Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong      <   page 16   > 

Sage War Cemetery

Texel & Den Helder




Leeuwarden Airfield


Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar




St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

     Sink the Scharnhorst!
     RCAF 424 Squadron
     Runnymede Memorial 


Deanweb - the Forest of Dean Directory


Willem's Visit to Sage War Cemetery






Our today's trip to Sage etc. was a indeed a great success (beautiful weather, not so much heavy traffic on the roads, because of Whitsunday, and good photos at the end).



By the way, the cemetery was like a busy airfield: hundreds of cockchafers (may-bugs)! Our way home again was long, a "scramble course", via (Kaiser) Wilhelmshaven, Hooksiel, Schillig, Neuharlingersiel, Dornum, Norden und Norddeich, Wirdum (another Wirdum !), Emden and Leer. 

We have seen all the Ost-Frisian Islands, one by one, from a distance of course, but in full colours (also with help of a tele-lens).     Willem May 27th 2012


The small village of Sage lies in the north of Germany approx 56kms west of Bremen.

From the A1 motorway Bremen to Osnabruck take exit 61 (Ausfahrt 61) WILDENHAUSEN-WEST / AHLHORN and follow direction B213 AHLHORN.

Continue along the B213 for approx 8kms and go through the village of AHLHORN. Turn right at the roundabout direction L870 OLDENBURG (CWGC sign) and continue along the OLDENBURGERSTRASSE. 

The road name then changes to SAGERSTRASSE for approx 4kms. The cemetery can be found on the left.  

The cemetery address is:- Sagerstrasse 26197, Grossenkneten-Sage, Germany.


Sage was on the line of the Allied advance across northern Germany in 1945 but most of those buried at Sage War Cemetery were airmen lost in bombing raids over northern Europe whose graves were brought in from cemeteries in the Frisian Islands and other parts of north-west Germany. There are 970 burials. Of these 50 are of sailors, 192 soldiers, 713 airmen, and 6 merchant navy. There are nine whose service is unknown.

Their nationalities are 745 British, 125 Canadian, 34 Australian, 35 New Zealand and 22 Polish.




Find a grave at Sage Cemetery



See Youtube film from a visitor to Sage Cemetery





List of Canadians buried at Sage Cemetery


Hampden L4127 of 144 Squadron


Pictures of two graves in connection with the burial on Schiermonnikoog of AC1 Allan Wilson in 1939. (See page 4). First photo is the grave of F/O Norman Beck pilot of Hampden L4127. (He was first buried in Emden. "In Liebe" means "In Love".   From old inhabitant of Emden visiting his grave? Also photos  from the grave of Sgt Percy Sproston who was also buried at Emdem originally. They were both crew-mates of AC Allan Wilson. 25 year old Canadian Pilot Officer Roger Turner the gunner on the aircraft has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.On 29th September 1939 eleven Hampdens from 144 Squadron, split into two sections - a section of five led by Wing Commander JC Cunningham, the CO, and a section of six led by Squadron Leader WJH Lindley - were detailed to search part of the Heligoland Bight to within sight of the German coast.

Cunningham's section left Hemswell at 4.50pm and was not heard from again. 16 aircrew were lost and another 4 made P.O.W.'s. 

Hampden L4121 flown by: F/O. John T.B. Sadler (Killed with 3 crew, 1 made p.o.w.) - Hampden L4126 flown by: F/O. Baughan (3 killed, with the pilot a p.o.w.) - Hampden L4127 flown by: F/O. Norman C. Beck (All 4 crew killed) - Hampden L4134 flown by: W/Cmdr. James C. Cunningham (3 killed, 1 p.o.w.) - This Hampden L4132 was thought to have been shot down at 10.03 hrs by Uffz. Pollack (2) of I./ZG26 flying an Me109.

Lindley's section found two enemy destroyers in the search area steaming east in line astern at 20 knots but, owing to the destroyers' manoeuvres and "flak" umbrella, only three Hampdens were able to attack; the results were not observed. All six Hampdens returned safely to base.




Their original burial ground at Emden - Bolardusfriethof,  in wintertime




Willem signs the visitor's book.












SAS graves at Sage War Cemetery


On Willem's visit to Sage War Cemetery he photographed the grave of a private in the Special Air Service.

Mikheil Levisohn was a German born, Czechoslovakian Jew. The son of Ludwig Levisohn and husband of Lotte, he adopted the surname of Lewis whilst serving with B Squadron of the 1st Special Air Service Regiment.

His duties during 'Operation Howard', when his unit was paving a way for the Canadian Armoured Division, was as driver and interpreter to his Commanding Officer, Major Bond.

Near the village of Borgerwald the Special Air Service men were ambushed resulting in their Commanding Officer and his driver being killed.

Blair Mayne took over and manned the guns on their jeep. With another officer driving they made several attacks up and down the road firing the guns until he was able to rescue the wounded and recover the dead. Blair's actions resulted in a German retreat!

For his amazing courage Irishman Blair Mayne was recommended for a Victoria Cross by Field Marshall Montgomery, the highest military honour, however, mainly because of his unpopularity amongst some senior officers, he was only to receive a 3rd Bar to his Distinguished Service Order.

He had first seen action in June 1941 as a lieutenant with 11 Commando, successfully leading his men during the Litani River operation in Lebanon against Vichy French Forces. His leadership on the raid had attracted the attention of Captain David Stirling who recruited him as one of the early members of the Special Air Service (SAS).

Mayne was at the time under arrest for hitting his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Charles Tasker Keyes, and his release from arrest was obtained only so that he could join the newly-formed SAS.

From November 1941 through to the end of 1942, Mayne participated in many night raids deep behind enemy lines in the deserts of Egypt and Libya, where the SAS wrought havoc by destroying many enemy aircraft on the ground. Mayne pioneered the use of military Jeeps to conduct surprise hit-and-run raids, particularly on enemy airfields. It was claimed that he had personally destroyed up to 100 aircraft.

His first successful raid at Tamet on 14 December 1941, where aircraft and petrol dumps were destroyed, helped keep the SAS in existence, following the failure of the previous initial raid behind enemy lines.

The regular Army wanted to disband the SAS but the success helped keep the critics at bay.

For his part in the Tamet raid Mayne was awarded the DSO. In January 1944 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and appointed commanding officer of the re-formed 1st SAS Regiment.

He subsequently led the SAS with great distinction through the final campaigns of the war in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Norway, often campaigning alongside local resistance fighters including the French Maquis. In recognition of his leadership and personal disregard for danger while in France, in which he trained and worked closely with the French Resistance, Mayne received the second bar to his DSO.

Jack Blandford SAS


An extract from Jack’s personal written account of Operation Howard, April 1945. … with particular reference to  Major ‘Dickie’ Bond who was O.C. …


On 6th April we were on the way back to Germany for the big push to Oldenburg.  Our jeeps had all been serviced and modified with extra fittings to carry our kit.

We were well back into Germany by the 10th April with ‘C’ Squadron and ‘B’ Troop of ‘B’ Squadron operating together, under the command of Major D. Bond. 

We formed into column and set off. 

Within the first hour, the leading 3 jeeps carrying,, and 6 others were fired on by German snipers from the front windows of a detached house. was badly wounded in the legs and all occupants of the 3 jeeps baled out into a dyke on the left hand side of the road. 

A message was passed down to the O.C. Major Bond, who walked up the road with his driver (Pte Mikheil Levinsohn), a Czech-Jew who spoke 5 languages.  They crawled into the dyke and both lifted their heads to weigh up the situation.  Both were killed – shot in the forehead by a sniper. I was in the 4th jeep, front gunner with driving. (It is custom with the SAS not to name their active personel.)


Both Major Bond and Pte Mikheil Lewinsohn are buried in Sage Cemetery.


Halifax W1104 of 76 Squadron 4th June 1942



Pieter and I were also taking pictures of the Sage graves 5.D.3 and 7.E.8; as written down on our page 1  in the Friesland crashes list, these are the graves of Sgt. J. Battersby and

American, Pilot Officer R.S. Mulhauser

Their plane, Handley Page Halifax W1104, MP-"F", of No. 76 Sqdn., was going down into the North Sea, S.E. of Vlieland Island (Holland), 4th of June 1942, during a raid on (Hansestadt) Bremen / N.W. Germany, resulting in the burials later in the graves 41 + 42 in Oost-Vlieland's churchyard; respectively Sgt. F.E. Ormerod and Sgt. J.H. Harte. 

Both Pilot Officer Philp and Sg Willie Watson have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.



Crew - 


P/O. John Adams Philp - 105196 - RAF(VR) - age 21 - son of Leslie Alexander Philp & Violet Evelyn Philp, of Clifton, Bristol - MIA / Runnymede Memorial - panel 71  

Sgt. Frank Edwin Ormerod - 1057349 - RAF(VR) - age 30 - son of Joseph Wingate Ormerod & Lilian Ormerod; husband of Edith Mary Ormerod, of Prestwich, Lancs (UK) - KIA - (Oost-)Vlieland - grave 41  

P/O. Robert Samuel Mulhauser - J/15671 - RCAF - age 24 - son of Maj. Samuel Alfred Mulhauser & Helen Baerd Mulhauser, of Huntington Woods, Michigan (USA) - Sage War Cemetery -grave 7.E.8       *  previously buried Borkum july 23rd 1942

Sgt. James Henry Harte - 1358088 - RAF(VR) - age 20 - son of Lotty Harte; grandson of Mrs. L. Harte, of Portrush, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland - KIA - (Oost-)Vlieland - grave 42  

Sgt. John Battersby - 971129 - RAF(VR) - age 29 - son of Samuel & Helena Battersby; husband of Alice Battersby, of Thornton, Braford, Yorkshire (UK) - KIA - Sage War Cemetery -grave 5.D.3  

Sgt. Willie Watson - 1078071 - RAF(VR) - age 21 - son of Joseph & Lily Watson, of Dewsbury, Yorkshire - MIA / Runnymede Memorial - panel 96

Norwegian Spitfire Pilot Sgt Jens Eilif Holwech
Willem noticed this Norwegian grave because of the striking colour of its stone. It belongs to 24 year old 331 Squadron Spitfire pilot Sgt Jens Eilif Holwech, who flew with 331 Squadron of the RAF. On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, during an armed reconnaissance, he was killed when his Spitfire IX - PL393 "F" was hit by flak and crashed at Rodenkirchen. The pilot was found in the cockpit of his aircraft.
The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) was established by a Royal decree on 1 November 1944, thereby merging the Army and Navy air forces. No. 331 (Norwegian) Squadron defended London from 1941 and was the highest scoring fighter squadron in South England during the war.


331 Squadron was formed on 21 July 1941 around a core of Norwegian personnel. It was initially equipped with Hurricanes, and these were used when the squadron began to fly defensive patrols from northern Scotland. After two months Spitfires arrived, and these were used in Scotland before in May 1942 the squadron moved south. 

On 6 May it took part in its first offensive sweep across France, and the squadron remained on offensive duties for the rest of the war, normally working alongside 332 (Norwegian) Squadron. Both 331 and 332 squadrons took part in the Dieppe raid in August 1942. In November 1943, 331 and 332 Sqdns were transferred to the 2nd Tactical Air Force and became known as No. 132 Wing.

Following fighter bomber and tactical air superiority operations, connected to preparations for D-Day and the actual landings in France, the squadron moved to Caen, Normandy in August 1944. From September onwards, 132 Wing participated in the Liberation of Holland and provided air support for the crossing of the Rhine.  

Up until 8 May 1945, 335 persons lost their lives while taking part in the efforts of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

Following fighter bomber and tactical air superiority operations, connected to preparations for D-Day and the actual landings in France, 331 Squadron moved to Caen, Normandy in August 1944. From September onwards, 132 Wing participated in the Liberation of Holland and provided air support for the crossing of the Rhine.  

Up until 8 May 1945, 335 persons lost their lives while taking part in the efforts of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

A very unlucky Spitfire

Sgt. Holwech flew a Spitfire Mk IX LF, Serial PL 393,build by Vickers-Armstrong at Castle Bromwich. Delivery to 331 Squadron on 3 August 1944.

On 3 November 1944, Sgt TB Abrahamsen flew a cover patrol (ground troops support).

Following fighter bomber and tactical air superiority operations, connected to preparations for D-Day and the actual landings in France, 331 Squadron moved to Caen, Normandy in August 1944. From September onwards, 132 Wing participated in the Liberation of Holland and provided air support for the crossing of the Rhine.  

Up until 8 May 1945, 335 persons lost their lives while taking part in the efforts of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

He was hit by ground-fire and killed. His aircraft code was FN-P. The Spitfire was first declared as Cat E (written off) but then repaired and sent back to 331 Squadron on 25 January 1945. The new code of the Spitfire was now FN-F and Sgt Holwech was hit by Flak on 12 April 1945. Two pilots died in this Spitfire!! (from Olaf Timmermann)

Sgt T B Abrahamsen was a Norwegian pilot from 331 Squadron and crashed near De Hout on 3rd of November 1944.


Halifax II DT567 MH-F of 51 Squadron lost on 7/8th March 1943

Take off 1826 from RAF Snaith to lay mines off the Frisians. Presumed lost over the sea.

F/O Holmes and Sgt Tombe are buried in Sage War Cemetery, Sgt McAleese at Kiel in Germany, while Sgt Ramshaw's grave is on the island of Ameland in Nes , General Cemetery. The three other crew members are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The Leeuwarden Courant, November 9, 1998, reported that 77-year-old Bartle Hoekstra, who was keeping up a 50 year tradition, again placed a wreath on the grave of Sgt John George Ramshaw at Ameland Cemetery on behalf of his family.

The crew were -

F/O Alan Lionel Holmes. Age 20. Son of Lionel Robert and Florence Emily Holmes, of Hampstead, London. Buried at Sage

Sgt Arthur Regent Harding. Age 20. Flight Engineer. Son of Albert Samuel and Bertha Grace Harding, of Lewisham, London. Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt John George Ramshaw.  Navigator. Son of John George and Edith Amelia Ramshaw, of Willington, Co. Durham. Buried Ameland.

P/O Jack Eric Ulrich. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

F/Sgt Robert Edwin Dormon Age 21. Son of Albert Edward and Doris May Dormon; husband of Lilian Anne Dormon, of Holloway, London. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt Patrick McAleese. Air Gunner. Buried at Kiel cemetery in Germany.

Sgt George Tombe. Air Gunner. Buried at Sage.  The graves of F/O Holmes and Sgt Tombe at Sage, Sgt Ramshaw at Ameland and Sgt McAleese at Kiel in Germany.


                  The graves of F/O Holmes and Sgt Tombe at Sage, Sgt Ramshaw at Ameland and Sgt McAleese at Kiel in Germany.

Wellington III X3760 from 75 (NZ) Squadron


On 4 April 1940, The New Zealand Squadron was renamed 75 Squadron with the letters (NZ) being added in brackets after the number. This was the first Commonwealth squadron to be so created in the Second World War. Although often referred to, then and since, as an RNZAF unit, 75 Squadron was equipped and controlled by the RAF until VJ Day.

75 (NZ) Sqn joined No. 3 Group and was based initially at RAF Feltwell, then RAF Mildenhall, RAF Newmarket and RAF Mepal in Cambridgeshire. It saw action over France, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Germany.


Wellington X3760 took off from RAF Feltwell on the night of the 20th of June 1942. The target was Emden. The aircraft is believed to have been shot down by a German night-fighter piloted by Oblt. Egmont Prinz zur Lippe Weissenfeld between 01.43 am and 01.56 and crashed into the sea west of Ameland. 

Crew -

F/O Allen Armistice A Fraser (age 23) from Christchurch, New Zealand. Pilot. Buried Schiermonnikoog.

F/O Wallace Edward Buckley (age 28) from Auckland, New Zealand. Wife Doreen living Streatham Park, London. Observer. Buried at Sage Cemetery.

F/Sgt Arthur Stafford Christie  (age 21) from Palmerston North, New Zealand. Air Gunner. Buried Schiermonnikoog.

P/O Raymond Wickliffe Trengrove (age 20) From Dunedin, Otago, NZ. Air Gunner. Buried at Sage Cemetery.

Sgt Clifton Robert Brailey RNZAF 23 Son of James Frederick and Gwendoline Elizabeth Brailey, of Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. No known grave. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. 



The graves of Pilot Officer Raymond Trengrove and Pilot Officer W Buckley at Sage and those of crew-mates Flying Officer Allen Fraser and F/Sgt Christie at Schiermonnikoog



The Austrian Prince and 75 (NZ) Squadron


Egmont Prince zur Lippe-Weißenfeld (14 July 1918 – 22 March 1944) was a Luftwaffe night fighter flying ace of aristocratic descent. He was credited with 51 aerial victories, all of them claimed on night-time missions.

He was born on 14 July 1918 in Salzburg, Austria and joined the infantry of the Austrian Bundesheer in 1936. He transferred to the emerging Luftwaffe, initially serving as a reconnaissance pilot in the Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76), before he transferred to the night fighter force. He claimed his first aerial victory on the night of 16 to 17 November 1940. 

By the end of March, he had accumulated 21 aerial victories for which he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 16 April 1942. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) on 2 August 1943, for 45 aerial victories. He was promoted to Major and tasked with leading Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 (NJG 5) in January 1944. He and his crew were killed in a flight accident on 12 March 1944.


As well as the incident described in the section above there was another occasion when he came into contact with 75 (NZ) Squadron. It was on the 23rd June 1943. 

Stirling EF399 took off at 23.37 hrs on 22nd June 1943 from R.A.F. Newmarket in Suffolk to bomb the German city of Mülheim It was joining a bomber force made up with 242 Lancasters, 155 Halifaxes, 93 Stirlings, 55 Wellingtons and 12 Mosquitoes - 557 aircraft in total.

The city was seriously damaged, the bombing had cut all communications with Oberhausen, which Mülheim was linked for air-raid purposes. No one could get through, not even cyclists, the only possible way in which they could communicate was with foot messengers. The total damage was reported as 578 people killed on the ground, 1,174 injured. 1,135 houses were destroyed with a further 12,637 damaged. Various other buildings were hit including 41 public buildings, 27 schools, 17 churches and 6 hospitals. It has been reported that 64% of the town was destroyed.

Stirling EF399 was thought to have been hit by flak and then intercepted whilst the pilot was trying to return back to England. They reported at 02.25 hrs that they had been badly damaged, then at 02.47 hrs they were attacked at 4,300 mtrs by Hptm. Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld 2 km. south of Markelo. All the crew were subsequently killed in either the crash that followed or in trying to escape from the aircraft.

75 Squadron were particularly hard hit on this operation, losing some 4 aircraft with crews, the others being: Stirling III BK810 AA-G, flown by P/O. Francis M. McKenzie, killed with one other crew member, 5 being made p.o.w.'s.. Stirling III EF408 AA-P, flown by Fl/Sgt. Benjamin B. Wood killed with all other six crew. Stirling III EH889 AA-Z, flown by Fl/Lt. Thomas F. McCrorie R.A.F.V.R. killed with all other six crew.  






(1) Nose-art on the side of a Vickers Wellington of  75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF at Feltwell, Norfolk, depicting an 'RAF' soda-syphon spraying bombs.  (2) Vickers Wellington Mark IAs and ICs of 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF based at Feltwell, Norfolk, flying in loose formation over the East Anglian countryside.  The leading aircraft in the formation, P9206 'AA-A', was usually flown by the Squadron's Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader C E Kay.


Two Wellingtons from 75 Squadron lost on September 4th 1942.

Wellington X3396 from New Zealand's 75 Squadron took off from RAF Station Mildenhall at 23.28 hours on the 3rd September as one of six of the squadron's aircraft detailed to bomb the northern German town of Emden.

On the outward journey the weather was bad, with heavy cloud all the way. Over the town of Emden the returning crews later reported that the flak was light and there were few searchlights. Of the six Wellingtons setting out, two failed to reach the target, and two were brought down by Luftwaffe night-fighters.

The two aircraft successfully completing the mission touched down at base at 03.05 and 03.20.



The crew of Wellington X3794, piloted by RAF Sergeant Eric Richmond Hunting, were on their second operation together. His aircraft was attacked on the return journey to base by Lt. Wolfgang Kuthe of 6/NJG2 and came down in the North Sea, 8 km NW of Callantsoog, at 02.49hrs.

Only the body of the rear gunner, RAF Sgt William Anderson, was recovered, washed ashore on 16th September 1942. He is buried at Bergen op Zoom war cemetery in the Netherlands. His crewmates have no known grave and are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

Earlier, on September 7th 1942 at about 3pm, the body of an RAF airman was washed ashore in the Callantsoog area. An ID check was unsuccessful and he was buried at Huisduinen graveyard as an 'Unknown' on September 9th.

He was, like Sgt. Anderson, buried after the War at Bergen-op Zoom. It is a high possibility that he was one of the crew of Wellington X3794. His grave is now next to that of Sgt. Anderson.

The crew were -

Sgt. Eric Richmond Hunting, RAFVR 1291752 – Pilot. 21 year old son of Charles William Hunting and Ellen Elizabeth Hunting (nee Webb) of Upminster, Essex

Sgt. Edwin Harry Beyer, RAFVR 657044 – Observer. Age:25. Son of Edwin and Ruth Madeline Beyer, of Teddington, Middlesex.

Sgt. Harry Edward Goldie, RAFVR 1187044 – Wireless Operator. Age:21.  Son of Edward James Goldie and Ivy Alice Goldie, of Chichester, Sussex.

Sgt. Glenville McArter, RCAF R.87459 – Front Gunner. Age:29. Son of William Alexander McArter and Annie Ida McArter, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Husband of Frances McArter (nee Salzwadel), of Saskatoon. (Trained as pilot and observer)

Sgt. William Anderson, RAFVR 650736 – Rear Gunner. Age:20. Son of William Edwin Anderson, and of Louisa Anderson, of Litherland, Liverpool. Body washed ashore on 16th September 1942. Originally buried at Huisduinen Military Cemetery, Den Helder, then in Plot 34, Row B, Grave 8 at Bergen-Op-Zoom.

About 'Leutnant', later 'Oberleutnant' Wolfgang Kuthe. He crashed at 'Fliegerhorst' Leeuwarden, in April 1943, with his night-fighter. He got the 'privilege' to find a decent grave later - which most of the Wellington X3794 crew couldn't - first in the 'Ehrenfriedhof', of the Luftwaffe etc., in Leeuwarden city (at the Northern General Cemetery), but today in the 'Soldaten Friedhof' of Ysselsteyn (Prov. of Zuid-Limburg)       Willem


Wellington X3396, its crew on their first overseas operation with 75 Squadron, was piloted by RAF Sergeant James Law. It was also on the way back to base when brought down by Oblt. Paul Gildner of 5NJG2. It crashed near Westermarsch (southwest of Norden) at 0220 hours.

The event was witnessed and recorded at 02.21 by Uhr: 10. / MFlaA . 236 'Pogum' (which is the local Flak unit No.236, the 10th Battery of that unit, named Pogum) 'meldet abstürzt im Westermarsch (Utlandshörn)'. That means that they saw and confirmed the crash of Wellington X3396, in the direction of Westermarsch/Utlandshörn.

All the crew were lost and are buried at Sage War Cemetery.

Sgt. Law's recently formed crew had only arrived from 23 OTU around the 20th August 1942.

As was the custom, after a few training flights, he flew as 2nd pilot with an experienced crew on his first mission with the squadron to Saarbrucken, Germany on 1st September 1942.

Sgt. Newman was also on that operation. He was flying as front gunner with RNZAF Sergeant Blincoe's crew in Wellington BJ790. Squadron orders record that they were attacked by a Junkers JU88 but it broke off after a burst of fire at very close range from the front gunner. (Pilot Officer Kenneth Howard Blincoe DFC from Nelson, New Zealand, was flying a Stirling for 75 Squadron on February 3rd 1943 when shot down by a night-fighter and then crashed 8km NNE of Tiel, Holland. All his crew were lost and are buried at Amersfoort.)

Sergeant  Law and his crew had an early start on September 3rd. At 3.45am they were on a training flight in X3396 in order to familiarise themselves with the GEE radio controlled navigation system. The crew would then probably not have had an excessive period of sleep before attending the briefings leading up to their take-off on the Emden raid at 11.28pm that night.



Oberleutnant und Jagdfliegerass Paul Gildner (1914-1943) flew on 160 missions and shot down 48 Allied aircraft. After eleven victories he had received the Knight’s Cross. He became a Lieutenant on 01-08-1941 and Oberlieutenant on 01-04-1942. He earned his two Iron Crosses after the Western invasion, and then the Battle of Britain.

On 24 February 1943, Gildner, at the age of 29, crashed due to engine failure over Gilzen Rijen in Holland and was killed. On 26 February 1943, he was awarded posthumously, the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross.

He is buried at the German war cemetery of Ysselsteyn, in the Netherlands.




The crew of Wellington X3396 were-

RAF Sergeant James Law  - Pilot

RNZAF Sergeant Horace Llewellyn Grant - Observer

RNZAF Sergeant Rupert Ernest Renton - Wireless Operator

RNZAF Sergeant John Trevor Vivian Gill - Rear Gunner

RNZAF Sergeant Richard Alfred William Newman - Front Gunner/ Air Bomber


Sgt. James Law Sgt. Horace Grant Sgt. Rupert Renton Sgt. Richard Newman


The pilot, Sergeant James Law, was the son of William Law (1876-1927) and Millicent Hargreaves (1879-1960), who were married at Preston, Lancashire in 1905.

William, who was employed as a shop-worker with the Co-op, had five children, Hilda (1905), Herbert (1906), Fred (1907), Eva (1918-22) and James (1921). The family lived at 53 Linnet Street, Deepdale, Preston.

James enlisted in the RAF on the 18th June 1940 at RAF Padgate, Warrington.

After basic training with No 5 Initial Training Wing, based at Torquay in Devon, he was recommended for pilot instruction and posted to one of the training units in Canada. 

After completing pilot training and being awarded his stripes and wings, he was posted back to the UK for further training at No 12 Service Flying Training School, Grantham, followed by operational aircrew instruction at No 11 and No 23 Operational Training Units. He and his new crew arrived at 75 Squadron in late August 1942. Their first training flight at RAF Mildenhall was on August 26th when they practiced night circuits. Our photo shows  53 Linnet Street, Preston, today.


The observer, RNZAF Sergeant Horace Llewellyn Grant, was the son of Leonard Llewellyn Grant (1889-1965), and Constance Cowan (1894-1966) who were married in 1912.

The couple, who lived at Christchurch, New Zealand, had three children, Irene Gertrude Lloyd Grant (bn 1913), George Benjamin Grant (bn 1915), and Horace Llewellyn Grant (bn 1914).

Leonard served overseas with the NZ army in World War 1 and was wounded in June 1916. It is not clear how much that affected their marriage, but the couple ended it when Constance sued for separation, maintenance, and guardianship of the children, in February 1919.

Leonard remarried in 1923 but Constance remained single until her death in 1966.

Horace Grant was educated at Aranui, Linwood, Spreydon, Shirley, and Addington Technical High School.

As a teenager his main interests were cycling and amateur boxing. He became a member of the Christchurch Sports Club, and the Papanui Cycling Club.

In later years  Horace was manager of the New Zealand 1938 Cycling Team when they took part in the British Empire Games at Sydney in 1938.

A baker by trade, he enlisted in the RNZAF in December 1940. Following initial training in New Zealand, he was posted to Number 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, at MacDonald , Manitoba.

After being awarded his observer's qualifications and sergeant's stripes, he arrived in the UK in January 1942.

Courses followed at No. 2 Observers Advanced Flying Unit, 11 Operational Training Unit, and 23 Operational Training Unit, where Horace joined Sgt. Law's crew, and posted to 75 Squadron in August 1942.

His body was first interred in the Luftwaffe cemetery at Wittmund in Ostfriesland, N.W Germany, but reburied in April 1947 at Sage War Cemetery (grave III.B.4).

His younger brother, Private George Benjamin Grant, who was employed as a forestry worker and living at Nelson in 1940, joined the NZ Army and served with the 23rd Infantry Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment.

Posted overseas to Europe, in June 1941 George was wounded, and one of the 2180 New Zealand soldiers captured when the Germans invaded Crete. He was imprisoned in Stalag VIII-B (later 344), at Lamsdorf, Germany, until May 1945.

He died in 1978.

His sister, Irene Gertrude Lloyd Grant, was living with her mother at 17 Park Street, Wellington, when she joined the WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) in May 1943, and served, for the remainder of the hostilities, overseas as a nurse.

After the war she married an army officer, Lt. Edwin (Ned) John Stembridge, and settled at Franklin, Auckland.

Irene died in February 2011 and is buried at Pukekohe, Auckland.


The wireless operator/gunner Sergeant Rupert Ernest Renton, born in 1919, was the third son of Alexander Cameron Renton (1885-1966) and Adeline Jane Broadwood (1891-1982) from Mount Eden, Auckland, who were married in the Presbyterian Church, Hamilton East, on May 31st 1912.

Adeline was the daughter of Welsh migrant Phillip Broadwood (1861-1945), who had arrived in New Zealand on the Michael Angelo in 1875, and Guernsey born Eliza Baker(1856-1945). The couple were married at Auckland in 1885.

Alexander and Adeline Renton appear to have raised nine children, from whom five sons and a daughter are reported to have served in the NZ forces during World War Two.

We know little about Rupert Renton's life before he enlisted in the RNZAF.

In the 1930s he and his brothers were keen yachtsmen and members of the Manukau Cruising Club. Over that decade they were very successful competitors with their 16ft yacht Sirona.

Locals recall that it was kept in a shed at Wattle Bay. Our news clipping relates that all the crew enlisted in the armed services in July 1940.



Rupert did carry out the bulk of his gunnery and radio training in Canada and, after receiving his wings and stripes, was posted to the UK in January 1942. He would have then attended more gunnery and signals instruction before arriving for aircrew training at 23 OTU where he joined Sgt. Law's crew.



NZ42155 Corporal Stan Renton (1921-1992) was his youngest brother. Also a keen yachtsman, he sailed with his two brothers to win many Championships & trophies.

Stan enlisted to be a ground crew wireless technician at RNZAF Trentham in January 1942. 

Following initial and technical training he joined the ground crew of 15th Fighter Squadron and was with them when they sailed from Wellington on the United States Naval Transport 'President Jackson' on 23rd October, 1942, arriving at Tonga 4 days later.

Once ashore the squadron took over the twenty-three P-40 Kittyhawks and their associated equipment from the 68th Pursuit Squadron USAAF stationed at Fuamotu airfield. The aircraft had been left in poor condition with neglected engines and airframes, unserviced electrics, and corroded gun barrels. That meant a lot of work from the ground crews to make them airworthy.

In February 1943 the squadron was moved to Espiritu Santo, where it operated in an air defence role. It was also used as a reserve for the fighter squadrons on Guadalcanal. That month Stan was posted to RNZAF Wigram, based at Christchurch NZ, where he was employed as a wireless instructor until 1945.

He died in 1992 and is buried at Hamilton Park Cemetery, Newstead, Hamilton.

His brother, 239727 Driver Charles Alexander Renton (b1914), served with the NZ Army Service Corps attached to the 3rd Division, and both Arthur (Carl) Charles Carlton Renton (1912-2012) and Noel George Renton (b1922) are also believed to have served with the NZ army.


Sergeant John Trevor Vivian Gill, the rear gunner, was the 27 year old son of wealthy farmer Thomas Richard Willoughby Gill (1865-1926), and Edith Stephens (1872-1952) who were married in 1891. The couple had two sons and three daughters.

One daughter Edith, (bn 1893), married Dr. Alexander McGregor Grant (bn 1888) in July 1918.

Born to a prominent family in Victoria, Australia, and from 1911 a resident medical officer at Auckland Hospital, he served in the New Zealand Medical Corps in World War 1 attached to the 3rd N.Z Field Ambulance in France and Egypt.

After the war he went into private practice and the couple lived at Remuera Road in Auckland. From the 1920s he was prominent as a race-horse owner and with the administration of that sport.

Alex was awarded the CBE in 1963 for his services to medicine and racing.

In April 1917, Thomas and Edith's second daughter, Vera Ellen Gill (1895-1982), married soldier Clarence Ford Hartland (1888-1963) who was a trooper in the Auckland Mounted Rifles during World War 1 but was accidently wounded in Egypt in 1915 and repatriated to New Zealand. His younger brother, 28 year old Pte John Leslie Hartland of the Auckland Regiment, was killed at the Somme in March 1918.

Their father, John Ford Hartland, was secretary of the Auckland Racing Club until his death in 1918.

The couple were married at St. Aiden's church, where Vera was a member of the choir.

After the war Clarence was employed as a stock agent and settled with his new wife at Hawkes Bay, Waipana.

He was also involved in New Zealand horse racing, later becoming a steward for South Island. Their daughter Peggy was a well-known horsewoman, competing in local events and shows.

A third daughter of Thomas and Edith, Catherine Emma (Emmy) Gill, was born in 1899. She married Jack Benson from Napier in 1924.

Angelo William Thomas Gill was born in 1896. Before the First World War he was a farmer, employed by his father. Captain of the Otahuhu Football Club, he also won several medals for shooting.

Angelo enlisted in the Auckland Infantry in August 1916. He is believed to have been wounded at the battle of Messines, in France, but died from his injuries on June 7th 1917. His name is remembered on the memorial at St. Aiden's Church, Remuera, the Howick and Pakuranga War Memorial, and on his parents gravestone.


Angelo W T Gill Clarence Ford Hartland Dr. Alexander McGregor Grant


John Trevor Vivian Gill, was born in 1915, 19 years after his brother. His mother was 43, and his father, who died in 1926, was 50.

He attended King's College at Auckland from 1929 to 1931 and was a member of their rugby and cricket teams. The electoral rolls then record his occupation as 'farmer'.

We know nothing of his service history but would assume that he, like his gunner crewmate, was trained in Canada, and joined Sgt. Law's crew in the UK at 23 OTU.

Trevor's name is also remembered on the Howick and Pakuranga War Memorial, the memorial at St. Aiden's Church, Remuera, and with his brother, on their parent's gravestone.

The bottom section of the memorial at St. Aiden's Church, Remuera


The front gunner/air bomber was 24 year old RNZAF Sgt. Richard Alfred William Newman. He was born in November 1917 the son of Alfred Newman (1883-1967) and Ada Emery (1883-1922) who were married at Leicester, UK, in 1905.

The couple, with their daughter Ada (bn1907), migrated to New Zealand, arriving 13th February 1911 on the RMS Tongariro. They were joining Richard's parents Richard and Sarah, and their two youngest children Rosa Della (bn 1895) and Richard (bn 1896), who had settled at Brooklyn, Wellington in 1910.

By the time of the arrival, on the Mamari in 1912, of Thomas Henry Newman, his wife Florence, and children Florence and Frank, all of Richard's family were in New Zealand.

Richard Alfred Newman had two sisters, Ada Edmonds (1907), and Vera Chapman (1912), and one younger brother, Edward Harry (Ted) Newman (1918-1950).

His mother died when Richard was about 5 and he was brought up by his older sister, Ada.

A keen hockey and tennis player, he was educated at Hutt Valley High School, and later attended Wellington Technical College where he studied commercial art.

After leaving school  he worked as a window dresser at the DIC, then a big departmental store in Wellington.

His younger brother Edward (Ted) was also in the RNZAF but at present we know nothing of his service record.

Forever a 24 year old, RNZAF 405309 Sergeant Richard Alfred William Newman is buried with his crewmates at Sage War Cemetery, Grave 3.A.1


Colin Holloway 9th October 2016.  I have just returned from visiting the RNZAF archives at the Airforce Museum at Wigram, Christchurch.

They have provided me with further photos of Richard and I spent some time looking at some of the records they hold. Specifically I looked at the 75th squadron’s operational diaries.

They also provided a short biography of Richard that they held and extracts form Errol Martyn’s book “Towards Your Tomorrow”.

The biography states that Richard flew one raid to Dusseldorf some time prior to joining the 75th on 20 August 1942.

This raid, it seems to me, could have been on either 31 July or 15 August. It seems likely to have been the 31 July raid as 105 OTU aircraft were noted as having participated.

This brings to 3 the operational flights that Richard participated in.


His RNZAF record -

Enlisted RNZAF Levin as pilot under training 22 December 1940.

Posted to No.1 Elementary Flight Training School  8 February 1941. Pilot training  terminated early March 1941.

Remustered as Air Observer under training 7 March, and returned to Initial Training Wing, 14 April.

Embarked for Canada aircrew training camps under Empire Air Training Scheme on 18 June 1941.

To No.6 Air Observers School 6 July, and to 3Bombing and Gunnery School on 28 September.

Passed out with Air Observers  Badge & Sgt's stripes 8 November 1941.

Then to the Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba, where he received his Air Bomber's badge on December 22nd.

Embarked for UK 8 January 1942.

Arrived 3PRC - RAF Bournemouth (reception camp) 30th January 1942.

To No.2 Observers Flying Unit on 21 March. (For further observer training.)

28 April to 11 Operational Training Unit (Joined new crew and received Wellington aircrew training)

5 July to 23 OTU at Pershore, Worcestershire. One overseas operation in a Wellington as bomb aimer).   Remustered as Air Navigator(B) 23 July.

Arrived 75 (NZ) Squadron 20 Aug 1942    (Wellington - 1 op)



The DIC (Drapery Importing Company) building where Richard Newman worked as a window dresser


Ohiro Street, Brooklyn, where Richard Newman senior's family were living in 1911


Alfred's brother, Richard Newman jnr, who was born at Leicester in 1896, had arrived in New Zealand in 1910. He was employed by the Post & Telegraph Department at Wellington, and was also a member of their Army Corps for six years.

During World War 1 he enlisted in E Company of the 17th Rifles, part of the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade, in May 1916.

One of Dick’s brothers, Sidney Newman (1889-1974), who married Lily Browning (1889-1952) at Wellington in 1915, also enlisted in 1916, but was deemed not fit for active service overseas after suffering an accident while in training.

After the war he served as a guard at the internment camp on Somes Island in Wellington Harbour, and then joined the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in 1919 as a skilled mechanic.

After training at Featherston Camp, Richard Newman was sent to England aboard the “Devon” which arrived at Devonport on 21 November 1916.

Battle training at Sling Camp on Salisbury Plain followed before his posting to Etables in France on January 9th. There he joined 'B' Company of the 1st Battalion 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade.  

On 16 June, he was wounded (probably in the area of Messines) and admitted to the Field Ambulance with gunshot wounds to his right shoulder.

By 30 July 1917 he had recovered sufficiently to be assigned to the General Base Depot (GBD) where he stayed until 29 September 1917. It became clear that Dick was no longer fit enough for service on the front line, and he was assigned to the Divisional Employment Company who maintained the laundries, baths, cinemas, entertainment, and carried out basic housekeeping within the division.

Early in May 1918 the NZ Division occupied the Front based east of Hebuterne. Their divisional headquarters were at Colincamps, south west of Hebuterne.

On 17 May 1918 Dick was seriously wounded, apparently by a bomb, treated by No.3 NZ Field Ambulance, and then transferred to No.3 Canadian Stationary Hospital in Doullens. He died on 18 May 1918, aged just 22, and was buried at the Doullens Communal Cemetery on the outskirts of the town.

Dick was entitled to the Memorial Plaque and Scroll and they were sent to his mother in 1921, and his service medals to his father in 1923.

 Acknowledging research supplied by Colin, mainly conducted by Ann Walker, with support and contributions from Linda and Colin Holloway, and Patricia and Brian Dungan. Linda and Patricia are granddaughters of Sidney Newman.




The crash of 300 Squadron's Wellington Z1215 BH-E in June 1942 with its Polish crew.

There are 22 Polish nationals buried at Sage

At 03.00 hours on 20th June 1942 300 Squadron's Wellington Z1215 was shot down by a German night-fighter 30 km northwest of the Dutch island of Vlieland and crashed into the North Sea. All six crew members were killed but only two bodies were washed ashore. The aircraft's observer - Eugeniusz Marian Lech was washed ashore on the Dutch coast and is buried at Terschelling General Cemetery on Terschelling Island. Czeslaw Dziekonski on the island of Borkum and is now buried at Sage Military Cemetery in Germany.





Pilot - 783148 Sgt Ludwik Michalski - born Langen 11th July 1912. Commemorated on Northolt memorial.


Observer - P1433 Flight Lt Eugeniusz Marian Lech. Born Rzeszów 10th January 1905.  Washed

ashore and buried at Terschelling Island.


P1664 Pilot Officer Stefan Jan Neulinger - Born Nadbrzezie w. Lwów 7th July 1917. Commemorated on Northolt memorial.

P0439 Flying Officer Antoni Kazimierz Syzskowski - Born Kraków 15th August 1900. Commemorated on Northolt memorial.

792219 Sergeant Stanislaus Wardynski - Born Gniezno 16th April 1915. Commemorated on Northolt memorial.

780037 Sergeant Czeslaw Dziekonski - Born Szczucin w. Warszawa 28th January 1912. Washed ashore Borkum and buried there. Reburied at Sage Military Cemetery in Germany.





The graves of F/Lt Lech and Sgt Dziekonski at Terschelling and Sage



The Polish War Memorial at Northolt UK                Polish War Graves in Holland





21 Squadron's Blenheim Mk.IV  V5822 - YH-"A" and V6338


At the start of the Second World War No.21 Squadron was a light bomber squadron equipped with newly arrived Blenheim IVs, a fighter-bomber with a crew of three. Like many bomber squadrons it had a quiet start to the war, but that ended in May 1940 with the German invasion of the Low Countries.  It took part in the costly attacks on the advancing Germany columns, before at the end of May moving to Lossiemouth, to join Coastal Command. The squadron spent most of the next two years operating as an anti-shipping unit, alternating between Lossiemouth and Watton between June and December 1941, before moving to Malta at the end of December 1941 to attack the vital Axis supply convoys attempting to get supplies to Rommel in North Africa.

The Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV - V5822 - YH-"A" was from 21 Squadron, " Viribus Vincimus " ( By strength we conquer) - No. 2 Group Bomber Command. On the 26th of April 1941, at 7.05am, it was one of six aircraft, led by Wing Commander George Bartlett, that took off from RAF Bodney (Norfolk), a satellite of RAF Watton, as part of a force of 25 aircraft, for an anti-shipping strike North of the Dutch Frisian Islands ("Beat 8"). They were detailed to attack shipping and fringe targets between Schiermonnikoog and Vlieland.

Hit by Marine-Flak from one of the defending German ships V5822 crashed into the North Sea, N.W. of Ameland. Only one body was recovered. Sgt Eric Phillips Acton is buried at Sage.

Sgt. Eric Phillips Acton - RAF - 638744 - W.Op./A.G. - washed ashore later or brought into Germany by ship (?) - nothing known via the CWGC about his next of kin . His two flying mates from the same aircraft, were missing in action and thus their names can be found on the Runnymede Memorial at Egham in Surrey (for airmen who have no known grave)  Sgt. Arthur Jordan - RAF(VR) - 754881 - Pilot (?) - MIA / Runnymede Memorial - panel 46   son of William and Alice Jordan, of Hull (UK)  Sgt. Cyril Francis Spouge - RAF- 742601 age 21 - Observer (?) - MIA / Runnymede Memorial - panel 52.  

Also hit by flak in the same attack,was Blenheim V6338 from the same squadron, piloted by their Commanding Officer, Wing Commander George Arthur Bartlett (DFC), with Flight Sergeant Peter Kershaw Eames (DFM) wireless operator/air-gunner, and Flying Officer Arthur Frederick Stapley Winder, the observer.
Wing Commander George Arthur Bartlett (DFC) was aged 30, the son of George and Amelia Bartlett, of Ealing in today's Greater London. He was born in 1911 at Lucknow, India, and married Barbara Corballis, daughter of retired Wing Commander Edward R. L Corballis, at Wokingham, Berkshire in 1937.
On 7th of March 1941 the experienced Wing Commander, who had served earlier with 82 Squadron, took command of 21 Squadron. Night raids continued under his expert guidance for the rest of March, and on 12/13th they attacked Bremen. During April he carried out four missions leading his squadron over enemy territory. He was awarded the DFC in April 1941 for his 'exceptional leadership, courage and determination' after carrying out an attack in a severely damaged aircraft while wounded.
His name is remembered on Ealing's Roll of Honour, and on the Ealing War Memorial located at Ealing Green.
30 year old Flying Officer Arthur Frederick Stapley Winder was the aircraft's Observer and flew regularly with W/C Bartlett.
His 1910 birth was registered at Stourbridge, a large town in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, in the West Midlands, where his father, James Frederick Edwin Winder, M.A, (1876-1951) was a school-master at the local Grammar School. James had married, Sheffield born Mary Barbara Stapley (1889-1946), at Stourbridge in 1908. They had two children. Their daughter, Jill Winder, was born at Southampton in 1926.
Arthur Winder received his RAF commission as an officer on 28th July 1940.
At the time their son was reported as 'missing in action' the retired couple were living in Southampton.
Arthur Winder has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial - panel 30.


Flight Sergeant Peter Kershaw Eames (DFM) – the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, was the 19 year old son of Charles and Nora Eames from Southbourne, a suburb of Bournemouth, in Dorset, who were married at Tendring, Essex, in 1912. They had two sons Kenneth 1913, and Peter 1921. Soon after the outbreak of World War 2, Kenneth enlisted in  the Royal Artillery and was serving with the 14th Army when the Battle of Ramree Island was fought during early 1945, a part of the British 14th Army offensive against the Japanese on the Southern Front of the Burma Campaign. He survived the war and was demobilised in late 1945.

His brother Peter was only 18 when he joined the RAF and in 1940 he was posted to 82 Squadron based at RAF Watton.

In May 1940 he became the wireless operator/gunner in Blenheim R3821 piloted by Pilot Officer Donald Wellings, with Sgt Don McFarlane as their navigator.

During that period, when the Germans were advancing into France and Holland, and the time of our evacuation from Dunkirk, 82 Squadron were kept busy harassing the enemy.


                                  Eight 82 Squadron Blenheims lined up at RAF Watton


On 7th August, 1940, his crew took part in a mission that was to earn them all a decoration.

I quote the navigator, Sgt. Don McFarlane, the only crew-member to survive the war. 'Our crew, in R3821, were one in a formation of 12 aircraft of 82 Squadron detailed to attack the aerodrome at Haamsteede, in Holland. Take-off was at 1725hrs, and we climbed, in formation, to 20,000ft, this being a new idea of our newish CO. As we crossed the North Sea, the weather became more and more murky, until it was almost like flying through milk. We noticed several aircraft break formation and dive out of sight, and wondered why. We pressed on and near ETA we dived to find the navigation was spot on and there was the Dutch coast, with the target not far ahead. None other of our formation was visible, and so we dropped our bombs on a group of Me 109’s outside a hangar. Not waiting to see the result as some of these little nasties were moving, we turned tail and shot off across the North Sea towards home!'

On 22 October 1940, Sgts  Eames and McFarlane were awarded the D.F.M., and Pilot Officer Wellings, the D.F.C..   Only Don McFarlane was to survive the war and was a Flight Lieutenant when he retired from the RAF in 1947. Squadron Leader Donald Maitland Wellings lost his life while piloting a 613 Squadron Mosquito in October 1944.


On the 13th August 1940, Peter's crew were scheduled to be part of a 12 aircraft raid over Aalborg in Denmark. Shortly before take-off, a clerk received a memo posting them to 13 OTU, RAF Bicester, as instructors. A standby crew, led by Canadian Pilot Officer Earl Hale, took their place in R3821.

It was a disastrous day for 82 Squadron. 12 Blenheim bombers left RAF Watton for Denmark. One returned early due to fuel problems. The remaining eleven aircraft continued towards Aalborg and its German Air Base. The Blenheims were spotted when passing Søndervig and where met by Bf 109s and flak over Aalborg. All the aircraft were shot down, 20 crewmembers was killed and 11 made POW. The wreck of R3821 was found in 1995 during construction work at Aalbor

See the video about that disastrous raid                See the loss of Blenheim R3821             More about 21 Squadron



In February 1941 Peter Eames had returned to RAF Watton. He was now serving with 21 Squadron and flying with Londoner, 30 year old Squadron Leader A H (Bill) Allen, and his observer, 29 year old Sgt H F Linley.

On 12/13th March they attacked Bremen. Flight Lieutenant H.D.H.Cooper DFC led seven crews on this raid and all claimed to have bombed the primary target despite massed searchlights and a very heavy flak barrage. Squadron Leader Allen's Blenheim, R3758, was coned by a group of searchlights that proved difficult to shake off and as he dived to escape their attentions the aircraft was struck by a burst of shrapnel. His airgunner, Sergeant P.K.Eames DFM, was wounded in the foot but all the aircraft returned safely.

In a letter home, Peter wrote, 'Big raid on Bremen on Wednesday night. Left foot collected a few splinters from a night fighters cannon shell and like an idiot took my boot and sock off in the air and got one toe slightly frost bitten; People at Watton made us small heroes for getting the aircraft back to England in a wrecked condition. -  Thurs 3 April 1941:- Foot almost completely recovered; The rotten blighters at the Hospital wouldn't let me keep the pieces - want 'em themselves I expect. There were 3 bits and they all went in the same 'ole. Most amazing. P.S. Lucky I stopped that packet, my pilot crashed a couple of days later, all three killed.'

While Peter was recuperating, his crewmates, Squadron Leader Bill Allen, and Sgt Henry Linley, had taken off from RAF Watton in R3636 at 02.40 hrs on the 18th of March with 6 other aircraft detailed to bomb Wilhelmshaven. Tragically their aircraft crashed and exploded only 25 minutes later, 1 mile west of Garboldisham, 6 miles east of Thetford in Norfolk. Peter's place in the gun-turret had been taken by 22 year old Sgt Albert Parsons.

Flight Sergeant Peter Eames DFM was to run out of luck on 26th April 1941...

Our gratitude to Julian Horn and his RAF Watton site for much of the above information, and to for publishing Peter's letters to his mother.



Wellington BJ658 from the Canadian 424 Squadron

One of the graves photographed, when Willem visited Sage with his son Pieter, was that of Canadian Flight Sergeant Harvey McKerr Duke (R106616).

He was the wireless operator on Wellington BJ658, QB-"Q" (for Queen), of 424 "Hamilton Tiger"- Squadron (RCAF), which crashed into the North Sea on the evening of 6th of February 1943 while on a mine-laying operation.

Bomber Command 6 Group (RCAF) daily operations record that on 6-7th February 1943 - 9 Halifaxes from 408 and 419 Squadron were joined by 28 Wellingtons from 420, 424, 425, 426, 427, and 428 Squadron on a mining operation. The crews were over the garden at between 700 and 1,000 feet, sowing fifty mines.

RCAF Pilot Officer Eddy Cox and his crew, flying Wellington III BJ-658 coded QB-Q, failed to return from this operation.   

On the next morning, four Wellingtons from 424 and 425 Squadrons were ordered on a sea search. Nothing was found and they all returned safely to base.

Willem and Pieter's attention had been drawn to the family photos left by an earlier visitor, who we later discovered was Mike Patterson, showing Harvey and his two sons.

It was my wife and I who put the pictures there 31 August 2011. Harvey’s son David, coincidentally, is a neighbour of mine. I told him that Lynn and I were going to visit the cemetery and he gave us the photos to take with us. We also placed flowers and poppies on the graves of Eddie Cox and Eddie Coates. Now, they say that Joseph's body was never found, but the possibility exists that he was found, but could not be identified, so we also placed flowers on the grave of an unknown airman, on the chance that it might be him.

I am a nephew of Joseph Moses Patterson, who was also on that ill fated flight on the night of 6/7 Feb 1943.   Mike

Harvey was the 24 year old son of an Irish born farmer, Robert James Duke, and Catherine Euphemia Bell, who were married at Victoria, British Columbia, in 1906.

At the time of his death he was already the father of two infant sons, Robert Harvey Duke (1941) and David McKerr Duke (1942).

Harvey was the youngest of four children and, on his enlistment form, recorded that his brother and two sisters were all teachers. Their father, Robert, died when Harvey was only nine years old.

Before enlisting in the RCAF, he was employed as a truck driver and garage worker, and among other sporting activities, played baseball for the Victoria Redwings.

From service records we know that in October 1940, Harvey had attended a 30 day N.P.A.M military training course with the 3rd Battalion Canadian Scottish Regiment, and later that year, on Christmas Day 1940, had married Lilias Christina Stevenson.

Most of his air force training from May 1941, as a wireless operator/gunner, was with No.3 Wireless School, based at Winnipeg.

His first son, Robert Harvey Duke, was born in September 1941.

Harvey passed out as a Technical Sergeant in May 1942, and after embarkation leave, was posted to the UK, arriving at 3 PRC RAF Bournemouth reception centre, on May 17th, and posted to No. 4 Signals School, at RAF Madley in Herefordshire, on June 5th.

Air crew trainees took a three months course of training with one of the OTUs (operational training units) before joining an operational squadron. A rooky pilot and crew invariably flew a clapped out Wellington, Whitley or Hampden twin-engined bomber, which was prone to all sorts of malfunctions after being discarded by operational squadrons.

During World War II, UK's OTUs suffered the loss of 1,619 aircraft, the majority of which were Wellingtons.

Harvey began his aircrew training on Course 25 at 22 OTU, based at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, around 4 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, on July 21st, and when completing the course had one military operation to his credit. In a letter sent to Joseph Patterson's mother after his death, Harvey's wife, Lilias, mentioned that he had been wounded during a raid on Dusseldorf.

On September 10/11th 1942, 479 aircraft - 242 Wellingtons, 89 Lancasters, 59 Halifaxes, 47 Stirlings, 28 Hampdens, 14 Whitleys, took part in a night-time raid on Düsseldorf in Germany.

All parts of Düsseldorf except the north of the city were hit as well as the neighbouring town of Neuss. 39 industrial firms in Düsseldorf and 13 in Neuss were damaged so much that all production ceased for various periods. 8 public buildings were destroyed and 67 damaged.

22 OTU based at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, and the other OTUs, supplied a number of Wellingtons and crews.

We have no record of which crew Harvey Duke flew with, but his wife does mention in a letter that he was wounded.

Of the 33 aircraft lost that night, 16 Wellingtons were from the training units, and mainly manned by inexperienced trainees. Two of those, Wellingtons R1616, and X9932, from 22 OTU, both with RCAF crews, were lost with no survivors.


Vertical Aerial reconnaissance photograph taken after the major night raid on Dusseldorf, Germany, by 479 aircraft of Bomber Command on 10/11 September 1942. This view shows the Deutsche Rohrenwerke factory in the Lierenfeld district, almost completely destroyed. © IWM (C 3130)

From 22 OTU, Harvey's first operational posting was to 420 Squadron on 24th September, and then to the newly formed 424 Squadron, at RAF Topcliffe, a month later. His second son, David, was born around this time.


RAF Topcliffe in June 1942 and today.


That squadron did not fly on its first overseas mission until 15 January 1943, and it appears that Harvey's first 'op' was on January 29th 1943 when he flew with Sgt Duffield's crew in Wellington III BJ-658, coded QB-Q, which was detailed to attack Lorient in north-western France.

The aircraft took off at 16:48 and proceeded as ordered. Our aircraft was at 13,000 feet, 147 mph on a course of 213 degrees when an unidentified aircraft was sighted at 20:00, approximately over the town of Pluiban, flying 600 yards above and to port. There was no moon and only slight patches of stars could be seen. Our aircraft was in thick patchy cloud about 8/10ths.
The enemy aircraft did a tight turn to port away from our aircraft and continued around to attack on the port quarter. Sgt C. Paddock RCAF, the rear gunner, opened fire at 600 yards and the enemy aircraft broke off and disappeared into the cloud. Later he appeared in his original position above the Wellington’s tail. He repeated the same manoeuver twice and broke off when the rear gunner opened fire. The enemy aircraft then approached on a similar attack but came in on the port beam. He came in to 250 yards where the rear gunner opened fire.
Strikes were observed by the rear gunner and Sgt Duke in the astrodome, on the nose of the aircraft. The enemy aircraft then broke off. The Wellington at this time was at the primary target and bombed from 13,000 feet.

The enemy aircraft was lost entering the flak. Five minutes later, after leaving the target, an aircraft was seen in a similar position to the first enemy aircraft over on the starboard quarter. The enemy aircraft made an identical attack on the starboard quarter and broke off when the rear gunner opened fire. He then climbed back to his original position where it was joined by another unidentified aircraft which remained there while the first commenced another attack breaking away as before.
The two aircraft were joined by a third, fourth and fifth aircraft at approximately the French coast. They flew together for a short distance, then two broke off and a third disappeared. The two remaining aircraft shadowed the Wellington, one breaking off at the English coast and the other proceeding and losing height with the Wellington.
At about 6 miles inland this enemy aircraft disappeared and was not seen again. The enemy aircraft did not open fire on any of their attacks on the Wellington. The rear gunner fired about 2,500 rounds from all guns without any stoppages. No claims were made.
The enemy aircraft were clearly seen by the Wellington crew who reported they were able to follow its course because of a peculiar whitish grey glow which completely enshrouded the whole aircraft. On opening fire on all attacks the rear gunner instructed the pilot to turn into the attack immediately. Heavy weaving was carried out from the French coast on the outward journey until after the English coast on the homeward journey.

Harvey's next, and final mission, was again in Wellington BJ 658, this time piloted by Sgt Eddie Cox. Take-off was at 1722 from RAF Topcliffe in North Yorkshire. Apparently nothing more was heard of BJ658 and it was presumed lost over the North Sea. It appears to have crashed near the German Fresian island of Norderney as the body of Eddie Coates was washed ashore there a few hours later.
Harvey's crewmates were - Pilot Officer Edmund Thomas Cox RCAF (25), Pilot Officer Joseph M Patterson RCAF (23), Sergeant Francis J Allen RAF (19), Sergeant Eddie Donald Coates RCAF (22), and Sergeant Alfred E Booth RAF (29).

The flying hours record before their last mission

The bodies of four of the crew were recovered. Three of those, Harvey Duke, Eddie Coates, and Edmund Cox are buried at Sage, and Alfred Booth in Becklingen War Cemetery.
Joe Patterson and 19 year old Francis Allen have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Harvey, whose body was recovered on May 25th 1943, is now buried at Sage Cemetery, near Oldenburg, Germany - (grave 5. D.2), and commemorated in the Book of Remembrance, at the Peace Tower of the Parliament Building in Ottawa.


The wireless operator, (RCAF) W/O. II Eddie Donald Coates  R/73428 was born at Salem, in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, on 20th September 1920, the youngest son of a farmer, Merton Emery Coates, and his wife Julia Coates (nee Tuttle) of nearby Brookdale. There were three older brothers, Ernest, Elvie, and Arthur, and one sister, Jean.

He attended Brookdale Public School, and was at Brookdale Junior High School between 1933 and 1936.

Eddie was employed as a clerk in his brother Ernest's grocery store when enlisting in the RCAF on 6th December 1940, and related that he intended to train as a book-keeper after the war.

His enlistment form indicated an interest in machinery and a wish to serve on ground-crew as a mechanic. He later appears to have had a change of heart and volunteered for aircrew as a wireless operator/air-gunner in mid 1941, and was posted to No.1 Wireless School at Montreal. 

Students in the "Wireless Air Gunner" stream spent 24 weeks at a Wireless School learning the theory and application of wireless communications. This included signalling with lights and flags as well as radio. Their "WAG" training was completed with 4 weeks at a Bombing & Gunnery School.

Eddy was awarded his wireless operator's badge on November 8th 1941, and after attending a course of gunnery training, which he completed on December 8th, he was granted embarkation leave, and then posted to the UK on January 8th, 1942. 

Arriving at 3 PRC reception camp, RAF Bournemouth, on 21st of January, he was later posted to the Signals School at No.14 Operational Training Unit, based at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland. 

After completing aircrew training, he arrived at the newly formed 424 Squadron on 30th October 1942. 

His first operational flight was on 4th February 1943, when he flew with Sgt. Eddy Cox's crew in Wellington DF 621 "O", on a mission to bomb Lorient in Northern France. He was taking the place of RCAF Sgt Amos Kimmerly, who was away on a course

His MIA message (‘missing overseas, believed killed on active service during air operations’) was published in ‘the Winnipeg Tribute’ of March 15, 1943. At that time he was still a Sergeant. His promotion to Warrant Officer was awarded posthumously. 

Eddy's body was washed ashore at Norderney on the day after the crash and was originally buried at Norderney Military Cemetery plot E, grave 22. He was later re-interred at Sage cemetery ( grave 3.F.9) 

The Cumberland County War Memorial


His name is commemorated in the Book of Remembrance (WW2) - page 147 (1943) at the Peace Tower in Ottawa (part of the Canadian Parliament Building), and on the Cumberland County War Memorial.

The family text at the bottom of his headstone reads: ‘Born at Amherst, Nova Scotia. Son of Merton and Julia Coates. In God we trust’


Lorient. On 14 January 1943, following the carnage of the merchant ships sunk in the Atlantic by the German submarine force, the British War Cabinet sent a clear directive to Air Marshall Harris of RAF Bomber Command, “A decision has been taken to submit the following bases to a maximum scale of attack at night with the object of effectively devastating the whole area in which are located the submarines, their maintenance facilities, and the services, power, water and light, communications, etc. and other resources upon which their operations depend”.

The first of the targets on the list was the Keroman Submarine Base at Lorient in Brittany, which was capable of sheltering thirty submarines under cover. 

The civilian population of the city, which had started to evacuate around mid-January, had already made its exodus. Out of the 46,000 inhabitants registered in 1939, by 1943 there only remained about 500 people living among the ruins.

One of many air raids was on the night of the 4th February, when 120 planes released 90.6 tons of bombs and 63,376 incendiaries, on the port and city.

During 1943–1944, Lorient was nearly razed to the ground by Allied bombing. Unfortunately they failed to destroy the submarine pens. Despite 4,000 tons of bombs being dropped, the naval base survived until the end of the war.



906085 RAF Flight Sergeant Alfred Ernest Booth, was born in 1913, the son of Ernest and Blanche Booth, of Sheffield. He married Irene Hodgson at Sheffield in 1941 and at the time of his death they were living at 41 Woodland Road, Sheffield 8. The couple had no children.

Alfred was an air-gunner from another crew, and was temporarily replacing one of Pilot Officer Cox's gunners who was away on a course.

His body was recovered near the port of Bremerhaven in Germany. He was first buried at Geestemunde Cemetery, near Bremerhaven, on March 3rd 1943, but exhumed and reinterred at Becklington British Cemetery, at Soltau, in November 1946.


1315775 RAF Sergeant Francis John Allen was born in 1923, the son of John Thomas Allen and Fanny E Allen of Worlington, Devon, UK. He was the crew's bomb-aimer.

He met up with Eddy Cox when they were both on course 27 at 22 OTU and arrived with his crew at 424 Squadron on November 4th 1942.

Frank's body was never recovered and he is commemorated on Panel 140 at the Runnymede Memorial. He is also remembered on the war memorial in his local village.


RCAF) P/O Edmund Thomas Cox (J 16786) was born at Paterson, Rossland, BC, in October 1917, the son of a Bridgwater, Somerset, UK born farmer, Alexander Cox (1876), and his wife Helen Mary Cox (1879), who hailed from nearby Bristol. He appears to have been their only son, but their were at least two daughters, one of whom had settled in the UK by the 1940s. Edmund attended and graduated from Rossland High School and in 1937 earned a place at the British Columbia University. Engaged to be married to Marjorie McDonell, he graduated as an agricultural scientist with a BSc degree in May 1941, and on June 4th enlisted in the RCAF.
After instruction as a pilot, he was awarded his 'wings' on 24th March 1942, and then granted a couple of weeks embarkation leave before being posted to the UK.
Arriving at the overseas reception camp at RAF Bournemouth on the 13th of May, he was sent to 11(P)AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) for further pilot training on 30th June. From there, he was posted on August 18th, for a course of aircrew instruction with 22 OTU (Operational Training Unit), based at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, around 4 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon.
Here, on Course 27, he met his future navigator, Canadian Joe Patterson, wireless operator RCAF Sgt Amos Kimmerly, and their English bomb-aimer, Francis Allen.
After more training on Wellingtons at an HCU, Eddy arrived at RAF Topcliffe, in Yorkshire, to join the newly formed 424 Squadron on November 4th, 1942.
In a letter home to his wife on November 24th, Joe Patterson the navigator, named their crew as including, Francis Allen bomb aimer, RAF Sgt W Dimmick air gunner, and their wireless operator, RCAF Sgt Amos Kimmerly. Amos (Walter) Kimmerly was apparently away on a course when his crewmates took off on their final mission.
Records indicate that during December, for a short unspecified period, Eddy was confined to the Station Sick Quarters, and returned for duty on December 23rd.
His first overseas mission as skipper was on 29th January. The target was the Lorient docks area.
12 aircraft took off at 16.30hrs and were expected to be over Lorient around 20.30. The weather was bad at the start, with almost nil visibility and did not improve all the way to Brittany.
Several of the aircraft developed engine trouble on this trip. Wellington "L", piloted by Sgt Dugas, jettisoned its bomb load only 48 minutes after take-off because his engines would not develop sufficient boost, and "D", piloted by Sgt Cox, had to jettison 2 x 1000lb bombs and 3 x 500lb bombs due to engine failure. Their port motor had cut out on leaving the English coast and failed completely after crossing France. The aircraft turned back at once, the captain coming to the conclusion that he would be unable to reach the target under those conditions.
His second 'op' was on February 4th 1943, in Wellington DF 621 "O", with a mission to bomb Lorient in Northern France. His crew on that occasion was, F/O Joseph Patterson - navigator, Sgt Francis J Allen - bomb-aimer, Sgt Eddy D Coates - wireless operator, Sgt W Dimmick - air-gunner, and Sgt M G Anderson - air-gunner.
Taking off at 18.31 hrs, they reached the target area at 21.22 hrs and later reported that visibility was was good. Their 4000lb bomb was dropped into a city already severely damaged and burning, and the aircraft returned to base undamaged at 01.15hrs.


His next and final trip was on February 6th in a different aircraft, Wellington BJ 658, with his two air-gunners replaced.

One of those, Sgt. W Dimmick, was with Eddy on Course 27 at 22 OTU.

The two new crew members were, Canadian Sgt Harvey Duke, who had previously flown with Sgt Duffield's crew, and Sgt Alfred Booth, a 29 year old Yorkshireman, who had only flown on one overseas operation before that date.

Take off was at 17.22 and their mission was a gardening (minelaying) flight, dropping vegetables (mines), in the Nectarine region, an area to the north of the Dutch Frisian Islands.

On this occasion visibility was poor due to low cloud at 1700ft.

Laying the two 200lb mines required the Wellington to drop down to around 600ft.

There are no official records about the events leading to the loss of BJ 658 , and only one unidentified enemy aircraft was seen in the target area.

At 09.30 the next morning, four aircraft, two of them from 424 Squadron, carried out a search of the area, hoping to locate a dinghy, or survivors from BJ 658, but returned at around 15.00 with nothing to report.

Eddy Cox's body was washed ashore 10 months later at Norderney but identification was difficult as the Red Cross had him listed as an officer. At the time of his death he was apparently still wearing his sergeant's stripes having only a short time before been commissioned, and was later found to be carrying the recently issued pilot officer's badges in his pockets. His fiance Marjorie later related to Mrs Patterson, how in a letter, he had mentioned going with Joe Patterson to be measured for his officer's uniform, but not being able to wear it until the acknowledging RCAF orders had come through the system.

He was originally buried at Norderney Military Cemetery, in the German Fresian Islands, but, several years later, re-interred at Sage.

J11799 Pilot Officer Joseph Moses Patterson (promoted to Flying Officer after his death) was born 27th August 1919. He was the son of John and Mary Hunter Patterson, of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Canada; and husband of Florence Patterson.  He met up with Eddy Cox when they were both on course 27 at 22 OTU. With no known grave he is commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial


The boys actually grew up in the nearby town of Sydney Mines. Their father was a coal miner there. You know about Joe, of course. My father was John, who served in Alaska, preventing the Japanese from entering North America through the Aleutian Islands. Not many people are aware of this, but the idea was more than just a threat. The Japanese had actually taken over 5 of the islands and quite a few men were killed trying to retake them. The third one is my Uncle Bob. I don’t know about his involvement in the war. Next came Sid Patterson who went to Reykjavik Iceland, and Angus Patterson, but he was pretty young. I think the war was pretty much over by the time he signed up. The other brother was Quincy, who served in the Korean conflict in 1951 or 52. Mike

Our thanks to Joseph's nephew, Mike Patterson, who kindly supplied the photographs and much of the family information.


see our 424 Squadron page



Willem's Introduction


Ameland in war-time


Texel  & Den Helder 


Friesland War-time Crashes


Ameland,166 & 75sqdn




Friesland Cemeteries


Ameland Graves




Leeuwarden area




Scharnhorst! 2


Wirdum Remembers


Terschelling 2


 Scharnhorst! 3




Sage War Cemetery


12 Squadron


Schiermonnikoog  part 2


424 Squadron






Vlieland Cemetery


Vuren at war


Kallenkote Cemetery




Makkum Cemetery


Wartime Occupied Harlingen


Hampden AE 428,


A Fatal collision?


RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


 WW2 photographs


Hudsons & Venturas


Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group


Shipdham & USAF 44th


Hudsons & Venturas 2


408 Squadron's Leipzig raid


68th Squadron's losses


101 Squadron


Local Radar


Rottum Island


Lancasters DS776  & JA921


Bergen  Cemetery






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