D.C. Henley crew 24.8.43 †

23/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Berlin
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000lb., 500lb., and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb.. Five aircraft returned early owing to failure and three aircraft failed to return. The remainder of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area and all of the crews agreed that it had been well and truly hit. The fires were all concentrated and huge columns of smoke together with heavy explosions could be seen. A moderate heavy A.A. barrage co-operating with searchlights were encountered, but only one aircraft received damage. A great number of enemy aircraft were seen and several combats took place. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. WILKINSON sighted a JU88 passing above, the Mid-upper and Rear Gunners fired and strikes were seen on the enemy aircraft which was then lost sight of and is claimed to have been damaged. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. WHITEHEAD whilst over BERLIN sighted an enemy aircraft on the starboard quarter, 300yds away. The Rear Gunner fired a five second burst and the enemy aircraft was seen in flames diving to earth, and was claimed as probably destroyed. The same aircraft encountered another unidentified aircraft 300yds away on the starboard quarter. The Rear Gunner fired another five seconds burst and the enemy aircraft exploded and disintegrated. It was claimed to be destroyed. The aircraft captained by F/O. A. Alexander, whilst over the target sighted a ME110 approaching from the starboard quarter above and firing at his aircraft. The Mid-upper and Rear Gunners replied with long bursts and the enemy aircraft was seen to be in flames. A fire was later seen on the ground and the enemy aircraft was claimed as probably destroyed. Scattered cloud was met on the outward route, but it was clear over the target. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk.III BF465 captained by P/O A. RANKIN, BF564 captained by P/O A. Sedunary and EE938 captained by W/O T. Fear.
The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. WHITE, O.H. whilst approaching the target area was coned by searchlights and repeatedly hit by heavy A.A. fire, sustaining considerable damage to port main plane. He continued towards the target though still coned by searchlights and was then attacked by a JU88 sustaining hits in the rear of the fuselage which shattered the rear turret and killed Rear Gunner Sgt. Poole, J.. The aircraft was forced into an uncontrollable dive and the captain warned his crew ‘Prepare to abandon the aircraft’. Unfortunately, in the middle of this order the inter-communication failed, and the Navigator, Air Bomber and Wireless Operator abandoned the aircraft, due to the fact that they were unable to contact their Captain. F/Sgt. WHITE jettisoned his bomb load whilst in the dive directly over the target area, managed to regain control of the aircraft when height had been lost down to 6,000ft. The captain and two remaining members of the crew after taking stock of the damage decided to attempt the long and hazardous return journey to base. This they did successfully and made a perfect crash landing at base without lights, flaps or under carriage, as the electrical leads were shot away.

Stirling Mk.III EE878 AA-P

S/L Frank Albert Andrews, RNZAF NZ391336 – Pilot.
F/S Douglas Charles Henley, RNZAF NZ414622 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Douglas Jonathon Hibbs, RNZAF NZ415694 – Navigator.
F/S David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. D. Evans, RAFVR 1053636 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J. Francis, RAFVR 1319643 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.M. or E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:40 – Landed 04:30
Flight Time 07:50

 24/08/1943 – Mining in the Frisian Islands
One aircraft was detailed to carry out the operation with ones of 1,500lb., which were successfully dropped in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. No A.A. fore, searchlights or enemy aircraft were encountered. The weather was good with clear visibility. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK809 AA-T

F/S Douglas Charles Henley, RNZAF NZ414622 – Pilot.
F/O Clifford Arnold Watson, RNZAF NZ421946 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ian Hector Ross Smith, RNZAF NZ421614 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Robert N. Quelch, RAFVR 1319114 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Lewis Patrick ‘Lew’ Parsons, RAFVR 1455528 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Douglas C. Box, RAFVR 1578987 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. James Sutherland Grant, RNZAF NZ421274 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:45 – Landed 03:10
Flight Time 06:25

26/08/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
One aircraft was detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lbs., which were successfully dropped in the allotted area. One flak-ship was encountered but was ineffective. No searchlights or enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was very good and visibility was clear in the mining area. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BK809 AA-T

F/S Douglas Charles Henley, RNZAF NZ414622 – Pilot.
F/O Clifford Arnold Watson, RNZAF NZ421946 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ian Hector Ross Smith, RNZAF NZ421614 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Robert N. Quelch, RAFVR 1319114 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Lewis Patrick ‘Lew’ Parsons, RAFVR 1455528 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Douglas C. Box, RAFVR 1578987 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. James Sutherland Grant, RNZAF NZ421274 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:05 – Landed 02:25
Flight Time 06:20

27/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Nuremburg
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to return, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Good concentrated fires and heavy explosions were seen. A moderate barrage consisting of light and heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, and two aircraft received slight damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen, one short combat took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The weather was cloudy on the outward journey but clear over the target and visibility was good. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.III EE955 captained by F/Sgt. Higham.

Stirling Mk.III BK809 AA-T

F/S Douglas Charles Henley, RNZAF NZ414622 – Pilot.
F/O Clifford Arnold Watson, RNZAF NZ421946 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ian Hector Ross Smith, RNZAF NZ421614 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Robert N. Quelch, RAFVR 1319114 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Lewis Patrick ‘Lew’ Parsons, RAFVR 1455528 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Douglas C. Box, RAFVR 1578987 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. James Sutherland Grant, RNZAF NZ421274 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:40 – Landed 04:50
Flight Time 07:10

30/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Munchen-Gladbach
18 Aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. All aircraft with the exception of one which failed to return, successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very large fires which were well concentrated and spreading, were seen. All crews were of the opinion that this was a good attack. Moderate heavy A.A. fire and a few searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective. A great number of enemy aircraft were seen and some short combats took place. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. Batger, H. sighted an enemy aircraft 600 yards away, ahead and the front gunner fired a long and short burst, the enemy aircraft then disappeared and was claimed as possibly destroyed. . The aircraft captained by F/S McGregor,K. sighted an Me110 astern, the rear gunner fired a long burst. The enemy aircraft replied and dived away with smoke pouring from its engines. It is claimed as a possible destroyed. There was 8/10ths cloud at the target approaches although it was clear in the target area. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was  Stirling MK.III EH938 captained by Sgt. Parkin, T.

Stirling Mk.III BK809 AA-T

F/S Douglas Charles Henley, RNZAF NZ414622 – Pilot.
F/O Clifford Arnold Watson, RNZAF NZ421946 – Navigator.
F/S Ian Hector Ross Smith, RNZAF NZ421614 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Robert N. Quelch, RAFVR 1319114 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Lewis Patrick ‘Lew’ Parsons, RAFVR 1455528 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Douglas C. Box, RAFVR 1578987 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. James Sutherland Grant, RNZAF NZ421274 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:30 – Landed 04:35
Flight Time 04:05

31/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Berlin
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000lb., 500lb. and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb. Two aircraft failed to take-off and four did not return, the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Large fires were seen, although rather scattered they appeared to be progressing very well. Moderate heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered and one air craft received slight damage. Enemy night-fighters were in great prominence, the aircraft piloted by F/Sgt. Wilkinson, G encountered a JU88 approaching from astern 500yds away. The rear gunner fired a long burst, the enemy aircraft replied and stalled. The mid-upper gunner then fired three long bursts. The enemy aircraft was seen to fall away and is claimed as probably destroyed. Our aircraft received damage to the rear of the fuselage and had part of the tail plane and fin badly damaged. The aircraft captained by F/O Alexander sighted two Me109’s, the first opened fire from the starboard quarter and the rear gunner replied with a short burst. The enemy aircraft stalled and the mid-upper gunner fired a short burst. The enemy aircraft then dived to the ground and exploded, it was claimed to be destroyed. The second Me109 opened fire with a short burst from the port bow to the port quarter. The rear gunner then fired a short burst and tracer was seen to enter the enemy aircraft, which dived. It was claimed as possible destroyed. The aircraft captained by W/O Moseley, P. sighted a Me110 on the port quarter, the mid upper and rear gunner fired a long burst and the enemy aircraft turned over and dived with smoke pouring from its starboard side. It was claimed as probably destroyed. The aircraft captained by P/O C.Logan sighted a Me109 sixty yards astern, the mid-upper and rear gunner  fired and tracer from the rear gunner was seen to hit the aircraft. The Stirling then corkscrewed and the Me109 disappeared. It was claimed to be damaged. Two other aircraft crash landed away from base due to damage caused by enemy fighters, none of the crews were injured however. 8/10ths cloud was encountered on the outward journey and 9’10ths at the target, visibility, nevertheless, was good. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings MK.III EE918 captained by F/Sgt. Roberts,E, EE878 captained by F/Sgt. Henley, D, EE905 captained by F/Sgt. Helm,G. and EF501 captained by F/S McGregor, K.

Stirling Mk.III EE878 AA-P

F/S Douglas Charles Henley, RNZAF NZ414622 – Pilot.
F/O Clifford Arnold Watson, RNZAF NZ421946 – Navigator.
F/S Ian Hector Ross Smith, RNZAF NZ421614 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Robert N. Quelch, RAFVR 1319114 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Lewis Patrick ‘Lew’ Parsons, RAFVR 1455528 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Douglas C. Box, RAFVR 1578987 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. James Sutherland Grant, RNZAF NZ421274 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Stirling Mk.III EE878 AA-P was badly damaged by flak and by night-fighter action near the target area. With the port inner engine out of action, and the port elevator only partially effective, considerable height was lost evading the fighter before control was regained. They were now almost out of fuel and at low level when the captain ordered the crew to bale out. Some of the crew succeeded in clearing the plane before it crash-landed at Ahrbruck, 7miles SW of Ahrweiler. The navigator and air bomber were killed when their parachutes failed to deploy in time. The pilot died at the controls. Those who died were buried at municipal cemetery at Mayschoss, but later re-interred in the Rheinberg War Cemetery, south of Wesel. The other four crew all survived but were captured as POW’s.

P/O Douglas Charles Henley, RNZAF NZ414622 – Pilot.
Killed age 23.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 10. E. 24.

F/O Clifford Arnold Watson, RNZAF NZ421946 – Navigator.
Killed age 34.
Son of William James Watson and Janet Watson, of Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand; Husband of Ivy Mavis Watson, of Nelson, New Zealand.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 10. E. 25.

F/S Ian Hector Ross Smith, RNZAF NZ421614 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 34.
Son of Hector John and Gertrude Mary Smith, of Napier, Hawke’S Bay, New Zealand.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 10. E. 23.

Sgt. Robert N. Quelch, RAFVR 1319114 – Wireless Operator.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 222631
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag IVB
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. Lewis Patrick Parsons, RAFVR 1455528 – Flight Engineer.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 222626
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag IVB. Freed by Soviet troops 25th of April 1945 but held by them until he walked out of his PoW camps on 11th of May 1945
Date of return to United Kingdom: 15th of May 1945

Sgt. Douglas C. Box, RAFVR 1578987 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 222357
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalags IVB, Luft III. Promoted to F/Sgt whilst interred
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. James Sutherland Grant, RNZAF NZ421274 – Rear Gunner.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 43260
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft VI and 357. Promoted to W/O whilst interred
Date of return to United Kingdom: 8th of May 1945