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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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Bomber Command
25th March 1942 1 OADU Wellington Ic AD640 Sgt. McNeill

Operation: Ferry Flight

Date: 25th March 1942 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 1 Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit. 44 Group

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: AD640

Code: -

Base: RAF Portreath, Cornwall

Location: Alboran Sea

Pilot: Sgt. Henry John McNeill NZ/405324 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Ernest Clarke NZ/402539 RNZAF Age 26. injured (1)

Obs: Sgt. Reginald Raymond Pole 992735 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert O'Donnell 1309519 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William John Lambie 990530 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Thomas Ward 1379450 RAFVR Age 33. Missing - believed killed


On a ferry flight from England leaving on the 22nd March to the Middle East via Gibraltar. Taking off at 12:35 hrs an immediately suffered a starboard engine failure.

The aircraft crashed into the Alboran Sea 1000 yards off North Front in Gibraltar. Fl/Sgt. John Clarke survived, slightly injured spent two hours in the water before being rescued.

Sgt. Henry McNeill who had previously served with 15 Operational Training Unit had been posted to the Middle East and was making his way there via the Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit.

(1) Fl/Sgt. John Ernest Clarke killed on Sunday the 30th May 1943 whilst with 10 squadron. Flying Halifax II DT787 ZA-S when shot down on an operation to Wuppertal over Dortmund - all 7 crew killed.

Burial details:

Sgt. Henry John McNeill. Gibraltar Cemetery. (North Front). Plot 2. Row C. Joint grave 2. Born on the 14th December 1916 at Wellington. Worked as a truck driver for J.A. Brown carriers of Walaniwa prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 24th December 1940. Embarked for training in Canada on the 29th April 1941. Pilots badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the on the 08th August 1941. Embarked for England on the 20th August 1941. Trained with 15 Operational Training Unit. Son of Peter and Frances Christina McNeill (née Roy), of Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 120 flying hours logged with 60 on the Wellington.

Fl/Sgt. John Ernest Clarke. Later: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 3 D 10-13. Born on the 10th June 1915 in London, England. Worked as a commercial traveller for Levin and Company of Masterton prior to service. After serving in the NZ territorial Army for two years enlisted on the 11th June 1940 in the RNZAF in New Plymouth. Embarked for training in Canada on the 29th April 1941. Pilots badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the on the 08th August 1941. Embarked for England on the 20th August 1941. Trained with 15 Operational Training Unit. Son of Reginald Norman and Jessie Amelia Clarke of 17 Jeans Street, Masterton, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 481 flying hours logged and on his 6th operational sortie - this the 1st with 10 squadron.

Sgt. Reginald Raymond Pole. Gibraltar Cemetery. (North Front). Plot 2. Row C. Joint grave 1. Son of Ernest William and Harriet Elizabeth Pole, of Manton, Nottinghamshire, England. Grave inscription: 'My Dear Son Reginald. A Beautiful Memory Dearer Than Gold. Dad'.

Sgt. Robert O'Donnell. Gibraltar Cemetery. (North Front). Plot 2. Row C. Joint grave 1. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. William John Lambie. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 87. Son of James Cockburn Lambie and Annie Lambie, of Glasgow, Scotland.

Sgt. Reginald Thomas Ward. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 96. Son of Reginald Thomas Ward and Lilian Ward; husband of Winifred Victoria Ward of 22 Queens Gardens, Peterborough, England. Also remembered on the Peterborough War Memorial

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 13-06-2021

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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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