16/17.11.1942 No. 142 Squadron Wellington III BK278 QT-C P/O. Stower
Date: 16/17th November 1942 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 142 Squadron
Type: Wellington III
Base: RAF Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Location: North Sea
Pilot: P/O. John Gifford Stower MiD. 107520 RAFVR Age 26. PoW No: 836 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Obs: W/O. F. Renkiewicz R/84125 RCAF PoW No. 898 Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Obs: Sgt. Hilton Edwin Peake 139484 RAFVR Age 33. PoW No: 894 Camp: Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Horace Edward John Wilkinson R/79192 RCAF Age 25. PoW No: 911 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Petrie Smart Rae 1059610 RAFVR PoW No. 896 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Grimsby at 17:14 hrs on a Gardening Operation to the Frisian Islands. The aircraft was hit by IV & V/5 Res Flak Abt 247 and 1 & 5/Marine Flak 247. Crashed in mud flats South of Busum near St Peter either at 1955 or 2018 hrs. At 0700 hrs a dinghy with the crew of five was washed ashore at Friedrichskoog. (Nachtjagd War Diaries - Vol 1, Dr. Theo E W Boiton).
W/O. Renkiewicz having joined this crew in order to obtain further operational experience.
Sadly, although all the other crew survived the war, the Pilot, then a Flight lieutenant was one of the "50" captured during the Great Escape from Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria. On the direct orders from German High Command, 50 of the 78 escapees were ordered to be murdered, bodies cremated to avoid discovery of the crimes. Fl/Lt. John Gifford Stower was one of these. He was recaptured in the area of Reichenberg and murdered on the 31st March 1944 - by unknown members of the Gestapo. Following the end of the war, priority was given to finding those responsible for the murders of the fifty - many were found, faced a war crime trial receiving various sentences, others were killed in the latter stages of the war, some committed suicide before coming to trial.
Fl/Lt. John Gifford Stower MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Collective Grave 9.A. Born in Argentina on the 15th September 1916, the son of the late Gifford Stower and Mrs. Euphemia Stower (née Moffatt) of Buenos Aires, Argentina and also care of Mrs M.H. Dobson of 25 Walsingham Road, Hove, Sussex, England. Brother to Elizabeth and Kathleen.
Our friend and leading Argentinian researcher and author, Claudio Meunier is compiling a book on the pilot - if you have any further information we would be proud to both add it to the page and also advise Claudio. Also many thanks to our Linda Ibrom and Kate Tame for there further extensive research into this page. Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown. Thanks to John Jones for the reference to the Nachtjagd War Diaries - Vol 1, Dr. Theo E W Boiton entry for the aircraft.