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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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489 Squadron Hampden TB.I AT259 XA-W F/O. Freshney

Operation: Reconnaissance

Date: 04th April 1943 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 489 Squadron (NZ) (motto: Whakatanagata kia kaha - 'Acquit yourselves like men, be strong')

Type: Hampden TB.I

Serial: AT259

Code: XA-W

Base: RAF Wick, Caithness, Scotland

Location: North Sea

Pilot: F/O. Charles John Freshney NZ/405250 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Obs: Fl/Sgt. William Percival Lanigan NZ/405446 RNZAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Frederick William Bacon NZ/403752 RNZAF Age 26. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Leslie Ward 1250955 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Taking off at 10:58 hrs leading two others on a shipping reconnaissance patrol off Norway.

Hit by flak during a formation attack on three escorted merchant vessels east of Kristiansand. With the port engine streaming smoke the pilot was forced to ditch. The aircraft was seen to float for a while but no survivors were observed.

Two bodies were found the next morning on the small island of Møyslåtten and later buried at Trondheim.

Burial and personal details:

F/O. Charles John Freshney. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 197. Born on the 27th of November 1921 in Takapuna. Educated at Seddon Memorial Technical College. Worked as a spare parts assistant for J.W. Andrews and Some, Ford dealers in Auckland. Enlisted at Levin on the 22nd December 1940. With No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School 09th February 1941. Embarked for Canada on the 14th of May 1941. Pilot badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the 08th August 1941. Commissioned on the 09th August 1941. Embarked for England on the 15th of August 1941. Joined 489 squadron on the 29th December 1941 carried out 21 operational sorties. A total of 548 flying hours logged.

Son of John Benjamin (died 04th September 1976, age 79) and Irene Isabel Fresney (née Allan - later Watkins) of Timaru and Remuera, New Zealand respectfully.

Fl/Sgt. William Percival Lanigan. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Born on the 29th June 1916 in Gisborne. Educated at Te Hapara School. A photographer for H.B. Tyreman chemist at Gisborne. Enlisted at Levin on the 21st December 1940. Embarked for Canada on the 29th of April 1941. Air observer badge awarded on the 15th September 1941 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for England on the 23rd of October 1941. Joined 489 squadron on the 30th November 1941 carrying out 18 operational sorties. A total of 495 flying hours logged.

Son of William (died 1947) and Isalen Margaret Lanigan (née Bridson - died 1958) of Gisborne, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. Frederick William Bacon. Trondheim (Stavne) Cemetery. Grave A IV British. C. 8. Born on the 03rd January 1917 in Auckland. Worked as a porter for New Zealand Railway. Enlisted at Levin on the 29th of September 1940. Embarked for Canada on the 05th November 1940. W/Op/Air/Gunner badge awarded on the 11th January 1941 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for England 09th August 1941. Joined 489 squadron on the 29th November 1941 carrying out 22 operational sorties. A total of 393 flying hours logged.

Son of William and Beatrice Bacon (née Pearson) of Auckland, New Zealand.

Sgt. Ronald Leslie Ward. Trondheim Cemetery (Stavne). Grave A IV British. C. 8. Son of Stanley David and Mary Martha Ward, of Waltham Abbey, Essex, England.

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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 11-06-2022

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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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