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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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Bomber Command badge
05.12.1944 84 OTU Wellington X LN231 Sgt. Hitchcock

Operation: Training

Date: 5th December 1944 (Tuesday)

Unit: 84 Operational Training Unit (OTU)

Type: Wellington X

Serial: LN231

Base: RAF Desborough, Northamptonshire.

Location: North Sea - no further details available.

Pilot: Sgt. Norman Peter Hitchcock 1581832 RAFVR Age 20 Missing - believed killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Leslie Knighton 1674986 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Sgt. Paul Ivan Spencer 1620185 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air Bmr: Sgt. Alexander Robertson 1683527 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Frederick Green 3030259 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Henry Beer 1170688 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. John Bruce 1605997 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed


LN231 took off from Desborough for a navigation sortie, which for part of the route, took out over the North Sea. The aircraft last made contact by wireless at 21:03 hrs

Weather in the exercise area was, according to crews of other aircraft, fine and should have presented no problems..

Above left: Pilot Sgt. Norman Peter Hitchcock on left with unknown friend - taken during training in Canada (perhaps you recognise him?) Right: Norman with his future wife Pauline from Sheffield, England. Married just 3 months prior to his tragic loss. (courtesy John Bagshaw)

Above: Sgt. Reginald Henry Beer, (Courtesy of Chris Beer)

Burial details:

Sgt. Norman Peter Hitchcock. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 231. Born on the 08th February 1924, the son of Alfred and Olive Hitchcock of Spondon near Derby, England and husband of Pauline. He attended a Wings Graduation Dinner on Course No 90, No 4, Service Flying Training School, on Thursday 10th February 1944, at The Bessborough, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, as one of the 53 Graduating Pilots.

Shown left, as a schoolboy (courtesy John Bagshaw)

Sgt. Leslie Knighton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 232. Son of Charles William and Isabel Knighton, of Cross Gates, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Paul Ivan Spencer. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 238. Son of Arthur Joseph and Marguerite Spencer, of Sheffield, England.

Sgt. Alexander Robertson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 237. Son of William Scott Robertson and Jeannie Robertson, of Dundee, Scotland. Husband of Margaret Couttie Robertson.

Sgt. Thomas Frederick Green. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 230. Son of Thomas William and Eleanor Edith Green, of Balham, London, England.

Sgt Green had recently served with the Air Training Corps (ATC)

Sgt. Reginald Henry Beer. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 224. Born in 1925. Husband to Glenys J. (née Shannon) Beer (married in July 1941, Swansea, Glamorganshire). Father to John Henry Beer.

Sgt. John Bruce. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 226. Son of Robert and Edith Bruce, of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, England.

With thanks to John Bagshaw - cousin of the pilot Norman Hitchcock who contacted us in December 2017. Thanks to Chris Beer, the grandson of Sgt. Beer, for the image of his grandfather. Researched for relatives of the crew with thanks to the following sources:

RS - 06.08.2020 Photograph of Sgt. Beer Added

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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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