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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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24/25th October 1942 115 Squadron Wellington III BK306 Sgt. Oldridge

Operation: Milan

Date: 24/25th October 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron (motto: 'Despite the elements'). 3 Group

Type: Wellington III

Serial: BK306

Code: KO-K

Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk

Location: North Sea

Pilot: Sgt. Donald Stuart Oldridge NZ/413866 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Robert Louis Andrew McFarland NZ/411422 RNZAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Kenneth Harry Yeoman NZ/41389 RNZAF Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan Francis Gardner 1377610 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Alfred Frederick Couzens 1383580 RAFVR Age 24. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at around 19:00 hrs to bomb Milan. 11 aircraft from 115 squadron with 5 returning early with various problems. 5 returned to base at 23:15 hrs on the 24th.

71 aircraft of 1 and 3 Groups and the Pathfinders - 25 Halifaxes, 23 Stirlings, 23 Wellingtons taking part.Storms en route dispersed the bomber force; some aircraft flew over Switzerland and were 'warned' by anti-aircraft fire.

Right: Lt. Rolf Bussman

Only 39 aircraft claimed to have bombed Milan, local reports say that little further damage was caused to the target area.

Claimed by the Luftwaffe ace, Lt. Rolf Bussman. (his 10th of 24 in the war) Flying with 4./NJG2 when he attacked BK306 at 2,700 metres shooting the Wellington down at 02:48 hrs off Burgh-Haamstede, Netherlands into the North Sea. (courtesy Kracker Archives)

Burial details:

Sgt. Donald Stuart Oldridge. Rotterdam (Crooswijk) General Cemetery. Plot LL. Row 2. Grave 25. Born on the 11th October 1921 at New Brighton. Worked as a painter and paper hanger with his fathers at Darfield prior to service. Enlisted on the 06th July 1941 at Levin. Trained with No. 1 Elementary Flying School and No. 1 Flying Training School. Awarded his pilots badge and promoted to sergeant on the 20th December 1941. Embarked for England on the 11th January 1942. Joined 115 squadron on the 02nd October 1942 from 11 Operational Training Unit. Son of Sidney Robert and Mabel Dawse Oldridge (née Teague) of Darfield, Canterbury, New Zealand. A total of 335 flying hours logged and on his 4th operational sortie.

Sgt. Robert Louis Andrew McFarland. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave 20.A.2. Born on the 08th August 1922 at Auckland. Worked as a clerical cadet for the Social Security Department prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 02nd March 1941. Embarked for Canada for further training on the 22nd September 1941. Awarded his observer badge and promoted to sergeant on the 28th February 1942. Embarked for England on the 01st May 1942. Joined 115 squadron on the 02nd October 1942 from 11 Operational Training Unit. Son of Charles Louis McFarland and of Letitia McFarland (née Trevarthen) of Remuera, Auckland, , New Zealand. A total of 256 flying hours logged and on his 3rd operational sortie.

Sgt. Kenneth Harry Yeoman. Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery. Grave 4.D.3. Born on the 22nd December 1914 at Wellington. Worked as a collection clerk for C.A. Odlin and Company a timber and hardware merchants of Wellington prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 19th January 1941 giving his birth year as 1916. Embarked for Canada for further training on the 22nd July 1941. Awarded his observers badge and promoted to sergeant on the 28th February 1942. Embarked for England on the 01st May 1942. Joined 115 squadron on the 02nd October 1942 from 11 Operational Training Unit. (his posting to 75 squadron was cancelled). Son of Harry Bertram and Hildred Agnes Yeoman (née Parker) of Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 270 flying hours logged and on his 4th operational sortie.

Sgt. Alan Francis Gardner. Hook Of Holland General Cemetery. Row F. Grave 16. Son of Rodney Robert and Amy Kathleen Gardner; foster-son of Mrs. E. Wade, of North Harrow, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription: 'Until The Sun Sets When, Over The Hills, We Shall Meet Our Loved One Again'.

Sgt. George Alfred Frederick Couzens. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 80. Son of George Frederick and Ellen Mary Couzens, of Battersea, London, 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, AWMM, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 14-06-2021

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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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