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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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90 Squadron Crest
25/26.05.1943 90 Squadron Stirling III EH876 WP:J Plt Off. Gordon W. Young DFC

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 25th/26th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 90 Squadron

Type: Stirling III

Serial: EH876

Code: WP:J

Base: RAF Ridgewell, Essex

Location: North Sea off Holland

Pilot: Plt Off. Gordon William Young DFC J16906 RCAF Age 25. MiA

Pilot: WO2. Michael George King East R118286 RCAF Age 19. MiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. William Harry Bryant 1294010 RAFVR Age 38. MiA

Nav: Flt Sgt. Charles Little Saundercock NZ404949 RNZAF Age 28. MiA

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. James Leeman Poulter 1534581 RAFVR Age 21. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Richard Wadsworth 1376718 RAFVR Age 30. MiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): WO2. Ernest Sinclair Pollon R124287 RCAF Age 31. MiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Fg Off. Cornelius Frederick O'Connell 126607 RAFVR Age 30. KiA


Taking off at 23:50 hrs from RAF Ridgewell in Essex. A total force of 323 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes, 142 Wellingtons, 113 Stirlings with 12 Mosquitos were to bomb Dusseldorf - 759 aircraft in total.

The weather on leaving England was fine with showers, over the Dutch coast broken cloud, which increased as the target was approached. Düsseldorf was covered in 10/10 cloud at various heights.

Despite the huge bomber force the raid was classed as a failure with bombing scattered over a wide area. Between 50 - 100 buildings were destroyed with some 50 people killed on the ground. It is understood that the Germans lit various fires and also placed decoy markers to fool the allies.

The allies lost some 29 aircraft - one on return, Halifax II HR747 from 51 Squadron, crashing at Highfield Farm near Doncaster, all crew survived uninjured. Another, Halifax II HR806 crashing immediately after take off, all 7 crew injured but survived. 27 others were lost either on route or returning from the operation. 27 were taken PoW with a shocking 170 other crew killed or missing.

The night fighters were hampered by the cloud cover plus the half moon rose at about 03.00 hrs. when the crews were on their way home. However 21 were confirmed to have been shot down, mainly on the very slow return trip, when the allies suffered 40-60 mph head winds. 2 other aircraft were lost when 77 Squadron JB837 was shot down by Maj. Walter Ehle of Stab II./NJG1 over Eisdorf at 01.51 hrs. The full bomb load exploded bringing down two Stirlings. Maj. Ehle was credited with 5 claims on this night - not including the 2 Stirlings.

Stirling EH876 was intercepted and shot down by the Luftwaffe ace Fw. Heinz Vinke of 11./NJG1 at 02:27 hrs with combat taking place at 2,900 metres over the North Sea west of Alkmaar. Only Fg Off. O'Connell's body was recovered which was washed ashore onto the Island of Texel.

23 year old, Ofw. Heinz Vinke went missing on the 26th February 1944 some 15 km. north west of Dunkirk after being shot down by two typhoons from 198 Squadron (Flt Lt. Cheval L'Allemand and Fg Off. George Hardy) Born 22nd May 1920 - Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. (Information and photographs courtesy of the Kracker Archives published on this website)

Burial details:

Plt Off. Gordon William Young DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 179. Born on the 23rd October 1917 in Ontario. Son of William Grant and Mary (née Henderson) Young (His father predeceased him in April 1920), brother of Helen all of 7 Westmorland Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

He was awarded the DFC whilst with 90 Sqn. London Gazette 1st June 1943. Citation Reads: "Pilot Officer. Gordon William Young J16906 RCAF and Sgt. William Howard Davine 977509 RAFVR were pilot and rear gunner respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in the Ruhr one night in May, 1943. During the operation the aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter. Sgt. Davine was wounded in both legs, while his turret was put out of action. Although in great pain he continued to give his pilot a commentary on the attacker's movements. The fighter made repeated attacks but, displaying great skill, Pilot Officer Young eventually evaded it. His aircraft was badly damaged and became difficult to control. Despite this Pilot Officer Young flew it to base and made a safe landing. By his skill and determination he was undoubtedly responsible for the safe return of the aircraft and its crew. In spite of his-severe injuries, Sgt. Davine displayed great fortitude and devotion to duty".

WO2. Michael George King East. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 180. Born on the 12th February 1923 in Keremeos, British Columbia. Son of Jack Haddon Mona Favoretta (née MacDonald) East of Keremeos, British Columbia, Canada.

His brother 20 year old, Fg Off. John Douglas Alfred East J36618 RCAF was killed flying Halifax W7875, 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) on the 20th November 1944.

Sgt. William Harry Bryant. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 144. Son of William and Emily Bryant and husband of Ada Miriam Bryant, of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England.

Flt Sgt. Charles Little Saundercock. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Son of Henry William and Minnie Saundercock, of Waikari, Canterbury, New Zealand.

A total of 481 flying hours logged and on his 19th operational sortie.

His younger brother, 23 year old Sgt. Henry Lindsay Saundercock 405326 RNZAF was killed flying Hurricane IIC BD953 on the 30th November 1941 whilst with 245 Squadron.

Flt Sgt. James Leeman Poulter. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 138. Son of Arthur and Martha Alice Poulter, of Staincross, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Richard Wadsworth. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 168. Born on the 14th November 1912 in Walthamstow, Essex. He was the eldest son and one of 7 children of Richard and Daisy (née Hubble) of Wadsworth, London.

He worked as an electro-plater just before WWII broke out.

WO2. Ernest Sinclair Pollon. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 180. Born on the 20th June 1920 in Dauphin, Manitoba. Son of John Arthur and Mabel (née Miller) Pollon, of Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada.

Pollon Bay in Begg Lake was named after WO2. Ernest Sinclair Pollon in 1995.

Fg Off. Cornelius Frederick O'Connell. Texel Cemetery (Den Burg) Plot K. Row 4. Grave 76. Son of Cornelius and Eliza O'Connell and husband of Doris Mary O'Connell, of New Cross, London, England.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Web Master) (Nov 2017) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks to John Wadsworth for the NoK details for his distant relative Sgt. Richard Wadsworth (Oct 2022) other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Oct 2022)

Other sources listed below:

RS 14.10.2022 - Sgt Wadsworth NoK details added and other updates to narrative.

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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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