SOE/partisan drop zones in Italy, Austria, Balkans 1944-45

Discussion in 'SOE & OSS' started by Pat Atkins, May 14, 2015.

  1. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    I was hoping someone could help me identify some drop zones and missions, taken from the records of 148 (Special Duties) Squadron which was based at Brindisi in late 1944-Spring 1945. The squadron was part of 334 Wing, Balkan Air Force, and specialised in dropping agents and supplies into occupied southern Europe and the Balkans.

    I've given the name of the particular operation I'm interested in and any location noted in the squadron records (secrecy didn't allow for a lot of detail); where not stated the location is either unknown or in Yugoslavia (the main focus of 148's supply effort for much of the period). Any information or confirmation re the DZs or the missions they related to would be very helpful.

    Many thanks, Pat.

    LAPWORTH. Thessaly, Greece
    FERTILISER. Argos, Thessaly, Greece
    PRIMUS. Shengerj, Albania
    GEISHA. Vocin
    ICARUS. Grabnovica, Yugoslavia
    ELLIS. Shengerj, Albania
    LOCUST.
    ROCHESTER.
    JUSTICE.
    HARANGUE. Mrkopalj
    AGATE. Drasnica
    A218.
    TOFFEE. Rozanj
    ICARUS MINOR.
    ICARUS MINIMUS.
    CRAYON. Rupafreda
    A237.
    FUNGUS. Glina
    FLOTSAM. Vojna
    CUCKOLD.
    ELECTRA. Horn, Austria
    FUNGUS ADVOCATE. Glina
    TOMBOLA. Qara, Italy - the famous SAS/partisan operation; this was a jeep and personnel night drop in support 05/06 April 1945
    HARRIER.
    DESTINY.
    BORDEAUX.
     
  2. mike53

    mike53 New Member

    Dear Pat,
    I have information about mission ICARUS MINIMUS
    My father, Peter Lee, was the navigator. The plane was shot down in Yugoslavia.
    Info from "Operation Dark of the Moon" Yahoo group "Roll of Honour 148 Squadron" word document:
    14.2.45 Halifax Mk II, JP249-C, FS-C, “C-Charlie”
    Mission 'ICARUS MINIMUS' to drop supplies,
    shot down by light AA, the pilot made crash landing at Daruvar, Yugoslavia because W.Op was wounded; crew rescued by partisans and 7 returned
    Information from my Father who died in 2003:
    Vin Vincent South Africa Pilot
    Peter Lee Navigator RAF
    Cliff Wilkinson Bomb Aimer RAF
    Pash Pascoe Royal Australian Air Force Wireless Operator
    Robbie Robinson Engineer and Pilot RAF
    Albert Ellis Rear Gunner RAF
    Ken Morgan Dispatcher with US as RAF
    Taffy Leonard Mid Upper gunner RAF on dispatcher course when he returned
    to squadron he leant that we were reported missing
    Hope this is useful.
    Regards Mike
     
  3. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Hi Mike, thanks for this. Did your father indicate if they crashed in the vicinity of the DZ? Daruvar figures as a destination for 148 operations - am away from home at the moment so can't check ORBs, etc. Will PM you should I ever come across anything regarding your father or the Vincent crew. There might be a report on their evasion and return to squadron, of course.

    Cheers, Pat
     
  4. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    Pat you need to look for the ATF forms they will be in the AIR files for the Squadron at the National Archives
     
  5. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Thanks for the help: no idea what I would do without the expertise on here (and Terry Maker's Dark Of The Moon group Mike mentions). I'm guessing the reports aren't digitised, but will get to TNA one day. With a very long list...

    Cheers, Pat
     
  6. Have you tried the audio archive at the Imperial War Museum?

    here is the link to search:

    http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search

    I checked my copy of "Forgotten Voices of the Secret War" and there are some entries for Yogoslavia in 1944 but didn't see any for Squadron 148 in that chapter.
     
  7. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    I haven't, but that's a great idea - thanks! Hadn't even thought about the IWM audio archive, will give it a go.

    Many thanks to all for the guidance, info and support. I do my research in irregular chunks on an as-and-when basis, but if in the future I find enough to summarise meaningfully I'll put it up on this forum in case it's of interest.

    Cheers, Pat
     
  8. vathra

    vathra Junior Member

    Hello Pat,

    Sorry I am late, just saw this. I hope that this would be useful.

    Places you mentioned in Yugoslavia were not only drop zones, they were also landing fields, were supplies were delivered, and wounded men and evaded airmen were rescued from.
    I have more places in Yugoslavia that were used, but there is some problem with naming. Allied missions were attached to partisan Corps, and they often moved when Germans attacked. Some missions used several airfields because of that. Also it is possible that missions changed names, since I have other names for same places.

    I am doing research on rescue of allied airmen from Yugoslavia, so for lot of those places I have dates when airmen were evacuated.
     
  9. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Hi Pat,

    Just noticed this and have a few for Belgrade of RAAF involvement. Not edited as good as usual however I am sure you will work it out if useful.

    Source :
    AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 166/118/287 (Digitised)
    Commonwealth War Graves records
    Aircraft Type: Halifax
    Serial number: JN 959
    Radio call sign:
    Unit: ATTD 148 SQN RAF
    Summary
    Halifax JN959 was detailed on the night of 10/11th February 1944 to carry out a special
    mission to Albania. The aircraft was reported missing and failed to return to base.
    Crew :
    RAAF 414720 Flt Sgt I McGugan, Captain (Pilot)
    RAF Flt Sgt N E Plaxton (Flight Engineer)
    RAAF 415424 Flt Sgt B A Hough, (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
    RAAF 412601 Flt Sgt P G Mann (Navigator)
    RAAF 410502 Flt Sgt E G Lee, (Wireless Air Gunner)
    RAF Sgt A H Elkes, (Air Gunner)
    RAF Sgt F M C H Harris, (Air Gunner)
    RAF Sgt A J Palmer (Air Gunner)
    It was later established that the aircraft crashed during the mission on the 11th February
    1944, and that seven of the crew were killed and Sgt Elkes (RAF) was a POW.
    Those killed are buried in the Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia and Montenegro. The
    cemetery is in Uliga Baju Sekulica, in the city’s Fifth Region on the edge of the
    Yugoslav Cemetery (Novo Groblije)
    Sgt Elkes (POW) later reported “ The aircraft crashed in Montenegro after colliding with
    mountains. No bodies were found in the aircraft according to German information but
    one unidentified body found in the vicinity some days later. As the body of the Canadian
    member of the crew was found (and buried by the Germans) and believed that this was
    one of my crew also. I left that locality a month later but nothing more was heard or seen

    of any other airmen.”

    Surname Lowe
    Forename George Robert Colquhoun
    Unit 148 Squadron (R.A.A.F.)
    Rank Warrant Officer
    Number 419502
    Date of death 4th January 1945
    Age 31
    Gravesite Belgrade War Cemetery,Yugoslavia 10A.D.6
    Additional information born 9.1.1924 Manly,New South Wales,Australia
    son of Arthur Milbourne and Marie Isabelle Lowe, Tottenham, New South Wales, Australia
    husband of Barbara Lowe, Newmarket, Suffolk, England
    enlisted 14.8.1942 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    4 Initial Training School, RAAF
    148 Squadron
    aircrew
    KIA Yugoslavia

    419502 Warrant Officer LOWE, George Robert Colquhoun
    Source :
    AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 163/43/1061 (Digitised)
    Commonwealth War Graves records
    Aircraft Type: Halifax
    Serial number: 380
    Radio call sign:
    Unit: ATTD 148 SQN RAF
    Summary:
    Halifax 380 took off on 4th January 1945, detailed to carry out a daytime supply drop at
    Icarus, Yugoslavia. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to
    return to base.
    Crew :
    RAAF 418610 FO Walker, G M Captain (Pilot)
    RAF Sgt W M Breen, (Flight Engineer)
    RAAF 427522 WO A W Lyon, (Navigator)
    RAAF 419502 WO G R C Lowe, (Bomb Aimer)
    RAF WO R J Rowe (Wireless Operator Air)
    RAF Sgt R Bromley (Air Gunner)
    RAF Sgt R J Towner, (Air Gunner)
    Four of the crew were killed and Sgt’s Rowe, Bromley, Towner survived the crash.
    Those killed are buried in the Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia and Montenegro. The War
    Cemetery is in Uliga Baju Sekulica, in the city’s Fifth Region on the edge of the New
    Yugoslav Cemetery (Novo Groblije).
    A later report by WO Rowe (RAF) who was captured by the Germans and was a POW
    stated “ the aircraft received direct hits from anti-aircraft fire and the Captain ordered the
    crew to bale out. All members baled out except FO Walker and WO Lyon the Navigator,
    who was seen by WO Rowe lying near the front hatch, having apparently been killed by
    ack-ack fire. When I baled out, the aircraft was only at 150 feet, and I was the last to bale
    out. After that the aircraft was too low for the Captain to bale out. WO Lowe the bomb
    aimer was shot while descending in his chute and was buried by Yugoslav Partisans in a
    wood near Sisak.
    Sgt Bromley and Towner later stated in their report “ We baled out but were unable to see
    what happened to the remainder of the crew. We landed on the edge of a wood about
    10kms south of Sisak, abandoned our parachutes which were damaged and
    contacted some woodcutters who were working in another wood about half a mile away.
    These men took me to a partisan HQ which was nearby, Breen who was badly burned
    about his face and hands, was then treated by a partisan doctor. Later that day I saw two
    badly damaged parachutes which they stated belonged to Rowe and Lowe. The partisans
    told me they had buried Lowe within half a mile of where I had landed, and that WO
    Rowe had been captured by the Germans. They also told me that the aircraft had been
    completely destroyed by fire and that they had been unable to find any traces of the

    remainder of the crew although they had searched for 12 hours.”
    ========================================================================

    432241 Flying Officer MASON, Henry Oscar
    Source :
    AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 166/27/758 (Digitised)
    Commonwealth War Graves records
    Aircraft Type: Halifax
    Serial number: JP 281
    Radio call sign:
    Unit: ATTD 148 SQN RAF
    Summary:
    Halifax JP281 was detailed on the 20th January 1945 to carry out a daytime mission on
    the target Icarus Minimus in Northern Yugoslavia. A successful message was received at
    1428 hours but after that there was no further news and the aircraft failed to return to
    base.
    Crew :
    RAF Flt Lt Strang, G B Captain (Pilot)
    RNZAF Flt Lt Horsefall, H E (2nd Pilot)
    RAF Sgt J W Holmes, (Flight Engineer)
    RAF FO Wilson, W H (Navigator)
    RAF FO Howarth, R (Air Bomber)
    RAAF 432241 FO Mason H O (Wireless Operator)
    RAF Sgt D P Burns, (Air Gunner)
    RAF Sgt G Diffey, (Air Gunner)
    All the crew were killed on the above mission, and they are buried in the Belgrade War
    Cemetery, Serbia and Montenegro. The War Cemetery is in Uliga Baju Sekulica, in the
    city’s Fifth Region on the edge of the New Yugoslav Cemetery (Novo Groblije).
    =========================================================================
    Source :
    AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 16611/38/731 (Digitised)
    Commonwealth War Graves records
    Aircraft Type: Halifax
    Serial number: JD 319
    Radio call sign:
    Unit: ATTD 148 SQN RAF
    Summary:
    Halifax JD319 on 17th October 1944, was detailed to carry out a daytime supply drop
    mission in Northern Yugoslavia. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it
    failed to return to base.
    Crew :
    RAF Flt Sgt P H Edwards, Captain (Pilot)
    RAF Sgt D Clark, (Flight Engineer)
    RAAF 424114 Flt Sgt C G Steele

    148SQN RAF Halifax D319 on ammunition drop mission crashed into trees on mountain near Solcava and four crew killed:
    STEELE, Charles Gibson (Flight Sergeant) 424114 RAAF /
    EDWARDS, P H (Flight Sergeant) 1601873 RAF /
    DAKER, K D (Sergeant) 1581777 RAF /
    CLARKE, F (Sergeant) 182467 RAF. Three others survived:
    CALDER, E W (Flight Sergeant) 427416 RAAF /
    PARKER, S H (Sergeant) 1899056 /
    BROMAGE, C W O (Sergeant) 1880610 - Calder and Parker injured and were being cared for by Partisans. Calder killed by Germans during attack on Partisan hospital facility. Parker taken POW.

    All information from casualty file for STEELE 424114 RAAF

    Poland

    A memorial plaque to the crew of a Halifax bomber of 148 Squadron RAF who were killed when their aircraft was shot down near Wojnicz, Poland, in 1944. The plaque that was erected in the town church by local citizens, commemorates the airmen’s sacrifice and proclaims the contribution of western nations to the liberation of Poland. It was unveiled in August 1986. The Australian, British and Canadian flags represent the nationalities of the aircrew.

    The plaque is engraved with the inscription:
    On the anniversary of the Warsaw uprising to the memory of heroic allied pilots who assisted the Warsaw uprising.
    On the 5th of August 1944 in the Letowice region a Halifax from 148th RAF wing was shot down. Died for faith and liberty:
    Pilot Officer W Crabtree RAF aged 23,
    Flight Sergeant (Navigator) D J Mason RAF, age 23;
    Warrant Officer (Wireless operator) J A Carroll RAF;
    Flight Sergeant (Air bomber) A Bennett, RAAF, age 29;
    Sergeant (Flight engineer) D Aird, RAF, age 19;
    Flight Sergeant (Air gunner) A Beanland RCAF,
    Sergeant (Air gunner) A Sandilands, RAF, age 23.
    May God accept their sacrifice.
     
  10. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Spidge,

    I see from your signature block that you collect photos of the headstones. Do you have the ones from Belgrade in your collection yet?

    PM me if you need them
     
  11. micky

    micky Member

    Some correction on your names

    LOCUST.
    ROCHESTER.
    two OSS missions in the western appennines, around Taro River valley and ligurian sea

    TOFFEE
    Mission in the Parma Province mountains lead by major Charles Holland, W/T Frank Hayhurst


    TOMBOLA. Qara, Italy - the famous SAS/partisan operation; this was a jeep and personnel night drop in support 05/06 April 1945
    The correct spelling is QUARA DI TOANO, the codename of the camp was SWIWELL CRIMSON
     
  12. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Thanks Micky, much appreciated - sorry for the late reply!

    Is there any chance of there being more than one TOFFEE, do you think? I have come across duplication of names before, though one in Italy and one in Albania/Yugoslavia at the same time seems a bit operationally close somehow.

    Cheers, Pat
     
  13. vathra

    vathra Junior Member

    Part of list of airfields and drop zones from January 1st 1945.
    Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 4.18.34 PM.png
     
  14. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Thanks Vathra - CRAYON is located at Cerkno, which is in Slovenia; previously, I had Rupafreda, which I couldn't find anywhere but which I was fairly sure was not Italy despite it's Italian-sounding name: Slovenia fits the bill nicely.


    Cheers, Pat
     
  15. vathra

    vathra Junior Member

    Pat,

    do you have some info on evacuated personnel by 148sq?
    IE on flight to Toffee on DD/MM there was x wounded and y evacuated airmen.
     
  16. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    I'm away from all my records but will have a look in a couple of days Vathra- off the top of my head I can recall a reference in the ORBs to an individual British officer but other than that, no; however, happy to have a look and report back.

    Cheers, Pat
     
  17. micky

    micky Member

    Vathra, do you have, in your list, a Drop Zone codenamed PEARL?
     

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