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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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158 squadron badge
12/13.04.1942 No 158 Squadron Wellington II W5525 NP-V Sq/Ldr. Protheroe

Operation: Essen

Date: 12/13th April 1942 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: 158 Squadron

Type: Wellington II

Serial No: W5525

Coded: NP-V

Base: RAF Driffield, Yorkshire

Location: Budberg

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Wilfred Morgan Protheroe DFC. 44779 RAF Age ? Killed (1)

Pilot 2: P/O. Graham Peter Elliott 104529 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav:  Sgt. Colin Raymond Harper AUS/402441 RAAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Swinburn 991501 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ralph Harry Crews 1162024 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Matchett Mahaffy 969454 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Reason For Loss:

Wellington W5525 took off at 22:08 hours on the 12th April 1942. It was detailed to bomb targets at Essen Germany. 

It carried a bomb load consisting of 2 x 1000Lb, 1 x 500 Lb,and 2 x 250 Lb A.R. In addition to this it carried 750 gallons of fuel, and Nickel (Leaflets to drop over the target area)

From the time it took off, no signals were received. It is not known how this aircraft was lost but it crashed at Budberg and all the crew died in the crash.

On this raid a total of 251 bombers attacked Essen, but the cost was high - 64 aircraft failed to return. The Krupps factory was hit by high explosive bombs and incendiaries, and minor damage to civilian property was reported by the German authorities.

(1) Squadron Leader Protheroe (shown above) was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross for this operation.


(Grave of Sgt Mahaffy (courtesy of WW2 Northern Ireland

Burial Details:

Sq/Ldr. Wilfred Morgan Protheroe DFC. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.E.2. No further details available as yet.

P/O. Graham Peter Elliott. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.E.5. No further details available as yet.

Sgt. Colin Raymond Harper. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.E.3. Son of Walter and Evelyn Catherine Harper of Waverley, New South Wales, Australia. Harper, was born on the 28th of December 1916. A plumber by trade. Joined the Air Force at No. 2 Recruiting Centre, Sydney on the 19th of August 1940. On enlistment gave his father as next of kin religion as Church of England. On the same day he went to No 2 Initial Training School at Bradfield Park Lindfield. After initial training he embarked for Canada on the 21st November 1940, where he spent a period of seven months training as a navigator. He finally arrived in the UK. on the 17th July 1941.

Sgt. Frank Swinburn. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.E.4. Son of Henry and Zillah Swinburn, of Sheffield, England.

Sgt. Ralph Harry Crews. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.E.I. Son of H.P. Crews, and of Edith Crews, of Leicester, England.

Sgt. William Matchett Mahaffy. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.E.6. Son of William Irwin Mahaffy and Jeannie Mahaffy of Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland. Interesting as he is buried with his older brother, 23 year old 2nd Lt. Henry Irwin Mahaffy. A member of the Royal Flying Corp, killed during the first world war on October 22nd 1917 the grave is placed by the wall, position 112, Bangor Cemetery, Northern Ireland.

Sgt. Frank Swinburn. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 29.E.4. Son of Henry and Zillah Swinburn, of Sheffield, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher Mr. Bob Wilton for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Howard Smith for additional information on Sgt. Mahaffy and the grave.

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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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