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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.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database

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40 crest

Operation: Tobruk

Date: 25/26th September 1942 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron (motto: Hostem acolo expellere - 'To drive the enemy from the sky') 238 Wing. 205 Group.

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: HF846

Code: 'P'

Base: LG 213. Kabrit, Egypt

Location: South of El Gubbi

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Gerald Fitzgerald Langham NZ/4193 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: F/O. Donald Arthur Adams MiD. NZ/41859 RNZAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Obs: Fl/Sgt. John Miller Welsh NZ/391432 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Richard Henry Cook NZ/404593 Age 26. Missing - believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 20:01 hrs on an operation to bomb Tobruk. The only recorded loss during this operation when seen to go down 1.5 kilometres south west of El Gubbi.

F/O. Donald Adams had two earlier escapes. On the 14/15th August 1942 again on an operation to Tobruk, overshot the runway at Shaluta, Kabrit on return and the only crew member to be slightly injured on Wellington IC HX506 'N' flown by P/O. Kenneth Holmes RNZAF.

Prior to this on 12/13th July 1942 again on an operation to Tobruk they suffered a compass failure and were unable to find the target. The Wellington IC HX373 'N' flown by Sq/Ldr. Freeman Steel RNZAF also unable to return to base and ran out of fuel. Crash landed the aircraft at the Qattara Depression. All crew eventually rescued with no injuries.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Gerald Fitzgerald Langham. Alamein Memorial. Panel 265. Born on the 05th July 1920 at Riverton, Southland. A clerk prior to service for Wright Stevenson and Co. Ltd. Enlisted on the 09th February 1941 as a pilot under training. Son of James and Mary Ann Langham (née Martin) and nephew of Miss E.F. Martin of Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand. 278 flying hours logged and completed at least 20 operational sorties.

F/O. Donald Arthur Adams MiD. Alamein Memorial. Panel 265. Born on the 11th September 1918 at Auckland. Worked as a bank officer for the Bank of New Zealand prior to enlisting on the 09th February 1941 as a pilot under training. Son of Cecil Walter Adams and of Florence Mary Adams (née Jordan), of Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand. Flew a Wellington to Egypt via Gibraltar in June 1942. 372 flying hours logged and completed at least 10 operational sorties.

Fl/Sgt. John Miller Welsh. Alamein Memorial. Panel 266. Born on the 10th December 1919 at Dunedin. Worked as a clerk for the Bank of New Zealand prior to enlisting on the 20th November 1939. Son of William George and Winifred Bagley Welsh, Ashburton, New Zealand. 499 flying hours logged and completed 32 operational sorties.

Sgt. Richard Henry Cook. Alamein Memorial. Panel 266. Born on the 10th September 1921 at Gisborne. Prior to enlisting worked as a farm hand for Percival's Farm, Ormond. Enlisted 23rd November 1941. Son of Harry and Florence Mabel Cook (née Seldon), of Ormond, Auckland, New Zealand. Crew on a Wellington delivery via Gibralter and Malta on the 07th June 1942. 341 flying hours logged and completed 32 operational sorties.

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 22-01-2021

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', 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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