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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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12 Squadron Crest
No. 12 Squadron Wellington II W5414 P/O. John P. Muirhead DFC

Operation: Gardening

Date: 19/20th July 1942 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 12 Squadron

Type: Wellington II

Serial: W5414

Code: PH-?

Base: RAF Binbrook

Location: Target area - Bay of Biscay

Pilot: P/O. John Patrick Muirhead DFC 100092 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (1)

Obs: Fl/Sgt. Eric Waple NZ/402000 RNZAF Age 29. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cyril Waldron 1360573 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Henry Durrant 1263757 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Joseph Brazier 975641 RAFVR Age 28. Killed


Taking off at 22:01 from RAF Binbrook on a Gardening operation (mine laying) in the Beech area. Thought to have been hit by flak within the target area off the west coast of France.

The bodies were recovered along various parts of the coastline between St. Nazaire and La Rochelle.

(1) DFC Awarded with effect from 24th June 1942.

Sgt. Brazier shown middle row, 1st on the left (courtesy David Brazier) Are you able to identify any of the others?

DFC Citation (LG 27th July 942 - award effective from 24th June 1942): "Pilot Officer Muirhead was a most reliable and efficient operational pilot. He had been selected for important photographic and reconnaissance duty in May and June 1942. He participated in attacks on Germany and German occupied territory. One night in April 1942. during an attack on Rostock. he completed several runs over the target after bombing in order to obtain photographs. On the occasion of the first 2 "Thousand" Bomber raids on Cologne and the Ruhr, he was especially detailed to attack last. in order to obtain photographs and make a verbal report on the results. His reports were clear and concise and were of value".

Burial details:

P/O. John Patrick Muirhead DFC. Ars-En-Re Communal Cemetery, Ile De Re. Row 1. Grave 1. Son of Brigadier John Spencer Muirhead. DSO, MC, TD, and of Geraldine Moore Muirhead (née Hedderwick).

Right: Sgt. William Joseph Brazier (courtesy David Brazier)

Fl/Sgt. Eric Waple. Ars-En-Re Communal Cemetery, Ile De Re. Row 5. Grave 1. Son of James Waple and of May Waple (née Briggs), of New Barnet, Hertfordshire, husband of Celia Margaret Waple, of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand. 377 flying hours logged over 19 operations.

Sgt. Cyril Waldron. Pornic War Cemetery. Grave 2.H.11. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Waldron, of Hull, husband of W.M. Waldron, of Garden Village, Hull, England.

Sgt. Charles Henry Durrant. Les Sables-D'olonne (La Foire-Aux Chats) New Communal Cemetery. Plot 9. Row 2. Grave 4. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. William Joseph Brazier. Ars-En-Re Communal Cemetery, Ile De Re. Row 4. Grave 1. Son of William Charles and Mary Brazier, husband of Ethel Brazier, of Brighton, Sussex, England. Father of David Russell Brazier (now of Australia) of Stirling, Scotland.

With thanks to Rex Barron for bringing this loss to our attention. Also to David Brazier, son of Sgt. Brazier for information and photographs supplied - May 2016. Also to Alex Muirhead nephew of the pilot - contacted us in March 2018. For further details our thanks to the following sources.

KTY 17.05.2016 Further photographs added. 07.03.2018 Pilot photo added

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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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