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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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37 squadron badge
31/01.06.1940 37 Squadron Wellington IC P9288 Sgt. Simmons and crew loss

Operation: Nieuwpoort

Date: 31st May/01st June 1940 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 37 Squadron

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: P9288

Code: LF-?

Base: RAF Feltwell, Norfolk, England.

Location: Unknown - North Sea?

Pilot: F/O. Robert Collin Simmons 39344 RAF Age? Missing

Pilot 2: Sgt. John Mclean 523836 RAF Age 24. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Alan Downham 580712 RAF Age 19. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dallas Atack 631239 RAF Age 20. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Bridge 620406 RAF Age 19. Missing


Taking off from RAF Feltwell in Norfolk at 01.00 on an operation to Nieuwpoort. Understood to be bombing various German positions to cover the evacuation at Dunkirk.

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner for P9288 Sgt. Dallas Atack

33 Wellingtons took part in this operation and two were lost, both from 37 Squadron.

No claims have been established for the loss of this Wellington and is thought to have come down in the North Sea.

The other loss from the squadron was flown by P/O. William Gray from Dalston, from Cumberland. He survived the crash but succumbed to his injuries some 9 days later. Wellington IC L7791 crashed near Eringhem near Dunkirk. Flying as an air gunner on this aircraft was the most decorated and oldest member of Bomber Command to be killed during the war on operations. Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson KCIE, CSI, CMG, DSO., aged 56 was the former Member of Parliament for Hitchin prior to going into the RAF.

Sgt James F. Brown was also killed with two other crew members surviving.

Burial details:

F/O. Robert Collin Simmons. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 6. No further details are available as yet.

Sgt. John Mclean. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 17. Son of John and Agnes McLean, of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

Sgt. Edward Alan Downham. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 13. Son of William Robert and Ada Downham, of Stanmore, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Dallas Atack. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 11. Son of Enoch and Florrie Atack, of Castleford, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. James Bridge. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 12. Son of Alfred Herbert and Mildred Bridge. No further details.

Researched for Mike Swift and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. With thanks for further information to Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Dr Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol. 1', Commonwealth Graves Commission.

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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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