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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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627 Squadron
29.06.1944 627 Squadron Mosquito IV DZ516, Fg Off. James A. Saint-Smith DFC, DFM

Operation: Constructional Works, Beauvoir, France

Date: 29th June 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: 627 Squadron

Type: Mosquito VI

Serial: DZ516

Code: AZ:O

Base: RAF Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, England

Location: Vaulx, Belgium

Pilot: Fg Off. James Alexander ‘Alec’ Saint-Smith 403380 DFC, DFM RAAF Age 26. Killed

Navigator: Fg Off. Geoffrey Ernest Heath 6025 DFC, DFM RAAF Age 26. Killed

Above: Fg Off. Saint-Smith. (Credit Australian War Memorial and courtesy of John Jones).

Above: Fg Off. Heath 5th from the left and his new wife after their wedding ceremony. Standing behind Fg Off. Heath is Fg Off. Saint-Smith, his best man. (Credit Australian War Memorial and courtesy of John Jones).


Note: This Mosquito had been purchased by money raised in a Bournemouth Wings for Victory Week appeal and in 1996 the aircraft’s operational log book was discovered, along with several other similar documents, in the Town Hall by the then Mayor, Councillor Jean Moore.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Four Mosquitos were detailed to attack Constructional Works at Beauvoir in France. This was the first daylight operation carried out by the Sqn. DZ516 took-off from RAF Woodhall Spa at 12:36 hrs.

Three of the Mosquitos, with DZ516 designated as Marker #2, were to mark the target whilst the forth aircraft, Mosquito IV DZ521 AZ:M flown by Wg Cdr. John Simpson DFC, and navigator Sqn Ldr. William Geoffrey Wishart DFC & Bar, was the designated controller.

Marker #1 dropped 2 Red and 2 Green Target Indicators (TI) followed by the other two Markers aircraft. Their TIs were concentrated in an area 50/100 yards from the actual marking point.

Bombing by the heavy bombers commenced at 03:46 hours and for the first 2½ minutes fell in the eastern half of the target. Towards the end of the attack there was a large amount of smoke which increased bombing errors, but generally the bombing was considered to be good.

Two of the Mosquitos failed to return to base, they were not heard or seen after the attack was over.

It was believed that DZ516 was homebound when the Mosquito was downed by a premature in-flight explosion from a V1 (Vergeltungswaffe 1 = Vengeance Weapon 1) flying bomb, launched from a nearby site. It was established that the Mosquito crashed at 11:30 hrs near the village of Vaulx some 4 km SE of Tournai in Belgium. The crew were killed instantly when the aircraft crashed and was totally destroyed.

The second Mosquito IV, DZ482 AZ:P lost was hit by flak shortly after releasing its markers.

Fg Off J.G. de B. Platts 147194 and Fg Off. C.G. Thompson J16603 RCAF bailed out at 3,000 ft. Fg Off. Platts was captured and became a PoW at Stalag Luft 3. Fg Off. Thompson successfully evaded and returned to England on the 11th September 1944.


Fg Off. Saint-Smith and Fg Off. Heath were awarded the DFM when they were both Flt Sgts. on the first tour with 460 Sqn RAAF. The awards were promulgated in the London Gazette on the 14th May 1943.

The citation for 403380 Flt Sgt. Saint-Smith reads: "Flight Sergeant Saint-smith has displayed outstanding determination in pressing home his attacks on enemy targets during numerous operational sorties. Early in March, 1943, he participated in a raid on Berlin and obtained an excellent photograph after the bombs had been released. He has at all times taken great care to identify the target and has, as pilot, done all in his power to ensure accurate bombing. His high courage, skill and initiative have set a magnificent example to his crew."

The citation for 6025 Flt Sgt. Heath reads: "As a NCO Pilot Officer HEATH took part in many successful sorties including a raid on Milan and three on Berlin. His last sortie was against Berlin on the 1st March, 1943. He has displayed great skill often in difficult circumstances, which has played a large part in the success obtained. Cool and resourceful in an emergency, he has proved himself to be a valuable member of aircraft crew."

Fg Off. Saint-Smith was commissioned on the 18th February 1943. He enlisted in the RAAF on the 6th January 1941. Fg Off. Heath was commissioned on the 18th January 1943. He enlisted in the RAAF on the 30th October 1939.

Fg Off. Saint-Smith and Fg Off. Heath were posthumously awarded the DFC during their second tour with 627 Sqn. The awards were promulgated in the London Gazette on the 15th August 1944.

The citation for Fg Off. Saint-Smith reads: "Flying Officer SAINT-SMITH has taken part in a number of major attacks on Germany and enemy occupied territory. He has taken an important part in attacking an aircraft factory near Oslo and in several other operations against targets in Germany and France exerting himself to the utmost to ensure their complete and final success. All these operations have been accomplished from a low level and have owed much of their effectiveness to his conspicuous gallantry and determination."

The citation for Fg Off. Heath reads: "As navigator, Flying Officer HEATH has flown on many long distance sorties. The targets have been varied and in many cases difficult to locate but his navigational skill, together with his great determination has invariably located the exact position. The success of many of these attacks can largely be attributed to this officer’s initiative and co-operation."


Burial details:

Above grave markers for Fg Off. Saint-Smith and Fg Off. Heath (Credit: Len - FindAGrave)

Fg Off. James Alexander ‘Alec’ Saint-Smith, DFC, DFM. Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Plot 8. Row D. Joint grave 13-14. Inscription reads: "AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER." Born on the 29th December 1917 in Singleton, New South Wales. Son of Raymond and Catherine Mary (née Watts) Saint-Smith, of Earlwood, New South Wales, Australia. He was engaged to Beryl Elizabeth Job from Goodword, Cumnock, New South Wales in October 1943.

Fg Off. Geoffrey Ernest Heath, DFC, DFM. Abbeville Communal Cemetery, Plot 8. Row D. Joint grave 13-14. Inscription reads"YOUR DUTY NOBLY DONE. GOD BLESS YOU. EVER REMEMBERED BY ALL." Born on the 27th December 1917 in Croydon, New South Wales. Son of Ernest William and Queenie Dorothy Levy (née Taylor) Heath, of Croydon, New South Wales, Australia; husband of Elizabeth Waring (née Sumner) Heath, of North Duffield, Yorkshire, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this Pilot. (May 2021). Thanks to John Jones for the photographs of Fg Off. Heath’s wedding and Fg Off. Saint-Smith. (May 2021)

RS 16.05.2021 - Initial upload

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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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