05.11.1942 No 223 Squadron Baltimore III AG941 F/Sgt. Arthur John (Bill) Newman
Operation: Army Co-operation
Date: 5 November 1942 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 223 Squadron Motto: "Alæ defendunt Africam" ("Wings defend Africa").
Badge: A lion statant. The squadron served in Kenya during the late 1930's and the lion in the badge commemorates this fact. Authority: King George VI, August 1937.
Type: Martin Baltimore III
Code: Not known
Base: Landing Ground 86, Bir Abo Ogos II Egypt
Location: Daba Matruh Road near Maaten Baggush, Egypt
Pilot: F/Sgt. Arthur John (Bill) Newman Aus/400285 RAAF Age 28 - PoW No. 33668 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf-344 (1)
Obs: F/Sgt. Harold Paull Stanfield Annells Aus/408008 RAAF Age 32 - Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: WOII Roderick Charles Mutch R/75869 RCAF Age 21 - Killed (3)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Henry Stevens 931214 RAFVR Age 25 - Killed (4)
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REASON FOR LOSS
Took off at 14:14 as part of a formation engaged on an operation to bomb retreating enemy motor transport at the road and rail crossing south of Maaten Baggush some 35 miles east of Mersa Matruh, Egypt. Intense and accurate heavy and light anti-aircraft fire was encountered whilst approaching and over the target area. Whilst over the target, Baltimore AG941 and Baltimore AG966 were seen to collide.
Four members of the two crews were seen to bale out but it was not known from which aircraft. Three parachutes were seen to open and the fourth apparently failed to open. Both aircraft were seen to burst into flames upon hitting the ground. The aircraft are reported to have crashed at 3.15 p.m. about 200 yards from the left hand side of the Daba Matruh Road.
It was later reported that on 7 November 1942 four bodies were found by the First Armoured Division and these were buried at map reference 770326 (770826?) beside the spot where they were found i.e. 200 yards on left side of the Daba Matruh Road. It was reported that one body, identified by his identity disc was that of Sgt. R.H. Stevens and another, identified by his helmet was that of Pilot Officer D.F. Rowe, the Navigator of Baltimore AG966. The other two bodies were not identifiable.
On 23 January 1943 a Vatican broadcast announced that F/Sgt. Newman was a prisoner of war and this was later confirmed by the Red Cross on 2 February 1943, adding that he was held in Italy. The Red Cross reported again on 4 April 1943 that he had been held at Camp PG 86 PM3450, a transit camp at Tuturano near Brindisi, since 24 November the previous year. On 31 December 1943 the Red Cross learned from German sources that he had been transferred to Stalag VIIIb (later renamed Stalag 344) Lamsdorf in Silesia and was PoW No. 33668.
Then in March 1943 it was learned that Sgt. Eldon Beatty (Skid) Skuce the Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner of Baltimore AG966 was also being held as a prisoner of war. He too was later held at Stalag VIIIb and was PoW No. 7327
Also in March 1943 a letter from F/Sgt Newman stated that he was the only member of the crew of AG941 who managed to bale out and that the other three members had definitely been killed.
On 28 February 1945 the now promoted Warrant Officer Newman was reported to have been liberated and was safe in the UK.
The question of the whereabouts of the remains of the dead crew members was the subject of further enquiry and much correspondence after which it was concluded that the remains of all six deceased members had been recovered from the graves near the crash. The remains of F/O. Rowe as stated earlier had indeed been positively identified but it was also later concluded that those of F/Sgt. Annells were identifiable by virtue of his identity disc. These two were interred in separate graves whilst it was concluded that the other four including Sgt Stevens were unidentifiable and therefore interred in a collective grave.
For details of the crew of Baltimore AG966 see www.aircrewremembered.com/kirkham-bertram.html
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) W/O. Arthur John (Bill) Newman was born on 30 October 1914 the son of Mr A. G. Newman of 116 Esplanade, Brighton, Victoria. Enlisted at Melbourne on 18 August 1940.
On 17 August 1941 whilst training at 13 OTU he took off from RAF Hinton-in-the-Hedges near Brackley, Northamptonshire on a night solo practice flying Blenheim I L1181. After running out of fuel he crashed at 04.30 approximately one mile south of Finedon, Northamptonshire suffering a fractured right leg. He was admitted to Mansfield Hospital, Northamptonshire for treatment.
F/Sgt. Newman was promoted to Warrant Officer with effect from 1 May 1943.
(2) F/Sgt. Harold Paull Stanfield Annells was born in 1910 at Hornsby NSW the son of William Charles and Ruby Annells of "Roseville" Bedford Street, Newtown, Hobart, Tasmania.
Harold Annells lived at 23 Mortimer Avenue, Hobart, Tasmania and prior to enlisting at Hobart on 25 May 1940 was a Machinist.
On 30 October 1941 whilst the Observer of Blenhein R3660 of No. 55 Squadron, he suffered minor injuries when the aircraft Captained by Lt. G.C. Reid (SAAF) was shot down and ditched offshore near El Alamein with the crew having to swim ashore.
He is commemorated on the Hobart Roll of honour and the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Panel 118.
(3) WOII Roderick Charles Mutch was born 13 September 1921 at Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada the son of the Reverend John Maurice Gregg Mutch and Marjory McCurdy Mutch nee Fraser. He had three brothers, John, Sandy and David.
His father being a Minister of the United Church of Canada was required to move churches from time to time, thus Roderick was educated at schools in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Regina Saskatchewan before his father was moved to Hamilton Ontario where Roderick attended Westdale High School from 1937 to 1940.
The family lived at 258 Hess Street, S. Hamilton.
Roderick played Rugby, Hockey, Baseball and Basketball. His hobbies were camping and shooting and he was a Lieutenant in the High School Cadets for 9 months.
Roderick enlisted at Hamilton on 19 November 1940 and after training at RCAF Picton Ontario, St. John Newfoundland and Toronto Ontario, he was posted to No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal and to No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mountain View, Ontario. He graduated 6th out of 31 and was awarded his Air Gunners Badge on 13 October 1941. He was also recommended for commission.
He embarked for the UK on 2 November 1941 and after arrival on 14 November was posted initially to No 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth and on 9 December to No. 2 Signal School at RAF Cosforth, Shropshire for 6 months after which he was posted to Air Malta and to No. 223 Squadron on 25 May 1942. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 13 April 1942 and to Warrant officer 2nd Class on 1 November 1942.
(4) Sgt. Robert Henry Stevens was born in 1917 at Whitechapel the only child of Robert Samuel Stevens and Nellie Stevens nee Smith. The family lived at 130 (13?) Wellington Road, East Ham, London E6.
BURIAL DETAILS AND EPITAPHS
F/Sgt. Harold Paull Stanfield Annells was reburied at the El Alamein War Cemetery on 17 October 1943 in Plot 31. Row A. Grave 11. (2)
WOII Roderick Charles Mutch was reburied at the El Alamein War Cemetery in Plot 3. Row C. Collective Grave 18-21 (3)
"Be though faithful unto death
And I will give thee
A crown of life"
Sgt. Robert Henry Stevens was reburied at the El Alamein War Cemetery was reburied on 17 October 1943 at the El Alamein War Cemetery in Plot 3. Row C. Collective Grave 18-21 (4)
You played your part
For us you died
Will be ever in our hearts
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - September 2016
With thanks to the sources quoted below.