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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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75 Squadron Crest
17/18.12.1942 No. 75 Squadron Stirling I BF396 AA-X W/Cdr. Victor Mitchell

Operation: Fallersleben

Date: 17/18th December 1942 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron (3 Group)

Type: Stirling I

Serial: BF396

Code: AA-X

Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk

Location: Listed as lost without trace

Pilot: W/Cdr. Victor Mitchell DFC. MiD. 37755 RAF Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Pilot 2: W/O. Trevor Horace Bagnall NZ/40640 RNZAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Hart 523663 RAF Age 28. Missing - believed killed

Nav: W/O. Reginald Wiliam Pearson 747858 RAFVR Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Gerald Thomas Padden 1041966 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stuart John Goff 916785 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Henry Rider 960489 RAFVR Age 31. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Albert Charles William Parker 909252 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Please see Special appeal and Prologue at the foot of the page of Remembrance.


Taking off from RAF Newmarket in Suffolk at around 18:00 hrs to bomb the Opel works at Fallersleben. The commanding officer from 75 Squadron W/Cdr. Mitchell took up this new crew and led the 5 Stirlings sent from the squadron, sadly only 1 was to return!

16 Stirlings and 3 Wellingtons from 3 Group were detailed to attack Fallersleben (other units also bombed other targets this night) From this force of 19 aircraft only 3 managed to bomb the cloud covered target.

It is thought possible that Stirling was shot down by Oblt. Werner Husemann of Stab NJG1 at 20:53 hrs with the aircraft coming down in the North Sea some 5 KM west of Bergen aan Zee.

The Squadron lost no less than 4 crew during this operation, the others:

Stirling I R9247 AA-W - Flown by Fl/Sgt. Henry Edwin Rousseau 1026535 RAFVR, killed with all 6 other crew members.
Stirling I BF400 AA-G - Flown by 27 year old, F/O. Gerald Howard Jacobson NZ/41333 RNZAF, killed with all 6 other crew members.
Stirling I BK620 AA-A - Flown by Fl/Sgt. K.J. Dunmall 1283701 RAFVR, taken PoW with all 6 other crew members.

Left: Maj. Husemann shown here in the centre with his crew and ground crew. L to R: Ogefr. Meisolle, mechanic, Ofw. H.G. Schierholz, BF, Husemann, FW. Moller, BS, FW. Fehmannn 2nd BF.

(courtesy Kracker archives on this website)

This was the first claim by Oblt. Werner Husemann. He survived the war with a total of 32 kills. Born on the 10th November 1919 - Died on the 02nd February 2014.

BF396 was delivered to the Squadron on the 23rd October 1942 from 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit.

Burial details:

W/Cdr. Victor Mitchell DFC. MiD. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 64. Son of John Mitchell, and of Isabella Forsyth Mitchell, of Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland.

W/O. Trevor Horace Bagnall. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 117. Son of Henry Gordon Bagnall, and of Maud Janetta Bagnall (née Ames), of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. Although on his first tour with 75 Squadron W/O. Bagnall had already completed a full tour with 40 Squadron - a total of 1015 flying hours logged and this was his 30th operation of the war.

Sgt. Robert Hart. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 85. Son of Phyllis Rose Hart, of Gaddesby, Leicestershire, England.

W/O. Reginald Wiliam Pearson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 72. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Pearson and husband of Margaret Pearson, of Bilton, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Gerald Thomas Padden. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 91. Son of Gerald Luke and Janetta Padden, of Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham, England.

Sgt. Stuart John Goff. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 84. Son of John Thomas Goff and Norah Goff, of Dagenham, Essex, England.

Sgt. Arthur Henry Rider. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 92. Son of Arthur H. and Ellen R. Rider, of Dovercourt, Essex and husband of Ethel G. Rider, of Dovercourt, England.

Fl/Sgt. Albert Charles William Parker. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 75. Son of James Christopher and Emma Parker, of Gorleston, Norfolk, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Graham Padden for sending in photographs of his Uncle Sgt. Gerald Padden. Other sources as quoted.

"My name is Graham Padden. I'm 50 years old and recently embarked on a mission to familiarise myself with the life of my Uncle "Bunty". A man I never had the pleasure to meet, that was taken from us on the evening of 17th December 1942.

He was the son of a Headmaster, my grandfather, Gerald Luke Padden (BEM) and the brother of 4 others. Brian, Norah, Dennis (my father) and James (Jim) His mother Janetta ( My grandmother) died following the complications of childbirth during the delivery of Jim in 1934 and the family were brought up by their father, Aunty and a housekeeper.

My father Dennis is the only remaining sibling and whilst he can of course remember his brother Bunty he left these shores in 1941 when my dad was only 11 years of age to begin pilot training in Canada and America.

My father is now 86, I wanted to try and fill in as many blanks as possible in my dads memory and find out as much as I can about Buntys fateful first mission when he was assigned to No.75 (NZ) Squadron who at that time were based in Newmarket. Scant detail was provided by the RAF Bomber Command which at this time were inflicting heavy losses. Little was known to the family.

In subsequent years, Buntys siblings set off to find their own way. Norah to Ireland, Brian to Canada, my father and Jim staying in the North East, the world was a big place then. Each of them going on to have there own families.

My grandfather (Buntys dad) died in 1964, 2 years before I was born, and I do not know what happened to any of the documentation he may have had pertaining to the death of his son back in 1942. It quite possibly could have been distributed amongst the wider family.

A couple of month back a perfectly preserved album appeared, containing a personal scrapbook of annotated pictures covering periods in 1941/2 in which Bunty was training in North America. This really re-ignited my fire to uncover as much as I can, to provide an insight into Buntys last movements for my father.

With many thanks to people like Pierre Legacè, Glen Turner of 75 (NZ) Squadron association and Kelvin Youngs of, I have been able to make remarkable progress. Many others have assisted too and my aim remains to build as complete a picture as possible. Who were the crew, who were the people he trained with, when I say who? I really mean I want to know there backgrounds, the hardships, the family they left behind.

I'd be eternally grateful to receive any pictures of information pertaining to this.

I thank you for the time you have taken to read this and remind you we have an honourable duty to remember the many thousands of people that will remain ever young."

Lest we forget. Graham Padden December 2016.

Acknowledgements: 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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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