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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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427 Squadron Crest
4/5.10.1944 No. 427 Squadron Halifax III MZ756 ZL-E Sq/Ldr. Walter R. Moseley-Williams DFC

Operation: Gardening

Date: 4/5th October 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 427 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ756

Code: ZL-E

Base: RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire

Location: North Sea west of Ringköbing

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. ‘Mose’ Walter Read Moseley-Williams DFC. J/8773 RCAF Age 26. Missing

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Thew 1591242 RAFVR Age ? Missing

Nav: F/O. Philip Frank Charles Haydock J/123754 RCAF Age 28. Missing

Air/Bmr: F/O. Jack Llewelyn Dougan J/28201 RCAF Age 28. Missing

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Marcel Gravel J/88647 RCAF Age 21. Missing

Air/Gnr: P/O. John Sherwood Williamson J/87864 RCAF Age ? Missing

Air/Gnr: P/O. John Garfield Curle J/88045 RCAF Age 32. Missing


Taking off at 18:55 hrs on a "Gardening" operation - some reports are that it was in the Kattegat area and others are that it was off the coast of Oslo. It is correct that mining operations did take place at both locations this night, it is also known that both operations (Oslo Operation - 12 Halifaxes and Kattegat Operation - 66 Lancasters and Halifaxes) used the same outward flight path over Denmark before the Kattegat force turned South East to the various targets.

Above: Crew of MZ756 (courtesy Steve Thew)

Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie describe this aircraft being shot down by either Hptm. Johann Dreher (1) or Oblt. Rudolf Szardenings (2) at between 21.30 hrs and 22.05 hrs some 30-50 km west of Ringköbing.

Above and below: Sq/Ldr. ‘Mose’ Walter Read Moseley-Williams during his training. (courtesy Paul Wiegerinck)

Report from the Squadron log for this operation:


Weather: Fine during day; foggy at night to becoming poor. Visibility good

Crews from last night's mining operation returned around two o'clock in the morning.

They reported weather over target was excellent with very good visibility and no cloud.

Winds were light and variable. Visual identification of mining area was made in all cases.

Light to intense heavy flak, both predicted and in barrage form was encountered over the target area bursting from 11,000 to 12,500 ft. Also some light flak was experienced.

Batteries of four to six heavy flak guns were observed at 5843N 0730E. No opposition from flak was encountered on route. No enemy fighters were seen. No combats. All crews attempted photos.

One of our aircraft "E" MZ756 piloted by J/8773 S/L W.R. Moseley-Williams failed to return from this operation. The other five aircraft dropped their mines and returned to base.

Early in the morning aircraft were warming up to carry out a sea search to look for "E" and although twenty-two aircraft were used, no trace was found of the crew. Very little activity during the day.

(1) Hptm. Johann Dreher killed on the 3/4th March 1945 during a staffing attack at Sutton, Derwent Yorkshire. This was his 2nd of 7 Abschüsse.
(2) Oblt. H. Rudolf Szardenings survived the war. No further details although this was his final victory of the war with 10 Abschüsse.

MZ756 at RAFLeeming (courtesy Stephen Thew)

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Walter Read Moseley-Williams D.F.C. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 244. Son of Thurston H. and Mabel G. Moseley-Williams, of North Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Robert Thew. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 239. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thew, of Gateshead, Co. Durham. England. Also commemorated on War Memorial, Whickham, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England.

F/O. Philip Frank Charles Haydock. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 246. Son of F. C. and Gladys Haydock, of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.

F/O. Jack Llewelyn Dougan. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 245. Son of Samuel G. and Annie M. Dougan, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

P/O. Marcel Gravel. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Son of Eugene and Marie Anne Gravel, of Donnelly, Alberta, Canada.

P/O. John Sherwood Williamson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 253. Son of Arthur C. Williamson, and of Eleanor Mann Williamson, of St. George, New Brunswick, Canada.

P/O. John Garfield Curle. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 249. Son of James Middlemiss Curle and Bertha Curle, of Picton, Ontario, Canada.

Researched for Paul Wiegerinck nephew of the pilot, Stephen Thew, relative of the Flight Engineer, also to Pamela Thew for photo of Sgt. Thew and dedicated to all the relatives of this crew. With thanks for further information supplied by both Stephen Thew and Paul Wiegerinck. Other sources as quoted below.

KTY 30.07.2015 Page updated

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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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