a result of evidence recently submitted by Laurel Clegg, an anthropologist working for the Canadian Directorate of History and Heritage, the MOD’s Air Historical Branch has now confirmed that the unidentified remains are in fact those of Sgt James Walter Bent. On a full service attended by his family and 70 other people including representatives from the MOD, CWGC, the British Embassy, local dignitaries, school children and members of the close knit local community. A replacement headstone had been arranged by the CWGC with a personal inscription from his family.

Burial details:

Sgt. Oswald Arthur Matthews. Schiermonnikoog Cemetery (Vredenhof) Grave 58. Born 11th September 1920 at Wellington. Worked as a clerk for Richardson McCabe and Company in Wellington prior to service. A RNZAF reserve pilot with Wellington Aero Club and awarded his 'A' licence on the 09th February 1939. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Levin on the 18th December 1939. Pilots badge awarded on the 10th June 1940 and promised to sergeant on the 27th July 1940 following training at No. 4 Elementery Flying School. Embarked for England on the 11th August 1940. Joined 115 squadron on the 31st March 1941 following training with 15 Operational Training Unit and a period with 57 squadron. Involved in a landing accident whilst with 57 squadron on the 28th January 1941, no injuries sustained. Son of Eric Rupert Matthews and of Annie Dorothea Matthews (nee Park), of Karon, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 455 flying hours logged and on his 25th operational sortie.

Sgt. Charles Stanley Rutherford Edwards. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 61. Enlisted on the 02nd July 1940. Holder of private pilot licence. Son of Rutherford Edwards and of Orpha Edwards (nee Sheridan), of 16 St. Joseph Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. James Walter Bent. Schiermonnikoog Cemetery (Vredenhof). Grave 60. A salesman prior to service. Enlisted on the 10th April 1940. Son of Charles Walter and Zilpha Ann Bent of Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Grave inscription: 'Loved By All His Family'. See right.

Sgt. Kenneth George MacLeay. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 47. Son of Duncan and Georgina MacLeay, of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Sgt. Albert Webster. Kiel War Cemetery. Grave 3. C. 20. Son of Albert and Clara Webster, Sheffield, England. Grave inscription: 'Though Absent They Are Always Near, Still Loved, Still Missed And Ever Dear'.

Sgt. William Alexander Strachan. Schiermonnikoog Cemetery (Vredenhof). Grave 59. Born on the 14th August 1915 at Portage La Prairie. Worked as a teacher prior to enlisting ion the 07th June 1940. Son of William and Ann S. Strachan, of RR 4, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Gov UK-MOD News Team, Operation Picture Me, Martin Carrac, Dr. Theo Boiten - ' Nachtjad Combat Archive , The early years part 1'. Queens University. Ontario, Canada, Friends of 115 Squadron, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 06-06-2021

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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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