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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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10 squadron RAAF
10 Squadron (RAAF) Sunderland I T9072 Sq/Ldr. Edgar Bruce Courtney

Operation: Transit flight

Date: 05th December 1941 (Friday)

Unit: No. 10 Squadron (RAAF) Coastal Command (motto: 'Strike')

Type: Sunderland I

Serial: T9072

Code: RB-V

Base: RAF Oban, Scotland

Location: Irish Sea

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Edgar Bruce Courtney 0348 RAAF Age 27. Minor injuries

Pilot 2: P/O. Gordon Alexander Edward Ferguson 404338 RAAF Age 23. Minor injuries

ilot 3: P/O. Colin William Steley DFC O11332 RAAF Age 20. Minor injuries

Obs: F/O. Stanley Gordon Goddard 2059 RAAF Age 24. Minor injuries

Rigger/Tail Gunner: AC1. Eric Wilfred Lee 22137 RAAF Age 22. Minor injuries

Rigger: Cpl. William Henry Nelson 3929 RAAF Age 29. Minor injuries

Fitter IIA: Cpl: Stanley Russell Strang 4677 RAAF Age 24. Minor injuries

Fitter IIE: AC1. Henry John Webber 20003 RAAF Age 27. Missing believed killed

W/O: AC2. Percival George Instance 1375914 RAFVR Age 28. Minor injuries

W/O: LAC. Leo Meredith Aus/A31266 RAAF Age 26. Minor injuries

Armourer: LAC. James Patrick Lynch 19081 RAAF Age 26. Minor injuries

Passengers:

W/Cdr. Athol Xavier Richards 72 RAAF Age 29. Minor injuries

Fl/Lt. Stuart Thomson 1292 RAAF Age 28. Missing believed killed

Fl/Lt. Richard John Vaughan DFC. 1499 RAF Age 27. Missing believed killed

Fl/Lt. William Samuel Rea DFC. 36181 RAF Age 26. Missing believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

T9072 KG-F was involved in an earlier incident whilst with 204 squadron. During taxying to the moorings struck an unchartered reef damaging the keel. The pilot beached the aircraft at dull throttle before it sunk in an icy fjord in Reykjavík. The Sunderland was repaired locally by a team from Short Brothers of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Above: T9072 whilst with 204 squadron at Havnafijiord, Reykjavik, Iceland.

On the 18th of November 1941, the aircraft flew to No.1 FBSU at RAF Stranraer for rectification and returned to 10 Squadron on the 28th of November 1941.

Taking off at 09:25 hrs to pick up their new commanding officer from RAF Pembroke Dock. Also ferrying two New Zealand pilots (both serving in the RAF and not the RNZAF) from No. 4 Coastal Command Training Unit to collect a Sunderland and ferry it to their base at RAF Invergordon.

At 11:15hrs the aircraft was located over the Irish Sea approximately 15 miles North West of Holyhead, Wales heading 240° Mag at 800ft in clear skies when the port outer engine backfired and Courtney immediately took control and throttled back the port outer and increased power to the other three engines to maintain speed and height.

At 11:20hrs a very strong vibration was felt throughout the aircraft from the port side and Courtney immediately shut down the port outer engine. The crew soon noticed the port outer engine cowling was fractured but still attached when the aircraft began violent yaw to port which Courtney tried to counter by the use of a full opposite rudder. However, the turn to port continued with the port wing down at an angle of 30°. As the turn and speed further increased Courtney throttled back the starboard outer engine and opened the two inner engines to full throttle. Courtney’s attempts were futile and the aircraft hit the sea at an angle of 45° at a speed of 90 knots A.S.I.

The aircraft broke up immediately and within a very short space of time, the entire aircraft was submerged. Later investigations showed the hull was severed aft of the mainplane, crushed forward of the pilot’s seats and the whole lower aircraft deck ripped off. Most of the crew and passengers managed to egress the wreck and climbed onto the port mainplane from which both engines had been torn away. The survivors were rescued by a boat from the MV Kilkenny at 12:15hrs but three passengers and one crewman were listed as missing and presumed dead. The survivors were then landed ashore and taken to the RAF Station Valley hospital in Wales.

07th December 1941 Aircraft struck off charge and officially handed back to the RAF.

Burial details:

AC1. Henry John Webber (Fitter IIE). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 63. Son of Henry (died 08th June 1959, age 78) and Louisa Webber (née Greber - died 24th February 1923, age 34) of Ballina, New South Wales, Australia.

Fl/Lt. Stuart Thomson (Doctor). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 62. Born on the 29th May 1913 in Melbourne. Enlisted on the 01st August 1940. Son of Mrs. E. B. Thomson, of South Yarra, Victoria, Australia.

Fl/Lt. Richard John Vaughan DFC. (Pilot). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 29. Born on the 16th of June 1914 at Wairoa, Hawkes Bay. Worked as a storeman for Dalgezy and Company in Hastings prior to service. Joined NZ Army in June 1931 attained the rank of 2nd lieutenant. Selected for a short service commission in RAF. on the 27th of July 1938. Embarked for England on the 25th of August 1938. The pilots badge was awarded on the 15th of April 1939. Trained with Flying Boat Squadron at Stranraer on 27th November 1939. Joined 201 squadron on the 15th January 1940 carrying our 86 operational sorties. Joined No. 4 Coastal Operational Training Unit as an instructor on the 11th of August 1941. Son of Fred Vaughan (died 16th March 1924, age 44) and of Mary Vaughan (née Hollis - died 03rd July 1978, age 95). Husband of Kathleen Mary Vaughan (née Hull), of Hastings, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A total of 1411 flying hours were logged and completed 86 operational sorties.

DFC Citation 26th August 1941:

'Fl/Lt. Richard John Vaughan been continually engaged in operational flying since the outbreak of the war and has completed 900 flying hours, including 100 at night. He has carried out his duties in an exemplary manner and with great determination In the face of all difficulties and opposition. He commanded a Sunderland flying boat engaged in shadowing the German battleship Bismarck on the night of 23rd May, displaying marked qualities of coolness and perseverance. He also carried out a difficult reconnaissance at Narvik on a night In June. He has shown resourcefulness and courage at all times'.

Fl/Lt. William Samuel Rea DFC. (Pilot). Runnymede Memorial. Panel 29. Also remembered on father's grave at Maketu Cemetery. Bay of Plenty.

Born on the 07th October 1915 at Paengaroa. Selected for a short service commission. Member Auckland Aero Club for training on the 04th January 1938. Awarded his 'A' licence on the 11th March 1938. Awarded commission on the 05th April 1938. Embarked for England on the 03rd February 1938. Trained with Flying Boat Squadron at Stranraer on 29th July 1939. Joined 201 squadron on the 06th October 1939 carrying our 77 operational sorties. Joined No. 4 Coastal Operational Training Unit as an instructor on the 07th August 1941. Son of the late Samuel Rea (died in 1918, age 54), and of Bertha Cecilia Rea (née Warmington, later Page), of Mount Roskill, Auckland, New Zealand and husband of Joy H. Rea (née Keer, later Minard) of Winchmore Hill, London. Batchelor of Arts, Auckland. A total of 1628 flying hours were logged and completed 77 operational sorties.

Above: Pilots course 3 at RNZAF Station Wigram 1938
L-R: Rear; Frank Welsman Dawson, Lancelot Henry Higgins (killed with 6 squadron 23rd September 1943), PD Smith, Henry William Lamond I(Died 15 January 2009), Stanley Gilbert Quill (Died 17 September 1984), Bruce Innes Clifford-Jones (killed with 9 squadron 08th September 1939)
Front; William Joseph Murphy Died 1998), William Samuel Rea (killed 05th December 1941 whilst with 4 COTU), Ronald William Gair (killed 15th February 1941 whilst with 217 squadron), Theodore Jasper Maclean de Lange (died 04th July 2005), Gill, LGW Lilley.

Surviving crew details:

Sq/Ldr. Edgar Bruce Courtney: of Malvern, Victoria survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. He was repatriated back to Australia to fight in the Pacific and survived the War remaining in the RAAF until 14th November 1969. Air Commodore Edgar Bruce Courtney MVO. OBE. Born on the 14th of November 1914 at Malver, Victoria. Died 30th November 1999, age 84.

P/O. Gordon Alexander Edward Ferguson: of Gunnedah, New South Wales survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Gordon survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 09th October 1945 with the rank of Squadron Leader. Born on the 30th July 1918 at Gunnedah, New South Wales. Died 09th November 2007, age 89.

F/O. Colin William Steley DFC: of Maryborough, Queensland survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Steley survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 05th March 1962 with the rank of Wing Commander. Born on the 07th June 1923 at Maryborough, Queensland.

F/O. Stanley Gordon Goddard: of Ormond, Victoria survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Goddard survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 03rd January 1946 with the rank of Squadron Leader. Born on the 23rd March 1917 at Ormond, Victoria.

Above L-R: Sq/Ldr. Courtney, F/O. Steley, Cpl. Nelson and Cpl. Stang.

AC1. Eric Wilfred Lee: of Esk, Queensland survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Lee survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 08th April 1946 with the rank of Sergeant. Married Elizabeth Anne Lee (died 07th April 2001, age 77) Born on the 09th July 1919 at Esk, Queensland. Died n 1985, age 66.

Cpl. William Henry Nelson: of Neath, New South Wales survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Nelson survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 23rd of August 1946 with the rank of Flight Sergeant. Born on the 28th January 1912 at Neith, New South Wales.

Cpl: Stanley Russell Strang: of Balmain in Sydney, New South Wales survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Strang survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 11th of July 1945 with the rank of Sergeant. Born on the 04th October 1917 at Balmain New South Wales.

Above L-R: AC1. Webber, W/Cdr. Richards, Fl/Lt. Vaughan and Fl/Lt, Rea.

AC2. Percival George Instance: of London survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service.

LAC. Leonardo Sydney Meredith: of Sydney, New South Wales survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Meredith survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 24th of February 1953 with the rank of Warrant Officer. Died 1997.

LAC. James Patrick Lynch: of Rochester, Victoria survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Lynch survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on the 16th of October 1945 with the rank of Sergeant. Married Isovel Greta Lynh (née Featherston - died 21st November 1968, age 47). Born 01st July 1915 at Rochester, Victoria. Died 06th July 2000, age 85.

W/Cdr. Athol Xavier Richards: of Launceston, Tasmania survived the crash with minor injuries and quickly returned to service. Richards survived the War and resigned from the RAAF on 13 August 1946 with the rank of Group Captain. Born on the 01st December 1912 at Launceston

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Paul McGuiness and his RAAF Archive. and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Ronald William Gair for RNZAF training photograph, Susan McGill-Tobin for Fl/Lt. Rea grave photograph,other sources as quoted below:

KTY 20-04-2022

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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