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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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75 crest
08/09 July 1942 75 Squadron Wellington III X3557 P/O. Smith

Operation: Wilhelmshaven, Germany

Date: 08/09 July 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron (motto: Ake ake kia kaha - For ever and ever be strong'). 91 Group

Type: Wellington III

Serial: X3557

Code: AA-X

Base: RAF Feltwell, Norfolk

Location: Wadden Sea

Pilot: P/O. Trevor Harry Smith NZ/41953 RNZAF Age 24. Killed

Pilot: P/O. Donald Norman Potts NZ/412267 RNZAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Obs: P/O. Alan Stewart Broun NZ/405367 RNZAF Age 32. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Anthony Young NZ/405771 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Edwin McKenzie NZ/391085 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Jack Ralph Gavegan NZ/402128 RNZAF Age 30. Missing - believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at around 23:40 hrs as part of a 285 bomber force to bomb Wilhelmshaven.

Flying low over the North Sea and Borkum they remained undetected by German long range radar giving the night fighters very short notice of an attack.

5 aircraft were lost:

Wellington III X3634 from 101 squadron - shot down by marine flak at 01:40 hrs. Flown by 20 year old P/O. James Richard Tregea 104371 RAFVR from Argentina. All 5 crew missing - believed killed.

Wellington IV Z1489 from 300 squadron - shot down by marine flak at 01:54 hrs. Flown by Sgt. Leon Szychowiak 793835 PAF. 4 crew survived a ditching, 1 missing - believed killed.

Halifax II W1107 from 102 squadron - shot down by night fighter (Oblt. Rudolf Sigmund of Stab II./NJG2) at 01:52 hrs. Flown by Fl/Sgt. Brian James Treloar 404268 RAAF. 5 crew members taken PoW, 1 killed during the attack.

Lancaster I R5861 from 106 squadron - shot down by night fighter (Oblt. Paul Gildner of 5./NJG2) at 02:34 hrs. Flown by 25 year old P/O. Kenneth James Broderick 115109 RAFVR. All 7 crew crew missing - believed killed

Wellington III X3557 was shot down by the night fighter crew of Hptm. Helmut Lent and Feldwebel Walter Kubisch of the Stab II./NJG 2, who were flying Bf 110 F-4 R4+AC from Leeuwarden airfield. X3557 came down at around 01:30 hrs south of Rottumeroog in the Wadden Sea - all the crew were lost with only two crew bodies knowingly recovered.

Burial details:

P/O. Trevor Harry Smith. Oldebroek General Cemetery. Grave 41. Born on the 27th March 1918 at Canterton. A clerk for the Social Security Department prior to service. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Levin on the 09th February 1941, as a pilot under training. Awarded his pilots badge and received his commission on the 28th July 1941. Embarked for England on the 14th August 1941. Joined 75 squadron on the 18th May 1941 from 11 Operational Training Unit. Son of Walter George Thomas Smith and of Hannah Elizabeth Smith (nee Price), of Matarawa, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 355 flying hours logged and on his 13th operational sortie.

P/O. Donald Norman Potts. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 116. Born on the 27th Mat 1917 at Opotiki. A clerk for R. Ridley prior to service. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Levin on the 09th February 1941, as a pilot under training. Awarded his pilots badge and received his commission on the 27th September 1941. Embarked for England on the 20th October 1941. Joined 75 squadron on the 26th June 1942 from 22 Operational Training Unit. A total of 286 flying hours logged and on his 3rd operational sortie.Son of Norman and Myra Potts (nee Dobson) , of Opotiki, Auckland, New Zealand (additional details below)

P/O. Alan Stewart Broun. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 115. Born on the 30th June 1910 at Kaeo. A self employed bookkeeper prior to service. Served 21/2 years in the territorial army. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Levin on the 22nd December er 1940, initially as an observer. Embarked for Canada on the 27th February 1941. Awarded his observer badge and promoted to sergeant on the 22nd July 1941. Received his commission on the 18th August 1941. Embarked for England on the 15th September 1941. Joined 75 squadron on the 18th May 1941 from 11 Operational Training Unit. Son of James Scotter and Margaret Broun (nee Day) of Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. total of 332 flying hours logged and on his 10th operational sortie.

Sgt. George Anthony Young. Schiermonnikoog Cemetery (Vredenhof) Grave 84. Born on the 11th January 1921 at Palmerston North. A postman for T and P Department prior to service. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Ohakea on the 21st December 1940, as an aircraft hand. Embarked for Canada on the 14th May 1941. Awarded his wireless operator badge and promoted to sergeant on the 25th October 1941. Embarked for England on the 01st November 1941. Joined 75 squadron on the 18th May 1942 from 11 Operational Training Unit. Son of George Young and of Joan Young (nee Oman), of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 138 flying hours logged and on his 15th operational sortie.

Sgt. Frank Edwin McKenzie. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 117. Born on the 02nd September at Croydon, Surrey, England. Family moved to New Zealand in 1932. A telegraphist for T and P Department prior to service. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Wigram on the 26 October 1939. Embarked for England on the 25th July 1940. Awarded his wireless operator badge and promoted to sergeant on the 04th October 1941. Joined 75 squadron on the 18th May 1942 from 11 Operational Training Unit. Son of Frank Harold and Blanche Louisa McKenzie (nee Cole), of Bryndwr, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. A total of 225 flying hours logged and on his 15th operational sortie.

P/O. Jack Ralph Gavegan. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 116. Born on the12th January 1941 at Auckland. A farmer for A.H. Cort's Farm at Wharepapa prior to service. Enlisted in the RNZAF at Levin on the 28th July 1940. Embarked for England on the 06th October 1940. Awarded his air gunner badge and promoted to sergeant on the 20 September 1940. Commissioned on the 12th August 1941. Joined 75 squadron on the 11th June 1941 after service with 125 squadron and 255 squadrons. Son of Cecil Percival Gavegan, and of Catherine Mary Gavegan (nee Ralph), of Adelaide, South Australia. Earlier of Epsom, Auckland. A total of 320 flying hours logged and on his 68th operational sortie, his 8th with 75 squadron.


Special additional information on P/O. David Bayntun Starky by Sonia Edwards researching all who lost their lives from the Bay Of Plenty area of New Zealand.

Pilot Officer Donald Norman (aka Peter) POTTS (1917-1942) was the son of Norman (1886- 1970) and Myra POTTS (née DOBSON1888-1984) of Wellington Street, Opotiki. Norman Potts was a Partner in Potts & Hodgson, Barristers and Solicitors. He was a renowned botanist, collecting flora from throughout New Zealand, for the Hukutaia Domain at Woodlands, Opotiki. ‘Peter’ POTTS was born 27 May 1917 in Opotiki. The family worshipped at St Stephens the Martyr, Anglican Church in Opotiki.

Donald Potts, known as Peter, was working as a farm hand for the Reid Brothers, when he left Opotiki to join the air force in 1940. He had spent some time as a clerk for Ridley & Co. Opotiki. He was an old pupil of the Opotiki Public School and Opotiki District High School, before going on to Mt Albert Grammar School for his final secondary years. Here he played tennis and was in the First Fifteen.

He had one brother Robert Geoffrey (b.1924) and two sisters, Mary Esther (b.1915 m. F Martin) and Phyllis (b.1921). Phyllis married one of her brother’s friends, a fellow pilot Alex McLaughlin (d.1944) before the two men left for overseas.

Right: Alex McLaughlin - further information here.

The Opotiki Patriotic Society gave Potts a money belt, with £1 as a farewell token. Later a further 30/- was sent through his pay office.

Potts trained in New Zealand with the Royal New Zealand Airforce Initial Training Wing at Levin, as an Airman under training 13 April 1941. He gained his Airman Pilot’s Badge & Commission, 27 September 1941, and then on 20 October 1941 he sailed aboard the Mariposa for the United Kingdom. He was attached to the Royal Air Force working at the RAF College Service Flying Training School 6 Dec 1941. 20 May 1942 found NZ412267 Potts at 22 Operational Training Unit, flying with Wellingtons. He soon joined 75 (NZ) Squadron in the United Kingdom, under Bomber Command. He did three operations.

A flight of 285 aircraft took part in a raid over Wilhelmshaven Germany on the night of Wednesday 8/Thursday 9 July 1942. 5Five aircraft were lost. Leaving Fretwell in Norfolk with Group3 from 75 (NZ) Squadron, the Wellington III X3557 with Pilot Officer DN Potts as second Pilot, took off at approximately 2340-0010 and was shot down over the Dutch coast by a night fighter at 0130. They crashed into the Waddenzee near the island of Rottumeroog. All six New Zealand flyers perished. Two bodies were washed ashore and buried. The rest of the crew are remembered at Runnymede Memorial. Potts had flown 286 hours and this was his first air operation over Germany.

NZ412267 Pilot Officer Donald Norman (Peter) Potts was 25 years old. He was killed on air operations 8 July 1942, and is remembered at Runnymede Memorial Surrey, United Kingdom.

His name is on the Hall of Memories at Auckland’s War Memorial Museum. He is also remembered at Opotiki on the Opotiki Cenotaph.

Credits: Opotiki War Vigilance Association register p 338, AWNS 19420805-19-4 Heritage images Auck Public Library, Opotiki War Vigilance Records p 338.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Sonia Edwards and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Dr. Theo Boiten amazing work with the 'Nachtjagd Combat Archive, The Early Years, Part 3', Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Kracker Archive, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 27-07-2021

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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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