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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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466 Squadron Wellington X HE393 Sgt. James Bruce Murdoch

Operation: 'Gardening'

Date: 06th February 1943 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 466 Squadron (RAAF) (motto: 'Brave and true')

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE393 (1)

Code: HD-W

Base: RAF Leconfield, Beverley, East Yorkshire

Location: At base

Pilot: Sgt. James Bruce Murdoch NZ/414326 RNZAF Survived (3)

Nav: Sgt. Murray Stephen Roberts NZ/41940 RNZAF Survived (4)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Peter Alan Taylor 1190808 RAFVR Survived (7)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Winston Williams 553822 RAF Survived (5)

Air/Gnr: Sgt John Gilbert Morgan NZ/41993 RNZAF Survived (6)


Weather described as fair - small amount of medium clouds - wind north easterly 20 mph

Taking off at 16:37 hrs with five others on a 'Gardening' operation in the Brest area. Sq/Ldr. Charles Warren MiD 33482 RAF (2) flying Wellington HE156 whilst over Oxford, returned to base, landing at 18:58 hrs due to the fabric ripping on the port side behind the cockpit and an oil leak on the port engine,

Four aircraft reached the target and dropped their sea mines successfully. HE393 failed to find the target and returned to base with mines still on board.

During landing at 23:34 hrs the Wellington overshot the runway due to the full load and sparks from the undercarriage caused a fire. The crew managed to escape from the aircraft before the bomb load exploded, destroying yje aircraft.

(1) Aircraft history - HE393 - Vickers Type 440 Wellington B Mk.X Serial HE393 was the 29th of 34 Mk.X aircraft manufactured to contract B.124362/40 in the Serial Range HE365 to HE398. Built by Vickers-Armstrong Ltd at their Broughton facility near Chester. Fitted with two 1,650 hp (1,230 kW) Hercules VI 14-cylinder twin-row radial aircraft engines.

12th November 1942 Received by No.23 MU at RAF Aldergrove, Northern Island. 06th December 1942 received by 466 Squadron where it was taken on charge by B Flight and coded HD-W.

20th December 1942 30min air test flown by RAFVR 142551 P/O. Raymond Albert Lewis Young and crew.

21st December 1942 Sgt. Thomas Samson NZ/411032 RNZAF and crew departed Driffield at 10:30 hrs as one of seven 466 Squadron Wellingtons on a Search and Rescue mission for Halifax DT509 EY-O of 78 Squadron that had ditched in the sea off Skegness. Sgt. Thomas Samson and his crew failed to sight anything and returned to base at 16:56 hrs. (Further details here)

28th December 1942 moved from RAF Driffield to the Squadron’s new operating base at RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire.

31st December 1942 the aircraft flew three non-operational and one operational missions during the month.

13th January 1943 1st Operational Mission P/O. Raymond Albert Lewis Young and crew departed Leconfield at 16:05 hrs as one of six 466 Squadron aircraft for a minelaying mission to Terschelling Island. Successfully dropped both mines in designated target area at 17:02 hrs then returned safely to base.

31st January 1943 the aircraft flew 12 non-operational and two operational missions during the month. P/O. Raymond Albert Lewis Young and crew flew all 14 missions.

01st - 05th February 1943 the aircraft flew one non-operational and two operational missions during the month.

06th February - this operation.

07th February 193 Aircraft struck off charge. Accumulated a total of 94hrs 23min of flight time from two ferry flights, one acceptance flight, 12 training flights and four operational flights. Note; P/O, Raymond Albert Lewis Young and crew flew 18 of HE393’s 19 missions.

(2) Charles Warren - later W/Cdr. MiD. DFC. MBE. Born on the 15th November 1918 in Witham, Essex, England. Battle of Britain pilot. DFC Citation: 10th September 1943. 'Following an arduous operational tour during the Battle of Britain he changed to Bomber Aircraft during which as Flight Commander displayed considerable skill and courage whilst on operational sorties to some of the most heavily defended objectives. He is a cool and courageous pilot, who by his personal example has sustained the high morale and fighting spirit of the flight'.

On the 22nd October 1956 he was flying in Ballioi WG184 when it collided with Chipmunk G-AMUE flown by F/O. Htay Maung believed to be from the Burmese Air Force over Middle Wallop. the trainee, Mirosław Ignacy Wojciechowski 781062 PAF baled out as did the other two crew. Sadly Mirosław's parachute either failed to deploy or had been damaged and he lost his life. Charles Warren and Htay Maung were seriously injured and were unable to return to flying for over a year. He passed away on the 19th October 2005, and was cremated at Slough Crematorium on the 2nd November, with his ashes being interred alongside his wife’s at Fulmer Churchyard in Buckinghamshire.

(3) James Bruce Murdoch was born on the 27th November 1918 at Invergargill, New Zealand and enlisted for RNZAF service in July 1941, after training in New Zealand he was posted to UK in early 1942. He was posted to 466 Squadron during November 1942 and then to 196 Squadron at Leconfield on 26th April 1943. Three days later he was piloting a Wellington that made a heavy landing and the tail wheel was torn off. He received a commission in October 1944 and with war over he relinquished his commisison in June 1947. He later qualified for his Royal Aero Club certificate in February 1948.

(4) Murray Stephen Roberts was born on the 22nd March 1920 in Auckland, New Zealand. Enlisted on the 09th February 1941. He was awarded the DFC later in 1944 for service with 640 Squadron
DFC Citation: This officer has completed many successful operations against the enemyy, in the course of which displayed high skills, fortitude and devotion to duty. Joined 466 squadron in November 1942. After his first tour and a rest joined 640 squadron in January 1944. Transferred to the reserve on the 11th March 1945. Reserve duties ended 31st March 1975. Husband of Mona Marie Therese Roberts (née Fauchelle - died 09th May 2008, age 93). Murray passed away on the 14th July 2003, age 83. They both rest at the Karori Cemetery and Crematorium, Lawn 91

(5) David Winston Williams - Son of David Henry and Elizabeth Williams. Missing believed killed on the 10th April 1943 on Wellington X HE506 HD-N on an operation to Frankfurt.

(6) John Gilbert Morgan - Born on the 25th October 1919 in Wellington, New Zealand, Worked as an electrician for Electrolux. Son of Gilbert and Sarah Ann Morgan (née Hesketh), of Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand and husband of Carmen A. Morgan (née Compayre), of Beverly Hills, California, USA. Enlisted at Levin on the 09th February 1941. Joinedd 466 squadron on the 10th November 1941. Missing believed killed on the 10th April 1943 on Wellington X HE506 HD-N on an operation to Frankfurt.

(7) Peter Alan Taylor - Son of Cecil and Mary Taylor. Received a commission on the 15th May 1943 to the rank of P/O on probation (emergency) (147908), he was promoted to F/O (war subs) on the 15th November 1943. F/O Taylor was killed on 13th August 1944 while serving with 156 PFF Squadron flying Operation to Russelsheim in Lancaster III ND444 GT-G . He was twenty one years old and is buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. He was flying as a second navigator for this flight.

Burial details:

All crew survived this incident.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archives Kew. AIR27-1925-5/6. Paul McGuiess RAAF Archives. 152 Squadron website. Yorkshire Aircraft.

KTY 03-05-2024

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