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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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40 Squadron Crest
11/12.08.1943 No. 40 Squadron Wellington X HZ544 BL-Z W/O. Shepherd

Operation: Messina

Date: 11/12th August 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron. 236 Wing. 205 Group (motto: Hostem acolo expellere - 'To drive the enemy from the sky')

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HZ544

Code: BL-Z

Base: Hani West, Tunisia

Location: Between Messina and San Giovanni

Pilot: W/O. Henry Scoresby Shepherd NZ/411459 RNZAF Age 28. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Arthur Cox 1384083 RAFVR Age 43. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George William Payne 1270198 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Cameron 1105554 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Aubrey Robert Murray 778598 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed (2)


Taking off at 22:00 hrs - 90 aircraft on this operation, to attack targets between Messina and Point Péllaro. Understood to have been shot down with the Wellington crashing into the sea. None of the crew were recovered. This was the only loss during this sortie.

(1) The family of Sgt. George Payne suffered the loss of his older brother. 28 year old Lt. Albert Edward Payne, Royal Navy, killed when shortly after take off, the Fairey Firefly I MB463 of 780 Squadron (shown left) from HMS Hinstock stalled and crashed on the 27th June 1946. Buried at Southall Cemetery (Havelock) Section Bb. Grave 32.

Understood to have been flying solo at the time.

(2) Fl/Sgt. Aubrey Murray had been the sole survivor of an accident on the 21st May 1942. Wellington I R1142 from 21 Operational Training Unit crashed east of the airfield in the Shenington area. Further details of that accident can be found here.

Burial details:

W/O. Henry Scoresby Shepherd. Alamein Memorial. Panel 278. Born on the 07th October 1914 at Onehunga, the son Joseph Henry and Eliza Hibbert Shepherd (née Rolton but later Tarrant), of Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a cabinet maker with Refrigeration Ltd of Newmarket. A total of 950 flying hours logged and having completed over 54 operational sorties - he had previously served with 37 Squadron and had completed 39 operations whilst with them.

Fl/Sgt. Leonard Arthur Cox. Alamein Memorial. Panel 269. Son of Leonard and Elizabeth Cox and husband of I. B. Cox. of Romford, Essex, England.

Sgt. George William Payne. Alamein Memorial. Panel 271. Son of Albert Edward Payne, and of Ellen Payne, of Southall, Middlesex, England. The boys, Albert and George are remembered on the family grave at Havelock cemetery. Their father died aged just 61 in October 1951 and their mother Ellen in August 1967 age 77.

Sgt. Henry Cameron. Alamein Memorial. Panel 270. Son of John and Margaret Cameron and nephew of Mary A. Barton, of Penilee, Glasgow, Scotland.

Fl/Sgt. Aubrey Robert Murray. Alamein Memorial. Panel 269. Understood to have been from Southern Rhodesia, but no further details - are you able to assist

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 30.07.2019

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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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