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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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218 Squadron Crest
22/23.04.1941 No. 218 Squadron Wellington Ic L7798 HA-S Sgt. Swain

Operation: Brest

Date: 22/23rd April 1941 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron. 3 Group. (motto: 'In Time')

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: L7798

Code: HA-S

Base: RAF Marham, Norfolk

Location: Trézéguer Farm, Lanrivoar, France

Pilot: Sgt. William Henry Swain NZ/40665 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Raymond Edward Finch 907613 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Malcolm Bruce Crooks NZ/40755 RNZAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Victor Marshall Raymond Lloyd 944768 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Geoffrey Molyneaux 985594 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Clark NZ/402103 RNZAF Age 21. PoW No: 733 Camp: Stalag Kopernicus - Stalag Luft Heydekrug (1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

26 aircraft left to bomb Brest, an important port and repair works for the German Navy.

L7798 was hit by anti-aircraft firearm Flak Regiment 100 and crashed at Trézéguer Farm near Lanrivoar. The only aircraft that failed to return from this operation. Two others were lost, but on return to England.

115 Squadron Wellington Ic T2560 KO-E Flown by Sgt. Palmer which crashed near Chisledon, Wiltshire - fuel shortage. I Crew member killed, 5 survived with no injuries.
218 Squadron Wellington Ic R1368 HA-F Flown by Sgt. W.S. Adams aircraft abandoned through no fuel - all 6 crew uninjured. Aircraft fell near Kings Lynn, Norfolk.

(1) Sgt. James Clark Baled out from the aircraft and managed to evade capture for nearly a month before he was caught on the 20th May when he was first sent to Stalag Luft Heydekrug and then to Stalag Kopernicus. Born in Glasgow, Scotland on the 05th June 1920 and then moved to New Zealand. Joined the RNZAF on the 20th July 1940 and served until the 12th December 1945.

The crew formed up at 11 Operational Unit and joined the squadron on the 02nd April 1941.

Above: Crew graves. (Courtesy Stephen Finch) The single one at the rear is that of 21 year old, W/O.1 Edmond Joseph Vital Levesque R/82368 RCAF. (Shown right) Serving with 412 Squadron and flying Spitfire Vc AA746 on a rhubarb operation when he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire on the 07th June 1943. Just a month earlier on the 05th May he had been hit again by flak during shipping reconnaissance, creating a large hole in his wing. Flying very slowly he managed to nurse Spitfire Vb EE666 back to base where it was repaired and placed back into service.

Burial details:

Sgt. William Henry Swain. Milizac Churchyard. Grave 4. Born on the 10th January 1918 at Napier, the son of Arthur William and Dora Cross Swain, of Masterton, Wellington, New Zealand. A mechanician for P and T Department, Masterton before service. 305 Flying hours logged and on his 05th operational sortie.

Sgt. Raymond Edward Finch. Milizac Churchyard. Grave 5. Born on the 3rd September 1917 at Croydon, Surrey, the son of Walter Alfred and Annie Finch, of South Croydon, Surrey, England. Prior to service worked was a clerk. Grave inscription: "His Life, A Glorious Memory His Death, A Silent Grief".

Sgt. Malcolm Bruce Crooks. Milizac Churchyard. Grave 3. Born on the 26th February 1916 at Wellington, the son of Douglas Harold and Daisy Crooks (née Kerr later Bell), of Wellington City, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a clerk for Wilson Canham and Company. 224 Flying hours logged and on his 05th operational sortie.

Sgt. Victor Marshall Raymond Lloyd. Milizac Churchyard. Grave 1. Son of George and Alice Milborough Lloyd, of Suckley, Worcestershire, England. Prior to service worked as a clerk for the Great Western Railway Grave inscription: "The Fairest Of Flowers Will Die".

Sgt. Geoffrey Molyneaux. Milizac Churchyard. Grave 2. Son of Fred and Alice Ellen Molyneaux and husband of Joan Molyneaux, of Bolton, Lancashire, England.

Other:

W/O.1 Edmond Joseph Vital Levesque. Milizac Churchyard. Grave 6. Son of Leo H. Levesque and Pearl M. Levesque, of 71 Melrose Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Enlisted in December 1940. Grave inscription: "Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, O Lord; And May His Soul Rest In Peace".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Jenifer Lemaire who's Uncle served in the same squadron as the pilot - Sq/Ldr. Ian Gordon Richmond DFC MiD. made PoW 30th June 1942. Stephen Finch who has a dedicated blog to his Uncle Sgt. Sgt. Raymond Edward Finch. Also to Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

JL/KTY 10.09.2019

Acknowledgements: 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', 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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