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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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199 Squadron Stirling III LJ531 P/O. Thomas Wilson Dale

Operation: RCM Support

Date: 16/17th June 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 199 Squadron (motto: 'Let tyrants tremble'). 100 Group

Type: Stirling III

Serial: LJ531

Code: EX-N

Base: RAF North Creake, Norfolk


Pilot: P/O. Thomas Wilson Dale NZ/428085 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Martin Watts 1874534 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Nav: P/O. Ronald Joffre Whittleston NZ42513 RNZAF Age 28. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Matthew Francis Swadling 1601396 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Sp/duties/Op: W/O. Frank Lofthouse 1064629 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Francis Charles Brittain 1272180 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Critchley Higginbottom 1805365 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William McCreadie Latimer 1570743 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed


Takeoff at 22:19 hrs for an electronic warfare operation, to provide a Mandrel screen (airborne electrical jamming of Luftwaffe ground-based early warning radars - this was the first time Mandrel had been deployed operationally) in support of the Sterkrade/Holten raid. 16 aircraft from 199 squadron were detailed for this operation.

The aircraft disappeared over the sea. Probably, it was shot down by Unteroffizier Josef Ottrin (Bordfunker to Feldwebel Trenke) of the 6./KG 51, who used the 13 mm MG 131 defensive armament in combat over the North Sea 70-80 km north of Ostend at 02:00 hrs.

The Luftwaffe crew had taken off from Soesterberg airfield (Netherlands) in a Messerschmitt Me 410 A-1/U2 for an armed reconnaissance of the London area.

A mural showing this aircraft was found IN THE 1980s on an internal wall of the flight office at RAF North Creake which at the time was being used by Seamans a local animal feed company as storage. It was painted by Fl/Sgt. Claude “Ted” Allen of 199 squadron and labelled 16-06-44 RIP. The wall was partially removed and is now on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon.

Burial details:

P/O. Thomas Wilson Dale. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 263. Born on the 12th of May 1919 in Wellington. Educated at Wellington College and Victoria University. A clerk for the Public Trust Office in Wellington, Enlisted on the 11th of July in New Plymouth as an aircraft hand. re-mustered as a pilot under training on 27th July 1942. With No. 1 Service Flying Training School 16th October 1942.

Pilot badge awarded on the 29th December 1942 and promoted to sergeant on the 06th March 1943. Embarked for England on the 06th of April 1943. With 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 30th December 1943 after training with 11 Operational Training Unit. Joined 199 squadron on the 18th March 1944. Commissioned on the 24th of April 1944. A total of 484 flying hours logged and on his 05th operational sortie.

The son of James Murray Dale (died 25th April 1965, age 79) and Maude Mary Dale (née Ring - died 15th August 1975, age 93), of Wellington. Dale's brother, James Atkinson Dale, born on the 05th Jan 1917 died a little over two months later, on the 25th of August, while flying with 75 (NZ) Squadron. Details here.

Sgt. John Martin Watts. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 240. Son of John and Ethel Rosetta Watts, of Caxton, Cambridgeshire, England.

P/O. Ronald Joffre Whittleston. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 263. Born on the 18th of August 1915 in Alexandra. A machine attendant for Miranda Shell Lime Products Ltd. Enlisted in age RNZAF as an aircraft hand on the 30th May 1942. Embarked for Canada on the 10th November 1942 and re-mustered as an air observer.

Air navigator badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the 16th of April 1943. Embarked for England on the 23rd of June 1943. With 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 30th December 1943 after training with 11 Operational Training Unit. Joined 199 squadron on the 18th March 1944. Commissioned on the 24th April 1944. A total of 333 flying hours logged and on his 05th operational sortie.

The son of Arthur William (died 29th December 1961, age 78) and Grace Whittleston (née Mitchellhil - died 02nd July 1950, age 69). Husband of Frances Hellena Bertha Whittleston (née Cornwall, later Davies - died 09th February 2005), of Frankton Junction, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sgt. John Critchley Higginbottom. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 231. Son of John Elliott Higginbottom and Lilian Jessie Higginbottom, of Streatham Hill, London, England.

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Matthew Francis Swadling. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 222. Son of Frank and Louise Marie Swadling, of Wembley Hill, Middlesex, England.

W/O. Francis Charles Brittain. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 213. Son of Charles Frederick and Hazel Margaret Brittain, of Kilburn, Middlesex, England.

W/O. Frank Lofthouse. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 214. Son of Albert and Miriam Lofthouse, of Lupset, Yorkshire, England.

Above L-R: Rear; A.E.V Treasure, D.G Gibson, M. Chisholm, F.D O'Flynn, T.W Dale, H.E Billens, A. Henshaw, J.C Brown, C.F Craven, W.A Bird.
Centre; E.W Gulliver, J.T Lindsay, K.F Hodson, G.McC Jennings, T.R Teague, F.L Lindsay, E.T Cossens, A.L Muir, K.R Hunter, C.W Sharp.
Front; E.J Lawson, F.B Kerr, C.A Harrison, N.V Collins, R.G.I Blackett, S.C Corby, I.C Bennington, C.W Robbie, I.C McIntyre, A.W.H Walker. Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire 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, Air Museum of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KYU 20-09-2022

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