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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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218
218 Squadron Stirling I N3714 Fl/Sgt. Keith Forbes Ryan

Operation: Saarbrücken

Date: 01/02nd September 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron. (motto: 'In Time'). 3 Group

Type: Stirling I

Serial: N3714

Code: HA-Q

Base: RAF Downham Market, Norfolk

Location: Sterrebeek, Belgium

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Keith Forbes Ryan NZ/41999 RNZAF Age 28. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Vincent Owen Fogg 533457 RAFVR Age 26. PoW No. 26858 Camp: Stalag 344 Lamsdorf (1)

Nav: P/O. Edward Grey Ruegg NZ/405511 RNZAF Age 22. PoW No: 666 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan (2)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. George Ernest Reid NZ/411778 RNZAF Age 31. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas McCord Campbell 1111478 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Birch 1106187 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stanley Archibald Wills 1383234 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


November 2022: The 419th medal is now reunited with relatives - thanks to Meals Reunited of New Zealand


REASON FOR LOSS:

Weather:

Misty with local fog patches, becoming fair apart from some showers. Visibility" 2 - 4000 yards improving 10-15 miles.

Taking off at 23:50 hrs with 7 others from the squadron, joining a total force of 231 aircraft. The operation was a failure as the Pathfinders Illuminated and marked a town which they believed to be Saarbrücken and the main force bombed that place vigorously. The town of Saarlouis 13 miles to the northwest of the target and situated in a similar bend of the River Saar, was hit killing 52 civilians.

N3714 was shot down over Belgium by Hptm. Walter Ehle of Stab II./NJG1 with his regular radio operator gunner Ofw. Ludwig Leodenbach. The Stirling crashed at 04:15 hrs at Sterrebeek, and 5 of the crew killed with 2 taken PoW. Hptm. Ehl was flying Bf110 G9+BC. Further details on Kracker Archive.

Read full details of the return of Sgt. Reid's New Zealand Memorial Cross being returned to relatives cleaned and with the original ribbon and presentation box with the great help of Metals Reunited of New Zealand, NZ police and Wigram Air Force Museum in October 2022. Details here.

(1) Sgt. James Vincent Owen Fogg survived the war and passed away in 1990, age 74 from Nottingham, England.


Above left: Edward Ruegg wedding with Vera at Ngaio on the 11th January 1941. Right: Edward circa 1970.

(2) P/O. Edward Grey Ruegg survived the war and passed away in 2005, age 89 from Pyes Pa, Tauranga, New Zealand. Husband of Vera Anita Ruegg (née Abbott) born on the 10th March 1919 - passed away on the 14th of January 2022, age 102.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Keith Forbes Ryan. Nossegem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 1-5. Born on the 10th of September 1913 in Taihape. Son of Alfred Mervyn (born 16th June 1877 - died 25th March 1953, age 75) and Julie Russell Ryan (née Irvine - born 16th June 1887, died 09th December 1949, age 62), of Taihape, Wellington, New Zealand. 373 flying hours logged and completer 9 operational sorties.

Sgt. George Ernest Reid. Nossegem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 1-5. Born on the 21st of July 1911 in Dunedin. Son of Hugh (died 24th August 1952, age 76) and Nora Agnes Reid (née Feeney - died 17th March 1956, age 79), Kaikorai, New Zealand. Husband of Margaret Elizabeth Reid (née Pope) of Tainui, Dunedin, New Zealand. 170 flying hours logged and completer 3 operational sorties.

Sgt. Thomas McCord Campbell. Nossegem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 1-5. Son of Robert John and Jeannie Campbell, of Portrush, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Sgt. Frank Birch. Nossegem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 1-5. Son of Walter Robinson Birch and Edith Birch, of Darnall, Sheffield, England. Epitaph: 'Tis Sweet To Remember A Son So Dear Though Absent From Us He Is Always Near'.

Sgt. Stanley Archibald Wills. Nossegem Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 1-5. Son of Arthur W. Wills, and of Sarah Ann Wills, of Hornchurch, Essex, England. Epitaph: 'He Died That England Might Live, And Sacrificed All That He Held Most Dear'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot 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, Medals Reunited of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Air 27-1350-17/18 National Archives, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, Kracker Luftwaffe Archive.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26-11-2022

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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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