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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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99 Squadron Crest
28/29.09.1941 99 Squadron Wellington IC Z8869 Sgt. Watt

Operation: Frankfurt

Date: 28th/29th September 1941 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit No: 99 Squadron 3 Group (motto: Quisque tenax - 'Each tenacious')

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: Z8869

Code: LN:?

Base: RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire.

Location: Great Finborough, Suffolk.

Pilot: Sgt. John Sydney Ferguson Watt 1052238 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. John Duncan Broadley 403937 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Obs: Sgt. John Weir Humphrey R65191 RCAF Age 20. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Henry Martin 950327 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. John Kenneth Whitfield 945230 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. David Richardson 1379034 RAFVR Age 29. Killed


Taking off at 19:11 hrs from RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire to attack the German city of Frankfurt - no further details as to the success of the operation, but a disaster, in particular for 99 Squadron and the allies in general losing some eight aircraft of the 30 Hampdens and 14 Wellingtons sent.

Above Sgt. John Weir Humphrey and left, RAF Waterbeach airfield (courtesy Moncton N.B. High School)

Photographs of memorial courtesy James Miles.

The 1331 (Stowmarket) Squadron RAF Air Cadets launched the project last summer following research into local Commonwealth war graves as part of a national project.

On Saturday, September 24, the memorial was unveiled, as the cadets were joined by the Royal British Legion, Royal Naval Association and Royal Air Force Association standards, the landowner Mr Peter Bull and Gt Finborough parish councillors.

With landowner and planning permission in place the cadets had hoped to raise £500 for a small stone and brass plaque - however, their fundraising efforts topped £2,000. This allowed the group to afford a Scottish Granite memorial instead.

Widow of 1941 Great Finborough crash pilot discovered

Nessie Wenman who was married to John Duncan Broadley has been located in New Zealand. Nessie made contact with the Ringshall Village Hall in 2020, to make sure that her late husband's grave was being looked after.

Wellington Z8869 had completed the operation, returning collided with a line of trees, exploding and crashing at 00.55 hrs at Stone Farm, Great Finborough, Suffolk. A large haystack was also destroyed in the blaze. No details as to what cased this but probably due to poor weather and low fuel.

Above L-R: Sgt. John Watt, Sgt. Henry Martin, Sgt. John Whitfield, Sgt. John Humphrey and Sgt. John Broadley.

Other aircraft lost from 99 squadron this night:
Wellington IC T2879 Flown by Sgt. Joseph Parry RNZAF KiA with all 5 other crew members. Hit by Flak of Flakgruppe Amsterdam in both engines and then shot down by Uffz. Johannes Lompa and crashed at Beekstraat in Landsmeer at 07:42 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (13 July 1941 - 29 May 1942) The Early Years Part 2 - Theo Boiten);

Wellington IC W5436 Flown by Plt Off. Keith H.N. Rumbo from Brazil, KiA with 3 others, 3 suffering injuries when the Wellington crashed near Bury St. Edmunds on return to base. One of the 3 injured died the following day;

Wellington IC X9761 Flown by Sgt. E. Coleman who became a PoW with 2 others, 3 Evaders. Claimed by Fw. Reinhard Kollalk, his 7th Abschuss, from 1./NJG1 2km NE of Malvoisin,SE of Givet at 22.09 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (13 July 1941 - 29 May 1942) The Early Years Part 2 - Theo Boiten).

Burial details:

Above: original grave markers

Memorial to Sgt. John Whitfield in his local church in Yorkshire. (courtesy Clive Wilkinson) Grave of Sgt. John Sydney Ferguson Watt (courtesy John G. Duffus)

Sgt. John Sydney Ferguson Watt. Dundee (Balgay) Cemetery. Sec. A. Grave 404B. Born on the 25th May 1918 in Glasgow, Scotland. Son of John Ferguson Watt, and of Jean Morris Watt, of Dundee, Scotland.

Also remembered on the Roll of Honour, Scottish War Memorial

Sgt. John Duncan Broadley. Ringshall (St. Catherine) Churchyard. Row B. Born on the 5th August 1918 in Sawyers Bay. Son of George and Alice Manwell (née Duncan) Broadley , husband of Agnes Jackson (née Peck), father of one son, of Port Chalmers, Otago, New Zealand.

Educated at Dunedin Technical College. A steel analyst for Dunedin Engineering and Steel Company. Enlisted at Levin on the 27th October 1940 as a pilot under training. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School 25th November 1940. 1 Service Flying Training School 18th January 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 1st March 1941 and promoted to sergeant on the 12th April 1941. Embarked for England on the 29th April 1941. With No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre on the 29th June 1941. 20 Operational Training Unit 3rd July 1941. Joined 99 squadron on the 8th September 1941. 213 flying hours logged.

Sgt. John Weir Humphrey. Ringshall (St. Catherine) Churchyard. Row B. Grave inscription reads: "HE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT; HE WEARS A CROWN". Born 1st April 1921 in Moncton, New Brunswick. Son of James Albert and Rita Maud (née Weir) Humphrey of Sunny Brae, New Brunswick, Canada. Formerly of Moncton New Brunswick High School, Canada.

Sgt. Henry Martin. Ringshall (St. Catherine) Churchyard. Row B. Grave inscription reads: "NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE, BE DONE". Son of Tom and Sarah Martin, of Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Sgt. John Kenneth Whitfield. Ringshall (St. Catherine) Churchyard. Row B. Grave inscription reads: "THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD". Son of Harry and Marguerite Whitfield; husband of Rosemary Thornton Whitfield, of Cookridge Village, Horsforth, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. David Richardson. Ringshall (St. Catherine) Churchyard. Row B. Grave inscription reads:"SLEEP ON, TAKE YOUR REST". Son of Adam and Rebecca Richardson, of Whickham, Co. Durham, England.

Researched for Clive Wilkinson and the Royal British Legion as they are dedicating a plaque to Sgt. John Whitfield in his local church in Yorkshire on Remembrance Day 2013. Page also dedicated to all the relatives of this crew, all of them so far from home.

We have been informed by Sarah Waspe (Oct 2022) that a memorial to the crew has been unveiled near the crash site.

With thanks to Colin Bamford and Moncton N.B. High School for information and photograph of Sgt. John Weir Humphrey, also with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, PRK Aviation, also to John G. Duffus who kindly visited the grave of Sgt. Watt and took the photograph (Feb 2019). NoK details and narrative updated by Aircrew Remembered (Oct 2022). James Miles for memorial photographs (Oct 2022). Thanks to Dave Love for the link to the story or Nessie Wenman who was married to Sgt. Broadley (Jan 2023).

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 21.01.2023 - Link to Nessie Wenman Story

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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