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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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16/17th July 1941 40 Squadron Wellington IC X3220 BL-H Sq/Ldr. Weighill

Operation: Hamburg

Date: 16/17th July 1941 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron (motto: Hostem acolo expellere - 'To drive the enemy from the sky') 3 Group

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: X3220

Code: BL-H

Base: RAF Alconbury, Cambridgeshire

Location: West Caister, Norfolk

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Reginald George Weighill 24033 RAF Age 36. Killed

Pilot: Sgt. Raymond Denis Hesketh 1293627 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Obs: Sgt. William Edgar Gibb R/60227 RCAF Agre 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Denis Arthur Price 916138 RAFVR Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Vernon Hardcastle Leng 1150760 RAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Alexander Walter Wilkinson 68728 RAFVR Age 30. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 23:05 from RAF Alconbury on an operation to Hamburg. 107 aircraft taking part from which 5 failed to return.

20 aircrew killed with 7 others taken PoW.

It is thought that the pilot of X3220 was blinded by searching heights whilst at about 500 feet. The aircraft came down at 23:20 hrs at location shown.

The bodied were recovered by an RAF Bomb disposal team and in 1983 the crash site was excavated revealing propaganda leaflets.

Also lost from 40 squadron during this operation Wellington IC X9630 BL-J flown by 22 year old. Sgt. Alan Bird (details shown below). Shot down by the Luftwaffe ace, Ofw. Paul Gildner (1) of 3./HJG1, his 17th claim of the war. 5 of the crew were killed when the aircraft came down in the IJsselmeer at 03:27 hrs. Ofw. Gildner was flying Do 215 B-5 G9+NM from Leeuwarden airfield. The observer Sgt. J.R. Jamieson J/38637 RCAF was taken prisoner with the PoW number 1 at Stalag Lamsdorf.

(1) Oblt. Paul Gildner (shown right) born on the 01st February 1914 at Nimptsch, went on to claim a total of 48 victories before he was killed on the 24th February 1943 in a crash following engine failure. (courtesy Kracker Luftwaffe Archives)

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. Reginald George Weighill. Scottow Cemetery. Grave 255. Son of Reginald Henry and Martha Elizabeth Weighill and husband of Kathleen Weighill, of Rowley Park, Staffordshire.

Sgt. Raymond Denis Hesketh. Manchester Southern Cemetery. Sec. A. Nonconformist. Grave 36. From Barton upon Irwell, Lancashire. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. William Edgar Gibb. Scottow Cemetery. Grave 254. Born on the 31st May 1918 at Munron, Alberta. Worked at a store in Munson prior to service.Son of Andrew and Claudia Gibb, of Munson, Alberta, Canada and husband of Jessie Robb Gibb of Drumheller, Alberta. Grave inscription: 'In Gods Care'.

Sgt. Denis Arthur Price. Portsmouth (Milton) Cemetery. Plot X. Row 8. Grave 26. Attended Portsmouth Grammar School between 1928 - 1934. Next of kin details not known - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Vernon Hardcastle Leng. Mortlake Crematorium. Panel 8. Son of William Hardcastle Leng and Mabel Jessie Leng, of Earl's Court, London.

P/O. Alexander Walter Wilkinson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 35. Son of Alexander Alfred and Lucy Mary Ann Wilkinson and husband of Anne May Wilkinson, of Beckenham, Kent.

Wellington IC X9630 Crew:

Sgt. Alan William Porteous Bird. Texel Cemetery. (Den Burg). Plot K. Row 4. Grave 85. Born on the 19yth November 198 at Invercargill. Worked as a clerk for Stat Advances Corporation prior to enlisting. Enlisted on the 04th June 1940 at Levin. Pilots badge awarded on the 18th October 1940 and promoted to sergeant on the 21st December 1940 following training at No. 1 Flying Training aSchool. Son of William and Lilias May Gibson Bird (nee Fisher), of Timaru, Canterbury, New Zealand. A total of 334 flying hours logged and on his 15th operational sortie. NZ/401369 Age 22.

Sgt. Leslie James Harrison. Texel Cemetery. (Den Burg). Plot K. Row 3. Grave 51. on of Albert and Beatrice Harrison, of Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. Grave inscription: 'Remembrance Is The Golden Chain Which Links Us Till We Meet Again'. 1062366 Age 19.

Sgt. Bernard Hassall. Texel Cemetery. (Den Burg). Plot K. Row 2. Grave 39. Son of Harold Hassall, and of Mary Hannah Hassall, of Holcombe Brook, Lancashire.. Grave inscription: 'Deep In Our Hearts His Memory Is Kept, We Loved Him Too Dearly Ever To Forget'. 990447 Age 24.

Sgt. Orville Insell Platt. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 61. Born on the 19th September 1914 at Wolseley. Son of John Greenaway and Catherine Jane Platt and husband of Joan Margaret Platt (nee Conn) and daughter Beverler, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Worked as a miner at Hollinger gold mines prior to enlisting on the 06h June 194 at Sudbury, Ontario. R/51858. Age 27.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot 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, Portsmouth Grammar School, Ross McNeill, Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 23-06-2021

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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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