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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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419 squadron badge
17/18.08.1943 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF Halifax II JD458 VR:C Flt Sgt. Stanley T. Pekin

Operation: Peenemünde

Date: 17th/18th August 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JD458

Code: VR:C

Base: RAF Middleton-St-George, County Durham

Location: Baltic Sea

Pilot: Flt Sgt. Stanley Thomas Pekin 408873 RAAF Age 24. MiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Herbert Charles 'Bertie' Baker 1652940 RAFVR Age 27. KiA

Nav: Fg Off. Peter John Sparkes 133774 RAFVR Age 21. MiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. John Kevin Gilvary 1512418 RAFVR Age 20. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Henry Price 1310592 RAFVR Age 31. MiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Frederick Peter Davis 183229 RAFVR Age 19. MiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Ernest Charles Ramm 1539979 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

The core of this crew came together at 24 Operation Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Honeybourne in late April 1943. They then moved to 1664 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) at RAF Croft and were joined by the Flight Engineer and Mid Upper Gunner to convert to the Halifax.


Take off at 21:40 hrs from RAF Middleton-St-George.

There were five night fighter claims for unidentified Halifaxes or 4-Mot on this night. It has not been possible to determine which of the five claims are associated with the loss of JD458. It appears that the aircraft crashed into the Baltic.

Sgt. Baker and Sgt. Ramm were originally interred at the Groß Zicker Cemetery (an island 17 km north of Peenmunde) and reinterred at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery on the 21st August 1948.

Rear gunner Sgt. Ernest Charles Ramm (courtesy Doris Bird (née Ramm))

JD458 was one of 3 aircraft from 419 (Moose) Squadron lost on this night:

Halifax II JD158 VR:D Flown by Flt Lt. Stanley Mervyn Heard J5535 RCAF. MiA with all 7 other crew members;

Halifax II JD163 VR:N Flown by Flt Sgt. John Martin Batterton R129242 RCAF. MiA with all 7 other crew members.

Burial details

Runnymede Memorial as visited by Aircrew Remembered in June 2013

Flt Sgt. Stanley Thomas Pekin. Runnymede Memorial Panel 193. Born on the 30th December 1918 at Colac, Victoria. Son of Richard John and Isabel Eileen Pekin and husband of Rita (née Nicholson) Pekin of Vite Vite, Victoria, Australia.

Most of his family seem to have worked in Dairy farming or milk production. But Stanley was a school teacher before enlisting. He enlisted on 20th June 1941 in Melbourne.

He is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour in Colac, Victoria.

Sgt. Herbert Charles 'Bertie' Baker. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 13F 1-7. Born on the 16th June 1916 in Newport, Monmouthshire. Son of Herbert Charles Baker, who died in May 1921, while serving as a Lance Corporal in C Company – 1st Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment. His mother was Claudean Amelia Baker. He was married to Gwen M. Baker and who lived in Lyne Rd Newport. They had a son named Tony.

It is likely Sgt. Baker was one of the 9 Flight Engineers who reported to 1664 HCU, from training at RAF St Athan on the 25th June 1943.

Fg Off. Peter John Sparkes. Runnymede Memorial Panel 129. He was the son of John Gordon and Ava Sparkes of Acton, Middlesex.

He was posted to 24 OTU from 7 Personnel Reception Centre at Harrogate in Yorkshire. 7 PRC was basically a holding centre, where personnel returning from training overseas were accommodated, until they moved on to their next phase of training. It is likely that Plt Off. Sparkes had undergone navigator training in Canada, under the British and Commonwealth Air Training Plan. 1410427 LAC Sparks was granted a commissioned as a Plt Off. on the 21st November 1942 and was promoted to Fg Off. on the 31st May 1943.

Sgt. John Kevin Gilvary. Runnymede Memorial Panel 150. Son of Captain Michael T and Marian I Gilvary of Bray, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland.

The Republic of Ireland remained neutral in WWII. But that didn’t stop thousands of Irishmen crossing the Irish Sea to join the British armed forces, in order to fight the Nazis. John enlisted in the RAFVR in August 1941 at the age of 18. But he was told to remain at home until called for service. He finally arrived at the RAF No.1 Aircrew Receiving Centre on 9th March 1942. After 3 weeks he was sent to 12 Initial Training Wing at St Andrews in Scotland. On completion of his initial training he went to 11 Elementary Flying Training School at RAF Perth. There, he logged 12 hours of dual flying on the DH82 Tiger Moth. He then travelled to the RAF’s Air Crew Disposal Centre, at Heaton Park in Manchester, to await a decision on whether he would train as a Pilot, Navigator or Bomb Aimer. They decided on the latter and so on the 6th November 1942 he reported to RAF Millom in Cumbria, to train with 2 (Observer) Advanced Flying Training Crew. On completion of this training, he reported to 24 OTU in early April 1943.

Sgt. Henry Price. Runnymede Memorial Panel 162. Son of John and Edith Alice Price of Palmers Green, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Frederick Peter Davis. Runnymede Memorial Panel 147. Son of Dennis and Nora Davis.

“The Peenmunde Raid” lists him as coming from Penarth, Glamorgan. As with Sgt Ramm, Sgt Davis was trained at 1 AGS at RAF Pembrey.

Sgt. Ernest Charles Ramm. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 13F 1-7. Inscription: "DEAREST MEMORIES OF THREE WONDERFUL YEARS. YOUR DEVOTED WIFE AND LOVING BABY." Son of John and Rosina Annie Ramm and husband of Doris Eveline Ramm of Hackney, London, England.

He trained at 1 Air Gunners School – RAF Pembrey, on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. The 1 AGS Operational Record Book does not give a precise date for Earnest’s arrival, but he was part of “66 Air Gunner’s Course” and passed out on 23rd April 1943.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew - Special thanks to Doris Bird (née Ramm) widow of Sergeant Ernest Ramm for his photo and information. Also to John O'Grady from Dublin, Ireland for Sgt. John Kevin Gilvary family grave photographs. Thanks to Martin Ellis for sharing his research into the crew (Dec 2022)

Other sources listed below:

RS 13.12.2022 - Update to the biographical details for the crew

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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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