31.03/01.04.1945 37 Squadron Liberator KH245 LF:H Flt Lt. Cave
Operation: Graz Marshalling Yards
Date: 31st March/1st April 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 37 Squadron, 205 Group (motto: 'Wise without eyes')
Type: Liberator B.VI
Base: Foggia / Tortorella
Location: Gornji Suhor, Slovenia
Pilot: Flt Lt. Verner Grenville Cave 415059 RNZAF Age 26. Killed
Flt Eng: Flt Sgt. Harry Alfred Charles Crisp 187200 RAFVR Age 32. Killed
Nav: Fg Off. Evelyn Bridge 155378 RAFVR Age 31. Evader
Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. Leslie Innes 195105 RAFVR Age 24. Evader
W/Op/Air Gnr: Flt Lt. Donald David Kimber 425414 RAAF Age 21. Killed
Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Robert Reginald Attreed 1629868 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Joseph James Cummings 2211495 RAFVR Age 20. Evader
Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Reginald Adams 1292772 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Sqn Arm Off: Fg Off. Clifford George Wing 54277 RAFVR Age 25. Evader
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 17:30 hrs to bomb the rail yards at Graz in Austria, some 87 aircraft taking part and this, the only one lost!
Above: Leslie Innes, Evelyn Bridge, Clifford Wing and Joseph Cummings waiting to be flown out of Yugoslavia, back to Italy. Wing and Cummings had gone on the operation as extra 'Beam' or 'Waist' gunners - hence the crew of nine instead of seven. They were both quite badly burned, exiting the aircraft through the gun ports. (Courtesy James Adams)
Understood to have been shot down by a Ju88 - the initial attack rendered the rudder controls useless and the pilot was unable to carry out further 'corkscrew' manoeuvres. Although he tried various tactics to avoid a second attack, the aircraft was hit again. Fires broke out within the aircraft and it was clear that it was doomed. The pilot instructed the crew to abandon the Liberator.
Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre
Above: Reginald Adams in centre with Robert Attreed left and Evelyn Bridgeright. (Courtesy James Adams)
Four of the crew survived by baling out at around 9,000 ft and although suffered burns managed to return to RAF lines with the assistance of brave Yugoslavian partisans on the 4th April 1945.
Prince Edward at the unveiling of the memorial in 2019. (Courtesy James Adams)
Initially buried at Vojnavac cemetery - reinterred at Belgrade after the end of hostilities.
Fl/Lt. Verner Grenville Cave. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 8.D.2. Born on the 06th May 1918 at Dargaville. Worked as an audit clerk prior to service. Enlisted on the 07th September 1941 at Levin. Son of Milton Knight Cave (died 14th May 1967, age 74) and Stella May Cave (née Coxhead, formerly Gordon - died 21st December 1957, age 59), of 2 Anzac Avenue, Whakatane, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 1,310 flying hours logged and having completed some 32 operational sorties. The family suffered the loss of his brother earlier in the war piloting Blenheim IV T2246 on the 31st October 1940. All three crew lost their lives over England.
Fl/Sgt.Harry Alfred Charles Crisp. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 8.D.3. Grave inscription reads: 'The Trial Is Hard We'll Not Complain But Trust In Christ To Meet Again'. Son of Harry Edward and Rose Maud Crisp, husband of Louisa Ellen Crisp, of Tottenham, Middlesex, England.
Fl/Lt. Donald David Kimber. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 8.D.1. Grave inscription reads: 'Nobly And Fearlessly He Voluntarily Gave His Life'. Born on the 30th April 1923 in Brisbane, Queensland. Enlisted on the 03rd February 1942. The son of Lewis Joseph and Mary Elizabeth Kimber, of Toowong, Queensland, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. Robert Reginald Attreed. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 8.D.4-5. Grave inscription reads: 'To The World He Was One, But To Us All The World'. Born in 1st Qtr of 1924 in West Ham, Essex. Son of William and Agnes Louisa Attreed, of Plaistow, Essex, England.
Fl/Sgt. Reginald Adams. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 8.D.4-5. Grave inscription reads: 'His Memory Is Our Greatest Treasure In Our Hearts He Lives For Ever'. Son of Charles and Alice Maud Adams, of Beckenham, Kent, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand. Thanks to James Adams, the nephew of Flt Sgt. Adams, for the correction to crew roles and photographs (Nov 2021). Other sources as quoted below:
Evelyn Bridge, the Navigator, had the story published in Lucas's book. But it is a very edited of the full script now held by James Adams.
Out of the Blue: Role of Luck in Air Warfare, 1917-66
Author: Laddie Lucas
24th October 1985