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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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Operation: Ferry flight

Date: 12th March 1943 (Friday)

Unit: No. Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit. 44 Group

Type: Hudson VI

Serial: FK621

Code: -

Base: Hastings,Sierra Leone, West Africa

Location: High ground, Southern Spain

Pilot: F/O. Brian Wallis Polson AUS/411641 RAAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Nav: F/O. Harold James Crowe J/11646 RCAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Edwin Ash NZ/414490 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Charles Granville Rickett AUS/412698 RAAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Detailed to ferry the Hudson to England via Morocco and Gibraltar, taking off from Hastings, Sierra Leone on the 03rd March.

After arrival in Gibraltar the pilot reported several faults with the aircraft which were all rectified apart from a cracked port window as no spares available.

They took off from Gibraltar at night. The aircraft crashed at 01:32 hrs killing all four crew.

Flying Accident report dated 28th March 1943:

'Pilot took off at night and climbed to the East. He then turned West and flew past Europa Point but was off track and hit high ground to the North of the Straits of Gibraltar. Height of the crash approximately 1500 feet. Crew was out of practice at night. Last night flight was in August. Either the pilot did not fly on the correct course due to erratic instrument flying or observer did not give the pilot correct courses through the Straits. He continued to elaborate: Recommend that all Ferry Pilots be kept in night flying practice. This pilot, although he had done no night flying for six months, preferred to be despatched to the U.K. by night rather than fly an unarmed aircraft up by day. It is now evident that the crew were not fit to do so.'

The Overseas Aircraft Dispatch Unit lost another Hudson on the same detail as FK621. F/O. Frank Whibley flying Hudson FK722 crashed into the sea off Gibraltar shortly after take off. All crew Missing - believed killed.

Burial and personal details:

The bodies were returned to Gibraltar. The base lacked a suitable burial ground and as the only cemetery had suffered severe damage by enemy action, permission was given to bury the crew members at sea. Which was done on the 14th March 1943. Their names are commemorated on a Special Memorial at Gibraltar.

F/O. Brian Wallis Polson. Gibraltar Memorial. Born on the 01st July 1921 at Marrickville. New South Wales. Son of Alfred Leslie and Hilda Elizabeth Polson, of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

F/O. Harold James Crowe. Gibraltar Memorial. Born on the 13th August 1918 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Enlisted on the 10th May 1941 in Calgary. Previously served in the army. Commissioned Pilot Officer on the 11th March 1942. Son of Thomas James Crowe and Caroline Matilda Crowe (Nee Edmison - died 16th January 1843 after a long illness), of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Brother of Florence Caroline and Margaret Eleanor.

Sgt. Henry Edwin Ash. Gibraltar Memorial. Born on the 14th January 1922 at Wellington. A milkman for Wellington City Corporation prior to service. Enlisted on the 25th May 1942 at Levin. Trained in Canada. Awarded his air gunner badge on the 13th August 1941 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for Sierra Leone, West Africa on the 13th December 1942 for aircraft ferry duties and arrived on the 01st January 1943 at Waterloo. Son of Thomas Henry Ash and of Charlotte Ash (nee Muskett), nephew of Mrs. Sarah Mary Ann Pailthorpe (nee Ash), of Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand.151 flying hours logged.

Sgt. Ronald Charles Granville Rickett. Gibraltar Memorial. Born on the 07 July 1922 at Murrumburrah. Farmhand prior to service. Enlisted on the 20th July 1941 at Sydney. Awarded Air gunner badge on the 23rd May 1942 and promoted to sergeant. Son of Charles Alfred and Ruby Rickett (nee Mcleod), of Wallendbeen, New South Wales, Australia.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Michael Beckers for accident report details, Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 24-03-2021

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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', 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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