12/13.10.1944 No 31 Squadron (SAAF) Liberator VI KH158 Mjr. Selwyn Urry
Operation: SOE - Supply drops
Date: 12/13th October 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No: 31 Squadron (SAAF)
Type: Liberator VI
Base: Foggia, Italy
Pilot: Mjr. Selwyn S. Urry 102736V SAAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed
Pilot 2: F/O. George Edward Hudspith 53114 RAF Age 29. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Lt. Geoffrey A. Collard 329145V SAAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Thomas Roberts Millar AUS/422612 RAAF Age 28. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: 2nd Lt. Peter J. Lordan 36065V SAAF Age ? Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: W/O.1 Leonard B. Bloch 208109V SAAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Lt. Norman W. Armstrong 103840V SAAF Age ? Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Charles Fitzgerald 2235257 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
On 12 October 1944 16 Liberators of 31 Squadron and 4 of 34 Squadron SAAF took off on a supply dropping mission to Italian partisans in the mountains of northern Italy. There were 4 different drop zones with five aircraft allotted to each site. Liberator KH158 took off at 16.13 hrs.
They took off in late afternoon knowing that they would be flying in the night as they approached the north. The weather was bad, with poor visibility strata cumulous clouds building up northwards from the Apennines, with tops of 8-10.000ft. Few crews were able to see the drop site fires so many drops were aborted. This Liberator headed for drop zone "Morris" East North East of Genoa.
Crew: Left to right: Mjr. Urry, F/O. Millar, Lt. Collard, Lt. Armstrong, 2nd Lt. Lordan, W/O.1 Bloch, Sgt. Fitzgerald - for credits see foot of page. (No photograph as yet of F/O. Hudspith)
No further details are yet available as to what exactly happened to KH158, it failed to return, along with 5 others. Four crashed high in the mountains, another crashed near Cantalupa. All wreckage from these aircraft has been found and further pieces are still turing up at both Cantalupa and Ostana, but of KH158 nothing further was heard and to date no wreckage has been found.
48 crew members were lost this night.
Left: Drop Zone "Morris" (courtesy Sandro Vazon and Font Isral)
A letter was written by F/O. Millar to his daughter, Anne, on her first birthday:
Tuesday 1st February 1944
"My dear Daughter,This is the first time I have written to you and although you are as yet too young to read it, perhaps mother will store it up until the time comes when you can read it for yourself. In two days time it will be your first birthday anniversary - a great event for your parents. My regret is that I personally cannot be there to help you blow out your single candle but believe me lassie, I will be there in spirit.I am writing this from a place called Italy which is far away from our fair land - a place I would not be by choice so far separated from a wife and daughter so dear to me. But I am here, precious one, because there is a war on caused by certain people who wished to rule the world harshly and despotically, imperilling an intangible thing called “democracy” which your mother and I thought all decent people should fight for.You will understand as you grow up what “democracy” means to us and how it is an ideal way of life which we aspire to put into practice.All I ask of you, Anne dear, is that you in your life stay as sweet as your mother and cling tight to the subtle thing that we call christianity, which has been the core of her way of life and her mother’s and mine. I hope that you will love and respect me as I love and respect my father.That's all young lady.Have a happy birthday - may they all be happy birthdays. I hope to be home again one fine day. In the meanwhile lots of love to you and to mother.from Dad”
Sadly none - all are commemorated on the Malta Memorial.
Mjr. Selwyn S. Urry. Malta Memorial. Panel 17, Column 1. Son of Robin S. and Florence E. Urry, husband of Maureen A. Urry, of Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia.
F/O. George Edward Hudspith. Malta Memorial. Panel 13, Column 1. Born England - no further details as yet - are you able to assist?
Lt. Geoffrey A. Collard. Malta Memorial. Panel 17, Column 1. Son of Basil A. Collard, and of Catherine F. Collard, of Elgin, Cape Province, South Africa.
F/O. Thomas Roberts Millar. Son of Thomas Roberts Millar and Edith Amy Millar, husband of Elizabeth Grace Millar, of Mosman, New South Wales, Australia.
Further details: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Australia Service Medal 1939-45, Polish Home Army Medal 1939-1945, Warsaw Insurgents Cross 1944 Bob was born in Narromine NSW and educated in Sydney becoming Dux of his schools in 1932 and 1934. He graduated from Sydney University in 1939 with a Bachelor of Economics degree and then obtained an administrative position with the Sydney Gaslight Company. In January 1942 he married Elizabeth Grace Thompson before enlisting in the RAAF on 22nd May of that year as a volunteer for flying duties. Their daughter, Anne Elizabeth , was born on 3rd February 1943.
In January 1944, Bob was transferred to Italy joining 205 Group 104 Squadron RAF until July 1944, taking a Leading bomb aimer course during part of June /July 1944. He was stationed at Foggia Main Air Base, west of Bari and took part in sorties to Italy, Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary and Romania. He also flew numerous sorties to Warsaw dropping supplies to beleaguered partisans who had risen against the German occupation forces.
2nd Lt. Peter J. Lordan. Malta Memorial. Panel 17, Column 2. Born South Africa - no further details as yet - are you able to assist?
W/O.1 Leonard B. Bloch. Malta Memorial. Panel 17, Column 2. Son of Daniel and Lena Bloch, of Barkly East, Cape Province, South Africa.
Lt. Norman W. Armstrong. Malta Memorial. Panel 17, Column 1. Born South Africa - no further details as yet - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Reginald Charles Fitzgerald. Malta Memorial. Panel 14, Column 2. Born England - no further details as yet - are you able to assist?
Researched by Anne E. Storm (née Millar) daughter of F/O. Thomas Roberts Millar and dedicated to all the crew members lost this night. Anne has additional research which has taken her many years to collect. With thanks also to: Martin and Jean Urry for photo of Mjr. Urry, Mark Bendix photo of W/O.1 Bloch and to Charles Fitzgerald for photo of Sgt. Fitzgerald. Also to Sandro Vazon and Font Isral for the supply drop photos.