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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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15 Squadron Crest
16/17.12.1943 15 Squadron Stirling I R9168 LS:T Plt Off. Frank S. Millen

Operation: Diepholz

Date: 16th/17th December 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit No: 15 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: R9168

Code: LS:T

Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire

Location: Gortel, Netherlands

Pilot: Plt Off. Frank Severne Millen J16197 RCAF Age 21. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Grantley Charles George Hutton 576008 RAF Age 19. KiA

Nav: Plt Off. Emerson Harvey Kieswetter J16319 RCAF Age 24. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Robert Hugh McKillop 404389 RNZAF Age 25. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Russell Neal Holmes J16538 RCAF Age 21. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Plt Off. Hugh Ernest Hill J16537 RCAF Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. James Frederick Perring 539068 RAF Age 26. PoW No: 27297 *

* Stalag 8b, in 1943 renamed Stalag 344, Lamsdorf (now called Łambinowice) in Silesia, Lamsdorf (now called Łambinowice) in Silesia .

A school teacher Mr Harry Bouwman contacted Aircrew Remembered in December 2014. His school erected memorial for the crew at the crash site in 1992 with special permission from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Mr Bouwman also published a book on the story of this aircraft and crew. Please see further details at the foot of this page of remembrance.


Taking off from RAF Bourne with 3 other aircraft to bomb the airfield at Diepholz, which was also used as a storage area for Luftwaffe aircraft.

Above L-R: Sgt. Grantley Hutton, Sgt. James Perring, Plt Off. Hugh Hill, Sgt. Robert McKillop (courtesy Harry Bouwman)

Above L-R: Plt Off. Frank Severne Millen, Plt Off. Russell Holmes, Plt Off. Emerson Harvey Kieswetter (courtesy Harry Bouwman and Ken Dougan)

R9168 was claimed Lt. Werner Rapp, his 1st Abschuss, from 7./NJG1, over Gortel some 12 km north of Apledoorn, at 500 m. at 20:09 hrs.

Note: also claimed by Flak of 1. & 2./schw. Flak Abt. 42 Motorised and 1./lei Flak. Abt 743 (Stirling Gortel 20:09). The victory was confirmed for Lt. Rapp on 27 October 1944. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive The Early Years Part 3 Theo Boiten)

Above: Lt. Werner Rap served with 7./NJG1, 5 NJG5, Stab II./NJG5 and survived the war after becoming an ace with 18 victories.

Burial details:

Plt Off. Frank Severne Millen. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 627. Inscription: 'BORN TO CECIL SEVERNE BLANDING AND RALPH E. MILLEN, WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. U.S.A.' Born on the 26th March 1921 in Watkins Glen, New York, USA. Son of Ralph Eaton Millen of Watkins Glen and Cecil Severn Blanding of Providence, Rhode island, USA.

Sophomore of Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont, USA.

Sgt. Grantley Charles George Hutton. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 626. Born in 2nd Qtr 1923 in Bristol, Avon. Son of Grantley Maunder and Alice Maud (née Webb) Hutton of Bristol, England.

Plt Off. Emerson Harvey Kieswetter. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Coll. Grave 616-618. Inscription: 'DEEP IN OUR HEARTS A MEMORY IS KEPT OF ONE WE LOVED AND WILL NEVER FORGET'. Born on the 13th February 1918 in Edmonton, Alberta. Son of Milton Thomas and Katherine Henderson (née Sutherland) Kieswetter of Kirkwood Place, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Sgt. Robert Hugh McKillop. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Coll. Grave 616-618. Born on the 19th March 1917, enlisted on the 5th September 1939. Son of Patrick McKillop and Ruby McKillop (nee Hay), of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand.

Plt Off. Russell Neal Holmes. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Coll. Grave 616-618. Born on the 19th October 1921 in Roundup, Montana, USA. Son of Fred Manfred (Deceased in 1923) and Myrtle (née Shields) Holmes of Marwayne, Alberta, Canada.

Enlisted the RCAF on 15 July 1940; Posted to 15 Squadron RAF on September 23, 1942.

Plt Off. Hugh Ernest Hill. Epe General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 625. Born on the 6th October 1922 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Son of William John and Kathleen (née McDowell) Hill of Toronto, Ontario. Husband to Dorothy Annie Caroline (née Dyer) Hill of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Enlisted the RCAF on October 8, 1940; Posted to 15 Squadron RAF on September 23, 1942.

For further details our thanks to the following, Mr. Harry Bouwman, Gerry Zwanenburg, MBE. Thanks to John Jones for the confirming information regarding the loss of the aircraft and to details for Plt Off. Kieswetter & Plt Off. Holmes. (Oct 2019). Thanks to Gerard ter Mors, Researcher Canadian War Graves NL, for the additional NoK details for Plt Off. Holmes and Plt Off. Hill. (Jan 2023). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2023).

Other sources listed below:

Mr. Harry Bouwman - 'The Last Flight of 'T' For Tommy:-

As a tribute to the crew, in 1993 Mr. Harry Bouwman published a book, ‘The last flight of T for Tommy’, in which he elaborately describe the circumstances of the raid of that particular bomber, which crashed on 16th December 1942. Next to the RAF part of the story, He also wrote about the German side and the Dutch involvement after the crash. Within a few months 1.000 copies of this book had been sold.

During the nineties many Air Gunners, who came over to Dronten in May, paid a visit to his school and joined the Memorial Service in the woods. The British Military Attaché joined us several times.

As people still asked about his book, last year a new edition was published. The main intention was to reach (in special lessons) 1.200 schoolchildren in the region to tell them about WW2 and the hard work of RAF Bomber Command during the war. The professional help of his friend, Gerry Zwanenburg (1928), MBE, Recovery Officer (R’red) of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, was of priceless value to him. In both editions he wrote a foreword. Gerry Zwanenburg recovered a lot of RAF aircraft in the Flevopolders during 1960-1980, for which he received several decorations.

This book is now available in English from the International Bomber Command Centre priced at just £18.00 and available to order online.

In the new edition (88 pages full colour, 175 pictures) a comprehensive description of the circumstances during the raid has been written. How the aircraft was prepared, what kind of men formed the crew, what did they have to do during the raid on Diepholz Airfield? After the Stirling was hit by Flak and on his way back to England, the reader is led to the German pilot in his Messerschmitt. He shot down the Stirling at 20.19 hrs. At the time of the crash, the story follows a Dutch boy who was an eyewitness to the crash. Only the rear gunner survived. He was taken PoW and transported to Stalag 344, Lamsdorf. He survived the war and returned to England in 1945.

In addition to this main part of the book,he describes, in about 50 short articles, the circumstances of the Dutch during the war: resistance, the suffering of the Jews, liberation etc. (I told my pupils that this book contains circa 80% of the headlines of WW2.) Also many interesting details are mentioned.

All main records of the RAF, the Germans and the Dutch are included, as well as letters from parents of the crew. Last year he met the son of the rear gunner, who handed him his fathers’ logbook.

Vaassens weekly 31 May 2016 (reproduced with permission of the author)

Gortel – Bomb aimer Ken Dougan ought to have been part of the crew of the Stirling R9168 that crashed at Gortel on 16th December 1942. He was in hospital following a crash during take-off. His crew had to fly their next operation to bomb the Diepholz training airfield of the Luftwaffe. So Ken wasn’t flying with them this time...

Right: Even H.R.H. Princess Margriet found the time to come and meet with Ken Dougan. She spoke to the elderly veteran for a long time at the entrance of the cemetery Tongerenseweg. (Photo Harry Bouwman)

Harry Bouwman, who in 1992 erected the air gunner’s memorial with his then primary school class, accidently came into contact with the 98 year old Canadian last year. It wasn’t until the English version of the last flight of T for Tommy was published last year that he realised how his comrades died. The veteran had one last wish; to pay his respects to his fallen comrades at the place where they lost their lives. For this reason he travelled from Vancouver to the Netherlands, a trip he had never taken before.
On Monday, in the company of his son and daughter, Dougan visited the cemetery in Epe. Princess Margriet was also there. The princess was born in Canada, when the Royal family took refuge there during the German occupation of the Netherlands. She spent 20 minutes speaking to the veteran, who was clearly moved.

In the afternoon, Dougan visited the primary school ‘Het Mosterdzaadje’ at Gortel. The school adopted the memorial commemorating the to the memorial. Dougan was taken by jeep to the “Veenwegje”, escorted by the bagpipers and old army vehicles. Former marines formed a guard of honour. Following the opening speech from organiser Harry Bouwman, Frans Roos a pupil from the primary school, read a poem written by herself. A former marine playing the perished airmen on the street “Veenwegje”. Representatives from the Canadian and English embassies were also present. Dougan spent an hour answering questions from the pupils.

The Canadian war veteran Ken Dougan (98), surrounded by the pupils of the Mosterdzaadje primary school, pays his last respects at the Airman’s memorial to his comrades who in 1942 crashed. Next to him his son and daughter. Mrs. Gallit Dobner is laying a wreath on behalf of the Canadian Embassy.

After a cup of coffee and a surprise performance from the Bagpipers City of Apeldoorn, everyone went to the memorial. Dougan was taken by jeep to the “Veenwegje”, escorted by the bagpipers and old army vehicles. Former marines formed a guard of honour. Following the opening speech from organiser Harry Bouwman, Frans Roos a pupil from the primary school, read a poem written by herself. A former marine playing the trumpet accompanied the singing of “Abide with me”. Harry Bouwman read a passage from his book T for Tommy. Headmaster Frans Jan Roos read it in English. Following the Dedication by Margreet Slijkhuis the Last Post was played, followed by two minutes silence. The Dutch, Canadian and English National anthems were played followed by the laying of wreaths and flowers by the Canadian embassy, the British embassy, the schoolchildren from the Mosterdzaadje primary school, the association Gortel Niersen, and Harry and Virginia Bouwman.

During Harry Bouwman’s thank you speech he invited those present for a cup of coffee together in Het Mosterdzaadje.

RS 05.01.2023 - Review and update of narrative and NoK details

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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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