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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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7 Squadron Crest
06/07.11.1942 7 Squadron Stirling I W7620 MG:L Plt.Off. Tottman

Operation: Gardening

Date: 06/07th November 1942 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 7 Squadron. 3 Group (motto: Per diem, per noctem - 'By day and by night')

Type: StIrling I

Serial: W7620

Code: MG:L

Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire

Location: North Sea, west Vlieland, Netherlands

Pilot: Plt.Off. David James Tottman 411473 RNZAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Flt.Eng: Sgt. William James Salter 654120 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Nav: Fg.Off. George Cherniuk 10179 RCAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed

Air Bmr: Flt.Sgt. Ernest Richard Springham R97062 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

WOp/Air Gnr: WOII. William Mckenzie Martin R85779 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Reginald Edward Bates 1333842 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: Fg.Off. Peter Coulson Whitwell. DFM. 40613 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 16:59 hrs for a gardening operation in the 'Nectarines' area. 65 aircraft taking part on this nd other gardening operations.

Gardening - the RAF codenames for the laying of aerial mines in harbours, estuaries rivers etc. Please see our page on 'Gardening' Operation areas.

Stirling W7620 was one of five Stirlings on this sortie from 7 Sqn on the night in question. Of the other four Stirlings three could not locate the target and returned with their mines and the fourth found the target and laid its mines from 2000 ft. The four returned to base and there were no reports of encountering flak or damage.

One Lancaster abandoned on return over Kent. 17 crew missing or killed, 5 others PoW. The Lancaster crew all survived with various injuries.

Stirling W7620 was shot down by flak and claimed by 6./M. Flak Abt. 216 (Borkum), 6./M. Flak Abt. 246 battery Terschelling-Ost and 3./M. Flak Abt. 246 battery Vlieland-West. The aircraft crashed in the sea west of Vlieland at 19:59 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (30 May - 31 December 1942) The Early Years Part 3 - Theo Boiten)

Information received from Cas Straatman, who has access to information held by Dirk Bruin and the cultural-historical association Vlieland, it appears that the claim can be attributed to 6./M. Flak Abt. 246 battery Terschelling-Ost.

Burial details:

Plt.Off. David James Tottman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 117. Born on the 15th December 1917 at Palmerston North, the son of Edward Tottman and of Mary Tottman, (née Morton), of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. Worked as a clerk for P and T savings Bank prior to enlisting on the 02nd March 1941. A total of 391 flying hours logged and on his 12th operational sortie.

Sgt. William James Salter. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 93. Husband of Margaret Salter of Glasgow, Scotland.

Fg.Off. George Cherniuk. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 99. Born on the 23rd June 1918 at Cobalt, the son of Michael and Maria Cherniuk, of 7 Bank street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Prior to service worked as a miner for the Miranda Gold Mines.

Flt.Sgt. Ernest Richard Springham. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 106. Son of William T. and Esther N. Springham, of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada.

WOII. William Mckenzie Martin. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 102. Son of William Thomas Martin and Margaret Ann Martin, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Reginald Edward Bates. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 77. Son of Edward and Daisy Florence Bates, of Caterham, Surrey, England.

Fg.Off. Peter Coulson Whitwell DFM. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 114. Born on the on 16th August 1920 at Hartlepool, County Durham, the son of the Revd. Samuel Mapleton Whitwell and Gwendoline Whitwell (née Coulson), of Ashley Green, Buckinghamshire, England. Served with the Scots Grays before emigrating in late 1938. Joined the RNZAF as air gunner on the 13th February 1940. Served with 600 Squadron on Blenheims during the Battle Of Britain.

DFM citation 19th December 1941:

'This airman was the rear gunner of an aircraft which carried out a daylight attack on shipping off Borkum. During the operation the aircraft was attacked by a force of 8 Messerschmitt 109s. Displaying great coolness and accuracy of fire, Sergeant Whitwell warded off the first 4 attacks and, in the next one, seriously damaged one of the attackers which was observed to dive steeply away with the engine emitting black smoke. Three further attacks were made by the enemy aircraft and, in the last one Sergeant Whitwell scored a further success. Following a well-aimed burst by him, one of the enemy aircraft turned over and dived vertically. Oh another occasion, when his aircraft was attacked by a Messerschmitt 110, Sergeant Whitwell withheld his fire until the attacker had closed to a range of 50 yards and then shot it down in flames. This airman has displayed great ability, tenacity and courage'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand.Thanks to Cas Straatman for the update to the German flak claim (Jan 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2021). Other sources as quoted below:

RS 02.01.2021 - Update to German Flak claim and other updates.

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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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