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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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23 crest
24th July 1944 23 Squadron Mosquito FB.VI HR236 Sqn Ldr. Rabone DFC

Operation: Ranger

Date: 24th July 1944 (Monday)

Unit No: 23 Squadron (motto: Semper Aggressus - 'Always on the attack'), 100 Group

Type: Mosquito FB.VI

Serial: HR236

Code: YP:?

Base: RAF Little Snoring, Norfolk

Location: Schleswig-Holstein area

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Paul Wattling Rabone DFC. 2171 RNZAF Age 26. KiA

Nav: Fg Off. Frederick Charles Haver Johns DFC. 143416 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off on a Ranger to Peenemunde north western Germany at 09:12 hrs.

Failed to return. Understood to have been hit by light flak to the rear of the fuselage. Both crew attempted to bale out but it is thought they were too low as the parachute of Fg Off. Johns was found barely open.

The body of Fg Off. Johns was recovered from the sea shortly afterwards. The body of the pilot however, was washed up on Heligoland on the 2nd October 1944 and buried by the Germans on the island.

After the war his body was exhumed by Americans and buried erroneously at the US Military Cemetery at Ardennes. After the Air Ministry became involved he was then exhumed for the second time and buried at Hotton War Cemetery.

Burial and personal details:

Sqn Ldr. Paul Wattling Rabone DFC. Hotton War Cemetery. Grave XI.C.8. Born on the 2nd March 1918 Salisbury, Wiltshire. Son of Wg Cdr. Clarence Noble Rabone and Frances May Rabone (née Williams), of Walberton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England and husband of Pamela Barbara Rabone (née Buchanan - later Quin), of Kairanga, Wellington, New Zealand.

Moved to New Zealand around 1927. Awarded RAF short service commission on the 24th May 1938. Awarded his pilots badge on the 13th October 1938. Served in 88 Squadron - Fairey Battle - 16 operational sorties, 145 Squadron - Hurricane - 26, 96 Squadron - Hurricane and Defiant - 33, 85 Squadron - Havoc - 5, 145 Squadron - Havoc and Boston -1, 29 Squadron - Beaufighter - 11, 488 Squadron - Beaufighter - 523 Squadron - Mosquito - 37 and 515 Squadron - Mosquito - 12. Credited with 9 enemy aircraft destroyed, 1 damaged and 3 more damaged on the water. DFC awarded whilst with 23 Squadron, gazetted 25th January 1944 A total of 1874 flying hours logged.

Note: His brother (Above) Fg Off. Geoffrey Osbourne Rabone 413214 RNZAF was shot down on an operation to Secqueville. Five of the 106 Squadron crew escaped injury but two lost their lives on Lancaster III LM641 ZN:D. (of the surviving 5, Sgt. K. Buck 1867845 was taken PoW 70446 at Bankan, near Kreulberg, Upper Silesia. 4 others evaded capture).

Geoffrey Osbourne Rabone born at Gore on the 6th November 1921 became the New Zealand cricket captain 1953/54 to 1954/55. He died in Auckland on the 19th January 2006. The other evading crew members; Fg Off. A.A. Dilworth J21747 RCAF, Fg Off. Stefan Agust Bjarnason RCAF, Flt Sgt. J.W. MacNicol R185934 RCAF. Sgt. Frederick George Ralph 910510 RAF and Fg Off. Jack Taylor 421295 RNZAF were KiA.

Fg Off. Frederick Charles Haver Johns DFC. Hanover War Cemetery. Grave 10.E.9. Born on the 17th June 1922 in Woolwich London. Son of George W and Elisabeth L. (née Morley) Johns of Woolwich, London, England.

DFC awarded whilst with 515 Squadron, with effect from 26th July 1944.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3” Collection, also to Gerrie Zwananberg MBE and his research, Publication 'Eyes of the night' authors Joe Bamford and Ron Collier ISBN-13 : 978-1844152964, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand. (Mar 2021) .Thanks to Graeme Couttie for the correction for Navigator's surname (Apr 2023). Not details for Fg Off. Johns researched and added by Aircrew Remembered (Apr 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 02.04.2023 - Correction to Navigator's name and NoK details added

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Acknowledgements
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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