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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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172 Squadron Crest
27.11.1943 No. 172 Squadron Wellington XIV HF153 LF-O P/O. Thomas B. Wilkin

Operation: Anti - U Boat patrol

Date: 27th November 1943

Unit: No. 172 Squadron (Coastal Command)

Type: Wellington XIV

Serial: HF153

Code: LF-O

Base: RAF Lajes Field, Azores

Location: North Atlantic, west of Lisbon

Pilot: P/O. Thomas Brown Wilkin 157388 RAFVR Age 32. Missing

Obs: Fl/Sgt. Charles Raymond Farman 1337327 RAFVR Age 25. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas B. Semple 1212911 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 1480 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus  

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Stobo 1037459 RAFVR Age 22. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Douglas Pitman 1393911 RAFVR Age 21. Missing

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Nicolas J. Martin 1035574 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 1479 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus


During an attack on U-764 commanded by OLt zS. Hanskurt von Bremen the Wellington was hit by flak on its second run in on a strafing from the boat. 

Above 172 Wellington at RAF Lajes Field, Azores and right the Leigh Light as fitted to a Liberator (courtesy IWM)

The aircraft ditched at 21:22 hrs in the Atlantic West of Lisbon. The two survivors were picked up by U-238. After interrogation sent to Stalag Kopernikus at Thorn in Poland (now known as Toruń)

OLt zS. Hanskurt von Bremen (shown left) U-764 Surrendered to the allies on the 14th May 1945 at Loch Eriboll in Scotland. It eventually sunk on the 2nd February 1946 whilst being used as a target.

Notes on 172 Squadron (courtesy Wikipedia): formed on 4th April 1942 at RAF Chivenor from No. 1417 (Leigh Light) Flight, and part of 19 Group, Coastal Command. The squadron had been formed to continue the work of the development flight to use the new Leigh Light in conjunction with ASV radar on anti-submarine patrols. The Leight Light was a powerful (22 million candels) searchlight used to illuminate the surface of the sea and any submarines caught on the surface. It operated from bases such as Malta, Gibraltar and the Azores to exploit the new invention and it was also used to attack surface vessels. The squadron re-equipped with the Wellington Mark XIII and the rate of sorties increased, although the aircraft losses also increased as they were hunted by German night-fighters in the Western Approaches.

The Wellington Mk XIII and later XII and XIV have been described as 'the prototype for AWACS' and 172 squadron is renowned for being the first to attack a U-Boat at night using the combination of ASV and the Leigh Light.

Burial details:

P/O. Thomas Brown Wilkin. Runnymede Memorial Panel 134. Son of William Gallant Wilkin and Elizabeth Wilkin, husband of Marguerite Wilkin, of Bedlington, Northumberland, England.

Fl/Sgt. Charles Raymond Farman. Runnymede Memorial Panel 136. Son of Charles Robert and Alice Maud Farman, of South Lowestoft, Suffolk, England.

Sgt. James Stobo. Runnymede Memorial Panel 166. Son of James and Annie W. Stobo, of Lanark, Scotland.

Sgt. Kenneth Douglas Pitman. Runnymede Memorial Panel 161. Son of Percy Robert and Hilda Jane Pitman, of West Norwood, London, England.

Relative of Fl/Sgt. Farman met by webmaster at his place of work in July 2015. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below. Also to Ross McNeil and to the U-Boat website for additional information.

KTY 13.07.2015

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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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