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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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75 (NZ) Squadron Stirling III BF455 Fl/Sgt. Charles Arnold Rothschild

Operation: Frankfurt

Date: 10/11th April 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 75 (NZ) Squadron 3 Group (motto: Ake ake kia kaha - 'For ever and ever be strong')

Type: Stirling III

Serial: BF455

Code: AA-Y

Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk

Location: English Channel (see map)

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Charles Arnold Rothschild R/66347 RCAF

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Eric Grainger 625045 RAFVR (1)

Nav: Fl/Sgt. George King Samson NZ/402563 RNZAF (2)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. James Leonard Richards NZ/404946 RNZAF (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Richard Douglas Tod R/91741 RCAF (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Ernest Tod R/91742 RCAF (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harold Ernest Moss NZ/413274 RNZAF Age 29. (see notes below)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Alfred Maxwell Hardy NZ/401226 RNZAF Age 22. (see notes below)


Taking off from RAF Newmarket, Suffolk at 23.55 hrs to bomb the city of Frankfurt with 501 other aircraft. 144 Wellingtons, 136 Lancasters, 124 Halifaxes, and 98 Stirlings.

The bombing was classed as a failure with the target totally covered in cloud - every photograph taken during the operation had been obscured so intelligence had no idea what damage had been done. Reports from the city report that few bombs fell in the suburbs with zero casualties in the city but 18 killed in other areas.

21 aircraft were lost from Bomber Command on this night. One other from the squadron:

Stirling III BF456 AA-J Flown by 23-year-old, Sgt. John Webb 657412 RAF - killed with all 6 other crew. Attacked by 22 year old, Lt. Heinz-Martin Hadeball of 12./NJG. A Luftwaffe ace at this time with 6 claims. He went on to claim a total of 33 by the end of the war, Further details on the Kracker Archive.

Above L-R: Fl/Sgt. Charles Rothschild, Fl/Sgt. George Samson, Sgt. Richard Tod, Sgt. Robert Tod, Sgt. James Richards and Sgt. William Hardy

Stirling BF458 was hit and badly damaged over the target area. The pilot decided to attempt to return to base. Whilst over the Chanel they were attacked repeatedly by an unidentified night fighter. During the return, Robert Tod continued to call base to inform them of their position. Finally, 3 Spitfires arrived to escort them back. When they were about 3 miles from Shoreham on Sea the port engines cut out. Sgt. Rothschild carried out an excellent ditching on a calm sea with the tail well down and the crew in ditching positions.

Fl/Sgt. Samson chose to use the rest bunk as his ditching position which turned out to be perfect! The actions of WO. Robert Tod meant that the crew would be picked up within 15 minutes of ditching, this earned him his DFM.

An RAF Walrus W2773 piloted by Sgt. Tom Fletcher 158251 landed to collect the crew but unfortunately tipped the dingy over, throwing the crew into the water. A second Walrus W3010 hauled Sgt. Grainger aboard but only after being dragged 200 yards. He was suffering from shock and had to be forcibly restrained in order to get him safely on board. BF455 continued to float but sank after about 30 minutes.

The bombing of Frankfurt by the Allies of World War II killed about 5,500 residents and destroyed the largest medieval city centre in Germany (the Eighth Air Force dropped 12,197 tons of explosives on the city).

In the 1939-45 period the Royal Air Force (RAF) dropped 15,696 long tons of bombs on Frankfurt.

Post-war reconstruction generally used modern architecture, and a few landmark buildings were rebuilt in a simple historical style.

Burial details:

All crew survived this event. Some killed at a later date:

(1) Sgt. Grainger, Sgt. Richards, WO.2. Tod twins were on Stirling III EH889 AA-Z on an operation to Mülheim when they were attacked and shot down by 23 year old, Fw. Heinz Vink of 11./NJ1. Another Luftwaffe ace at this time with 26 claims. He went on to claim a total of 54 by the time he was shot down by Typhoons of 198 squadron. All 8 crew killed. Further details on the Kracker Archive.

(2) Fl/Sgt. Samson was on Stirling III EF408 AA-P on an operation to Mülheim when they were shot down by flak crashing at Gelsenkirchen. All 7 crew killed.

Above: Luftwaffe pilots mentioned within this report.

Sgt. Eric Grainger. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 151. Son of William Henry and Myra Grainger. No further details - are you able to assist?

Above: P/O. John Mathers Bailey NZ/412183 laughing at the 'Goldfish' badge worn by Fl/Sgt. Samson (Courtesy Air Force Museum of New Zealand) P/O. Bailey survived the war, passed away on the 02nd November 1967 age just 53.

Fl/Sgt. George King Samson. Fl/Sgt. George King Samson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 19.G.4-6. Born on the 05th January 1916 at Gisborne. Worked as a sheep farmer for Daniel Ridiford of Te Awaiti Station prior to service. Served 2 and half years in the territorial army. Enlisted in the RNZAF as a pilot under training on the 10th of July 1940. Flying training at No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School. Pilot training terminated on the 19th of January 1941. Began training as a navigator on the following day. Embarked for Canada on the 27th of February 1941. Observer badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the 22nd July 1941. Embarked for England on the 28th of August 1941. Further training with 11 Operational Training Unit commencing 30th September 1941. On the 04th October 1942 further training with 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit at Waterbeach. Finally joining 75 (NZ) Squadron on the 28th of November 1942. Son of Walter (died on the 16th May 1931, aged 56) and Margaret Mary Samson (née Hooper - died 22nd October 1943, age 67), of Wellington City, New Zealand. A total of 230 flying hours logged and on his 14th operational sortie.

Sgt. James Leonard Richards. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Born on the 24th January 1918 at Rakaia. Worked as a tractor driver on his father's farm at Methven. Enlisted at Levin on the 01st December 1940 as a pilot under training. Joined No. 1 Elementary Training School on the 08th March 1941. Pilot training terminated and remustered as observer 12th March 194. Embarked for Canada on the 18th June 1941. Observer badge and promoted to sergeant on the 08th November 1941. Embarked for England on the 08th January 1942. Further training with No. 9 Observer Advanced Flying Unit on the 01st May 1942. Attached to 11 Operational Training Unit on the 12th May 1942 carrying out 2 operational sorties. Joined 75 squadron on the 25th September 1942 then to 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit to recrew 03rd-12th June 1943. Son of Henry Edward Harrison and Jessie Elizabeth Richards (née Tait), of Methven, Canterbury, New Zealand. 291 flying hours logged and on his 8th operational sortie.

Above: The Tod twins confusing the pilot, Alexander Rothschild (Courtesy Francois Dutil)

W/O.2. Richard Douglas Tod. Medemblik General Cemetery. Grave 250. Born on the 19th February 1920. Son of Alexander (died 18th September 1937, age 68) and Mary Edith Tod (died 18th February 1969, age 90), of 39 St. Vital Road, St. Vital, Manitoba, Canada. Grave inscription: 'Your Memory Hallowed" In The Land You Loved"'.

Tod Lake east of Reindeer Lake, Manitoba was named after the twins in 1947. n older brother John ('Jock') took part in the 'D' Day landings and it has been said that he captured 27 Germans single hundred. He also wanted to find out the fate of his twin brothers as even a year later the family had received no further information. He took a motorbike to the area of Holland where they were reported to have been shot down. He discovered where two Canadians were buried and by chance a 10-year-old Dutch girl was planting flowers on the grave, she explained her family had adopted the graves and were looking after them. They stayed in touch long after the war. He also met members of the Dutch resistance who took part in the burial service. John ('Jock') Tod survived the war and settled at West Hawk Lake, Manitoba, Canada.

W/O.2. Robert Ernest Tod DFM. Medemblik General Cemetery. Grave 249. Born on the 19th February 1920. Son of Alexander (died 18th September 1937, age 68) and Mary Edith Tod (died 18th February 1969, age 90), of 39 St. Vital Road, St. Vital, Manitoba, Canada. Grave inscription: 'To Save Mankind - Yourself You Scorned To Save'.

Sgt. William Alfred Maxwell Hardy NZ/401226 RNZAF - Born on the 14th November 1922 at Wanganui. Enlisted on the 07th May 1940. Survived the war after being repatriated sick and wounded in October 1943. Left the RNZAF on the 06th December 1945. Awarded MiD on the 10th of July for meritorious service. Completed 24 operational sorties. Died on the 23rd July 1988 at Tauranga, age 66. Buried in Aramoho Cemetery, Wanganui, New Zealand, Plot 5.

Sgt. Harold Ernest Moss NZ/413274 RNZAF - survived the war, passed away on the 15th August 1978, age 62. His wife, Beatrice Eunice passed away on the 07th March 2012, at age 90. Father of Elaine, Ray, and Evan

Fl/Sgt. Charles Arnold Rothschild R/66347 RCAF - survived the war - served with both 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron and 75 (NZ) Squadron. Obtained his wings at No. 4 Service Flying Training School course 30 between 09th June and 20th August 1941 at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Received his commission on the 25th of September when a warrant officer. Later promoted to Flying Officer. Husband of Margaret who pre-deceased him. The 1995 recipient of Rideau Township Senior Citizen of the Year, and an active Legionnaire and Kiwanian. Arnold died on the 10th of February 2004 at North York General Hospital. Buried at Pardes Shalom Cemetery, Ontario, Canada.

His brother, F/Lt. Marvin Jay Rothschild J/7621 also served. (shown left - courtesy Francois Dutil) Born on the 15th June 1920 at Sudbury, Ontario, Canada Obtained his wings at No. 8 Service Flying Training School course 30 between 02nd July and 13th September 1941. Thought to have flown with 422 squadron. Died 07th January 2018 at Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Francois Dutil for tremendous photographs and information on the Canadian crew members and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Theo Boiten 'Nachtjagd Combat Archive 1943 vol1', Air Museum of New Zealand, Kracker Archives, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 17-01-2022

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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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