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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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No. 419 Squadron Crest
13/14.07.1942 419 (Moose) Squadron RCAF Wellington III X3416 VR-J WO1. Warren Langton Sargant.



Operation: Duisberg

Date: 13/14 July 1942 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 419 (Moose) Squadron RCAF. Motto: "Moosa aswayita" ("Beware of the Moose")

Badge: A moose attacking. The moose, representing the squadron's nickname acquired from its first commanding officer, is a ferocious fighter and is indigenous to Canada. The motto is in the Cree language. Authority: King George VI, June 1944.

Type: Vickers Wellington III

Serial: X3416

Code: VR-J

Base: RAF Mildenhall. Suffolk

Location: Not known - lost without trace.

Pilot: WO1. Warren Langton Sargant RCAF R/72286 Age 30 (1)

Navigator: Sgt. Basil Vincent Pearce RCAF R/83558 Age 21 (2)

1st W/Op/AG: Sgt. Furneaux Montague Van Geun R/54999 RCAF Age 22 (3)

2nd W/Op/AG: Sgt. James Grant 1062255 RAFVR Age 20 (4)

Air Gunner: F/Sgt. William Leonard Maxim R/66051 RCAF Age 25 (5)



We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our helpdesk




INTRODUCTION


419 'Moose' Squadron was formed on 15 December 1941 at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk as a bomber squadron within Bomber Command and was equipped with the Vickers Wellington.

GTI 3 Group allocated aircrews to the Squadron giving priority to all available RCAF personnel on the basis of one Flight to be completed by December 28 1941 and the second Flight by 5 January 1942

419 (Moose) Squadron was only the third Canadian squadron to become operational overseas and was named Moose after its first Commanding Officer, Wing Commander John 'Moose' Fulton who had acquired the nickname in his early years when he spent a great deal of his time hunting and fishing.

Operations began on 11 January 1942 when two aircraft, one of which was captained by John Fulton himself, took part in a raid on Brest.



FIVE ARRIVE AT MILDENHALL

(In order of their arrival)


SGT. BASIL VINCENT PEARCE - NAVIGATOR


The first of the crew to be posted to 419 Squadron was navigator Basil Pearce fromToronto. Aged 21 he had come from 12 OTU at RAF Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire.

By his own admission, Basil was of a nervous temperament as were his mother and brother and he had stated so at his medical in 1940

Despite a good enough start at Initial Training School - 'Good material. Energetic. Responsible', his problems began at Air Observer School - 'Young and lacks educational background - will require close supervision', and at Bombing and Gunnery School, things got worse - 'A hold over from Course 20. During that course his thoughts were not on his work and he failed both written papers. After straightening out his personal problems he settled down somewhat and made a pass. Does not yet fully realise the responsibilities of his job.' and at Air Navigation School, Ground training - 'Somewhat dull student. Is more worried about getting overseas than with his work. failed sup. May improve under operational conditions but may need wakening. Has not impressed on the course.'

Nevertheless, with his Air Observer Brevet and now a Sergeant he proceeded to the UK and 12 OTU.

He arrived at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk on 13 January 1942 and had barely unpacked before being detailed for an operation 8 days later on 21 January as navigator of the crew of 'A' Flight Commander, Squadron Leader Francis William Scott Turner. Three Squadron aircraft took part in an attack on Boulogne Docks, the Squadron's third operation; all returned safely.

Basil was then detailed for the Squadron's fourth op on 28 January and again with S/L Turner; another raid on the docks at Boulogne. The Squadron Leader's second pilot on both raids was Fl/Lt. Denzil Lloyd Wolfe, and commencing on 31 January he was to Captain his own crew with Basil as navigator for a raid on St Nazaire. Basil was Wolfe's navigator again on 10 February for a raid on Brest, on 3 March against the Renault Works at Paris, and on 10 March for an attack on Essen.

Basel did not fly on ops again until 12 April (Le Havre) and 13 April (Boulogne) both of them under the captaincy of Wolfe's erstwhile number 2 Pilot, Sgt. Joseph Mervyn Dutton, as stand in for his usual navigator.

With 8 trips to his credit Basil was not detailed for operations again until 9 July when he joined the crew of Warren Sargant.


SGT. FURNEAUX MONTAGUE VAN GEUN - WIRELESS OPERATOR/AIR GUNNER


Ferneaux Van Geun joined 419 Squadron on 26 January. He had also been posted from 12 OTU at Chipping Warden although there is no evidence of him having any previous connection with Basil Pearce. Furneaux was 22 and the son of a Dutch restaurateur and an English mother. He had been born in Birmingham, England, but had immigrated with his family to Canada in 1920 when he was little more than a year old.

Like Basil Pearce, Initial Training School went well -'Small man but extra smart and alert. Expert on skis. Place his courage and coolness high. Very good at Maths. Suitable Observer type' but his Air Observer School report was a Curate's egg:

Air training - 'Inclined to be erratic but has average ability. Ground training - 'Not very conscientious or dependable, but is intelligent.'

But the Chief Instructor offered some optimism:

'Did not concentrate on his work, not dependable but very very young and apparently has been spoiled at home. Believe would be good Air Gunner if made to realise responsibility.'

Furneaux had eventually cut the mustard, and was awarded his Air Gunner Badge.

Three weeks after arriving at Mildenhall he was detailed for his first operation, a Nickel trip to Lille on 16 February as part of the crew of P/O. Arthur B. Crichton. But his first experience of operational flying was short lived as intercom failure forced the Wellington to return to base just 40 minutes after take off.

Two days later a repeat performance was ordered and all went well with nickels dropped over the target area and a safe return to base.

It was 10 March when Furneaux was next detailed for operations. He was to fly with the crew of Sgt. J. H. Foy, one of six crews to take part in the raid on Essen by a total force of 126 aircraft. One of six 419 Squadron aircraft was forced to return early but the other five bombed the target and returned safely to base. The Squadron ORB however reported that Sgt. Foy's Wellington Z1077 VR-P , 'overshot field on landing and was written off. No-one seriously injured.'

W. R. Chorley BCL Vol 3 offers a little more information as follows: 'T/O 19.30 Mildenhall. Crashed 23.40 on return to base. The Wellington landed down wind and ran off the runway, colliding with an air raid shelter. No serious injuries reported.'

Despite the ORB stating that no serious injuries were reported, Furneaux Van Geun's service file records that from 11 to 14 March he was in the Station Sick Quarters and from 16 March at the RAF Hospital Ely. He was discharged from Little Port Hospital, an Annex of RAF Hospital Ely, on 17 April 1942.

Returning to Mildenhall on 19 April, he was recorded as being non-effective until 19 June 1942. It would seem that he had suffered injuries in the crash that had required hospitalisation for some 38 days followed by a further two months on the non-effective list.

Sgt. Foy and the rest of the crew however, seem to have escaped without serious injury and were all back on operations on or before 12 April.

Although Furneaux Van Geun was back on the effective list from 12 June it was to be 9 July before he took part in another operation, this time under the captaincy of Warren Sargant.


F/SGT. (later WO1) WARREN LANGTON SARGANT - CAPTAIN/PILOT


On 20 March 1942 Warren Sargant was posted to 419 Squadron from 22 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford in Warwickshire. Born in Toronto he was 29 years old, and by bomber crew standards, an old man. He was unmarried and in civvy street had been a Branch Cashier at North American Life Assurance Co.

He was 28 when he was interviewed at the Recruiting Centre at Toronto and certainly made a good impression.

'Very fine appearance. Healthy, alert, good bearing, well organised. Pleasant. Officer material. Above average.'

Without excelling in any particular area, and despite his age, Warren successfully negotiated pilot training, earning some respectable comments in the process:

ITS: 'Good average type. Keen for any position in air crew.'

EFTS: Flying - 'Average in all [illegible]. Ground - Conduct excellent'.

And from the Commanding Officer: 'Distinct possibilities if he really applies himself.'

SFTS - 'Good appearance, worked hard, average type'

Graduating from Course 25 at Service Flying Training School, he was also one of 25 graduates recommended by the Commanding Officer for commissioned rank.

Shortly after joining 419, he was detached to 1505 (Beam Approach Training) Flight at RAF Honington in Suffolk from 6 April 1942 to 12 April 1942.

His first operational flight with the Squadron was on 1 June 1942 when he flew as 2nd Dicky with the crew of P/O. Higham on a raid to Essen. However, due to a faulty cylinder head they were forced to return early and jettisoned their bombs at sea.

On 5 June he was off to Essen again as 2nd Dicky with F/Sgt. Fawcett and crew. This time all went well. They bombed the target and returned safely.

On 25 June he was back with P/O Higham, on a raid on Bremen. Another successful trip, repeated again two nights later.


SGT JAMES GRANT - WIRELESS OPERATOR/AIR GUNNER

Nothing is known of James Grant's service in the RAF until he joined the crew of Warren Sargant on 9 July. If you have any information please contact our helpdesk


F/SGT. WILLIAM LEONARD MAXIM - AIR GUNNER


William Maxim arrived at Mildenhall on 5 May 1942. He was 24 years old and a former Animal Trap Checker from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

He had arrived in the UK on 1 May 1941 and after training at 20 OTU at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland had been posted to 9 Squadron at RAF Honington in Suffolk on 10 August 1941. Commencing with an op to Le Havre docks on 22/23 August, he flew 11 ops with Sgt. Bowen, his final one being on 1/2 November. From then until 21 January 1942 there is no further mention of William Maxim flying operationally with 9 Squadron.

Referring to his service record he was admitted to the Station Sick Quarters on 21 to 23 January 1942 and was then transferred to RAF Hospital Ely. On 3 March 1942 he was transferred to the Airmens' Convalescent Depot at Blackpool. He returned to RAF Honington on 16 April when he was listed as non-effective. Nothing further is known of his service during his time at 9 Squadron.

He flew his first operation with 419 Squadron on 1 June 1942 with the crew of P/O. Fillmore on a raid on Essen. On 1 June he was also promoted to Flight Sergeant.

On 25 June, 27 June, 29 June and 2 July he flew operations with Sgt. Pearson - all of them against Bremen.

His next operation was on 9 July when he joined the crew of Warren Sargant.





A SCRATCH CREW


On Thursday 9 July, whether by chance or design, these five airmen, these five spare bods, formed a crew under the captaincy of Warren Sargant. Taking off at 2347 hours they were one of four Squadron crews detailed for a Gardening (Mine Laying) operation in the Frisian area. Their 'vegetables planted as ordered' the fledgling crew returned safely to base at 0314 hours on 10 July.

But operational flying was about to become far more hazardous.

On Monday 13 July the crew found their names on the Battle Order for operations that night, one of ten crews similarly detailed.

At the briefing later that day, they learned where they would be heading.

Bomber Command Executive Orders

Duisburg was chosen as the target for the night because the general [cloud] drift in the Ruhr indicated that it would be most likely to be an area of good visibility.

194 aircraft were ordered to attack Duisburg [139 Wellingtons, 33 Halifaxes, 13 Lancasters and 9 Stirlings]

Zero hour (Z) was 0200 hours on 14 July. The force attacking Duisburg was to be divided into three phases.

(1) A Flare Force of 18 Wellingtons of 3 Group flying in pairs at three minute intervals was to illuminate the target from Z to Z+25 minutes at which time when the whole attack was timed to finish.

(2) At Z+2 minutes an Incendiary Force was to attack until Z+15 minutes

(3) At Z+10 minutes the Main Force was to commence its attack with HE bombs.





REASON FOR LOSS


Take off from Mildenhall commenced at 0029 hours on 14 July and by 0100 all ten were airborne. Warren Sargant and his crew aboard X3416 was next to last to get away at 0058 hours and, lumbering under a heavy bomb load, climbed slowly into the night sky. In the bomb bay were 2 x 1000 lb, 3 x 500 lb and 3 x 250 lb GP bombs a mere 250 lbs shy of the maximum for a Wellington. A 500 mile round trip lay ahead.

The Bomber Command Night Raid Report included the following:

'There was more cloud than had been expected over Duisburg and probably as a result of this the attack was scattered and bombs fell mainly to the east of target. Losses on this occasion were not high and presumably as a result of the weather conditions there was little night fighter activity.

The moderate heavy and light flak with attempted searchlight co-operation is reported, but the searchlights were adversely affected by cloud and the flak was mostly inaccurate. Wireless intelligence states that no claims were made by the enemy that British aircraft had been shot down by their night fighters.

From an analysis of our own observations it is probable that three of our aircraft were shot down by flak but no indication can be given as to the cause of the loss of the other two aircraft.' [Only X3416 ultimately remained lost without trace].

'5 of our aircraft are missing from this operation and 20 sustained damage to varying extents. Of the aircraft damaged 12 were hit by flak. 4 received damage which was not due to enemy action and 4 others crashed on landing though it is not known whether enemy action caused these crashes to occur.'

The Bomber Command War Diaries by Chris Everitt and Martin Middlebrook adds the following details;

'Duisburg reports only housing damage - 11 houses destroyed, 68 seriously damaged and 17 people killed.

6 aircraft were lost i.e. 3 Wellingtons, 2 Stirlings and 1 Lancaster and 4 more aircraft crashed in England.' [The Bomber Command Night Raid Report does not include the missing Lancaster]

By comparison the RAF paid a very heavy price for such a meagre result. Of the 61 crew members flying the ten aircraft lost, 40 were killed, 5 were made prisoners of war with just 16 safe of whom 5 were injured.

Nothing was heard from X3416 or its crew after take off and no trace of aircraft or crew has ever been discovered, the most likely explanation being that the aircraft crashed in the North Sea with the crew still on board although no evidence of this has been forthcoming.

The other 9 Wellingtons of 419 Squadron all returned safely, the last one landing at Mildenhall at 0459 hours on 14 July.





THE LETTER TO JOAN.


On 14 January 1943, Mr T. M. Sargant was informed by the RCAF of its intention to take action to presume his son's death for official purposes and in the following March, a Certificate of Presumption of Death was duly provided to the North American Life Assurance Co., in order that his Life Assurance Policy proceeds could be released to the RCAF Administrator of Estates.

In dealing with his affairs the Estates Branch was advised of the following letter found in his personal effects.


Right click to enlarge image


TRANSCRIPT OF LETTER

June 1st

Mildenhall

Joan Dear

Have missed you around today very much. Hope you had an interesting journey back to town.

If the weather holds I will go tonight

We have not been briefed as yet but I think it is somewhere in "Happy Valley" or to you "The Ruhr".

Enclosed is a form I want you to complete and keep.

In the event that anything may happen at any time my bank book, wallet and watch will be forwarded to you. It is not much money, but buy something you really want.

This is not the type of letter I like writing but you understand it had to be written some time.

The chap whose watch you have is

Flt/Sgt. OBSERVER M.S. JACOBS

419 Squadron RCAF

Mildenhall

My sister's address is

Mrs. R. B. ADAMSON

66-5th Avenue

OTTAWA, Ont. Canada

As I said before dear this has to be written, we both hope you never need to use all this.

The happiest days of my life have been spent with you dear and each day my love for you grows stronger.

Next time we are together in London you can dig up a bottle of Bass Irish Sloe Gin, a lovely summer drink.

It might happen that to-night's trip will be scrubbed but this letter will go forward any way and I will not have to write in such a way again.

All my love,

Warren.

(W/O. Sargant)


Unfortunately F/Sgt. Michael Stein Jacobs had lost his life on 13 February 1943 and was therefore unable to be of assistance by the time the matter came to be dealt with.

Enquiries as to the identity of "Joan" were made without success until Warren Sargant's father advised that her name and address were:

Miss Joan Newton-Moore of 6 Hay's Mews, Berkley Square, Mayfair, London W1.

Despite letters being sent to Miss Newton-Moore at the address in London no response was forthcoming and a registered letter requesting the return of F/Sgt. Jacob's watch was not returned.

A club membership card found in the wallet indicated that Miss Newton-Moore was the Secretary of the club, however efforts to locate her through the club also proved unsuccessful. Unfortunately documents in Warren's service record do not mention the name or address of the club.

With no further progress having been made by June 1945 the wallet was forwarded to Mr Sargant pending any future contact from Miss Newton-Moore and the matter effectively closed.

Recent research by Roy Wilcock has discovered the following details of Miss Newton Moore though her family background remains unknown.

In the 1939 National Register she was recorded at 65, High Street Manchester, with six other apparently unrelated people one of whom is recorded as being Mary Boyle a Boarding House Keeper thus indicating that 65 High Street was probably such an establishment. The entry for Joan Newton-Moore states that she was a married woman, born 24 November 1914 and her occupation as being a Beauty Specialist.

Despite being recorded as married, a possible marriage has not been found nor a possible birth in 1914/15 with the surname Newton. Any other maiden name remains unknown.

A search of Electoral Rolls reveals that from 1945 to 1950 she was registered as residing at Flat 833, Chelsea Cloisters in Kensington, London. She was the only person registered there, apart from 1946 when a Madeline H. Weston was also registered at the flat and 1949/50 when a person with the name of Baldwin (Earl) was registered there.

In the September quarter of 1949, a marriage was registered at Marylebone of Joan Newton-Moore to Commander Peter Torrens Joy RN.

On 5 December 1949 she sailed for Teneriffe on the Bajamar. Although married to Peter Joy she appears on the passenger list under the surname, Newton-Moore, perhaps simply because she had failed to change her passport details after her marriage. She is recorded as being aged 34. With her was Eve Mountfort, both ladies having given the same home address of 11 Downing Court, Brunswick Square, London WC1.

Joan Joy died on 29 April 1951 with Administration granted to her husband. Details from the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) as follows:

'Joan Louise Joy of Faulkner House RNAS Bramcote Nuneaton Warwickshire (wife of Peter Torrens Joy) died 29 April 1951 at St Bartholomew's Hospital London. Administration London 27 March to the said Peter Torrens Joy Commander RN Effects £289 2s 6d.'

This is the only document that includes any reference, initial or otherwise of a second forename, Louise. In the GRO Index her age at death is recorded as being 34 (s/b 36 if she was born on 14 November 1914 as stated in 1939 Register).

5 years later Peter Joy also died at the age of 49. Details from the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) as follows:

'Peter Torrens Joy of The Old Bakehouse Ramsden Heath Billericay Essex died 15 September 1956 on HMS Alaunia at Davenport. Administration, Ipswich to Vivienne Alice Williams, married woman. Effects £4555 3s 1d.'



BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW


(1) WO1. Warren Langton Sargant was born on 22 June 1912 at Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the son of Thomas Menzies Sargant (an Auditor) and Edith Emily Sargant née Nash. He had one sibling, a sister Edith Elinor Sargant born in 1916.

The family lived at 121 Galley Avenue Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Warren Sargant was educated at Fern Ave Public school (1919-25) and Parkdale Collegiate Toronto (1926-32).

After leaving school he was employed as a Clerk by North American Life (1933-1935), as an Agent by Metropolitan Life (1935-38) and a Branch Cashier by North American Life from 1938 until joining the airforce.

He played Rugby, Baseball and Hockey extensively.


When he enlisted at Toronto on 19 Sept 1940 he was described as being 5'10" tall, weighing 152 lbs., with a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.


After training at 6 Bomber Reconnaissance at RCAF Prince Rupert, British Columbia, 2 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Regina, Saskatchewan, 8 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Vancouver and RCAF Sea Island, British Columbia and 10 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Dauphin, Manitoba, he was awarded his Flying Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 22 June 1941.


He embarked for the UK on 21 July 1941 and on arrival was posted to 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth on 16 August.


On 22 August he was posted to 58 Operational Training Unit at RAF Grangemouth, a day fighter pilot training establishment but on 30 September he was posted to 22 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford in Warwickshire for night bomber training on Vickers Wellingtons with a note that 'This pilot is S/E [single engine] trained and will need conversion to T/E [twin engine] aircraft.'


He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1 January 1942 and later posted to 419 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk on 20 March 1942. Detached to 1505 BATF 6 April 1942 t0 12 April 1942

He was promoted to Warrant Officer on 1 July 1942





(2) Sgt. Basil Vincent Pearce was born on 16 November 1920 at Toronto, Ontario, Canada the son of Albert Edward Pearce (a Butcher born in Bristol England) and a Canadian mother, Ruby Alina Pearce née Ryan. He had 7 siblings: Marie Helen Monica (Mona) Pearce (1917-1999), Gerald Pearce (1919-1919) Rita Geraldine Pearce (1922-1994), Clement Pearce (1925-2003), Rosemary (1928-2009), Walter Pearce (c1930-2013) and Beatrice (1935-2022). The family lived at 695 Vaughan Road, Toronto.

Basil was educated at St Clares and De La Salle Oaklands. He enjoyed participating in swimming, roller skating and candlepin bowling.

After leaving school he was employed as a Clerk by Dominion Stores in Toronto

He first applied to join the RCAF on 8 December 1940 [s/b 1939?] '(passed tests ok)' then again on 17 June 1940

He enlisted at Toronto on 21 November 1940 when he was described as being

5'9" tall weighing 142 lbs., with a medium complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair.

After training at 2 Initial Training School at RCAF Regina, Saskatchewan (Course No.30 9 February -9 March 1941), 4 Air Observer School at RCAF London Ontario (Course No.20 17 March - 9 June 1941), and

1 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Jarvis, Ontario (Course No. 21 25 June to 4 August 1941 he was awarded his Air Observer Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 2 August 1941.

He was then posted to 1 Air Navigation School at RCAF rivers in Manitoba (Course No. 21 4 August - 1 September 1941)

Posted to Y Depot at Halifax Nova Scotia on 3 September 1941 he embarked for the UK two weeks later. Disembarking in the UK on 28 September he was posted to 3 Personnel and Reception Centre at Bournemouth and on 7 October to 12 Operational Training Unit at RAF Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire for night bomber training on the Vickers Wellington medium bomber.

On 13 January 1942 he was posted to 419 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

His promotion to Flight Sergeant was on 1 July 1942.




3) Sgt. Furneaux Montague Van Geun was born on 23 June 1919 at Birmingham, England, the son of Edward Philip Van Geun, (a Restaurateur born in Amsterdam, Holland) and Gladys Beatrix Van Geun née Coleman (born Birmingham England). He had a brother, Kenneth Jordan P. L. Van Geun born 1916 who also served with 419 Squadron. The family immigrated to Canada in 1920 and later lived at 2019 Peel Street, Montreal, Quebec.

Furneaux was educated at Alfred Joyce Public School (1925-1928), Guy Drummond Elementary School (1928-1929 and Montreal High School (1929-1938). After leaving school he was employed by his father as a Restaurant Manager.

He swam extensively and was also an Instructor. He also played basketball occasionally and tennis, golf, and handball moderately as well as skating moderately.




He had applied to join the RCAF in 1938 and again in January 1940 with a desire to become a Pilot. The air force seem to have had concerns about his suitability due to his short stature i.e. only 5'3¼" tall and although he passed the required tests, he received no further communication from the RCAF. He made another application on 22 April 1940 as an Air Gunner and was duly accepted for training as such.


He enlisted at Montreal on 6 June 1940 when he was described as being 5'3¼" tall, weighing 124 lbs., with a fair complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.


After training at 1 Initial Training School at RCAF Toronto, Ontario (Course No. 3 27 June - 20 July 1940) and Air Observer training at 2 Air Observer School at RCAF Edmonton, Alberta (Course No. 4 5 August-26 October 1940) he was re-mustered as a Wireless Operator and Air Gunner on 7 November 1940. After training at 2 Wireless School at Calgary, Alberta and 5 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Defoe Saskatchewan he was awarded his Air Gunner Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 23 June 1941. Posted to 1 M Depot at Halifax on 25 June and 1 Y Depot on 19 July he embarked for the UK on 20 July and on disembarkation was posted to 3 Personnel and Reception Centre at Bournemouth on 1 July 1941.


On 16 August he was posted to 2 Signal School at RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire and on completion of the course to 12 Operational Training Unit at RAF Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire on 21 October 1941 for night bomber training on the Vickers Wellington medium bomber. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 24 December 1941 and posted to 419 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk on 26 January 1942







(4) Sgt James Grant was born in Aberdeen c 1922 the son of James and Susan Grant of Aberdeen.

He is commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.




(5) F/Sgt. William Leonard Maxim was born on 14 August 1917 at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada the son of Herbert George Maxim (a Steel Worker born Kent England) and Isabel Maxim née MacDonald (born Inverness, Scotland). The family lived at 1636 Ellen Avenue, Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Educated at Kitchener Street Public School (1924-1933) and Niagara Falls Collegiate Vocational School 1933-1937 he later took a Correspondence Course with the North Western School of Taxidermy.

He was a keen athlete and participated in the javelin, pole vault, hop step and jump and swimming. He also played soccer and hockey and was a small arms shooting enthusiast.

He first applied to join the RCAF in October 1939, soon after war was declared - result 'reserve as wireless operator'.

Following a further application on 27 March 1940 he enlisted at Niagara Falls, Ontario on 24 June 1940. At the time he was described as being 5'10" tall weighing 135 lbs., with a medium complexion, brown eyes and black hair and prior to enlisting he had been employed as an Animal Trap Checker.

After training at No 2 Initial Training School at RCAF Regina, Saskatchewan, 1 Wireless School at RCAF Montreal, Quebec and 1 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Jarvis, Ontario he was awarded his Air Gunner Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 22 February 1941.

On 12 March he was posted to CFS Debert, Nova Scotia. Camp Debert was the final staging area for units embarking from Halifax and was the location where the majority of troops received and trained with their personal weapons. For these purposes a large ammunition depot was built as well as extensive firing ranges. Component units arrived at Camp Debert from across Canada and were organised into larger formations before being carried by trains to troopships at Halifax, usually at night in black-out conditions.

William Maxim embarked for the UK in April and disembarked on 1 May. The following day he was posted to 3 Personnel and Reception Centre at Bournemouth.

On 4 May he was posted to 20 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland for night bomber training on the Vickers Wellington and on 10 August 1941 to 9 Squadron at RAF Honington in Suffolk.

He was posted to 419 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall on 11 May 1942 and promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1 June .

Despite the Toronto Star reporting that he had taken part in 29 raids it has only been possible to find 17 operations in which he flew prior to the fateful mission to Duisburg from which all the crew failed to return, i.e 11 with 9 Squadron and 6 with 419 Squadron.



MEMORIALS

(1) WO1 Warren Langton Sargant - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 101

(2) Sgt. Basil Vincent Pearce - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 106

(3) Sgt. Furneaux Montague Van Geun - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 107

(4) Sgt James Grant - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 84

(5) F/Sgt. William Leonard Maxim - having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 105





On behalf of Aircrew Remembered, Roy Wilcock would like to thank Canadian aviation researcher, David Champion for suggesting this story and for his help in providing information relating to the crew members.



Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - January 2024

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 12.01.2024

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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