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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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427 Squadron Crest
04/05.10.1944 427 (Lion) Squadron, RCAF Halifax III MZ756 ZL:E Sqn Ldr. Walter R. Moseley-Williams DFC

Operation: Gardening - Onions Area (Oslo Harbour)

Date: 4th/5th October 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: 427 (Lion) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ756

Code: ZL:E

Base: RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire

Location: North Sea west of Ringköbing

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. ‘Mose’ Walter Read Moseley-Williams DFC. J8773 RCAF Age 26. Missing

Flt Eng: Sgt. Robert Thew 1591242 RAFVR Age 19. Missing

Nav: Fg Off. Philip Frank Charles Haydock J23754 RCAF Age 28. Missing

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Jack Llewelyn Dougan J28201 RCAF Age 28. Missing

W Op/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Marcel Gravel J88647 RCAF Age 21. Missing

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Plt Off. John Sherwood Williamson J87864 RCAF Age 21. Missing

Air Gnr (Rear): Plt Off. John Garfield Curle J88045 RCAF Age 32. Missing


Taking off at 18:55 hrs on a Gardening Mission in the Onions Area (Oslo Harbour). Mining operations took place at two locations this night, it is also known that both operations (Oslo Operation - 12 Halifaxes and Kattegat Operation - 66 Lancasters and Halifaxes) used the same outward flight path over Denmark before the Kattegat force turned South East to the various targets.

Above: Crew of MZ756 (courtesy Steve Thew)

Tentative identification of the crew. Left to right: Sqn Ldr. Moseley-Williams, Fg Off. Haycock, Fg Off. Dougan, Plt Off. Gravel, Sgt. Thew, Plt Off. Williamson, Plt Off Curle.

Above L to R: Sgt. Robert Thew (courtesy Steve Thew), Fg Off. Haydock, Fg Off. Dougan (from their service files)

Above: L to R: Plt Off. Gravel, Plt Off. Williamson, Plt Off. Curle (from their service records)

MZ756 or 627 Sqn Lancaster PB412 were claimed by two German pilots:

Hptm. Johann Dreher, his 2nd Abschuss, from 6./NJG3 claimed a 4-Motor 50 km west of Ringköbling at 1000m at 21:30 hrs;
Oblt. Rudolf Szardenings, his 10th Abschuss from 5./NJG3 claimed a 4-Motor 30 km NW of Ringköbling at 900m at 22:05 hrs.(Nachtjagd Combat Archive (24 July 1944 - 15 October 1944) Part 4 - Theo Boiten)

Hptm. Johann Dreher. On the night of the 3rd March 1945 he took part in Operation Gisela. A mass intruder attack against England. He was killed when he flew his Ju88 into a tree at Derwnt, England. He is buried at Cannock Chase. He was credited with 7 Abschüsse. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 1).

Oblt. Rudolf Szardenings. He was the Staffelkapitäin of 9./NJG3 from 17th January 1945, leading to its surrender. He survived the war. He was credited with 9 Abschüsse plus one unconfirmed. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 4)

Above and below: Sqn Ldr. ‘Mose’ Walter Read Moseley-Williams during his training. (courtesy Paul Wiegerinck)

Report from the Squadron log for this operation:

Weather: Fine during day; foggy at night to becoming poor. Visibility good.
Crews from last night's mining operation returned around two o'clock in the morning.
They reported weather over target was excellent with very good visibility and no cloud. Winds were light and variable. Visual identification of mining area was made in all cases.
Light to intense heavy flak, both predicted and in barrage form was encountered over the target area bursting from 11,000 to 12,500 ft. Also some light flak was experienced.
Batteries of four to six heavy flak guns were observed at 58 43N 07 30E. No opposition from flak was encountered on route. No enemy fighters were seen. No combats. All crews attempted photos.
One of our aircraft "E" MZ756 piloted by J8773 Sqn Ldr. W.R. Moseley-Williams failed to return from this operation. The other five aircraft dropped their mines and returned to base.
Early in the morning aircraft were warming up to carry out a sea search to look for "E" and although twenty-two aircraft were used, no trace was found of the crew. Very little activity during the day.

MZ756 at RAF Leeming (courtesy Stephen Thew)

Burial details:

Sqn Ldr. Walter Read Moseley-Williams DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 244. Born on 27th January 1918 in Iroquois Falls, Ontario. Son of Thurston H. and Mabel Gertrude (née Foot) Moseley-Williams of North Bay, Ontario, Canada

Awarded the DFC as an acting Sqn Ldr. whilst with 427 (Lion) Sqn, RCAF. London Gazette 13th November 1944

Sgt. Robert Thew. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 239. Born in December 1924 in Gateshead, Durham. Son of Robert and Frances Smith (née French) Thew of Gateshead, Durham, England.

Also commemorated on War Memorial, Whickham, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England.

Fg Off. Philip Frank Charles Haydock. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 246. Born on 20th December 1916 in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. Son of Frank Cecil and Gladys Elizabeth (née Fauquier) Haydock of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Fg Off. Jack Llewelyn Dougan. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 245. Born on the 15th September 1916 in Hamilton, Ontario. Son of Samuel Glassie and Annie Margaret (née Scott) Dougan of South Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Plt Off. Marcel Gravel. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Born 9th December 1922 in Donnelly, Alberta. Son of Eugene and Marie Anne Gravel of Donnelly, Alberta, Canada. His father predeceased him.

Plt Off. John Sherwood Williamson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 253. Born on 16th November 1922 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Son of Arthur Craig and Eleanor (née McVicar) Williamson of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. His father predeceased him.

Plt Off. John Garfield Curle. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 249. Born on the 7th December 1911 in Winnipeg, Manitoba . Son of James Middlemiss and Bertha (née McKennett) Curle of Friendships Heights, Washington DC, USA. His father predeceased him.

Researched for Paul Wiegerinck nephew of the pilot, Stephen Thew, relative of the Flight Engineer, also to Pamela Thew for photo of Sgt. Thew and dedicated to all the relatives of this crew. With thanks for further information supplied by both Stephen Thew and Paul Wiegerinck. Thanks to John Jones for the mission information (Jan 2022). Update to Night fighter claim and NoK details by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2022). Other sources as quoted below.

RS 23.01.2022 - Update to mission, Night fighter claim and NoK details

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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