03.12.1942 Wireless Interception Flight 1474 Wellington Ic DV819 DT-G Sgt. Paulton
Operation: Special Duties
Date: 03rd December 1942 (Thursday)
Unit: Wireless Interception Flight 1474 (Special Duties)
Type: Wellington Ic
Base: RAF Gransden Lodge, Cambridgeshire
Location: North Sea off Walmer
Pilot: Sgt. Edwin Amos Paulton R/98104 (J/16114) RCAF Safe - survived
Nav: Fl/Sgt. William Alexander Renton Barry R/100054 RCAF Safe - survived
Spec/Op: Fl/Sgt. Harold Graham Jordan 121561 RAFVR Injured - survived
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Walter Bigoray R/93566 RCAF Injured - survived (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Percy Grant R/95585 RCAF Injured - survived
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Everitt Thomas Vachon R/79229 RCAF Injured - survived
The information on this page is courtesy of Hugh Halliday with further details of the crew submitted by Dave Champion - December 2018.
REASON FOR LOSS:
DV819, took off from RAF Station Gransden at 02:02 hrs for a Special Wireless Investigation Flight in the Frankfurt area. The crew consisted of those listed above.
The aircraft was engaged on the 18th sortie on a particular investigation, which necessitated the aircraft being intercepted by an enemy night fighter and up to this sortie all efforts to get such an interception had failed.
At 04:31 hours the aircraft was in a DR position of 49̊ 54' N 07̊ 39' E. The Special Operator, Fl/Sgt. Jordan, had been reporting that he had been receiving signals on his special Wireless Equipment which he thought were the ones requiring to be investigated. He warned the crew to expect a fighter attack. On this northerly leg the signal grew stronger and Jordan repeated his warning. A code had previously been arranged, so that if the signal were picked up, the frequency could immediately be sent back to base, it being absolutely vital that this information should reach base at all costs.
Position of 50̊ 30' N 07̊ 37' E. was reached at 04:42 and the aircraft set course for the homeward leg. The Special Operator passed the coded message to the Wireless Operator for transmission to base, giving in the message the frequency and that this frequency was very probably the correct one. Jordan warmed the crew that his receiver was being saturated and to expect an attack at any moment; almost simultaneously the aircraft was hit by a burst of cannon fire. The rear gunner gave a fighter control commentary during the attack and identified the enemy aircraft as a Ju.88. Violent corkscrew turns were used as evasive action.
Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre
Jordan was hit in the arm on this first attack and, realising that now there was no doubt about the signal being the correct one, he changed the coded message, a change which would tell his base that the frequency given was absolutely correct and that it applied without a doubt to the signal being investigated.
Although hit in the arm, he still continued to work his sets and to note further characteristics of the signal. The Rear Gunner fired about 1,000 rounds on this attack, but his turret was hit and completely unserviceable and he was wounded in the shoulder.
On the second attack, Jordan was hit in the jaw, but he still continued to work his sets and log the results and told the captain and crew from which side to expect the next attack.
On the third attack the front turret was hit and the Front Gunner wounded in the leg. The Wireless Operator went forward to let him out of the turret but he was hit in both legs by an exploding shell and had to return to his seat. Fl/Sgt. Barry, navigator, then went forward and let Grant out of the turret. Jordan was hit once more, this time in the eye, and although he continued operating his equipment and noting further details of the signal, he realised that he could not continue with the investigations much longer, owing to his condition, and seeing that his intercom had also been shot away, he went forward and brought back the Navigator and tried to explain to him how to continue operating the equipment and so bring back some more valuable information. By this time he was almost blind, but although he tried hard to show Barry what to do, he realised that it was an impossible task and in the end gave up the attempt.
Flight Sergeant Vachon had by this time come out of the rear turret and had taken up position in the Astro Hatch, from where he continued to give evasive control but he was again hit in the hand and Barry went back and took over from him in the Astro Dome. During this period the aircraft had lost height from about 14,000 feet down to 500 feet above the ground, violent evasive action still being taken by the Captain. After ten or twelve attacks the enemy aircraft broke off his engagement and disappeared. Hits had been scored on the Wellington in five or six of the attacks, resulting in the following damage:
(1) Starboard throttle control shot away (starboard engine stuck at .3 boost all the way home).
(2) Port throttle jammed.
(3) Front and rear turrets unserviceable.
(4) Starboard aileron unserviceable and trimming tabs having no effect at all.
(5) Air Speed Indicator reading zero in both positions owing to the pitot head or pipes being holed.
(6) Starboard petrol tank holed.
(7) Fabric shot and torn away on starboard side of the fuselage.
(8) Hydraulics unserviceable.
(9) Both engines running irregularly.
The Wireless Operator, Fl/Sgt. Bigoray, in spite of his injuries transmitted the coded message back to base but, receiving no 'R' for it in response, continued to send it in the hopes that it would be picked up. It was received at 0505 hours.
Left: Fl/Sgt. Bigoray (courtesy Francois Dutil)
The Captain kept the aircraft on the course for home and managed to climb to 5,000 feet, at which height he came back. At 06:45 hours the aircraft crossed the coast at about 10 miles northeast of Dunkirk, where searchlights tried to pick it out but these were dodged by evasive action and coming down low over the sea. When they were switched off, the pilot again managed to gain height. The Wireless Operator put the IFF on the stud 3 and sent out an SOS and a message to the effect that they had been attacked by an enemy aircraft. He again transmitted the coded message in case it had not been received the first time.
At approximately 07:20 hours the English coast was reached. The pilot tested the landing light to see if he could ditch using it, but decided it was impossible. He decided to wait for daylight before ditching and asked the crew if anyone preferred to bail out rather than ditch. The Wireless Operator stated that he preferred to jump, as one of his legs had stiffened up to such an extent that he thought he would not be able to climb out of the aircraft in the water. He made his way to the escape hatch in the rear of the fuselage, from where he intended to jump, but having reached that position he remembered that he had not clamped down the transmitting key and, in spite of his injury, he returned to his set, clamped the key down and warned the crew not to touch it. He jumped out over Ramsgate and made a safe landing.
The pilot ditched the aircraft at approximately 08:24 hours, about 200 yards off the coast at Deal. The dinghy inflated but had been holed by cannon fire. The Special Operator tried to make it airtight by holding some of the holes but it was impossible and the crew got out of the dinghy and climbed onto the aircraft. About five minutes later a small rowing boat approached and took them off and rowed ashore.
Right: RAF Gransden Lodge Memorial (courtesy Jeff Tomlinson)
The Wireless Operator, Flight Sergeant Bigoray, in spite of his injuries transmitted the coded message back to base but receiving no 'R' for it continued to send it in the hopes that it would be picked up. It was received at 0505 hours.
The Captain kept the aircraft on the course for home and managed to climb to 5,000 feet, at which height he came back. At 0645 hours the aircraft crossed the coast at about 10 miles northeast of Dunkirk, where searchlights tried to pick it out but these were dodged by evasive action and coming down low over the sea. When they were switched off, the pilot again managed to gain height. The Wireless Operator put the IFF on the stud 3 and sent out an SOS and a message to the effect that they had been attacked by an enemy aircraft. He again transmitted the coded message in case it had not been received the first time.
Such was the importance of the crews' achievements that ACM Sir Charles Portal telegrammed them with his congratulations. Subsequently, several of the crew received awards for their actions.
(1) Sadly Fl/Sgt. William Walter Bigoray DFM was to lose his life on the 28th April 1944. Further details described here.
London Gazette 12th January 1943: Sgt. Edwin Amos Paulton DFC J/16114 , London Gazette 09th February 1943: Fl/Sgt. William Alexander Renton Barry DFC J16116, London Gazette 12th January 1943: Fl/Sgt. William Walter Bigoray DFM, London Gazette 12th January 1943: Fl/Sgt. P/O Harold Graham Jordan DSO later MBE in 1968, London Gazette 09th February 1943: Fl/Sgt. Everitt Thomas Vachon DFM.
WO2. William Walter Bigoray DFM. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. Coll. Grave 8. K. 10-13. Born in Redwater, Alberta, Canada on 13th September 1918, the son of John and Nasta (née Krickay) Bigoray of Redwater, Alberta, Canada. At the time of his loss, two younger brothers, Nicholas Peter and Anthony were serving in the RCAF. (4) Enlisted on the 15th March 1941 in Edmonton. Awarded the DFM (Distinguished Flying Medal) 29th December 1942. Flight Sergeant William Walter Bigoray, RCAF 'for great gallantry, fortitude and devotion to duty in exceptionally hazardous circumstances'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Hugh Halliday for detailed information and to Dave Champion for crew details. Jeff Tomlinson for memorial photograph. Also to Francois Dutil for Bigoray photograph.