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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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214 Squadron Crest
17/18.02.1943 No. 214 Squadron Stirling I R9163 BU-C P/O. Rundle

Operation: Gardening

Date: 17/18th February 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 214 Squadron. 3 Group (motto: Ultor in umbris - 'Avenging in the shadows')

Type: Stirling I

Serial: R9163

Code: BU-C

Base: RAF Chedbugh, Suffolk

Location: Near Alton, Hampshire

Pilot: P/O. John Reginald Rundle NZ/414346 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Harold George Claridge RAFVR Safe

Nav: Sgt. James Chute Chalmers NZ/413772 RNZAF Age 20. Safe

Air/Bmr: Sgt. L.G. Wright RAFVR Safe

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. T.J. Wilson RAFVR Safe

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John E. Flack RAFVR Safe

Air/Gnr: Sgt. H.A. Wilson RAFVR Safe

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off on a Gardening operation to the Gironde Estuary in south western France. The crew located the target and were then engaged by a night fighter after they had dropped other air mines. Although the Stirling was damaged the New Zealand pilot managed to return to England.

Over Portsmouth they were mistaken for a Luftwaffe aircraft and then fired on by Allied anti-aircraft unit, suffering further damage.

By now they were running very low on fuel and decided to head to Odiham field. But some 10 miles short of the airfield the engines cut out and the pilot ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft.

All the crew abandoned safely but tragically the pilot struck one of the propellers during the bale out, killing him. His body discovered in the woods near Four Marks village.

Sgt. Chalmers escaped with injuries (together with all of this crew but with Fl/Sgt. D.C. Moore RCAF as the pilot) just the next month on the 09/10th March 1943 whilst with 214 Squadron. Stirling III R9358 BU-A.Taking off at 20:39 hrs on an operation to München when the port Oleo failed to retract and they clipped a tree and then a house. Two of the crew were awarded the George medal for rescuing Sgt Flack from the wreckage.

Sgt. James Chute Chalmers (shown left) then a pilot officer, was listed as missing - believed killed on 'D' Day 1944. With 88 Squadron Boston IIIA BZ243 RH-N laying a smoke screen for the invading allied armies when their aircraft was hit by flak. The pilot 21 year old, P/O. Alan John Boyle 179549 RAFVR also listed as missing whilst the body of the W/Op/Air/Gnr. 21 year old, P/O. Alan Toulson Gardner 179601 RAFVR was recovered and buried.

Sgt. Chalmers escaped with injuries earlier on the 09/10th June 1943 whilst with 214 Squadron. Stirling III R9358 BU-A.Taking off at 20:39 hrs on an operation to München when the port Oleo failed to retract and they clipped a tree and then a house. Two of the crew were awarded the George medal for rescuing Sgt Flack from the wreckage.

Burial details:

P/O. John Reginald Rundle. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 2.E.1A. Born on the 05th September 1918 at Christchurch, the son of William and Eileen Josephine Rundle (née Stack), of Reefton, Nelson, New Zealand and husband of Nelly Rundle, of St. Andrews, Canterbury, New Zealand. Prior to enlisting on the 27th July 1941 worked as a carpenter for NZR Workshops in Adlington. A total of 413 flying hours logged with 56 on the Stirling. His 3rd operational sortie.

Later:

P/O. James Chute Chalmers. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 263. Born on the 08th October 1922 at Invercargill, the son of Alexander and Norah Catherine Chalmers, of Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand. Prior to enlisting on the 06th July 1941 worked as a clerk for Kilkelly Brothers at Invercargill. A total of 441 flying hours logged and having completed 29 operational sorties.

P/O. Alan John Boyle. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 210. Son of John Lewis Boyle and Florence Isabel Boyle, of Jersey, Channel Islands.

P/O. Alan Toulson Gardner. St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen. Block "S". Plot 4. Row U. Grave 18. Son of John Edwin and Dora Gardner, of Southwark, London, England. Grave inscription: 'In Proud Memory Of Alan. Dearly Loved Younger Son Of John And Dora Gardner'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot 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 - 04.01.2020

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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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