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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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10 Squadron RAAF
24.06.1941 10 (RAAF) Squadron, Sunderland I P9603, Flt Lt. Thomas V. Stokes

Operation: Reconnaissance Patrol

Date: 24th June 1941 (Tuesday)

Unit: 10 (RAAF) Squadron, Coastal Command

Type: Sunderland I

Serial No: P9603

Code: RB:H

Location: Popton Point, Milford Haven, England

Base: RAF Pembroke Dock, Wales

Pilot (Captain): Flt Lt. Thomas Vincent Stokes 279 RAAF Age 25. Injured (1)

1st Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Albert Norman Hick 127 RAAF Age 27. Died of Injuries

2nd Pilot: Fg Off. Ronald Bruce Scutts 836 RAAF Age 23. Died of Injuries

Observer: Sgt. Stanley James Nichol 1874 RAAF Age 27. Injured (2)

1st WOp/Air Gnr: Cpl. Lawrence Spencer Yonge Benham 2903 RAAF Age 27. Injured (3)

2nd WOp/Air Gnr: Cpl. James McDongall Lawrie 279 RAAF Age 27. Injured (4)

1st Fitter: Cpl. John Herbert Evans 4358 RAAF Age 26. Injured (5)

2nd Fitter: AC1. Robert Maxwell Draper 24175 RAAF Age 23. Injured (6)

Rigger: LAC. Brian Francis Minton 4632 RAAF Age 25. Injured (7)

Armourer: AC1. Thomas Joseph Sheridan 22387 Age 20. Injured (8)

Air Gnr: Cpl. Edward Oxenham Ingram 2154 Age 28. Injured (9)

Passenger: Flt Lt. Henry de Gaspé ‘Harry’ Domville 75034 RAFVR Age 32. Seriously Injured/Died as a PoW on the 30th July 1943 (10)

Above from left to right: Cpl. Benham, Cpl. Lawrie, AC1 Draper from their service files.


Sunderland I P9603 was airborne at 21:00 hrs from RAF Mountbatten on a Reconnaissance patrol.

After completion of the mission that night the aircraft returned to RAF Pembroke Dock and while attempting to alight the aircraft overshot the flarepath and crashed on the rocks off Popton Point, Milford Haven. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair and written off.

Above: The Short Sunderland Flying Boat RB:H P9603, of 10 Squadron RAAF and operating with RAF Coastal Command crashed onto the seaweed covered rocks at Milford Haven on 24 June 1941. The fuselage forward of the wing is missing and the remaining portion is cracked and misshapen. Servicemen are surveying the wreckage on the wing, fuselage and tail sections. (Credit: Australian War memorial)

Note: Sunderland I P9603 flown by Flt Lt. William Norman ‘Hoot’ Gibson, 79, RAAF was credited with the Squadron’s first sinking of a U-Boat (U-26 Type IA) SW of Bishop’s Rock on the 1st July 1940. This was shared with HMS Gladiolus.

Above: Modern day map showing the location of the crash

Above: Aerial view of Pembroke Dock Flying Boat Station, 1946. (Credit: From the collections of the National Monuments Record of Wales: Crown copyright: MoD)

There was an air raid ‘Alert’ in progress at the time the aircraft crashed and mines were dropped in the vicinity about 5 minutes after the crash.

The Colossal Warplane that Wrecked German U-Boats (Courtesy of the War Department)

The three pilots of the aircraft and the passenger, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Domville, were seriously injured but the airmen members of the crew escaped with minor injuries and shock.

Flt Lt. Stokes was admitted to the Pembroke County Hospital in Haverford West and Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Milton was treated at the Naval Sick Quarters at Milford Haven. The remainder of the RAAF crew were treated at the Station Sick Quarters (SSQ) at RAF Pembroke Dock.

Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Hick and Flying Officer (Fg Off) Scutts died of their injuries in the SSQ on the 26th June and 27th June 1941 respectively.

(1) Thomas Vincent Stokes was born on the 21st January 1916 in Melbourne. He graduated from Geelong Boys Grammar School in 1934 and joined the 6th Battalion Royal Melbourne Regiment and was Commissioned the following year.

He transferred from the Army in 1937 and joined 21 Squadron (Sqn) Citizens Air Force at RAAF Base Laverton. When war broke out he was called up and sent to Britain in September 1940 and was posted as a pilot to 10 Sqn. After his tour in Britain was completed in July 1942 he returned to Australia and saw out the war flying Catalina aircraft in the SW Pacific.

As a Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for conspicuous service and gallantry against the Japanese whilst with 20 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 10th March 1944. He resigned from the RAAF on the 5th December 1945 as a Wg Cdr. and returned to work in the family business Stokes & Sons of Melbourne.

(2) Stanley James Nichol survived the war and was repatriated back to Australia. He was discharged from the RAAF on the 17th February 1972 with the rank of Group Captain (Gp Capt).

(3) Lawrence Spencer Yonge Benham was born on the 24th March 1913 in Lindfield, New South Wales. He enlisted in the RAAF on the 17th May 1937 at Laverton, Western Australia. He returned to Australia after the war and was discharged on the 2nd May 1946 as a Warrant Officer (WO).

(4) James McDongall Lawrie returned to Australia after the war and was discharged on the 17th July 1946 as a WO.

(5) John Herbert Evans survived the war and after repatriation to Australia was discharged from the RAAF on the 1st April 1946 with the rank of Fg Off.

(6) Robert Maxwell Draper was born on the 25th June 1919 in Cairns, Queensland. he enlisted in the RAAF at No 3, Mobile Unit, Cairns, Queensland on the 13th June 1940. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) as a Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) with 20 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 19th October 1945. The citation Reads:

"Flight Sergeant DRAPER has served in the capacity of First Engineer, both in Sunderland aircraft with 10 Squadron, and in Catalina aircraft in Australia. During his tour with 10 Squadron, he was engaged continuously on operations against the enemy, and completed 700 hours of operational flying. On one occasion, from the rear turret, he shot down two enemy aircraft during a simultaneous attack in which only 80 rounds of ammunition were expended. Since his return to Australia, he has been engaged as First Engineer on Catalina aircraft for nineteen months, and as crew leader, his courage, coolness and control have greatly benefited many new members. Twice during his tour of operations, Flight Sergeant DRAPER was a crew member of aircraft which crashed with fatal results and, on both occasions, was instrumental in the survival of the rest of the crew. Throughout his long period of service in operations, Flight Sergeant DRAPER has displayed courage, keenness and determination of the highest order. His devotion to duty has, at all times, been the highest traditions of the Service".

He was discharged on the 5th October 1945 as a Fg Off.

(7) Brian Francis Minton was born on the 8th October 1917 in Sydney, New South Wales. He returned to Australia after the war and was discharged from the RAAF on the 2nd December 1946 as a Flt Sgt.

(8) Thomas Joseph Sheridan was born on the 13th January 1922 in Sydney, New South Wales. He returned to Australia after the war and was discharged from the RAAF on the 11th September 1945 as a Sgt.

(9) Edward Oxenham Ingram was born on the 30th December 1912 in Albert Park, Victoria. He enlisted in the RAAF at Laverton in Western Australia on the 1st June 1936. After the war he returned to Australia and remained in the service. However, he felt that he had not advanced as well as he would have expected and requested an immediate discharge from the RAAF to take up a civilian occupation on the 27th March 1949. He was discharged on the 19th September 1949 as a WO.

(10) Although reported to have been seriously injured Flt Lt. Domville quickly recovered and served in the thick of things during the siege of Singapore.

He was granted a commission as a Pilot Officer (Plt Off) for the duration of the war with effect the 7th October 1939. (London Gazette 20th October 1939). His commission was in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch;
His promotion as Plt Off. was confirmed with effect the 7th October 1940 (London Gazette 20th December 1940);
He was promoted to Fg Off. with effect the 17th January 1940 (London Gazette 14th January 1941);
He was promoted to acting Flt Lt. (London Gazette 1st January 1941);
As an acting Flt Lt. he was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD). Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 1st January 1941;
His promotion to substantive Flt Lt. was with effect the 21st February 1943 (London gazette 8th May 1945);
The promulgation of his promotion to Acting Sqn Ldr. has not been found.

Sqn Ldr. Domville was an Intelligence and Liaison Officer and was captured by the Japanese during the fall of Java on the 20th March 1942. According to his Prisoner of War (PoW) card he died of Bacterial Dysentery on the 30th July 1943.

Credit: The Gazette, dated Wednesday, December 8th, 1943

His remains were recovered and finally laid to rest on the 2nd April 1946 at the Ambon War Cemetery, Maluka, Indonesia, Grave 12.B.13. Inscription reads: "HARRY DID NOT COME BACK, IN ORDER THAT WE MIGHT LIVE OUR OWN LIVES". Born on the 21st February 1909 in Montreal, Canada. Son of James William and Adele (née de Beaujeu) Dornville of Montreal, Canada.

Burial Details:

Funeral of the late Squadron Leader A.N. Hick and Flying Officer R.G. Scutts at Pembroke Dock, South Wales, United Kingdom - 30th June 1941 (Credit: Operational Record Book (ORB) for 10 (RAAF) Sqn)

Sqn Ldr. Albert Norman Hick. Pembroke Dock (Llanion) Cemetery Sec. T. Non-Conformist. Grave 77. Born on the 17th March 1914 in Ararat, Victoria. Son of Albert William and Emma Jane (née Perry) Hick and husband of Jessie Eileen (née Aitchison) Hick, of Netherby, South Australia.

He is also remembered at the following sites:

Panel 99, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT);
World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide;
The Honour Board of the Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines, New South Wales.

His civilian occupation was Auctioneer’s Clerk in Ararat. He enlisted in the RAAF as an Air Cadet on the 15th July 1935 in Melbourne. He was appointed to Plt Off. with effect 1st July 1936, Fg Off. with effect 1st April 1937, Flt Lt. with effect 1st September 1939 and to Sqn Ldr with effect 1st. January 1941.

Fg Off. Ronald Bruce Scutts. He was buried on the 30th June 1941 in the Pembroke Dock (Llanion) Cemetery Sec. T. Non-Conformist. Grave 176. Inscription Reads: "DUTY NOBLY DONE FOR HIS KING AND COUNTRY." Born on the 6th October 1917 in Sydney, New South Wales. Son of Henry Albert and Bridget Anastasia ‘Anna’ (née Fagan) Scutts, of Dulwich Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

He is also remembered at the following sites:

Panel 100 in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT;
World War II Honour Roll in the Petersham Townhall, Sydney.

His brother Sgt. Henry Albert Scutts, N104637, Australian Army Canteen Service, died in service on the 12th August 1943.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Paul McGuiness for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to Stefan Youngs, Aircrew Remembered for the video of U-boat wreckers. (Nov 2022).

Other sources listed below:

RS & PM 10.11.2022 - Addition of video

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