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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 crest
06/07th July 1941 40 Squadron Wellington IC N2843 P/O. Steeds

Operation: Munster, Germany

Date: 06/07th July 1941 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron (motto: Hostem acolo expellere - 'To drive the enemy from the sky') 3 Group

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: N2843

Code: BL-L

Base: RAF Alconbury, Huntingdonshire

Location: North Sea

Pilot: P/O. John Edwin MacKenzie Steeds NZ/401417 RNZAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: Sgt. Fred Cecil Pocock 922907 RAFVR Age 28. Missing - believed killed

Obs: Sgt. David Morgan Evans 929691 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Angus Macaskill 977301 RAFVR PoW No. 6430 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Edwin Varnsverry 943468 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur George Oliver 517536 RAF Age 26. Killed


Taking off at 23:35 hrs on an operation to Munster, some 47 aircraft taking part.

Shot down 03:43 hrs by night fighter pilot Oblt. Helmut Woltersdorf (1) of the 4./NJG 1, who was flying Do 215 B-5 G9+OM from Leeuwarden airfield. In turn, the Luftwaffe pilot was hit by return fire from the rear gunner Sgt. Arthur Oliver and made a forced landing, wrecking his aircraft on a sandbank off Texel. All the crew escaped with slight injuries.

The Luftwaffe crew later reported that they had seen 3 of the Wellington crew bale out with one of the parachutes on fire.

Also lost on this operation Wellington IC R1063 from 115 squadron flown by 25 year old, Sgt. Oswald Arthur Matthews NZ/391842 RNZAF missing with all 5 other crew after an engagement with enemy fighters over the North Sea at around 01:00 hrs. Further details here.

(1) This was the 19 claim by the ace Oblt. Helmut Woltersdorf. (shown right) flown by 23 year old, Fl/Sgt. Peter Masters Gawith NZ/40244 RNZAF of 3 Squadron. Further details on Fl/Sgt. Gawith here.

Burial details:

P/O. John Edwin MacKenzie Steeds. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 63. Born on the 23rd June 1912 at New Plymouth. Worked as an accountant for Lincoln Agricultural College prior to enlisting. Enlisted on the 04th June 1940 at Levin.Pilots badge awarded on the 18th October 1940 and promoted to pilot officer on the 21st December 1940 after training with No. 4 Elementary Flying School.Embarked for England on the 06th January 1941.Joined 40 squadron on the 31st May 1941 after training with 20 Operational Training Unit. Son of Alfred Henry and Barbara Steeds (nee MacKenzie) of 990 Knowles Street, Christchurch, New Zealand. A total of 288 flying hours logged and on his 07th operational sortie.

Sgt. Fred Cecil Pocock. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 50. Son of William George and Annie Pocock.

Sgt. David Morgan Evans. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 43. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Albert Edwin Varnsverry. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 54. Son of Joseph Henry and Harriet Emma Varnsverry, of Northampton, England.

Sgt. Arthur George Oliver. Vlieland General Cemetery. Grave 28. Son of Arthur George and Jeannie Oliver, of New Cross. London. Grave inscription: 'For King and Country'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Dr. Theo BoitenAuckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 06-06-2021

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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', 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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