H.H. Bruhns crew 20.1.44 †

Eric portrait

Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513, Navigator with the Bruhns crew. Lost without trace February 24th 1944 whilst mining in the Kiel Bay area.

06/01/1944 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Eight aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500 lbs., which were dropped in the allotted area. This was a successful and uneventful operation, some A.A. Fire was encountered but no aircraft received any damage. A few enemy aircraft were seen, and one short combat took place and the enemy aircraft was claimed as damaged. The weather was good with no cloud and visibility was perfect. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III EH955 AA-K

S/L James Kenneth Climie, RNZAF NZ403561 – Pilot.
F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S John Douglas Handbury, RAFVR 1138496/ 170391 – Navigator.
F/S John Tomany, RAFVR 171178 – Air Bomber.
W/O Arthur Alexander Purdom, RAFVR 630562/ 54230 – Wireless Operator .
P/O Jack Ansell Pollett, RAFVR 570234/ 51705 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alfred Venn, RAFVR 1277931 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Kenneth William Morgan, 1159485/ 157998 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:40 – Landed 00:40
Flight Time 08:00

14/01/1944 – Attack against a Special Target
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500 lbs., one aircraft brought its bombs back, owing to a failure of Navigational Aid equipment, and one returned early as it could not maintain height. This attack was successful and concentrated, bombs being seen to drop within the target area. Some A.A. fire was encountered, but caused no trouble. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. The weather was good with no cloud and clear visibility. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK695 AA-X

S/L David Stewart Gibb, RNZAF NZ401266 – Pilot.
F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O John Wallace Downing, RAFVR 136351 – Navigator.
W/O Murray Donald Donovan, RCAF R.99243/ J.90716 – Air Bomber.
P/O Stanley William Galloway, RAFVR 148919 – Wireless Operator .
F/O Eric David Whybray, RAFVR 572395/ 52513 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Bryce Campbell, RCAF R.176432/ J. 86746 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Alfred Proctor, RAFVR 845266/ 159096 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed 21:55
Flight Time 03:45

20/01/1944 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Seven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1500 lbs. One aircraft was withdrawn but the remainder successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area. No opposition was met and the trip was uneventful. The weather was good and visibility clear except for slight sea haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK695 AA-N

F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Sgt. Laurie Licence Butler, RNZAF NZ421672 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Piers Trevor Stevens, RAFVR 1813627 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Arthur Hertley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:00 – Landed 20:00
Flight Time 03:00

21/01/1944 – Attack against a Special Target
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500 lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, large bomb bursts and some fires being observed. Very little opposition was encountered and this proved to be negligible. The weather was good with no cloud and clear visibility. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK695 AA-N
Listed as BK605, but no record of this A/C – I suspect its actually BK695
F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Sgt. Laurie Licence Butler, RNZAF NZ421672 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Piers Trevor Stevens, RAFVR 1813627 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Arthur Hertley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:20 – Landed 21:30
Flight Time 03:10

25/01/1944 – Attack against a Special Target
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500 lbs. One aircraft failed to take-off, & four brought their bombs back. The remainder however, successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This operation did not appear to be very successful, the bombing being rather scattered, some large explosions were seen, however. The weather was good with no cloud and clear visibility. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EH945 ??-?
Four aircraft failed to drop their bombs on targets for unreported reasons.
F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Sgt. Laurie Licence Butler, RNZAF NZ421672 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. James William Harry, RAFVR 1601839 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Arthur Hertley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:44 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 04:16

30/01/1944 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lbs. Five of the aircraft brought their mines back as bad visibility prevented them from finding the mining area. One aircraft successfully dropped its mines in the allotted area although the parachutes were not seen to open. No opposition was met and the trip was uneventful. The weather was bad and there was 10/10ths cloud in the mining area. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.III EF948 AA-Q
Listed as EF948, but only ocurrance so I suspect this is actually a typo of EH948
F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Sgt. L. Buckley, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. James William Harry, RAFVR 1601839 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Arthur Hertley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:00 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 08:45

19/02/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to lay mines of 1500 lbs from a high level, but two aircraft failed to take off owing to engine trouble. The remaining thirteen aircraft completed their operation without incident, and the pathfinder markers were dropped accurately for the final run, being identified by all.

Stirling Mk.III EF217 ??-?

F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Sgt. Laurie Licence Butler, RNZAF NZ421672 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. James William Harry, RAFVR 1601839 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Arthur Hertley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:50 – Landed 05:50
Flight Time 06:00

22/02/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to lay mines of 1,500 lbs in Kiel Bay. After being airborne for one hour all of the aircraft were recalled owing to unsuitable weather conditions.

Stirling Mk.III EH948 dnc AA-Q

F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Sgt. Laurie Licence Butler, RNZAF NZ421672 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. James William Harry, RAFVR 1601839 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Arthur Hertley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:45 – Landed 19:20
Flight Time 02:35

24/02/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Fifteen aircraft were detailed with a large force to lay mines of 1500 lbs in Kiel Bay, and fourteen returned after completing their mission successfully. One aircraft (Captain NZ42367 F/S. Bruhns H.) is missing, and no news was heard after take-off.

Stirling Mk.III EH948 AA-Q

F/S Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
F/S Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Sgt. Laurie Licence Butler, RNZAF NZ421672 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. James William Harry, RAFVR 1601839 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Arthur Hertley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed –
Flight Time – Missing

Little is known of the circumstances causing the loss of Stirling Mk.III EH948 AA-Q, although the body of the RAAF Air-Bomber was found washed ashore near Sønderborg, on the south coast of ALS Island, in the NW area of Kiel Bay. It thus seems likely the aircraft was brought down by AA fire from one or more Flak ships known to patrol Kiel Bay. The remaining six crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

P/O Harold Henry Bruhns, RNZAF NZ42367 – Pilot.
Lost without trace age 22.
Son of John Henry Bruhns, and of Elsie Bruhns, of Mosgiel, Otago, New Zealand.
Buried Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 263.

Sgt. Eric Arthur Wilkes, RAFVR 1575513 – Navigator.
Lost without trace age 22.
Son of Charles L. and Florence G. Wilkes, of Stoke, Warwickshire.
Buried Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 240.

F/S Laurie Licence Butler, RNZAF NZ421672 – Air Bomber.
Lost without trace age 22.
Son of William Francis and Gertrude Clara Butler, of Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 263.

Sgt. Woolf Jack Summers, RAFVR 1395702 – Wireless Operator.
Lost without trace age 22.
Son of Morris and Golda Summers, of Stamford Hill, London.
Buried Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 238.

Sgt. James William Harry, RAFVR 1335706 – Flight Engineer.
Lost without trace age 20.
Son of George William and Nellie Eva Harry, of Earl’S Court. London.
Buried Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 231.

F/S Arthur Hartley Sawtell, RAAF AUS.417521 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 19.
Son of John Hartley Sawtell and Ida Marie Sawtell, of Unley, South Australia.
Buried Aabenraa Cemetery, Denmark.     .
Grave location – Allied Mil. Plot.
Row 5. 10.
‘His duty fearlessly
And nobly done.
Ever remembered’

Sgt. Robert Ewen Hall, RAFVR 1392121 – Rear Gunner.
Lost without trace age 35.
Son of Robert and Christina Mackintosh Hall; Husband of Dorothy Mary Hall, of Birchington, Kent.
Buried Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Panel 230.