T.W. Darton crew 21.5.43 †

23/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Dortmund
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble, and the remaining aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Some very large fires were seen, and the bombs were seen to explode amongst large buildings. Medium and Heavy A.A. Fire co-operating with searchlights was encountered. One aircraft was hit whilst over the target, and the port outer propeller was shot off, but the aircraft successfully returned to base. Some enemy aircraft were seen, and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was good in the target area, but identification was difficult owing to smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. Stirling Mk.III,BK.783 captained by Sergeant S.M. Tietjens failed to return.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

Sgt. Walter Donald Whitehead, RNZAF NZ416565 – Pilot.
Sgt. Thomas William Darton, RNZAF NZ416465 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Peter Gerald Dobson, RNZAF NZ439022 – Navigator.
Sgt. Maurice Edward Parker, RNZAF NZ414332 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Charles Leonard Parker, RNZAF NZ41228 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. H. McLellan, RAFVR 537228 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. George Stokes, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Vincent Rex Jamieson, RNZAF NZ416431 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:01 – Landed 03:46
Flight Time 04:45

21/05/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with Mines of 1500lb, All of the aircraft successfully dropped their Mines in the allotted area. And the parachutes were seen to open. No A.A. Fire, searchlights or enemy aircraft were encountered. The weather was good, but visibility was impaired by sea haze. Navigation was very good..

Stirling Mk.III BK810 AA-G

Sgt. Thomas William Darton, RNZAF NZ416465 – Pilot.
Sgt. Dudley Dobson Coates, RNZAF NZ421318 – Navigator.
Sgt. John Milton Patrick Riordan, RNZAF NZ422668 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Charles Lawrence Whiteman, RAFVR 1234862 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Alick McQuater, RAFVR 1369879 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Stephen Redpath, RAFVR 1572718 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick Philip Wilshire, RAFVR 1170594 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:06 – Landed 02:41
Flight Time 04:35

25/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Dusseldorf
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack with bombs of 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. Four aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble, and one failed to return. The remaining eleven aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, and some large explosions were also seen. Both heavy and light A.A. Fire was encountered, co-operating with searchlights, which were ineffective. Some enemy aircraft were seen and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. Ten tenths cloud was prevalent in the target area, but visibility was fairly good. Navigation was very good. This missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.I. BK602, captained by Sergeant T.W. Darton.

Stirling Mk.I BK602 AA-R

Sgt. Thomas William Darton, RNZAF NZ416465 – Pilot.
Sgt. Dudley Dobson Coates, RNZAF NZ421318 – Navigator.
Sgt. John Milton Patrick Riordan, RNZAF NZ422668 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Charles Lawrence Whiteman, RAFVR 1234862 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Alick McQuater, RAFVR 1369879 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Stephen Redpath, RAFVR 1572718 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick Philip Wilshire, RAFVR 1170594 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:06 – Landed –
Flight Time – Missing

Stirling Mk.I BK602 AA-R was shot down by a night-fighter off the Belgian/French coast and went down into the sea off IJmuiden. The attack probably took place within the dreaded German air defensive ‘Box’ when BK602 was en route to the target area. Four bodies were recovered and identified as Sergeant’s Coates, Whiteman, Redpath and Willsher. Coates and Whiteman are buried in Oostende New Communal Cemetery; Redpath lies in Dunkerque Town Cemetery and Wilsher in Bergen op Zoom War Cemetery, Holland.

Sergeant’s Darton, McQuarter and Riordan are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

F/S Thomas William Darton, RNZAF NZ416465 – Pilot.
Lost without trace age 22.
Son of George Edward and Louisa Jane Darton, of Gisborne, Auckland, New Zealand.
Commemorated Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 198.

Sgt. Dudley Dobson Coates, RNZAF NZ421318 – Navigator.
Killed age 33.
Son of William Thomas Coates and Ethel Coates, of Puha, Auckland, New Zealand Husband of Wilna Coates, of Wellington City, New Zealand.
Buried Ostende New Communal Cemetery, Belgium..
Grave location – Plot 9. Row 5. Grave 17.

Sgt. John Milton Patrick Riordan, RNZAF NZ422668 – Air Bomber.
Lost without trace age 32.
Son of John Patrick and Lily Riordan, of Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand.
Commemorated Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 199.

Sgt. John Charles Lawrence Whiteman, RAFVR 1234862 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 21.
Son of Williamson Charles and Evangeline Ethel Whiteman, of Shrewley Common, Warwickshire.
Buried Ostende New Communal Cemetery, Belgium..
Grave location – Plot 9. Row 5. Grave 18.
‘At the going down
Of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember thee’

Sgt. Alick McQuater, RAFVR 1369879 – Flight Engineer.
Lost without trace age 21.
Commemorated Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 158.

Sgt. Stephen Redpath, RAFVR 1572718 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 19.
Son of Alexander and Jane E. Redpath, of Carluke, Lanarkshire.
Buried Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Plot 2 Row 4 Grave 11.
‘He died that we might live’

Sgt. Frederick Phillip Willsher, RAFVR 1170594 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 25.
Son of George Edward and Florence Marian Willsher, of Croydon, Surrey; Husband of Joan Marguerite Willsher, of East Croydon.
Buried Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Holland..
Grave location – 33. B. 4.
‘Through cloud and sunshine,
Lord, abide with me’

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