Colne Valley (Slaithwaite) Cemetery, Yorkshire – Sgt Ronald Broadley RAFVR 937347

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Hidden, below road level and running parallel to the A62 Manchester road, Colne Valley (Slaithwaite) Cemetery is not that easy to find and I would suggest that if you ever wish to visit it, trust in the instructions of your SatNav and (traffic allowing) stop when it says you are there – the cemetery has two entrances, one at each end, one looks initially more like an access track – the other a more formal entrance.

Ronald Broadley was killed on the 26th of July 1943 along with the rest of his crew, while returning from an Op on Essen.

13/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Aachen
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack targets as above, with incendiaries of 30lbs. And 4lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, large fires were seen which appeared to be scattered. Some light and heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered. The aircraft captained by P/O CC. Logan, was hit by A.A. fire in the starboard outer engine, fin and elevator, and had to make a landing at FORD, which he did successfully. Some enemy aircraft were encountered. The aircraft captained by P/O. A. Rankin was attacked by a JU.88 and the wireless operator was wounded. The rear gunner returned fire and the enemy aircraft broke away, returning astern and firing a short burst. The Stirling rear gunner then fired a long burst and the enemy aircraft gave a flash, spun half round and disappeared into the cloud , followed by an explosion on the ground. This aircraft was claimed as being destroyed. The aircraft captained by P/O. A.A. ALEXANDER sighted an ME210 on the port beam, 100 yards slightly below. As the enemy aircraft passed below, the front gunner fired a short burst, the Stirling corkscrewed and the enemy aircraft appeared astern, the rear gunner then fired a short burst and the enemy aircraft was seen to dive into the clouds, and is claimed as possibly destroyed. There was 8/10ths. broken cloud at the target, but visibility above that was good. Stirling Mk.III EE886 captained by F/O. C. EDDY on return, crash landed at OAKINGTON, the under carriage collapsed and the aircraft turned over and caught fire. The mid-upper gunner E.C. VICCARS was killed on impact and the remainder of the crew escaped although not without injuries. The captain, navigator, wireless operator and flight engineer were seriously injured, the remainder being slightly injured.

Stirling Mk.I BK646 AA-N

P/O Andrew Rankin, RAFVR 1345194/ 146332 – Pilot.
Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Mervyn Arthur Ericksen, RNZAF NZ416103 – Navigator.
F/S James Third, RNZAF NZ422671 – Air Bomber.
F/S Frederick William Thorstenson, RNZAF NZ414529 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Frank Morris Freeman, RAFVR 1575231 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. D. Catterick, RAFVR 1318470 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George Ogden, RAFVR 1573298 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:55 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 04:50

04/07/1943 – Mining off Ille de RE
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lbs., which were dropped successfully in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. Some light A.A. Fire and one searchlight were encountered, but were ineffective. No enemy aircraft were seen. There was no cloud in the mining area and the visibility was good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 04:10
Flight Time 06:10

08/07/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lbs., all of which were successfully dropped in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. Some light A.A. Fire and a few searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective. One unidentified aircraft was seen and a short combat took place, minor damage to the rear turret of our aircraft was sustained, and the unidentified aircraft was probably hit. A sea haze and patchy cloud were experienced in the mining area, but visibility was good. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Holden, RAFVR 993297 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:25 – Landed 05:45
Flight Time 07:20

24/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Twenty-three aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000lbs., 1,000lbs., and incendiaries of 30lbs., and 4lbs. Of these aircraft, two returned early due to unserviceable W/T and engine trouble respectively, and one aircraft failed to return. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. It was a very concentrated and successful attack. Very large spread fires were seen with black smoke rising to height of 1,400ft., some heavy explosions were also seen. A heavy A.A. barrage co-operating with searchlights were encountered and two aircraft were coned in the searchlights but neither were hit. The aircraft captained by F/O. G. TURNER whilst avoiding a searchlight cone, the starboard wing was struck by a JU 88approaching head on. The enemy aircraft turned over and dived to the ground, it was claimed to be destroyed.. The Stirling was badly damaged having more that 4ft. of the starboard main plane torn off, and the aileron and aileron controls being useless. The captain had extreme difficulty in controlling the aircraft, but kept it on an even keel with the assistance of the Air-bomber, and after the 3 hours return flight to base, made a perfect landing. Two other short combats took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was very good, with clear visibility, except for haze caused by smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.III EE890 captained by Sergeant H. Nichol.

Stirling Mk.I BF518 AA-E

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 06:00

25/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Essen
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000lbs., 1,000lbs., and incendiaries of 30lbs., and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to take off, and two returned early, wing to engine trouble and an intercommunication failure respectively, and one aircraft failed to return. Sixteen aircraft successfully dropped their bombs on target area, which was an absolute mass of flames. Many huge explosions were seen in the midst of the fires. Moderate A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, one aircraft receiving slight damage. An aircraft was held in a searchlight cone for 3 minutes, but avoided it by making diving turns. Some enemy aircraft were seen. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. H.C. WILLIAMS sighted an unidentified aircraft 400 yds away approaching from astern. The Stirling corkscrewed and the Mid-upper and Rear gunners fired a long burst, the enemy aircraft exploded in the air and dived to the ground. It was claimed to be destroyed. Another aircraft was sighted by them approaching on the port quarter, the Rear gunner fired two short bursts and the enemy aircraft broke away. The weather was hazy to the enemy Coast, but clear over the target. Visibility was good except for haze caused by smoke from the fires, which could be seen west of the DUTCH coast. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling MK.III EE892 captained by Sgt.. M. ASHDOWN

Stirling Mk.III EE892 AA-F

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Stirling Mk.III EE892 AA-F came down in the sea off Southwold, Suffolk, while returning to base. Eyewitness reports indicated that the Stirlng was on fire before it struck the water. All on board perished. Four bodies were picked up by the Aldeburgh lifeboat crew. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551. Killed age 20.
Buried Worcester Park (Cuddington) Cemetery,

Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706. Killed age 22.
Commemorated on Panel 151 Runnymede Memorial – No known grave.

Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394. Killed age 21.
Commemorated on Panel 167 Runnymede Memorial – No known grave.

Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911. Killed age 34.
Buried Staines (London Road) Cemetery.

Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347. Killed age 22.
Buried Colne Valley (Slaithwaite) Cemetery, Yorkshire.

Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518. Killed age 24.
Commemorated on Panel 179 Runnymede Memorial – No known grave.

Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318. Killed age 21.
Buried Scottow Cemetery, Norfolk.

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