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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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Fleet Air Arm Crest
31.03.1943 No. 782 Squadron DH86B AX844 P/O. Parr

Operation: Ministry of Information Tour.

Date: 31st March 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 782 Squadron (Fleet Air Arm)

Type: DH86B

Serial: AX844

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Donibristle, Fifeshire (HMS. Merlin)

Location: At base

Pilot: Petty Officer Frederick Henry Parr FX.82259 RN Age 25. Killed

Obs: LA. Peter James Murphy FX91318 RN Age 19. Killed


F/O. Brian Harwood Pudney AUS/416699 RAAF Age 28. Killed

F/O. Alfred Keith DeGaris AUS/416835 RAAF Age 29. Killed

F/O. Owen Mortimer Shroff NZ/416645 RNZAF Agee 34. Killed

P/O. William Gordon Henderson AUS/413766 RAAF Age 26. Killed

P/O. Maurice Victor Smith NZ/422327 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

P/O. D.W. Newman NZ/436336 RNZAF Age ? Seriously injured


During a Ministry of Information tour taking the 3 RAAF and 3 RNZAF aircrew around various bases whilst they wait for three postings. They had all just arrived from Canada having completed their training.

The aircraft took off at 15:21 hrs in what has been described as gusty conditions but shortly after take off it appeared to lose speed and spun into the ground - killing all but one passenger. P/O. Newman although seriously injured later recovered and understood to return to service.

Above as described (courtesy Jenifer Everett)

Burial details:

Petty Officer Frederick Henry Parr. Portsmouth Cemetery (Highland Road) Sec. I. Row 6. Grave 5. Son of Henry and Ellen Parr, of Southsea, England and husband of Pearl Evelyn Parr. Grave inscription reads: "Blessed Are The Pure In Heart : For Theirs Is The Kingdom Of Heaven".

LA. Peter James Murphy. Dunfermline Cemetery (Douglas Bank) Sec. A. Grave 234. Son of James Edmund and Mabel Joan Murphy, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Died That We Might Be Free".

F/O. Brian Harwood Pudney. Dunfermline Cemetery (Douglas Bank) Sec. A. Grave 261. Born on the 09th November 1914 at Unley, the son of Frederick Lancelot and Edna Doris Pudney, of Unley, South Australia and husband of Nancy Pudney, of McLaren Vale, South Australia. Grave inscription reads: "His Duty Nobly Done".

F/O. Alfred Keith DeGaris. Dunfermline Cemetery (Douglas Bank) Sec. A. Grave 260. Born on the 03rd March 1914 at Mildura, the son of Alfred Ernest and Alice Ruby Degaris and husband of Isabel Berry Degaris, of Prospect, South Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Lovingly Remembered".

F/O. Owen Mortimer Shroff. Dunfermline Cemetery (Douglas Bank) Sec. A. Grave 86. Born on the 23rd June 1908, the son of Alfred Homy Shroff and Kathleen Robert Shroff and husband of Ronica Norma Shroff (née Richmond), of Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. A Navigator with a total of 185 flying hours logged.

P/O. William Gordon Henderson. Dunfermline Cemetery (Douglas Bank) Sec. A. Grave 87. Born on the 29th August at Neutral Bay, the son of William Gordon and Pauline Elvira de Lerma Henderson, of Roseville, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "He Charted His Course For Freedom".

P/O. Maurice Victor Smith. Dunfermline Cemetery (Douglas Bank) Sec. A. Grave 259. Son of Alfred Victor Smith, and of Ellen Jane Smith (née Kennedy), of Carterton, Wellington, New Zealand. A Navigator with a total of 125 flying hours logged. Sadly his brother 20 year old, LAC Barry Alfred Smith NZ/413134 RNZAF was killed on the 22nd October 1941. Whilst with No. 2 Service Flying Training School training as a pilot killed along with another trainee pilot flying Oxford I NZ1263 when it crashed near Renwick, Woodbourne, New Zealand.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew and passengers with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 04.06.2018

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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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