25th August 1944 180 Squadron Mitchell II HD316 Fl/Sgt. Lewis
Operation: Clermont, France
Date: 25th August 1944 (Friday)
Unit: No. 180 Squadron (motto: Suaviter in modo fortier in re -'Agreeable in manner, forcible in act') 2 Group. 2nd Tactical Air Force
Type: Mitchell II
Base: RAF Dunsfold, Surrey
Location: English Channel
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. William Radcliffe Lewis NZ/425267 RNZAF Age 23. Seriously injured - died waiting to be rescued
Obs: F/O Ernest George Hodder 152979 RAFVR Age ? Injured
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth George Curtis NZ/422987 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Henry George Walters NZ/425377 RNZAF Age 26. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Lawrence O'Brien 1597276 RAFVR Age 21. Seriously injured - died waiting to be rescued
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 11:00 to bomb the petrol and oil lubricant dump at Clermont, France.
Hit by flak en-route to the target which took out the port engine and caused other damage. The bomb doors were stuck so they were unable to jettison the bomb load. Fl/Sgt. Curtis sent out a 'Mayday' as it was obvious we were going to have to ditch.
They hit the water very hard, some 12 miles from Beachy Head, killing some of the crew. F/O. Hodder was in the water for three hours before he was picked up by a Walrus Search and Rescue aircraft from 277 squadron and taken to Southlands hospital in Shoreham with head injuries.
We recommend reading the navigators full story on the Dunsfold Airfield History Society Website.
Burial and personal details:
Fl/Sgt. William Radcliffe Lewis. Brookwood Military Cemetery, Woking. Grave 8. AA. 8. Born on the 17th August 1923 at Frome, Somerset, England. A clerk for Dalgety and Company prior to service. Enlisted on the 30th May 1942 . Awarded his pilots badge and promoted to sergeant on the 09th June 1943. Son of Robert Stonhewer Lewis and Alice Williams Lewis (née Gibson-Smith), of Auckland City, New Zealand. 441 flying hours logged and on his 30th operational sortie. His brother, P/O. Robert Douglas Lewis DFM 47580 was killed in a tragic accident on the 22nd June 1942. See following story below.
Fl/Sgt. Kenneth George Curtis. Brookwood Military Cemetery, Woking. Grave 8. AA. 9. Born on the 12th July 1923 at Kongahu, South Island. Enlisted at Ohakea on the 6th May 1942. Awarded his air gunners badge and promoted to Sergeant on the 14th June 1943. Son of Reuben (died 27th December 1977 age 82) and Mary Florence Elizabeth Curtis (née Feris) (died 20th May 1985 age 86), of Wakefield, Nelson, New Zealand. 294 flying hours logged and on his 29th operational sortie.
Fl/Sgt. Henry George Walters. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 264. Born on the 06th November 1917 at Auckland. Worked as a linotype operator for Wilson and Horton Ltd. Enlisted on the 30th May 1942 at Hobsonville. Awarded his air gunners badge and promoted to sergeant on the 06th August 1943. Son of William Albert and Olive May Elizabeth Walters (née Joyce), of Mt. Eden, Auckland. 174 flying hours logged and on his 29th operational sortie.
Sgt. Lawrence O'Brien. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Cemetery. (St. John's Westgate and Elswick). Sec. U. Uncons. Grave 108. Son of Frank and Hannah O'Brien, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, husband of Binnie O'Brien, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Grave inscription: 'Death Doth Not Divide RIP'.
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”, AWMM, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:
203 Squadron disaster of 1942
22nd June 1942 (Monday)
203 Squadron (motto: Occidens oriensque - 'West and east') 235 Wing. 201 Group
Base: LG.39 Burg El Arab South, Egypt
REASON FOR LOSS:
The squadron organised a swimming party at a beach close to the base.
The boys found a metal 'float' that they decided to take back to the base in the truck that collected them.
The 'float' was later identified as a German explosive sweep cutter. As they entered the camp the device exploded, killing several and injuring others.
P/O. David John Bushel 115335 RAF Age 25. El Alamein War Cemetery. Collective. Grave XXIV. E. 1-2. Son of Francis William Bushell, and of Maggie Bushell. of Gloucester. Grave inscription: 'Resting Where No Shadows Fall In Perfect Peace He Awaits Us All. Mother'.
W/O. Frederick Charles Cookman. Aus/404199 RAAF Age 27. El Alamein War Cemetery. Collective. grave XXIV. E. 1-2. Son of Frederick Charles and Emily Jane Cookman, of Wooloowin, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription: 'By Their Deeds Ye Shall Know Them. Rest In Peace'.
P/O. Michael George Lonsdale Hornby. 107952 RAF Age 24. El Alamein War Cemetery. Collective. grave XXIV. E. 1-2. Son of Albert Henry and Esme Georgina Hornby, of North Kilworth, Leicestershire. Grave inscription: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Them'.
W/O. William George Lee. Aus/406131 RAAF Age 20. El Alamein War Cemetery. Grave AIV.E.15. Son of George and Jean Eleanor Lee, of East Perth, Western Australia. Grave inscription: 'His Duty Gallantly And Nobly Done. So Dearly Loved'.
P/O. Robert Douglas Lewis DFM. 47580 RAF Age 25. Collective. grave XXIV. E. 1-2. Son of Robert Stonhewer Lewis and Alice Williams Lewis, of Auckland City, New Zealand. Grave inscription: 'Love Conquers All Things'. His brother also lost his life on the 25th August 1944.
Fl/Lt. George Sumner Stead. 70644 RAF Age 33. Collective. grave XXIV. E. 1-2. Son of Charles Clement Stead and Adelaide Mary Stead and husband of E. Margaret H. Stead, of Iver, Buckinghamshire. M.A. (Cantab.). Grave inscription: ' Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends'.
F/O. Richard Ronald Thomson. Aus/402080 RAAF Age 25. Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery. Grave 1.H.25. Son of Dr. Ronald Magimie Thomson and Noeline Thomson, of Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia.
Fl/Lt. Alan Lloyd Fox Aus/406001 RAAF Seriously injured, Admitted to hospital. Born on the 12th July 1912 at Perth. Left the RAAF on the 8th November 1945.
Sgt. Bernard Murray Heffernan Aus/12390 RAAF Slightly injured. Born on the 09th March 1913 at Mount Victoria. Left the RAAF on the 21st November 1945
P/O. O G Hopkins 107923 RAFVR Slightly injured.