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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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3 Squadron Crest
28/29.07.1942 No. 3 Squadron Hurricane IIc HL858 QO-Y Fl/Sgt. Gawith

Operation: Intruder

Date: 28/29th July 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 3 Squadron 11 Group (motto: Tertius primus erit - 'The third shall be the first')

Type: Hurricane IIc

Serial: HL858

Code: QO-Y

Base: RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire

Location: Not known - North Sea

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Peter Masters Gawith DFM. NZ/402444 RNZAF Age 23. Missing - believed killed


One of two taking part in a night intruder operation to the Luftwaffe airfield at Gilze-Rijen. Shot down, it is thought, by Oblt. Heinrich Prinz sur Sayn-Wittgenstein of 9/NJG2 at 01:11 hrs over the North Sea.

The other aircraft was Hurricane IIC, BE370, QO-, flown by Flt.Sgt. 990450 Alexander Jeremiah Shirm, RAFVR. Dutch witnesses stated that they saw a "Hurribomber" attack Gilze Rijen airfield and drop 3 bombs. It circled the airfield again to attack and was hit heavily by flak and was seen to fly away. It was not seen again. His body was recovered - details shown below.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Peter Masters Gawith DFM. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 117. Also remembered on the Carterton War Memorial, Wairarapa. Born on the 19th March 1919 at Masterton, Wairarapa, North Island, the son of Alan Clyfford Gawith and Justine Isabel Gawith, of Paraparaumu Beach, Wellington, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a farmer. Enlisted on the 09th July 1940 and trained with the Empire Air Training Scheme, Canada. A total of 360 flying hours logged and having completed some 37 operational sorties.


Fl/Sgt. Alexander Jeremiah Shirm. Ouddorp General Cemetery. Row 2, grave 5. Son of Charles William and Caroline Mary Emily Shirm, of Birkdale, Southport, Lancashire, England. Previously served with Customs and Excise Department.

Researched by Jenifer Lemaire for Aircrew Remembered - April 2019 and 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, thanks also to John Jones for the eye witness details for BE370, other sources as quoted below:

Note: Images of pilot reproduced under licence: Auckland Library Heritage Collection: 7 October 1942: AWNS1942-1007-19-4.

RS 18.06.2019 - Update to include additional details for Hurricane IIC BE370

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', 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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