Daily Archives: July 29, 2013

Information requested on Robert Toller – Ward crew. KIA 15th September 1941

I have been contacted by Carl, whose uncle was Robert Toller, the Wireless Operator of the crew Captained by James Allen ‘Jimmy’ Ward V.C. on the night of 15th September 1941, when 4 of the 6 crew were lost.

My natural reaction regarding a request such as this is to go straight to the ORB for that month. What I found was surprising, bemusing  and frustrating. After staring at the 2 pages of Form 541, relating to the Hamburg raid, I realised that there was no evidence of the Ward crews participation, let alone loss in this raid. The only veiled reference to a loss was;

“One plane was seen to be shot down and observations show that Searchlights and Night Fighters were co-operating very well.”

A check of Form 540 gave me;

Operations.              BOMBING ATTACKS AGAINST TARGETS AT HAMBURG.
Twelve Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. Two of these aircraft failed to return; one being captained by SGT. J.A. Ward who was awarded  the Victoria Cross on 4th August, 1941. There was clear weather over the target, and bursts were seen in many parts of target area. A.A. fire was heavy over and near target area. Searchlights were numerous, working in cones, and co-operating with A.A. fire and night fighters.

Based on the previous Op the crew flew and a check with the Roll of Honour, the Ward crew that night were;

Sgt James Allen ‘Jimmy’ Ward, VC, RNZAF NZ401793 – Pilot.
Died age 22. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt Horace Gordon Sloman, RAFVR 929627 – 2Pilot.
Died age 21. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt L. E. Peterson RAFVR – Observer.
Shot down. PoW no. 9630. PoW Camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags VIIIB, Luft VI, 357. Safe UK NK.

Sgt Robert William Toller, RAFVR 1054292 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 20. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt H. C. Watson, RAFVR 952162 – Front Gunner.
Shot down. PoW no. not known. PoW Camps not known. Safe UK not known.

Sergeant Kenneth Hutley Toothill, RAFVR 1114337 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 29. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

A check through ‘Forever Strong – The Story of 75 Squadron RNZAF 1916-1990‘ by Norman Franks, suggested that 2 crews were lost that night, however it seemed only worth mentioning the loss of Jimmy Ward – the other crew lost on that raid was not even mentioned…..

This makes me quite angry to be honest – and I apologise to Carl, given that this is a request about his uncle, so I dig some more through the Roll of Honour, which to be honest requires some subtle search terms to bring out what I am looking for.

The second crew that were lost on the night of 15/16th September 1941 were;
Sgt Anthony Henry Ryder Hawkins, RNZAF NZ40971 – Pilot.
Died age 20. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Robert Boswell Blakeway, RNZAF NZ403486 – 2nd Pilot.
Shot down. PoW no. 39332. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags 9C, Luft VI, Luft IV and Luft I. Took part in the forced march from Stalag Luft IV (Gross Tychow) to Stalag XIB (Fallingbostel) 6 Feb to 1 May 1945. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK 1 May 1945.

P/O Hugh MacLachlan Aitchison, RCAF R.54169/ J.4782 – Observer.
Died age 28. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt John Gifford Foulkes, RAFVR  909428 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 20. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Derek Richard Fawcett
, RAFVR 1755949 – Front Gunner.
Died age 21. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt W. E. Mullins, RCAF R.54981 – Rear Gunner.
Shot down. PoW no. 18334, PoW Camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags VIIIB, Luft VI and 357.

So, primarily if you have information you wish to share with Carl regarding his uncle, but in fact any information on any of the airmen who were lost that night would be gratefully received.

As always, many thanks in advance……….