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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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RAF Crest
13/14.09.1942 No. 29 Operational Training Unit Wellington Ic R1459 P/O. Munro

Operation: Bremen

Date: 13/14th September 1942 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 29 Operational Training Unit. 92 Group

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: R1459

Code: NT/TF-?

Base: RAF North Luffenham, Rutland

Location: Empingham

Pilot: P/O. John Leslie Munro NZ/413942 RNZAF Age 23 Safe - no injuries (1)

Obs: P/O. Francis Grant Rumbles 120350 RAFVR Age 22. Safe - no injuries (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Percy Edgar Pigeon J/97620 RCAF Age 25. Safe - no injuries (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. K. Knight RAFVR Safe - no injuries

Air/Gnr: Sgt. E.S. Speight RAFVR Safe - no injuries


Taking off from RAF North Luffenham at 23:47 hrs. on an operation to Bremen, just 3 minutes later they crashed at 23:50 hrs at Empingham in Rutland. The cause was attributed to loss of power preventing the aircraft from climbing.

The crew escaped uninjured but the Wellington was completely destroyed when the bomb load detonated.

On the 22nd October 1941 P/O. Ken Horatio Wallis (2) was piloting the same aircraft R1459 on a trip to Mannheim with 103 Squadron. During the return trip in dreadful weather conditions the aircraft hit a barrage balloon, severing vital cables. The pilot skilfully managed to force land the Wellington onto a ploughed field close the base at RAF Elsham Wolds. All the six crew escaped injury, the aircraft repaired and placed back into service.

Above L-R: P/O. Munro, Sgt. Pigeon, P/O. Rumbles.

(1) P/O. Rumbles and Sgt. Pigeon both served with the pilot, P/O. Munro on Operation 'Chastise' (Dambusters). Sgt. Pigeon from Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada. Born on the 03rd June 1917. Retired from the RCAF as a Fl/Lt on the 6th December 1962 with the DFC. Passed away on the 23rd March 1967 at the very young age of 49.

P/O. Rumbles born on 14th September 1920 in Kirtlebridge, Dumfriesshire, Sotland. Retired as a Sq/Ldr. in 1947 with DFC and bar. Passed away on the 26th February 1988 at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, age 68.

P/O. Munro born on the 05th April 1919 Retired From the RNZAF in February 1946 with the CNZM, DSO, QSO, DFC. Later the Legion of Honour and made Justice of the Peace. Passed away on the 04th August 2015, age 96. The last Dambuster pilot left us! More can be read about him here.

(2) Wing Commander Wallis (shown above) survived the war. Born on the 26th April 1916. Retired from the RAF in 1964 with the DSO MBE and later CEng FRAeS. Developed the autogyro and held some 34 world records. Passed away on the 01st September 2013, age 97. Well known for working as Sean Connery's stunt pilot in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, where he flew one of his WA-116s named Little Nellie. Patron of the Wolf Preservation Foundation and president of the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum prior to his death

Burial details:

None - all crew survived.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Lorraine M. for crew photographs, also to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 07.01.2020

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