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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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15 Squadron Crest
18/19.09.1942 No. 15 Squadron Stirling I R9351 LS-R P/O. Steel

Operation: Gardening

Date: 18/19th September 1942 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 15 Squadron

Type: Stirling I

Serial: R9351

Code: LS-R

Base: RAF Bourn, Lincolnshire

Location: Great Belt, Denmark

Pilot: P/O. John Miller Steel 126588 RAFVR PoW No: 720 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria L3

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Thomas Beatty Brown 538671 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Nav: P/O. Jack Godfrey Newman 128436 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Roy Alan Heathcote 1382823 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stanley Greenbeck 1161457 RAFVR Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Charles Smith 1334598 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Arthur John King 1272009 RAVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed


Taking off for a Gardening operation at 20:05 hrs from RAF Bourn in Lincolnshire to lay mines in the Asparagus area (Kattegat) (code names for RAF Mine laying areas see here) 115 aircraft taking part in this operation dropping mines in various areas. 5 aircraft were lost, 2 Stirlings, 2 Lancasters and 1 Wellington.

Hit from anti-aircraft fire from both Sprogø and Korsør with the Stirling hitting the water at around 00:39 hrs. The pilot was knocked unconscious during the impact but soon recovered and managed to swim to the surface where he boarded one of the aircraft’s dinghys prior to being picked up by a passing Ferry. He was then handed over to the Germans for interrogation and subsequently sent to the PoW camp as described above.

The wreck of the Stirling was located and blown away on 15 June 1990 when the bridge over Store Bælt was constructed (Courtesy: Air War Over Denmark).

Also lost from the Squadron on this operation:

Stirling I N3759 LS-Q Flown by 22 year old, P/O. James Edward Land J/85241 RCAF - missing with all his crew.

Burial details:

Sgt. Thomas Beatty Brown. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 79. Son of T. B. and Annie Brown, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

P/O. Jack Godfrey Newman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 71. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Roy Alan Heathcote. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 85. Son of Sydney John and Harriet Heathcote, of Enfield, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Stanley Greenbeck. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 84. Son of James Peter and Ethel Greenbeck, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England.

Sgt. Thomas Charles Smith. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 94. Son of Thomas and Alice Victoria Smith, of Brixton, London, England.

Sgt. Edward Arthur John King. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 87. Son of Charles and Ada King, of Norbury, Surrey, England and husband of Dorothy King.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Ronald Steel (son of the pilot) for photograph of his father - June 2017. Thanks also to Julie Smith, niece of Sgt. Thomas Smith who contacted us in November 2017. Thanks to John Jones for the information regarding the aircraft Wreckage. Other sources as shown below.

RS 22.08.2019 - Inclusion of a/c wreck information

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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