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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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458 Squadron Crest
27/28.04.1943 No. 458 Squadron Wellington XII MP510 Fl/Lt. Taylor

Operation: Shipping Strike

Date: 27/28th April 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 458 Squadron (RAAF - Coastal Command)

Type: Wellington XII

Serial: MP510

Code: Not known

Base: Detachment - RAF Luqa, Malta

Location: Mediterranean Sea

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Lawrence Taylor 118487 RAFVR Age 28. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: F/O. Ian Douglas Prebble NZ/41186 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Radar/Op: Fl/Sgt. William John Clemow AUS/403920 RAAF Age 27. Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. George Oliver Whatnall NZ/412774 RNZAF Age 25. PoW No: 1285 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald Kenneth Robin Rowley NZ/41192 RNZAF Age 22. PoW No: 1092 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Charnley Moynihan NZ/414516 RNZAF Age ? PoW No: 1085 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug


On detachment from their base at Landing Ground 91 near Markaz Amriya in Egypt. For this operation, they were flying MP510 Wellington from 172 Squadron, the first pilot Fl/Lt. Taylor was the only member of the crew to be from 172 squadron.

Taking off from RAF Luqa at 20:10 hrs on an anti-shipping strike in an area 30 miles northeast of the island of Ustica. Flying very low to avoid enemy aircraft. It seems that they came down in the Mediterranean Sea between Pantelleria and Cape Bon between 01:50 and 02:00 hrs. The aircraft sank almost immediately. Three of the crew managed to extricate themselves from the aircraft and climb aboard the dingy that had automatically inflated and detached from the aircraft.

They remained in the dingy for several hours at the crash site as there was no wind until an Italian Surface vessel arrived and took them away. It seems that the three other crew members went down with the aircraft, sadly their bodies never recovered.

F/O. George Oliver Whatnall. Husband of BB 'Jackie (died 24th August 2018, age 101). Born 07th June 1918. Passed away on the 16th February 1999, age 80.

Sgt. Donald Kenneth Robin Rowley. From Hari Hari, Westland, South Island, New Zealand. He was known as Robin. Passed away on the 15th of May 2021, age 100.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. John Lawrence Taylor. Malta Memorial. Panel 6, Column 1. Husband of Mrs T. Taylor of Sheering Mill House, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England.

F/O. Ian Douglas Prebble. Malta Memorial. Panel 12, Column 1. Born on the 06th March 1920, the son of Herbert Prebble and of Nellie Prebble (née Robertson), of Waverley, Wellington, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. William John Clemow. Malta Memorial. Panel 11, Column 2. Born on the 14th May 1915 at Marrickville, NSW, son of Frederick James Clemow and Ethel May Clemow, of 33 Bream Street, Coogee, New South Wales, Australia.

The Malta Memorial remembers 2,298 airman - the bronze plaque at the base of the column reads: "Over These And Neighbouring Lands And Seas The Airmen Whose Names Are Recorded Here Fell In Raid Or Sortie And Have No Known Grave Malta Gibraltar Mediterranean Adriatic Tunisia Sicily Italy Yugoslavia Austria". "Propositi Insula Tenax Tenaces Viros Commemorat". (The Latin section reads: "An Island Resolute Of Purpose Remembers Resolute Men")

Researched for Helen Hansen, daughter of F/O. George Oliver Whatnall. With thanks to Jennifer Lemaire, the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, AWNS19430728-18-32, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 30.08.2018

KTY 19.01.2022 Sgt. Rowley image added

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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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From New Zealand:

This is far more info than we have previously had. Makes fascinating reading. I do wish our Dad had talked more of his war time experiences.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
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