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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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05/06th August 1943 142 Squadron Wellington X HE625 Fl/Sgt. Wiltshire

Operation: Messina, Cape Peloro

Date: 05/06th August 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 142 Squadron (motto: Determination). 330 Wing. 205 Group

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE625

Code: QT-C

Base: Kairouan West, Tunisia

Location: Target area

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Alfred Charles Wiltshire Aus/412789 RAAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Obs: Sgt. Robert Ralph Elsdon-Howard 1578246 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Manuel Treharne Perkins 1418624 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Osmund William St. Clair Alleyne 1393814 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Roger Leigh Eaton Aus/410471 RAAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 20:05 hrs to bomb the evacuation beaches between Pellaro and Messina in Sicily. In support of Operation Husky - the invasion of Sicily. 100 aircraft from various units taking part, 12 from 142. 2 failed to return but only 1 from 142 squadron. The route: Base - Ustica - Vulcano Island - Target - and return

The other Wellington X HE952 QJN-L from 150 squadron flown by Fl/Sq/Ldr. Gordon Keith Fison Garrad 39658 RAF missing - believed killed with all his crew.

In 1948 some bodies were recovered by the Missing Research Unit but identification proved impossible and were buried as unknown at the cemetery in Catania.

Failed to return and assumed lost in the target area by flak.

The German and Italian evacuation schemes proved highly successful. The Allies were not able to prevent the orderly withdrawal nor effectively interfere with transports across the Strait of Messina. The narrow straits were protected by 120 heavy and 112 light anti-aircraft guns.

The resulting overlapping gunfire from both sides of the strait was described by Allied pilots as worse than the Ruhr, making daylight air attacks highly hazardous and generally unsuccessful. Night attacks were less hazardous and there were times when air attack was able to delay and even suspend traffic across the straits but when daylight returned, the Axis were able to clear the backlog from the previous night. Nor was naval interdiction any more practicable.

The straits varied from 2–6 miles wide and were covered by artillery up to 24 centimetres in caliber. This, combined with the hazards of a 6 knots (11 km/h current and fear that Italian warships were preparing to attack the Straits of Messina in a suicide run, made risking warships unjustifiable.

On 18 August, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht recorded that 60,000 troops had been recovered and the Italian figure was about 75,000. In 2004, Tomlin wrote that the Italians evacuated 62,182 men, 41 guns and 227 vehicles with the loss of only one motor raft and the train ferry Carridi, which was scuttled when Allied troops entered Messina. The Germans evacuated some 52,000 troops (including 4,444 wounded), 14,105 vehicles, 47 tanks, 94 guns, 1,100 tons of ammunition, and about 20,700 tons of gear and stores.

Sicily was finally in allied hands on the 17th August 1943 but at a huger cost of lives - from both sides.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Alfred Charles Wiltshire. Malta Memorial. Panel 12. Column 2. Born on the 21st February 1922 at Sandringham, Victoria. Enlisted on the 20th July 1941 Son of Henry John and Mary Jane Wiltshire, of Melbergen, New South Wales, Australia.

Sgt. Robert Ralph Elsdon-Howard. Malta Memorial. Panel 8. Column 2. Born on the 12th December 1922. Enlisted in February 1942. Son of William Andrew (died 04th April 1944, age 65) and Ivy Elsie Elsdon-Howard, of Finedon, Northamptonshire, England. His brother 23 year old, W/O. Joseph Elsdon-Howard 1169882 RAFVR also killed in service, on the 25th April 1944 hit by US army vehicle on the Derby - Uttoxeter road. As Robert has no known grave he is remembered on the grave of Joseph at Finedon Cemetery. Grave 1480.

Sgt. Manuel Treharne Perkins. Malta Memorial. Panel 9. Column 1. Son of Alfred D. and Florence M. Perkins, of Porthcawl, Glamorgan, Wales.

Sgt. Osmund William St. Clair Alleyne. Malta Memorial. Panel 8. Column 1. Of Dominica - Brother of Keith H.C. Alleyn Q.C, (born on the 24th February 1918) who was murdered in July 1974. (Information courtesy 'The Star' Dominica July 12th 1974) Further information sought on Osmond.

Fl/Sgt. Roger Leigh Eaton. Malta Memorial. Panel 11. Column 2. Born on the 21st August 1918 at Camberwell, Victoria. A freight clerk prior to service. Enlisted on the 30th January 1942. Son of Sydney Alexander Eaton and Hilda Minnie Eaton, of 21 Alexander Avenue, Canterbury, Victoria, Australia.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Australian Archives, Caribbean Aircrew, Wellingborough Grammar School and other sources as quoted below:

KTY 18-11-2021

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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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