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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 Squadron Crest
23/24.10.1940 No. 75 Squadron (NZ) Wellington Ic P9292 AA-C P/O. Sanderson

Operation: Potsdam, Germany

Date: 23/24th October 1940 (Wednesday/Thursday)

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

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: P9292

Code: AA-C

Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk

Location: North Sea

Pilot: P/O. Rex Martyn Sanderson 42727 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: P/O. William John Finlayson NZ/39911 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Obs: P/O. Frederick Bernard Cleak 77961 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Gibbs DFM. 625697 RAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Grice Hitchmough 653978 RAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald William Bryant White 755956 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed


Several operations taking place this night on various targets in Germany. 75 Squadron sent 5 aircraft to Potsdam south west of Berlin. Carrying 1 x 1000 lb. 500 lb. delayed action and 500 lb. fused NDT bombs as well as 250 lb. delayed action and 250 lb. NDT fused bombs plus containers of incendiaries.

P9292 took off just before midnight. Nothing further heard from the crew until it crashed into the North Sea off Denmark.

The body of P/O. Cleak was washed up on the island of Fanø on the South west coast of Denmark. That of P/O. Finlayson was recovered by a Royal Navy trawler and buried at sea near thwShipwash Light Vessel some 17 miles off the coast of Essex. He, together with the remaining crew are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Gibbs DFM L/G. awarded posthumously on 26th August 1941.

Burial details:

P/O. Rex Martyn Sanderson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 10. Born on the 08th June 1916 at Thames, the son of Alexander and Adelaide Ida Sanderson (née Murray), of Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a grocery assistant for Blue and White Coop. A total of 373 flying hours logged and on his 12th operation.

P/O. William John Finlayson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 27. Born on the 29th January 1917 at Canvastown, the son of John Herbert McWilliam Finlayson and Hilda Kathleen Eliza Finlayson (née Benton), of Opoho, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. Before going the RNZAF worked as a journalist for Hawkes Bay Daily Mail. A total of 373 flying hours logged.

P/O. Frederick Bernard Cleak. Esbjerg Cemetery (Fourfelt). Grave A.14.11. Son of Frederick and Ethel Cleak. Grave inscription: 'In Peace And Honour Rest You Here, My Son In Silence And Eternal Sleep'.

Sgt. Jack Gibbs DFM. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 14. Son of Philip Frederick and Maud Beatrice Gibbs, of Newbold, Warwickshire, England.

Sgt. William Grice Hitchmough. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 15. Son of Henry and Annie Hitchmough, of Allerton, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Reginald William Bryant White. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 20. Son of William Herbert and Ethel Ruth White, of Homsey, Middlesex, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire 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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 09.11.2019

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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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