05/06.08.1944 No. 299 Squadron Stirling IV LJ878 5G-T P/O. Uru
Operation: Special Operations 'Ian 7'
Date: 05/06th August 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 299 Squadron, 38 Group
Type: Stirling IV
Base: RAF Keevil, Wiltshire
Location: Plougoumelen, France
Pilot: P/O. Henare Whakatau Uru NZ/39589 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Alfred Anthony Hull 1588979 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: W/O. Robert Jack Braddock NZ/416081 RNAF Age 26. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Allan Eunson AUS/410536 RAAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Walter Nelson Irving J/87928 RCAF Age 26. Killed
Air/Gnr: W/O II. Gordon Fletcher Harrison R/112810 RCAF Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Three aircraft from the Squadron were detailed to drop several containers to the French Special Air Service and members of the French Resistance in the Baden area of France.
LJ878 left the base at RAF Keevil in Wiltshire at 23:00 hrs. The others at 22:38 hrs, flown by Fl/Lt. Taylor and 22:44 hrs flown by P/O. Tevell.
On arrival over the drop zone the aircraft circled looking for the rendezvous lights. The pilots of the two other aircraft saw LJ878 hit by anti-aircraft fire whilst at about 500 ft. and crashed into the village of Plougoumelen hitting several buildings and causing fires at around 00:45hrs. Sadly, in addition to the loss of all six crew members, three civilians on the ground also perished.
It wasn't until later in 1945 that the full facts were established by No. 1 Missing Research Enquiry Unit and details submitted to the relatives of the crew. Over 1,000 local inhabitants attended the funeral for the crew and a full service was provided with the coffins covered in flowers.
The area was finally liberated by troops of the USA a few days later.
P/O. Henare Whakatau Uru. Plougoumelen Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Born on the 21st February 1921. The son of Henare Whakatau Uru (New Zealand Politician) and of Gladys Constance May Uru (née Rogers), of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. Henare who was from Oxford, Canterbury was of New Zealand Maori descent (Ngai Tahu). A total of 664 flying hours logged and on his 9th operational sortie.
Sgt. Alfred Anthony Hull. Plougoumelen Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. No further details, are you able to assist?
W/O. Robert Jack Braddock. Plougoumelen Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Born on the 22nd February 1918. The son of Alfred and Annie Maud Braddock (née Whiteman), of Upper Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 457 flying hours logged and on his 1st operational sortie.
Fl/Sgt. Leonard Allan Eunson. Plougoumelen Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Born on the 18th October 1919 at Northcote, the son of Frederick Charles and Mabel Kate Eunson, of 11 Walsall Avenue, Preston, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "With Christ Which Is Far Better".
P/O. Walter Nelson Irving. Plougoumelen Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Understood to be from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. No further details, are you able to assist?
W/O. II, Gordon Fletcher Harrison. Plougoumelen Communal Cemetery. Collective grave. Understood to be from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. No further details, are you able to assist?
Researched BY Jenifer Lemaire for Aircrew Remembered - June 2019. Dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, Australian National Archives, other sources as quoted below:
Image Credit (Henare Uru) - Auckland Library Heritage Collection: 29 November 1944: AWNS19441129-26-38.
Image Credit (Robert Braddock) - Auckland Library Heritage Collection: 1 November 1944: AWNS19441101-24-40.
Image Credit (Walter Irving) - Veteran Affairs, Canada.
Image Credit (Gordon Harrison) - Veteran Affairs, Canada.
Image credit (LJ878 Memorial) - M. Oleg Marin.