Details on Syracuse Bomber Crash 40/70sq

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by spidge, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Can anyone assist with any details on the crash of this aircraft on 13/08/1943 in Italy? These were all the deaths on that day of flyers and seem to belng to the same collective graves.

    DUFF, JAMES EYVAL Flight Sergeant 411130 70sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAAF
    GAZE, WHARTON OWEN Flight Sergeant 409069 40sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAAF
    HALL, JOHN PATRICK Flight Sergeant 415030 40sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAAF
    MORGAN, DAVID HUGH Flight Sergeant 416598 40sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAAF
    WALTERS, WILLIAM ROLAND Warrant Officer 406744 40sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAAF
    GILCHRIST , WILLIAM BROWNLIE Sergeant 1370571 70sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAFVR
    KIRK, JOHN KENNETH, J K Sergeant ( Air Gnr ) 1548321 40sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAFVR
    PRINCE, CHARLES EDWARD, C E Flight Sergeant ( Pilot ) 1379759 70sq RAF 13/08/1943 RCAF
    BILLING, STUART BERTRAM, S B Flight Sergeant ( Pilot ) 1382317 70sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAFVR
    CLARK, JOHN RONALD, J R Flight Sergeant ( W.Op./Air Gnr. ) 1376137 70sq RAF 13/08/1943 RAFVR
    CRAIG, WALTER, W Pilot Officer ( Air Gnr. ) J/18106 70sq RAF 13/08/1943 RCAF
     
  2. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    Morning / Afternoon Spidge, I am sure that Peter will be able to clear it up when he comes along, but its a bit of an oddity. The location for the 2 squadrons at the time of the crash is as below

    70 Sqn - May-November 1943: Kairouan/ Temmar
    40 Sqn - 25 June-18 November 1943: Hani West (although had been at Kairouan prior to move)


    So it suggests that some of the fliers were onlone to the other squadron but not easy to say which way.

    P

    Notes from the operational Diary of F/O Bob Stowers DFM, who was with 70 Squadron state the follwing for the 13th Aug

    Lamezia marshalling yards, Italy. Many fires started. Smoke later obscured target
     
  3. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    I was not sure who was with who either.

    In December 1943 No.70 Squadron moved to the Foggia area, remaining there until October 1945, when it returned to the Middle East. The Wellingtons remained in use until the start of 1945,

    May-November 1943: Kairouan/ Temmar

    This on 40sq:
    In the Second World War 40 Squadron operated in several theatres: flying Blenheims and Wellingtons from bases in England it bombed targets in France, the Low Countries and Germany; flying Wellingtons from bases in the Middle East it bombed targets in North Africa, Sicily, Sardinia, Rhodes, Crete, Greece, Pantellaria, Lampedusa and Italy; and flying Welling tons and Liberators from a base in Italy (Foggia Main) it bombed targets in Italy and the Balkans.

    Seems 40sq was bombing Italy from North Africa:

    Cyril Moore - Photographs

    No. 40 RAF Bomber Squadron based at Hani West Airfield, Tunis, North Africa 30th August –18th November 1943
    30th August 1943 - Night Bombing Operation Civvitavecchia (28 of 48) 18.45hrs took off in Wellington R340 flown by Flying Officer Greenway. Posted Air Gunner, This was Cyril’s 28th bombing mission, Ops to Civvitavecchia, Flying time 6 Hours 15 minutes
    (Civitavecchia is a busy port north west of Rome on the Italian west coast. On Monday 30th August 1934 American B-25 Mitchell bomber's of the Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) bombed the Civitavecchia railway marshalling yards and port complex in a daylight attack. Cyril’s Squadron of Wellingtons completed a follow up night bombing raid on the same target.)
    SEPTEMBER 1943
    (On 3rd September, 1943, General Bernard Montgomery and the 8th Army landed at Reggio in Italy. There was little resistance and later that day British warships landed the 1st Parachute Division at Taranto, Italy. Six days later the US 6th Corps arrived at Salerno. These troops faced a heavy bombardment from German troops and the beachhead was not secured until 20th September)
    5th September 1943 - Night Bombing Operation Villa Literno (29 of 48) 18.45hrs took off in Wellington HF764 flown by Sgt Ricketts. Posted Air Gunner, This was Cyril’s 29th bombing mission, Ops to Villa Literno, Flying time 5 Hours 25 minutes
    ( Villa Literno is north west of Naples. It has a large railway station and freight yard. It is that the junction of two railway lines)
     
  4. colinhotham

    colinhotham Senior Member

    Spidge the one thing that interests me is that the date comes during the time of Operation Husky (July10th to August 17th 1943) so I will be following this post. I have been lucky enough to visit the Commonwealth Military cemeteries at both Syracuse and Catania during my research into Operation Husky.
     
  5. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Spidge the one thing that interests me is that the date comes during the time of Operation Husky (July10th to August 17th 1943) so I will be following this post. I have been lucky enough to visit the Commonwealth Military cemeteries at both Syracuse and Catania during my research into Operation Husky.

    Hi Colin,

    Seems they were bombing from NA until 12/43.

    I may have been missing something here. The Wellington only had a crew of six didn't they?

    Are we talking two aircraft down here and Aircrew buried in the same place?

    There are six 70sq and five 40sq listed. I think I need to search for another 40sq flyer.
     
  6. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    Spidge, using the Virtual War Cemetry website, you can split the collective graves as follows,

    Duff / Craig - both 70 sqn
    Billing /Clark - both 70 sqn
    Gaze / Gilcrhist / Hall - 2 from 40 and 1 from 70 sqn
    Kirk / Prince - 1 from each sqn
    Morgan / Walters - both 40 sqn

    it is feasible that one cre member survived ?

    Not been a RAF buff, it isnt obvious to me, but shouldnt you be able to tell which crew position is missing from the crews

    P
     
  7. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Hi Geoff,

    This covers one of the losses for that day.

    13/8/1943

    No.70 Sqn.

    Wellington X HZ427

    Missing, Messina

    1379759 F/Sgt (Pilot) Charles Edward PRINCE +
    1382317 F/Sgt (Pilot) Stuart Bertram BILLING +
    AUS411130 F/Sgt James Eyval DUFF RAAF +
    1376137 F/Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) John Ronald CLARK +
    1370571 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) William Brownlie GILCHRIST +
    CAN J/18106 P/O (Air Gnr.) Walter CRAIG RCAF +

    Thanks to Col Bruggy.

    Regards
    Peter
     
  8. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    The following covers the second loss.

    12/13-8-43

    No.40 Sqn

    Wellington X HZ570 'U'

    Target: Messina Beaches.

    Shot down over target area.

    AUS406744 W/O (Pilot/Capt.) William Roland WALTERS RAAF +
    AUS409069 F/Sgt (Nav.) Wharton Owen GAZE RAAF +
    AUS415030 F/Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) John Patrick HALL RAAF +
    AUS416598 F/Sgt (Air Bomber) David Hugh MORGAN RAAF +
    1548321 Sgt (Air Gnr.) John Kenneth KIRK +


    Thanks to Col Bruggy

    Regards

    Peter
     
  9. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Hi Geoff,

    This covers one of the losses for that day.

    13/8/1943

    No.70 Sqn.

    Wellington X HZ427

    Missing, Messina

    1379759 F/Sgt (Pilot) Charles Edward PRINCE +
    1382317 F/Sgt (Pilot) Stuart Bertram BILLING +
    AUS411130 F/Sgt James Eyval DUFF RAAF +
    1376137 F/Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) John Ronald CLARK +
    1370571 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) William Brownlie GILCHRIST +
    CAN J/18106 P/O (Air Gnr.) Walter CRAIG RCAF +

    Thanks to Col Bruggy.

    Regards
    Peter

    Thanks Peter,

    You and your contacts have done it again. The loss says "Missing Messina". If they buried the crew from the plane, what is missing?

    Did I miss something?

    Cheers

    Geoff
     
  10. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    The following covers the second loss.

    12/13-8-43

    No.40 Sqn

    Wellington X HZ570 'U'

    Target: Messina Beaches.

    Shot down over target area.

    AUS406744 W/O (Pilot/Capt.) William Roland WALTERS RAAF +
    AUS409069 F/Sgt (Nav.) Wharton Owen GAZE RAAF +
    AUS415030 F/Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) John Patrick HALL RAAF +
    AUS416598 F/Sgt (Air Bomber) David Hugh MORGAN RAAF +
    1548321 Sgt (Air Gnr.) John Kenneth KIRK +


    Thanks to Col Bruggy

    Regards

    Peter

    My thanks to Col Bruggy.

    Another query if I may!

    Why would there be five crew on one aircraft and six on another with same type aircraft and same target. Was this a usual occurrence?
     
  11. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Why would there be five crew on one aircraft and six on another with same type aircraft and same target. Was this a usual occurrence?


    Possibly due to operational requirements or availability of crew, or...

    The crew of six would have carried two pilots, the crew of five one pilot. From what I have found, in 1941, say, the Wellington would have carried two pilots, where as in 1943 it would be one.

    Maybe the extra pilot on the 70 squadron aircraft was there for operational experience.

    Hope this is a help

    Regards
    Peter.
     
  12. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Geoff,

    David Gunby, in his Introduction to 'RAF Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean' Vol.1 describes the situation thus:

    ...With the Wellingtons, until late 1942 carrying a crew of six, the two pilots are followed by the observer, wireless operator and gunners. With the belated introduction in the Middle East of the five-man Wellington crew, second pilots appear only when a newcomer to a squadron is making a 'second dickey' trip, while the bomb aimer is listed after the navigator and wireless operator but before the rear gunner.

    Hope this explains the situation regarding the six man crew.

    Regards
    Peter
     
  13. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER

    Thanks Peter,

    Clears it up just fine!
     
  14. Colin Clark

    Colin Clark Junior Member

    Thanks Peter,

    Clears it up just fine!
    My father was a member of the Wellington that was shot down. JR Clark. Originally my fathers name was on the Malta War grave, however, in the 1960s she recieved a letter from CWGC saying the crews of 2 Wellingtons had been found near Syracuse, they appear to have been buried quickly by the locals. Later on an archaelogical expedition identified the best they could, individuals, it appears they were from 70 & 40 squadrons. Looking at the cemetary map, it will be noticed that they are at the end of the rows, as though this was completed after the cemetary was built. The previous 3 flights were allpiloted by F/S Prince. Hope this is of interest. Colin
     
  15. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Colin,

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    This has been an interesting thread to read and made more so with your personal post regarding your late father.

    Do you by any chance have any photographs of your father whilst he was on service?
    If so there are many including myself on this forum that would welcome the opportunity to view.

    Regards
    Tom
     

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