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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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142 Squadron Crest
16/17.11.1942 No. 142 Squadron Wellington III BK278 QT-C P/O. Stower

Operation: Gardening

Date: 16/17th November 1942 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 142 Squadron

Type: Wellington III

Serial: BK278

Code: QT-C

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.

Burial details:

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.

RS 01.10.2019 - Inclusion of Nachtjagd War Diaries - Vol 1, Dr. Theo E W Boiton entry

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake
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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