R.A. Williams crew 9.1.43 †

09/12/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Turin
Five aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb loads of 4lb. incendiaries were dropped by all aircraft in the target area. All crews reported that the town was well ablaze and huge columns of smoke were seen. A medium amount of both light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered. No enemy aircraft were seen. There was no cloud at the target, it was very hazy, but visibility was fairly good. Navigation was good. This can be looked upon as our most successful Stirling operation yet.

Stirling Mk.I BK620 AA-?

F/L Frank Albert Sandeman, RAFVR 741294/ 86686 – Pilot.
Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 1332658/ 140912 – 2nd Pilot.
W/O William Stuckey, RAFVR 51042 – Navigator.
Sgt. J.M.N. Thornton, RAFVR 1041442 – Air Bomber.
F/S H.W. Rossiter, RAFVR 638839 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Clifford Abbott, RAFVR 1098896 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Raymond Anthony Kennedy, 1003148 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Alexander Fielding Minnis, RAFVR 126499 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:30 – Landed 02:30
Flight Time 09:00

09/01/1943 – Gardening off Terschelling
Three aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with 1500 lb. vegetables but one aircraft failed to take off owing to engine trouble, the remaining two aircraft successfully dropped their vegetables in the allotted area and all of the parachutes were seen to open. No A.A. fire, searchlights, or enemy aircraft were seen. Visibility was excellent and the operation was carried out without incident.

Stirling Mk.I R9243 AA-C

Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 1332658/ 140912 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Elgin Browne, RCAF R.107928/ J.16846 – Navigator.
Sgt. H. Sawyer, RAFVR 657922 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. T.H. Smith, RAFVR 1178766 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. K. Gudmunsen, RAFVR 569992 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Willis, RCAF R.92498 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Donald Arthur Laycock, RAFVR 1457004/ 130451 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:50 – Landed 20:45
Flight Time 02:55

12/01/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with 1500lb vegetables. All aircraft successfully planted their vegetables and the majority of the parachutes were seen to open. Some A.A. fire and searchlights were encountered on the way to the target, the flak being very accurate although none of the aircraft were holed. The weather on route both ways was poor but reasonable conditions in the gardening area itself.

Stirling Mk.I R9243 AA-C

Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 1332658/ 140912 – Pilot. Sgt. B Torrance, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Elgin Browne, RCAF R.107928/ J.16846 – Navigator.
Sgt. H. Sawyer, RAFVR 657922 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. T.H. Smith, RAFVR 1178766 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. K. Gudmunsen, RAFVR 569992 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Willis, RCAF R.92498 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Donald Arthur Laycock, RAFVR 1457004/ 130451 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:10 – Landed 06:50
Flight Time 06:40

23/01/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Lorient
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 1,000 lb. 500 lb. and 4 lb. incendiaries. This was a very successful and concentrated attack. All aircraft reported that their bombs were seen to fall in the target area. Large fires were seen to be lighting up the whole area. A fair amount of heavy, medium and light flak was encountered, only a few searchlights were seen. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was very clear at the target and good visibility. Navigation was by D.R., T.R., pinpoints and visual. Stirling I R9248 captained by Sergt. R.M.Kidd failed to return.

Stirling Mk.I BK617 AA-D

Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 1332658/ 140912 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Elgin Browne, RCAF R.107928/ J.16846 – Navigator.
Sgt. H. Sawyer, RAFVR 657922 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. T.H. Smith, RAFVR 1178766 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. K. Gudmunsen, RAFVR 569992 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Willis, RCAF R.92498 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Donald Arthur Laycock, RAFVR 1457004/ 130451 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:40 – Landed 23:55
Flight Time 06:15

04/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Turin
Seven aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 1,000 lb. 500 lb., and 4 lb. incendiaries. Only five aircraft attacked the target, two returning early, one due to turret and inter comm., trouble and the other as the aircraft failed to climb over the Alps,he therefore bombed and objective in occupied France. The five aircraft attacking the target successfully did so on P.F.F. markers, large fires were seen from their own and other incendiaries. Light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered, which was inaccurate. A few searchlights were also operating. Some enemy aircraft were seen, but no combat took please. Heavy cloud was hit in France but the weather was good with clear visibility at the target area. Navigation was very good, by D.R. T.H., and visual. This /is considered to be a very good and concentrated operation.

Stirling Mk.I R9316 AA-K

Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 1332658/ 140912 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Elgin Browne, RCAF R.107928/ J.16846 – Navigator.
Sgt. H. Sawyer, RAFVR 657922 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. T.H. Smith, RAFVR 1178766 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. K. Gudmunsen, RAFVR 569992 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Willis, RCAF R.92498 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Eric Clifford Viccars, RAFVR 649196 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:05 – Landed 03:05
Flight Time 09:00

07/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Lorient
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 1,000 lb. and 4 lb. ince-ndiaries. Eight of the aircraft attacked the target, the other aircraft returning early as the inter comm. became u/s. All bombs were successfully dropped in the target area, large fires were seen which lit up the whole of the town. The smoke from these fires was rising to a height of 8,000 feet. This operation is considered to have been an exceedingly good show. Some A.A. fire and searchlights were encountered but they were very accurate. Enemy aircraft were also seen but none of them attacked. The weather was excellent with clear visibility. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.I R9316 AA-K

Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 1332658/ 140912 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Elgin Browne, RCAF R.107928/ J.16846 – Navigator.
Sgt. H. Sawyer, RAFVR 657922 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. T.H. Smith, RAFVR 1178766 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. K. Gudmunsen, RAFVR 569992 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Willis, RCAF R.92498 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Dudley, Harding-Smith, RNZAF NZ405265 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 00:50
Flight Time 05:30

13/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Lorient
Eleven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with bombs of 1,000 lb. and 4 lb. incendiaries. Nine aircraft are known to have successfully attacked the target, of the other two, one returned early owing to the mid upper and front turrets being u/s and the other aircraft failed to return. Fires were burning fiercely in the target area, although they appeared to be scattered. F/Lt. Trott had his aircraft damaged by flak at the target, the number two tank on the port side was holed, the trimming tab was hit and his aerial was shot off. He preceeded to Middle Wallop and landed safely. Both heavy and light flak was encountered which was intense at first but later spasmodic and appeared to be swamped. Searchlights were seen in the early part of the attack but later went out. Some enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather was very good with clear visibility and no cloud. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling 1 R9316 captained by Sgt. R.A. Williams.

Stirling Mk.I R9316 AA-K

Sgt. Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 1332658/ 140912 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Elgin Browne, RCAF R.107928/ J.16846 – Navigator.
Sgt. H. Sawyer, RAFVR 657922 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. T.H. Smith, RAFVR 1178766 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. K. Gudmunsen, RAFVR 569992 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Willis, RCAF R.92498 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Dudley, Harding-Smith, RNZAF NZ405265 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:43 – Landed –
Flight Time – Missing

Stirling Mk.I R9316 AA-K was hit by flak over the target and fire broke out. The Captain ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft and all but himself and the rear gunner parachuted successfully, landing near Plouay, (Finistere), 11 miles North North East of Lorient. Four were captured and taken prisoner but the fifth, Sgt Willis, RCAF, successfully evaded capture.

The deceased, Sgt’s Williams and Harding-Smith, were buried at Guidel, near Lorient. The latter was the son of the Venerable Archdeacon T J Smith, of Nelson, New Zealand.

P/O Roy Arthur Williams, RAFVR 140912 – Pilot.
Killed age 21.
Son of Ernest and Mary Elizabeth Williams, of Ovingdean, Sussex.
Buried Guidel Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row 5. Grave 19.
‘Well done.
Thou good
And faithful servant.’

P/O Donald Elgin Browne, RCAF R.107928/ J.16846 – Navigator.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 27562
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalags VIIIB, 344, Luft VI and 357
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. H. Sawyer, RAFVR 657922 – Air Bomber.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 27584
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag VIIIB/344
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. T.H. Smith, RAFVR 1178766 – Wireless Operator.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 27585
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag VIIIB/344
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. K. Gudmunsen, RAFVR 569992 – Flight Engineer.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 27568
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag VIIIB/344
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. Leonard Willis, RCAF R.92498 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Evader

Sgt. Willis’ MI.9 debrief on return to the United Kingdom was as follows:
“My aircraft, a Stirling, left Newmarket about 19:00 hrs on the 13th of  February to bomb Lorient. The other members of the crew were – Sgt William , RAF (Pilot); F/Sgt Browne, RCAF (Navigator); Sgt Smith RAF (Wireless Operator); Sgt Gunderson RAF (Flight Engineer); and Sgt Harding Smith, RAF or RNZAF (Rear Gunner). I saw two other parachutes land safely, but I do not know the fate of any of the other members of the crew. Over the target we were hit by flak and the petrol tanks caught fire. On our return flight, at about 23:00 hrs, while near Plouay, the Pilot gave the order to bale out. I landed safely in a field and could see two other parachutes landing not far off. I saw the aircraft burning on the ground about 2 miles distant. I took off my flying kit, mae west and parachute and hid them in a bush. I was not wearing shoes inside my flying boots so I kept my boots on. I then headed for a nearby wood. After a time I heard someone calling to me in what I took to be French (I do not speak French myself). This proved to be a boy of about 18. He asked me if I was English and I managed to indicate that I was. He led me through some fields and woods, and I lost my flying boots in a swamp during the journey. He motioned to me to hide near a road which I afterwards identified as the main road from Plouay to Hennebont. He then went away and half an hour later returned with three men. They asked me for proof of my identity and I showed them my identity disc. They took me for about a mile through some woods. At a house one of them procured for me some civilian clothes, a cap and a pair of old boots. They then took me back into the woods, gave me a blanket and told me to stay there for the night. Next morning, the 14th of February, two of them returned with some food and a French-English, English-French dictionary. I stayed in the woods till the 17th then my helpers providing me with food regularly. About 12 noon on the 17th , while I was talking to my two helpers, we heard some Germans talking close to us. I immediately separated from my helpers and hid in another place till about 16:00 hrs. I then saw two men walking near my former hiding place but as I could not recognize them I did not show myself. At 18:00 hrs I set out by myself, heading due east by the stars. About 09:00 hrs on the 18th of February I reached Quistinic where I was given some food by a farmer. During my meal my host fetched a friend who was a teacher from Lorient and could speak some English. He told me that if I were to go to Ploermel I might get some help. He also suggested that later I might make south for Angouleme. I then went on and spent the night in a haystack near Josselin. Next morning, the 19th of February, I walked to Ploermel where I saw many Germans. I therefore decided to continue eastwards. Between Campeneac and Augan I got some food from a farm and slept in a haystack for the night. Next morning, the 20th of February, I walked through Malestroitt to St. Laurent where I tried to buy food at a shop. They would not sell me anything. I rested for half an hour and set off for St. Congard. About 16:00 hrs I was overtaken by a man on a bicycle when took me back to the shop I had left and gave me some food; this man had been in a German P/W camp. When I had eaten he sent a boy to guide me to a relative of his who had lived in Canada for 30 years and who could speak English. This man proved to have lived near my own home in Canada. An American pilot who had been there two nights previously and it was not thought safe to keep me longer. On the evening of the 22nd of  February I was therefore taken to another house, between Malestroitt and St. Laurent. Here I was given fresh clothes and a razor and spent the night. Next morning, the 23rd of February, a young man took me on a bus to Rennes, buying our tickets with money I gave him from my purse. At Rennes my helper bought my a ticket for Angouleme and put me on a train alone, about 13:00 hrs. I was supposed to change trains at Nantes but went straight through to Angers where I arrived about 16:00 hrs. Here I boarded a local train, but when it started I realized that it was going East. I therefore got out at a small station the name of which I do not remember. Here I spoke to a woman railway official who bought me a timetable. Later a man approached me and spoke a few words of English. He and the woman made me understand that I should go to Tours. At 21:00 hrs the train left. The man boarded the next train back to Angers and I followed him. At Angers he spoke to a railwayman who took me to the correct platform for the Tours train. When it arrived another railwayman put me into the train with six Frenchmen also bound for Tours. At 21:00 hrs the train left. We arrived at Tours about two hours later. We left Tours with one of of the other Frenchmen. I caught a train at Tours at 01:00 hrs on the 24th of February and arrived at Angouleme in the early morning. Neither at Tours nor Angouleme did anyone ask me to produce any papers. I had no idea where to go when I arrived at Angouleme. The Frenchman left me, so I walked to the outskirts and sat down in a bush for a while. I then started walking along the Angouleme-Riberac high road. That evening, somewhere on this road, I stopped at an isolated house and asked for a drink. A man in the house invited me to come in. He could speak a little English, and had been in a German P/W camp. On the morning of the 27th of February one of his friends took me by car to Riberac where he left me at another house. Later that morning another man came and took me by car to Perigueux. I stayed I stayed at a house here until 1 Mar. During this time I had my photograph taken and provided with false identity papers. About 22:00 hrs on the 1st of March one of my hosts took me by train to Pau. I gave him what money I had left toward the cost of my ticket. At Pau I stayed in a small hotel 2nd – 4th of March. On the morning of the 4th of March a friend of my companions took me to Oloron by bus. At Oloron our identification papers were checked by the French. From Oloron we went by bus to Tardets. During this journey Germans twice boarded the bus and checked our identification papers. We arrived at Tardets about 16:00 hrs. I was taken to a guide to the Spanish frontier. Later when I was in Spain I heard from a Frenchman that the householder has been arrested by the Germans. At 22:30 hrs on the 4th of  March the  whole party set off with a Basque guide. About 05:00 hrs on the 5th of  March we reached the high ground to the west of the river Le Saison. Here we hid until midnight. We could see some lights in Larrau, and our guide said that these were the lights of the Germans searching the village. Our guide knew the country extremely well for we seldom followed any trail and he was never lost. A little after midnight of the 5th-6th of  March, we went up the valley of the river Le Saison South East  of Pic Biscarce and thence followed down the river Urchuria till we came to a farm at about 15:00 hrs on the 6th of March. Here we found some Spanish carabineros. One of the women in the party undertook to explain who we were. In consequence the Spaniards took me for a French civilian. We stayed in the farm that night. The next morning, on the 7th of March, the carabineros took us to Abuaurrea Alta. Where we were accommodated in different houses until the morning of the 9th of March. My French companions paid for my food and lodging. About 06:00 hrs on the 9th of  March we were taken to Pamplona and handed over to the Chief of Police. Here they took our particulars. I was still regarded as a French civilian. The men in the party were then sent to prison. Before I went I gave my ring and my identity disc to one of the women in the party. I believe that she managed to get to Bilbao and tell the British Consul of my fate. Later I wrote from the prison to the British Embassy at Madrid. I remained in prison till the 6th of April. Next day a representative of the British Embassy took me to Madrid. I arrived at Gibraltar on the 17th of April 1943″.

P/O Dudley Harding-Smith, RNZAF NZ405265 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 24.
Son of The Venerable Archdeacon Thomas James Smith and of Edith Sarah Smith (Nee Harding), of Nelson, New Zealand.
Buried Guidel Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row 5. Grave 20.