102 Squadron Halifax III LW142 DY-N F/O. Ronald William Smallwoods
Date: 07/08th February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 102 Squadron (Ceylon)
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire
Location: Main road, Hamme Mille, Belgium
Pilot: F/O. Ronald William Smallwoods 170228 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Gallagher 1592676 RAFVR Age 39. Killed
Nav: F/O. Wilfred Wood Russell 162051 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Bernard Rees James 154377 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Peter Derrick Hewitt 1864292 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Miller Lennon 1826768 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Walter Bonnyman Scott 1050587 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
The Grandson of the Flight Engineer Sgt. John Gallagher would very much like to make contact with other relatives or others who may have known him, with a view to obtaining any photographs or other information - please contact us if you are able to assist.
Update 05th September 2022 - would Barry Maguire please contact us, we have been contacted by relatives of the navigator who would like to contact you.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire to bomb transport and troop concentrations in and around Goch. A huge operation involving some 464 aircraft. During the same night another force 305 aircraft) from Bomber Command also attacked Kleve.
Above: The Flight Engineer for Halifax LW142, Sgt. John Gallagher (courtesy Barry Maguire and family)
102 Squadron Halifax at RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire (courtesy IWM)
The Goch force crossed the French coast at Le Torquet at about 20.50 hrs. They were picked up on the German system at 21.50 hrs, the night fighters then proceeded to intercept the stream.
102 Squadron lost two aircraft this night, the other:
Halifax III NA175 DY-Q Flown by 32 year old P/O. William Reveler Smith 190551 RAFVR from Staithes, Yorkshire, only crew member to be killed. remaining 6 survived, 2 of them injured. Aircraft abandoned except for pilot.
Hptm. Gerhardt Raht (1) of Stab1./NJG2 made his third abschüsse of the night shooting down Halifax LW142 at between 22.54 - 23.00 hrs. Other returning crews reported seeing it falling in flames and crashing on the main Leuvern road at Hamme Mille exploding on impact.
Extreme left: Hptm. Gerhardt Raht with his Bordfunker, Ofw. Anton Heinemann (courtesy Tom Kracker collection)
(1) This was the 50th claim by the Luftwaffe ace Hptm. Gerhardt Raht. He survived the war - died on the 11th January 1977. He was the Kommandeur of I./NJG2 flying with his Bordfunker - Ofw. Anton Heinemann, Beobachter - Uffz. Rol Rohlfs-Zoll, Bordmechaniker - Uffz. Werner Hesse. See Kracker Archive on this site.
(Bordfunker - Wireless operator, Beobachter - Observer, Bordmechaniker - Flight mechanic)
Some of the crew's graves (courtesy Marcel Rosvelds)
The crew were understood to have been first buried on the property of Annunciades Sisters at Heverlee, Belgium. The girl’s school run by the Annuciades served as a British General Hospital (No. 101 British General Hospital)
F/O. Ronald William Smallwoods. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.5. Son of William George Smallwoods (1882-1919) and Gertrude Elkin (1888-1969) of 38 Methuen Street, Southampton. Born January-March 1921 Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, England.
Sgt. John Gallagher. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.6. Son of Daniel and Margaret Gallagher, husband of Dorothy Gallagher, of Morecambe, Lancashire, England. Prior to joining he was a photographer living in Glasgow. The grave inscription reads: 'Beloved husband and father, who died, as he lived, for others, love endureth.'
F/O. Wilfred Wood Russell. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.7. Son of Alfred Wood Russell and Milfred Russell, husband of Edith May Russell, of Harswell, Yorkshire, England. The grave inscription reads: 'He always loved peace and hated all strife, but he did his duty faithfully.'
F/O. Bernard Rees James. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.8. Son of Bernard and Delilah James, of Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, Wales. The grave inscription reads: 'His love and smiling face are pleasant to recall. Goodnight dearest Bern.'
Fl/Sgt. Peter Derrick Hewitt. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.6. Son of Albert Edward and Grace Violet Hewitt, of Rushden, Northamptonshire, England. The grave inscription reads: 'Every bomber a winged prayer, every raid another calvary.'
Sgt. James Miller Lennon. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.7. Son of Charles and Jessie Lennon, of Aberuthven, Perthshire, Wales. The grave inscription reads: 'Coming in on a wing and a prayer.'
(Left) Sgt. Walter Bonnyman Scott. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 1.E.8. Son of John and Annie Scott, of Dennistoun, Glasgow, Scotland. Note from Raymond Scott: Walter Scott was my fathers youngest brother. My father migrated to Melbourne Australia, married and I was born 3 months after the sad passing of our family members. With communications as they were in those days very little information was known even my grand mother was only told her son was killed in action with no further details. Even in later years my father had no idea where his brother was buried, all he knew was somewhere in Belgium. We know that wars are a terrible thing but these guys gave their lives for their country.
Sgt. Walter Bonnyman Scott (courtesy Michael Beckers and Marcel Rosvelds)
Researched for Barry Maguire - grandson of Sgt. John Gallagher, with thanks also to David Smallwoods for info on the pilot (June 2015), Raymond Scott nephew of Sgt. Scott contacted us in May 2017 and provided some details. The page is dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.
Below left: flight engineer on the fold-down seat next to the pilot, ready to assist with the throttles for takeoff, with front gunner and navigator seen below. Right: the pilot (top), second pilot (left) and "sparks" underneath. (courtesy IWM and AWM)