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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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427
427 Squadron Halifax III NR288 P/O. Willis Raymond Wilson

Operation: Worms

Date: 21/22nd February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 427 Squadron (motto: Ferte manus certas, -. 'Strike with a sure hand'). 6 Group

Type: Halifax III

Serial: NR288

Code: ZL-F

Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire

Location:

Pilot: P/O. Willis Raymond Wilson J/89647 RCAF Age 21. PoW (1)

Fl/Eng: P/O. John Francis William Taylor 197974 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. Lester Webster J/35507 RCAF Age 28. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Ralph Raymond Stuart J/95494 RCAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Douglas Anderson Henderson J/95278 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leopold Orie Foisy R/109414 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Allan John McLeod C/95381 RCAF Age 24. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

349 aircraft on this operation. NR288 taking off at 16:23 hrs.

The only large raid on this town of the war.

The briefing was scheduled for 15:00 hrs. All but one crew were back at base by 23:59 hours. Crews report that the target was clear of cloud with slight, ground haze. Marking was well concentrated and sufficient. The town was burning brightly over a two-mile square area. Fires were visible 80 miles on the homeward route. Several large explosions were reported. Flak varied from moderate to intense.

1116 tons of high explosives were dropped and the town was said to be 39% destroyed. 64% of the buildings were destroyed including the cathedral and many municipal and cultural buildings. 239 people were killed and 35,000 bombed out (from a population of just 58000)

19 allied aircraft were lost to either night fighters or heavy anti-aircraft fire.

NR288 was attacked by an unidentified night fighter with the aircraft exploding in the air, throwing the pilot clear.

(1) P/O. Willis Raymond Wilson - Born on the 14th of July 1924 in Clarence, Nova Scotia, Canada. Husband of Donnie Hazel (died 31st December 2004). Worked as an orderly at the Nova Scotia Mental Hospital until he was old enough to enlist for service. Flew 29 out of the required 30 operational sorties. After the war, Willis bought a plane and did some barnstorming. He then worked at various jobs such as truck driving and sales but eventually returned to the military to pursue a career in flying. A flight instructor with the Air Force, stationed in Nova Scotia. Joined Pacific Western Airlines and flying Hercules aircraft around the world and in Canada's Arctic. He retired from flying permanently in 1984, after logging well over 16,000 hours on 18 different aircraft and belonging to the Quarter Century of Aviation Club. He was also a member of the "Silk Worm" Club which is for people who have relied on a parachute to save their life. During his career, he flew many flights under many circumstances, including world wars and civil wars, inclement weather and adverse conditions, humanitarian and medical needs. He was well-read and insightful and always had interesting stories to tell. Passed away on the 03rd October 2009, at age 85.

Burial details:

P/O. John Francis William Taylor. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.J.25. Son of RSM. William George Taylor and Alice Taylor; husband of M. Vera Taylor, of Liverpool. Epitaph: 'Our Prayer, That In God's Good Care He Rest. Dearly Beloved Of Vera And Bruce'.

F/O. Lester Webster. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.J.25. Born on the 22nd of January 1916 in Ontario, Canada. Son of Robert Henry Leopold Webster (died 24th October 1933, age 56) and Alma Florence Webster (née Walker - died in 1949 age 62) of 241 Wright Avenue, Sunderland, Ontario, Canada.

P/O. Ralph Raymond Stuart. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.H.24. Born on the 14th of November 1922 in Didsbury, Alberta, Canada. Son of Clarence Henry Stuart (died 14th November 1941, age 64) and Margaret Stuart (née McEachern - died 1969, age 88), of Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada.

P/O. Douglas Anderson Henderson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.H.25. Born on the 12th of September 1922 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Son of John Henderson and Janet (née McEwan) Henderson, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Leopold Orie Foisy. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.J.24. Born on the 24th of April 1921 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. A truck driver for W.E. Wilson Trucking prior to enlisting. Son of Joseph Telesphore Foisy and Mary Foisy (née Lavoie - died 03rd November 1942, age 49), of 3115 Quebec Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

P/O. Allan John McLeod. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 9.J.23. Born on the 29th of July 1921 in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada. Worked as a laboratory assistant for DominionTar and Chemical Society. Son of William John and Edith Maude McLeod (née Drew), of 118 Gore Street, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Epitaph: 'Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to National Archives. Government of Canada Archives, Paradie Archive, International Bomber Command Centre, IBCC, Francois Dutil for pilot information.

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26-02-2023

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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', 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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