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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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139 Squadron Mosquito DH98 B/XVI MM146 Fl/Lt. John Donovan Robins

Operation: Berlin

Date: 07/08th July 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 139 Squadron (motto: Si placet necamus - 'We destroy at will') 2 Group, 82 Wing.

Type: Mosquito DH98 B/XVI

Serial: MM146

Code: XD-H

Base: RAF Upwood, Huntingdonshire

Location: Kalmar airfield, Småland, Sweden

Pilot: Fl/Lt. 'Don' John Donovan Robins NZ/1071 70050 RNZAF Age 24. Interned

Nav: Sub/Lt (A) Benjamin Marius Vlielander-Hein RNethNAS Age 30. Evaded


Twelve aircraft from the squadron took off detailed to attack Berlin with six of them to mark the aiming point with green target indicators. MM146 was airborne at 23:00 hrs in clear weather over the target with a slight ground haze.

Bmbing was concentrated west of the target area. Searchlights were numerous forming cones of 30-40 beams with moderate heavy flak firing into the cones. The operation was described as highly successful with three aircraft obtaining great photographs.

MM146 fell victim to the intense anti-aircraft fire. The pilot quickly realised that they would not make it back to England and decided to make for Sweden. During the approach they were fired at by the Swedish anti aircraft batteries. The aDutch navigator baled out and evaded capture via Norway back to England and rejoined his unit.

The Swedish authorities interned Fl/Lt. Robins for nearly three months before he was released to the British, he also returned to his unit.

The remainder of the squadron landed safely back at base by 03:56 hrs.

Above: Mosquito MM146 (Courtesy Rob Phillips)

By the time World War II was over, more than three hundred aircraft from various countries had force-landed or crashed in neutral Sweden. According to international law, Sweden was required to intern the foreign aircraft until the war was over. Sweden would take care of the planes at the expense of the home country.

Interned airctaft in Sweden (Courtesy Rob Phillips)

Burial and other details:

None - both crew survived the war.

Fl/Lt. John Donovan Robins DFC. OBE. Born on the 17th February 1920 in Wanganui, New Zealand, Enlisted on the 26th June 1939 with continued service until the 17th February 1973. Died on the 09th February 1980 at just 59 in Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Husband of Dorothy Lois (née Hervey) Robins - married 1951 in New Zealand. His wife died in 2004 at aged about 85 in New Zealand.

DFC Citation 22nd May 1945:

This officer has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.

OBE 01st January 1963:

In the ten years preceding this award Wing Commander Robins served as OC FTS, Wigram, June

1952-May 1954. He was then appointed Deputy Director of Signals, RNZAF HQ until January 1956 when he proceeded to England on an exchange posting with the RAF. On return to NZ in September 1957 he became Director of Signals until December 1960. His brother, W/O. Rex Bernard Robins NZ/391511 RNZAF received the MBE in 1946.


Sub/Lt (A) Benjamin Marius Vlielander-Hein DFC. VK. Born on the 29th januari 1914 in ’s-Gravenhage in the Netherlands. The son of Lieutenant Commander Johan Wilhelm Vlielander Hein (1881-1941) and Digna Jacoba Mijer (1883-1969). He married Doreen Adelaide Glass (1920) in 1944 and Ellen Ruth Freydanck Oesinger (1924) in 1958. Two daughters were born from the second marriage, Henriette Marie Vlielander Hein (1/5/1959) and Digna Vlielander Hein

Benjamin Vlielander was awarded the Dutch VliegerKruis for having distinguished himself by deeds of initiative, courage and perseverance having taken part in 1944 and in 1945 until the end of March in many flights to German bases in Mosquito bombers as observer and sometimes as Target Marker, often under hazardous circumstances, during which flights his aircraft had been hit several times and on July 7th, 1944 had been so severely damaged that an emergency landing in Sweden became necessary.

L-R: Rear; Neville Halsey Andrew 36252 ✞,, John Donovan Robins 70050 , I.H Auliff, W. Raymond, Michael Lomax Stedman 36263 ✞, Ronald Stanley Magee 36256 ✞, R.J Neal, J.B Paterson, Basil Percy Thomson 36264 ✞.

Front; RJA Leslie, William Baker Parker 36259, A.J McIntyre, Peter Robert McNab, Nathaniel Paterso 36261 ✞, Matthew John Alexander Kirdy 36254 ✞. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archives Kew, AIR-27-961-13/14. 'By Such Deeds', by the late Group Captain Colin Morris Hanson NZ/4217055. The late Rob Philips and his wonderful archives.

Above courtesy De-Havilland Museum

KTY 29-03-2024

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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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