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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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RAF Crest
11/12.04.1944 No. 190 Squadron Stirling IV LJ822 Fl/Sgt. Peter Coudis

Operation: SOE (Special Operations Executive)

Date: 11/12th April 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: Attached to No. 190 Squadron (38 Group)

Type: Stirling IV

Serial: LJ822

Code: D

Base: RAF Tarrant Rushton, Dorset.

Location: Knighton Farm, Hampreston, near Wimborne, Dorset

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Peter Croudis NZ/415239 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Willie Mitchell 1591883 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Douglas John Sampson NZ/422571 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Ernest Ziersch AUS/417690 RAAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Stanley Nunn AUS/418459 RAAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert Stewart Hadley J/26622 RCAF Age 19. Killed


Stirling LJ822 took off from RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire at 23:42 hrs on a special operation to France (supply drop to the resistance fighters) on the night of 11/12th April 1944, detailed to carry out a special operations night flight. On take off the aircraft was seen to swing badly to starboard before climbing away.

The aircraft crashed just six minutes later at Knighton Farm, Hampreston, near Wimborne, Dorset, killing all the crew. The aircraft dived into the ground, bursting into flames on impact.

The subsequent court of enquiry reported that the heavily loaded aircraft had started a turn at too low a speed, stalled and entered into a spin which the pilot failed to recover from. Sadly, air accident investigations (early days for this type of investigation) were very quick to place blame on aircrew error, if no other factors were apparent.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Peter Croudis. Brookwood Military Cemetery Coll. grave 24. D. 9-11. Son of Ashley Bell Croudis and of Elizabeth Croudis (née Ryan), of Westport, Nelson. New Zealand. This was his first operation, perviously had 404 hrs flying experience with 35 of these solo on the Stirling.

Sgt. John Willie Mitchell. Brookwood Military Cemetery Coll. grave 24. D. 9-11. Son of George W. Mitchell and Gertrude Mitchell, husband of Marion Mitchell, of Heaton, Bradford, Yorkshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Douglas John Sampson. Brookwood Military Cemetery Coll. grave 24. D. 9-11. Son of Henry Dundas Sampson and of Alice Frances Sampson (née Clayton), of Ngaruawahia, Auckland, New Zealand. Thought to be his first operation. 343 hrs experience flying.

Fl/Sgt. Leslie Ernest Ziersch. Brookwood Military Cemetery Coll. grave 24. D. 9-11. Son of Ernest Ewald and Bertha Magdalene Ziersch, of Eudunda, South Australia.

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Stanley Nunn. Brookwood Military Cemetery Coll. grave 24. D. 9-11. Son of Leslie and Maude Alice Nunn, of Ballarat, Victoria Australia.

F/O. Robert Stewart Hadley. Brookwood Military Cemetery Coll. grave 24. D. 9-11. Son of Karl H. Hadley and Hazel M. Hadley, of Point Edward, Ontario, Canada.

Acknowledgments/Sources: AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 166,45,48 Micro Film No 463 OAFH - plus sources quoted below.

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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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