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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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408
408 Squadron Halifax VII NP710 P/O. Ronald Smith

Operation: Castrop-Rauxel

Date: 11th September 1944 (Monday)

Unit: No. 408 Squadron (motto: 'For freedom'). 6 Group

Type: Halifax VII

Serial: NP710

Code: EQ-S

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire

Location: At base, RAF Linton-on-Ouse

Pilot: P/O. Ronald Ward Smith J/86658 RCAF Age 31. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Douglas John Milburn 1390244 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

Nav: F/O. Norman Colin McKillop J/24037 RCAF Age 21. seriously Injured (1)

Air/Bmr: F/O. George Marshall Houston J/35018 RCAF Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. John Nicholas Kerry J/37220 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: F/O. Charles Theodore Storey J/38262 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Walter Donald Cooke /200336 RCAF Seriously Injured (2)

MT Driver: LAC Gordon James Barraball R/271290 RCAF Age 25. Killed

MT Driver: Cpl. Lloyd Emil Jacobson R/66466 RCAF Slightly injured. (3)

MT Motor Mechanic: LAC Victor Lloyd George Billson R/139004 RCAF Injured (4)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 16:01 hrs with 89 others to bomb the synthetic oil plants at Castrop-Rauxel. Three plants were to be bombed by a total of 379 aircraft. The 3 raids were escorted by 26 fighter squadrons made up of Spitfires, Mustangs and Tempests. No German fighters were encountered and the loss of 5 allied aircraft was due to flak or friendy bombs. 1 other returned very badly damaged and struck off charge.

Weather conditions: - take off 16:01 hrs. 4/10 cumulous cloud Base 4000 ft. Visibility 40 miles. Wind calm.

Weather conditions: accident 18:24 hrs. 1/10 cumulous cloud Base 4000 ft. Visibility 31 miles. Wind 3-4 mph.

After about an hour into flight NP710, the starboard outer engine failed over the Wash in Norfolk. The crew opted to return to base and jettison the bomb load at the specified place over the North Sea.

At 18:24 hrs. whilst attempting to land at the base their line on the runway was not good so the pilot opted to overshoot, immediately after pulling up from the landing run the starboard inner then failed and with power being applied to the good engines on the port side the aircraft began to swing to starboard.

With wheels and flaps down and with a low airspeed the aircraft stalled and side-slipped into the ground, it just missed striking a hanger before crashing into the M.T. vehicle section on the edge of the airfield. The aircraft burst into flames damaging buildings and vehicles, killing five of the crew and one of the MT drivers.

Another member of the crew was taken to Northallerton Hospital where he died just over twenty-four hours later. A further member of the crew escaped serious injury and two other MT drivers were injured. In total ten MT vehicles were also destroyed as well as serious damage to buildings and other equipment.

The airman killed were listed as all having multiple injuries with burns.

(1) F/O. Norman McKillop suffered 1st and 2nd-degree burns to his face, scalp and legs. Taken to RAF Northallrtyon hospital but died at 18:30 hrs. the following day.

(2) Fl/Sgt. Walter Cooke suffered fractured tibia and fibula also 1st and 2nd-degree burns. Taken to RAF Northallrtyon hospital where he recovered.

(3) Cpl. Lloyd Jacobson received slight injuries and was treated at station sick quarters.

(4) LAC. Victor Billson Suffered lacerations to the scalp and concussion, was taken to RAF Northallrtyon hospital and discharged on the 14th of September being granted 7 days sick leave.

Burial details:

P/O. Ronald Ward Smith. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot E Row D Grave 16. Born on the 21st May 1913 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Enlisted on the 29th of October 1941 in Ottawa. Awarded his pilots badge on the 30th December 1942. Son of John William and Annie Hay (nee Murray) Smith. His father died in 1926 and his mother in 1940. Brother of Murray S. Smith of 137 Lyall Street, Esquimalt, British Columbia, Canada.

Sgt. Douglas John Milburn, Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot E Row D Grave 12. Also remembered on the family grave at Tottenham Park Cemetery. Son of Albert Edward (died 02nd September 1955, age 73) and Mary Eugene Milburn (died 23rd July 1968, age 87) and husband of Monica Ruth Hamilton Milburn, of Bexley, Kent, England. Grave inscription: 'For Ever In Our Thoughts, Until We Meet Again R.I.P.'

F/O. Norman Colin McKillop. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot E Row D Grave 19. Born on the 03rd October 1922. Enlisted on the 19th February 1943. Navigators badge and a commission on 19th February 1943. Son of Duncan and Mary McKillop of 1335 Grafton Avenue, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. His brother Duncan Traylen McKillop also served in the RCAF, survived the war as a PoW. Further details here. Grave inscription: 'We Loved Him Best Of All'.

F/O. George Marshall Houston. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot E Row D Grave 17. Born on the 08th February 1915. Enlisted on the 20th of May 1942. Worked as a traffic and shipping clerk prior to service. Son of George Orland Houston (died 28th September 1982, age 89) and Annie Marshall Houston (née Robinson - died 18th December 1987, age 94) and husband of Violet Catherine Houston of 62 Evans Avenue, Toronto, Canada. Grave inscription: 'Christ Is The Way And Christ The Right'.

F/O. John Nicholas Kerry. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 55.B.5. Born on the 30th August 1921. Son of George and Mary Kerry, of 1084 Pape Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription: 'Ever Loved By His Sorrowing Mother, Dad, Dorothy, Harry And Patsy "Rest In Peace'.

F/O. John Nicholas Charles. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Plot 55 Row B Grave 5. Born on the 30th August 1921 in Ontario. Worked for Robert Simpson department store in Toronto prior to service. Enlisted on the 21st October 1942 at Halifax. Awarded his air gunners badge on the 18th October 1943. Joined 408 Squadron on 15th June 1944. Son of George and Mary Kerry (née Fitzsimmons), of 1084 Pape Avenu, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription: 'Ever Loved By His Sorrowing Mother, Dad, Dorothy, Harry And Patsy Rest In Peace'.

F/O. Charles Theodore Storey. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot E Row D Grave 13. Born on the 26th May 1924 in Montreal. Enlisted on the 24th of February 1943. Awarded air gunner badge and commissioned on the 12th November 1943. Trained at 24 OTU and 1664 HCU before joining 408 Squadron on the 15th of June 1944. Son of Charles Theodore Storey and of Florence Rose Storey (nee Lajoie), of Outremont, Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada. Grave inscription: 'True Happiness On Earth Is Enjoyed, When Sacrifice Leads To Heaven'.

MLAC Gordon James Barraball. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Plot E Row D Grave 14. Born on the 21st September 1918 at Clark, Ontario. Enlisted on the 23rd August 1943. Son of Theophilus Pascoe Barraball (died 14th April 1964, age 87) and Corona May Barraball (née Tucher - died 10th August 1969, age 84) and husband of Frances Marion Barraball )née Reynolds, later Stacey - died 13th October 2012, age 92), of Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription: 'May My Loved One Rest In Peace. Frances'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to John Jones for extensive information and photographs, RAF Form 142, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 30-12-2021

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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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