Tag Archives: EH901 JN-O

The Whitmore crew – some new information

Whitmore Crew cpdandcont

The Whitmore crew.
Back row right to left: Hugh Munn (Air Bomber) and Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea (Rear Gunner)
Front row right to left: David Maurice Adamson (Navigator), Frederick Charles Cowan (Wireless Operator), Richard Charles Whitmore (Pilot), John Bosworth Beresford (Flight Engineer) and Frederick John Charles Chesson (Mid Upper Gunner)
Image from nzwargraves.org, image supplied and © by Sherryn Cepulis (Niece of Richard Whitmore)

Many thanks to Dirk for contacting me and passing on some new information relating to the loss of the Whitmore crew on the 27th of September 1943, the only survivor being Fred Cowan, the crew’s Wireless Operator.

Dirk lives in Hülsede, a small village about 50km form Hannover. For about the last 30 years he has spent time researching aircrew losses form the War in the vicinity. This research has included Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C.

Dirk has sent material which has been added to the Whitmore crew page. This includes an interview with a witness of the events of that night, Mr. Karl-Heinz Brandau.

At the time of the crash, Karl-Heinz was 17 and training for a job as a mechanic in Hanover. Due to the raid of the previous night, he had to ride his bike early the following morning to Hanover and on his way, saw a single captured airman, being guarded by German soldiers/ Police and a Red Cross Sister in the village of Gleidingen, the suggestion of this account being that the airman might have been wounded. He later learned the airman (we assume Fred Cowan) had been taken to the German Army Hospital in Hildesheim.

Karl-Heinz did not see the crash, but a number of his younger friends did and were able to say where and how EH877 met its fate. Having been attacked by a night-fighter and set on fire, the Stirling went into a steep dive, exploding in the air,  just before hitting the ground. Wreckage was spread very widely, between Gleidingen and Heisede. By the following morning, the crash site had been cordoned off by German air force crew from Hildesheim Airfield for recovery of the wreckage and as such, the boys were not able to get closer to the scene. At a later point when the main wreckage had been recovered, the boys returned to explore the crash site, finding many parts of the bomber and also small parts of human remains……..

In the 1950’s the area where EH877 crashed was completely changed by the building of a railway and the digging of gravel ponds. the map below shows the site of the location of the crash site of EH877.

I was also interested to see within the material that Dirk sent was a picture of the crew from the New Zealand War Graves Project website on Richard Whitmore’s memorial page. The picture is credited to Sherryn Cepulis (the Niece of Richard Whitmore) and is taken apparently from David Adamson’s photo album. Obviously if Sherryn see’s this post, I would love to hear form her.

See all of Dirk’s information on the Whitmore crew page here.

AP Gleidingen (3)

The crash site today.
© Dirk Hartmann

75 x 2 – Leslie Edgerton, the Armstrong crew and Harry Yates – by David Yates

Leslie and logbook comp

Right: Leslie Edgerton, Wireless Operator with the Baines crew, now aged 95.
A bout of German measles meant Leslie had to leave the crew for a stay in hospital, on his return he discovered they had failed to return from their 27th Op. Until Leslie spoke to Harry, some 50 years later, he had held out a hope they might have survived.
Left: The addendum Leslie made to his log-book after speaking to Harry about the fate of his crew .

Many thanks to David, son of Harry Yates, for contributing the following piece. It proves again that there are strange coincidences that time occasionally chooses to reveals to us – something I have experienced many a time while researching the Squadron.

75 x 2

by David Yates

Monday 8th May 1995 is memorable in our household not so much because it was the fiftieth anniversary of VE Day, and was marked accordingly with official ceremony all across the West, but because something kept secret from the family for four decades was finally revealed.

Not many days earlier, my wife Geraldine and I had completed a major extension and renovation to the house we then owned, tucked away in a pleasant downland village near Lewes in East Sussex.  I had taken upon myself the task of applying a paint roller to the expanse of brand new render, which would be followed with a fine brush to all the sashes – also new, and there were over thirty of them.  It was a labour of love already turning into just labour.

Anyway, my in-laws were driving over the downs from their home in East Dean to see their grandchild and have lunch with us.  At noon I was still balanced on my ladder at the back of the house, rolling on the second or, perhaps, third coat of emulsion.  From inside the house Geraldine was clattering away with pots and pans.  The smell of a roasting joint wafted through an open window.  Away to my right the crunch of wheels on gravel told me my morning’s work was at an end.  There were female voices, the sound of car doors closing.  A moment or two later my father-in-law Leslie appeared from around the side of the house, hand-in-hand with his infant grand-daughter.

We made the usual greetings and stood talking for a while, probably about not very much. Then, with no particular seriousness, I asked him what he had been doing fifty years ago, on 8th May 1945.  He didn’t seem too sure, “Joan and I were married by then,” he said eventually, “I think we must have been in London.”

Now, I had known for very nearly a quarter of a century, since not long after I started going out with Geraldine, that her dad’s war service had been as a wireless operator on heavy bombers.  My own father had served as a pilot on Lancs, flying alongside some New Zealanders, although he was a North Bucks country boy through and through.  I knew that the whole subject of the war had been handled differently in Leslie’s household than in ours.  My dad didn’t make a great thing out of it.  But his crew were all known to me from the letters and photos which arrived  in the family home (usually) at Christmas time.  Indeed, on one Sunday back in 1975, when we were still single, Geraldine and I waited at table on the whole crew when they – said to be already the last full 75 crew living – came to the house following a squadron reunion at Mepal.  But it wasn’t like that in Leslie’s house.  There, a discrete silence was maintained over the whole topic.  The detail of his own wartime service was unknown to his two sons and two daughters.

It was not that unusual.  I had childhood friends whose fathers wanted, for whatever reason, to close the wartime chapter and keep it closed, leaving their sons high and dry for knowledge.  One accepted that there were histories which were not happy, and men who were quietly haunted by them.  The tremendous will of the people to move on, which erupted so joyously with victory in Europe, gave such men the opening to a new life they needed, and they took it.  If there was no need to revisit the past, it was not revisited.

Still, standing there with Leslie I thought it was worth another question.  “So you weren’t still flying by this point?” I asked.

He wasn’t, having finished his tour in September 1944.

Then, out of nowhere he blurted out, “I didn’t finish with my own crew though.  I was sent to hospital with German measles, you see, and my own crew carried on flying without me.  It was six weeks before the doctor let me go back.  I expected them to still be there, but they weren’t.  I made enquiries.  But nobody seemed to know anything, just that they hadn’t come back from a raid.  The radio operator who had gone in my place was only young, and he’d just married, I think.  Anyway, over the years I’ve tried a few times to find out what happened to them – you know, at the library.  But I still don’t know.  I’ve always hoped one or two of them were made POWs, and got back home to New Zealand eventually.”

“New Zealand?” I retorted.

“Yes, it was a New Zealand squadron, based at Mepal in Cambridgeshire.”

I could scarcely believe what I was hearing.  “Wait a minute, you are saying you flew from Mepal?”

”Yes, that was the airfield.”

”Yes, but that’s the airfield which 75 Squadron flew from.”

”That’s right, 75 squadron.”

“Wait a minute, you are saying you flew from Mepal with 75 Squadron RNZAF?”

”That’s right ….”
“But my father flew with them”.

“No no no” he said, completely certain of his facts.  Well, he had been an accountant in civilian life.  “Your father was a fighter pilot with the New Zealand ‘fighter’ squadron.”

I put him right as gently but firmly as I could.  That evening, after Leslie and Joan had returned home to East Dean, I telephoned my dad to tell him what had come to pass.  I knew that he possessed a well-thumbed copy of Forever Strong, Norman Franks’ history of 75, which I had borrowed and read myself.  Norman and Dad had met or exchanged correspondence at some point and become friendly, and Norman and his wife had visited for dinner.  Norman wrote in Dad’s copy of Forever Strong (which I have in my office at home today):

“To Harry Yates DFC -Who completed a tour of with 75 Sqn
and was seen in the smoke 30 times
Best wishes,
Norman Franks”

Information on the fate of Leslie’s crew had to be in there.  I gave Dad Leslie’s number, and he duly checked and telephoned the next day.  The information was that Leslie’s skipper P/O Armstrong and all his crew were killed on the Dortmund raid of 22/23 May, 1944.  Flt Sgt George Leslie Edgerton – taciturn, stoic man that he was – now knew for certain that he was the only Armstrong crew-member to survive the war.  But at least he had that knowledge, and the long vigil of the heart that he had kept for his crew could be brought to a close at last.

Extraordinarily, Geraldine and I were in the nineteenth year of our marriage when he had finally spoken of his sorrow that day in our garden, and the coincidence of our respective dad’s war service came to light.

The event only spurred my dad on in a plan he was quietly hatching to research, write and publish the story of his flying years, centred on five hard months at Mepal.  At the time I knew nothing about this.  I was aware that, always a reader of history, he had become focussed on RAF history and had amassed quite a comprehensive book collection.  I also knew he had been to the Public Records Office at Kew and acquired a large pile of yellow sheets logging 75 operations for the period of his service.  I thought it was just a surfeit of nostalgia.

Harry at about the time he was planning Luck and Lancaster

Harry at about the time he was planning Luck and Lancaster
supplied by David Yates

It was my mother who finally told me that dad had quite forsaken her company in the evenings to disappear upstairs and start tapping on his 1970s IBM golf-ball typewriter.  Apparently, he had been hammering away at the keyboard for a year or more.  When I asked him about it he showed me a sheath of close-typed A4 sheets, the front one of which read:

“Luck and a Lancaster by Harry Yates DFC”

It was a pretty chaotic presentation, it must be said, with passages long and short crossed out everywhere and re-typed, and lengths of type stuck with sellotape on top of other lengths, or across the whole of the top or bottom of the sheet.  But there was the unmistakable voice of my dad talking quite naturally about events in his life I had little or no idea had ever taken place.  For his part, he was very unsure about the quality of the thing, which was obviously why he had kept quiet about it.  Did I think anyone would publish it, he asked.  I had no idea. “Let me take it home and read it properly,” I said.

I began reading that night, sitting up in bed.  A few pages in I turned to my wife and said, “Some of this is beautiful.”

My judgement on the manuscript was that it had to be worth sending off to publishers, but not in that condition.  So dad bought himself a modern electronic machine and re-typed the whole thing, which at that point ran up to his release from the eye hospital at Littleport.  But he had lost his creative impetus in the laborious typing process.  I suggested that he send what he had to some publishers anyway, and if one of them was interested he could return to writing, and finish the thing.

The first manuscript went, for some reason known only to dad, to Haynes, the technical manual publisher.  Unsurprisingly, it bounced back with a rejection slip within a month or two.  He then posted a copy to (the now defunct) Airlife Publishing, who were a much more likely prospect.  But weeks of silence turned into months.  I urged dad to find another publisher to try.  But he had become disheartened, quietly concluding that he had probably miscalculated, and there wasn’t really any interest in a septuagenarian heavy bomber pilot with only half his story told.

The whole project was put away in a chest of drawers, and he returned to mum’s company in the evenings.  Then, right out of the blue in the early summer of 1999, fully a year after shipping off the manuscript, he received a letter from Airlife’s managing editor.  “Dear Mr Yates,” it began, “Thank you very much for sending me the manuscript for your memoir, Luck and a Lancaster.  I sincerely apologise that I had rather a lot of submissions to read before I could get to yours.  But I have now read it with much interest, and would be very pleased indeed to publish the finished manuscript for you if you are still seeking a publisher.”

Still seeking a publisher!  Dad was electrified.  A standard authors contract was received, signed and shot back within a few days.  The only thing was that Airlife wanted to have the book available for its Christmas list, which meant finishing the whole manuscript in three months.  Everything came out of the chest of drawers and Dad threw himself back into his writing.  He made the deadline, but he wasn’t entirely happy about having to work so fast.  He felt that something was lost that perhaps did not return until the very last chapter and the epilogue.  I know there were two small factual mistakes that made it into print, and they always annoyed him.  But when I read the new material I thought it worked in rather well, given that this was the hard-grind of the tour from which all naivety had been drained by his hospitalisation.

Today, in one form or another, <em>Luck and a Lancaster</em> has probably sold getting on for 45,000 copies.  The response of readers has been incredibly generous and kind.  Hundreds of people, some of them fellow aircrew, many more of them relatives of aircrew, wrote often touching letters to dad.  He was very grateful and answered all he could until, over the final six years of his life, illness drained him too much.

He passed away in Hastings Conquest hospital on 20th November 2011, two months short of his 90th birthday.  He had lived a wonderful, satisfying life, which was what he deserved, and a life which is very much caught and held in aspic as the memory of a young flyer by his much older self.

One of the things Dad had done in his research period was to visit Barry Aldridge’s museum at Witchford, and sign the visitors book.  In the summer of 2001, I took Leslie up to Cambridgeshire to re-connect with his own past.  We visited Ely and the Cathedral, and we went to the old airfield, of course, and to the village green at Mepal.  Then we went on to Barry’s museum.  Leslie wandered through the exhibits and breathed in the pungent perfume of that Hercules power-plant which fills the place.  But some private regret, that will obviously never be expunged, stopped him from signing the visitors book.

Leslie had his 95th birthday dinner with Geraldine and I on St George’s Day this year.  He is still surprisingly hale and very determined to remain independent as long as possible.

F/S Frederick Charles Cowan, Wireless Operator – Whitmore crew 1943

Frederick Charles Cowan wedding 2

A picture of Fred and Lil on their engagement.
However, on closer inspection, it can be seen that Fred appears to be wearing a Warrant Officers badge on his sleeve and an ‘S’ brevet on his uniform. Fred was promoted from Sergeant to Flight Sergeant while he was a Prisoner of War. The re-badging of Air Gunners/ Wireless Operators from A/G/W/Op to the more specific ‘Signals’ badge for Wireless Operators occurred at the beginning of 1944 – while, again, Fred was interred. So, perhaps this picture was actually taken after the War, when Fred had returned to Lil…..
© David Cowan/ Dianne Clow

Many thanks to David and Dianne for passing on information about their Father, Frederick Charles Cowan, Wireless operator with Dick Whitmore’s crew. Frederick was the only  survivor of the crew when they were shot down on the 27th September 1943, during an Op to Hanover.

Dianne has passed on this  wonderful picture of Fred and his new wife Lillian on their wedding day.

Dianne lets us know that  Frederick and Lillian:
“met in Hackney, East London in a November, got engaged in the January and married in the April, and in that time, they did not see much of each other.  Then dad got shot down and put in a POW camp, so they then did not see each other for quite a while. In fact, I remember my mum telling me that a neighbour said my dad was walking down the street on his first time home after coming back from the (PoW) camp, but  she was too scared to go out and see him!!  My mum’s maiden name was Lillian Jesse Thomas and lived in Dagenham Essex.  I think the pictures would have been taken in Tottenham North London but I am not sure. It’s funny that men of my dad’s kind never spoke about their time in the war, just got on with getting back to normal when it ended.  I think my dad’s story of being shot down, parachute not opening, survival and being in a POW war camp is quite amazing, especially for such an unassuming man.”

Frederick Charles Cowan wedding 1

Frederick Charles Cowan and his new bride Lillian Jesse Cowan, pictured possibly, somewhere in East Hackney. Dianne is unsure of the date, but, based on Fred’s stripes and brevet, I think it would be at the earliest May 1943.
© David Cowan/ Dianne Clow

Her Grandson, when asked to do an article about someone who was in the Second World War, chose Adolf Hitler!!!! Dianne said he should find out about his great grandfather and so he did and produced the following  excellent piece of work – he’ll be running the blog in a few years!

“My Great Grandfather Frederick Charles Cowan, born in London in 1920, was in the Royal Air Force as a Wireless Operator on Wellington and Stirling Bomber Planes.  The rest of his crew were from the New Zealand Air Force, who came to England to help fight in the Second World War.

On the night of the 27/28th September, 1943, his plane was shot at, caught fire, exploded and crashed down to earth whilst on a bombing attack on Hanover in Germany.  Great Grandfather Fred was blown out of the plane and his parachute failed to open. His life was saved because he hit a tree on the way down to the ground and he only broke a leg. He was captured by the local German police and become a prisoner of war in a German Prisoner of War Camp until his release in May, 1945, when he came home to England.  

Unfortunately all the other crew members were killed. Three of the crew who died were only 22, 27 and 29 years of age and one was married with three children. My Great Grandfather was only 23.

On his return home to England, he wrote to the parents of the crew members who had died. He was offered sponsorship to start a new life with his wife in New Zealand, but did not go. Some of the parents sent them food parcels as there was still food shortages after the War had ended.”

Frederick and the Whitmore crew arrived at Mepal, from 1665 Conversion Unit at Woolfox Lodge, on the 20th of August 1943. After 2 Ops as 2nd Dickie, with the Wilkinson and Logan crew, Dick Whitmore took charge of his own crew.

 27/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Nurenburg
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 EH901 JN-O

F/S Ernest Stanley Wilkinson, RNZAF NZ417138 – Pilot.
F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Gordon Noel Simes, RNZAF NZ415376 – Navigator.
F/S Neil Gordon Roy Treacher, RNZAF NZ416418 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Jeffery James Waterman, RAFVR 1312274 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Timothy Whatley, RAFVR 1314153 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. E.S. Robson, RAFVR 1810690 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S George Stanley Wilkinson, RAFVR 642538 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:30 – Landed 04:30
Flight Time 07:00

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 EH935 JN-K

P/O Clifford Charles Pownall Logan, RAAF AUS.405918 – Pilot.
F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Geoffrey Phillips Sowerby, RNZAF NZ417243 – Navigator.
P/O John Paul Ingham, RAFVR 132331 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Terence James Hegarty, RAFVR 1030026 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Thomas Stewart, RAFVR 1117389 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick Edward William Crowther, RAFVR 1339159 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Albert John Knox, RNZAF NZ416006 – Rear Gunner.

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

The Whitmore crew undertook their first Operational sortie on the 2nd of September, 19 days after their arrival at 75(NZ) Squadron. As was fairly standard at this point in the War, this was to be an ‘easy’ Gardening Op to the Frisian Islands with 4 other crews – all with no previous experience with the Squadron.

Of the 35 airmen in these 5 crews, 14 would be dead before the end of September, 3 would be Prisoners of War and another 6 would be dead within the year.

Only 12, including Fred, would survive the war.

02/09/1943 – Mining in the Frisian Islands
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb., One aircraft returned early owing to a navigational failure, and brought its mines back. The remainder however, successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, although the parachutes were not seen to open owing to 4/10th cloud. No A.A. fire or searchlights were encountered. One unidentified aircraft was seen and a short combat took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was good on the outward route, but fog and patchy cloud was prevalent in the mining area. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
P/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 23:15
Flight Time 02:45

03/09/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb.. They all successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, and some of the parachutes were seen to open. A few searchlights and A.A. guns were encountered, but were ineffective. One enemy aircraft was seen but no combat took place. There was a clear sky in the mining area and visibility was good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EH887 JN-C

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:50 – Landed 01:40
Flight Time 05:50

05/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Mannheim
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4lb. One aircraft had trouble shortly after take-off and was forced to jettison its bombs four miles north of CAMBRIDGE. The attack was well concentrated and large fires together with heavy explosions were seen. Moderate heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective. One aircraft on the return journey when near the FRENCH Coast was hit by A.A. fire. It received considerable damage and two of its engines were made unserviceable. The ENGLISH Coast was reached however, it belly-landed at Hunsden. Many fighters were seen and some combats took, place. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. H.BATGER sighted an enemy aircraft on the port quarter which opened fire on them and our aircraft corkscrewed. The Mid-upper and Rear Gunner then opened fire and the enemy aircraft was seen to dive to the ground in flames. It was claimed as destroyed. Our aircraft received considerable damage and the Flight Engineer Sgt. R. DALKINS was seriously wounded.

The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. R. WHITMORE sighted an enemy aircraft 100yds. astern, the Mid-upper and Rear Gunners opened fire, the enemy aircraft was seen to turn over and spin into the ground afire. It was claimed as destroyed. This was followed by another enemy aircraft approaching from starboard to port astern, the Mid-upper and Rear Gunners again fired and the enemy aircraft broke away. One minute later an unidentified aircraft was seen firing at a Lancaster aircraft, which was afire. F/Sgt. WHITMORE’s Mid-Upper and Rear Gunners opened fire on the enemy aircraft, which disappeared. The Lancaster was then seen to break up.

Some cloud was encountered on the way to the target, but there was a clear sky and visibility was good in the target area. Navigation was very good. One aircraft failed to return, it was captained by F/Sgt. WILKINSON, E.S.

Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

AIR 50 92 168 CR 5 sept Whitmore DUSTRMVD

Combat Report for the the 5/6th September 1943 Target Mannheim. Whitmore crew. National Archives AIR 50/92

Interestingly, EH877 appears to be listed as “O” in this document. All other sources that include this aircraft refer to it as “C”.

Take Off 19:45 – Landed 02:50
Flight Time 02:50

08/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Bouolgne
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets. The carried their maximum bomb load in bombs of 1,000lb., and 500lb.. One aircraft crashed whilst taking off and two returned early. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Not many fires were seen but numerous huge explosions were observed. Some heavy and light predicted A.A. Fire and a few searchlights were encountered but caused no trouble. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was good and visibility was clear  except for slight ground haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:45 – Landed 00:15
Flight Time 02:30

15/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Montlucon
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000lb and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb..One aircraft failed to take-off, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a good concentrated attack, large fires and heavy explosions being observed, smoke from fires and heavy explosions being observed, smoke from fires was rising to a height of 12,000ft.. Inaccurate A.A. fire from a few guns was the only opposition, no enemy aircraft were encountered. There was 5/10th cloud over the target but visibility was nevertheless good. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
P/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 02:45
Flight Time 06:15

22/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hanover
Twenty aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1,000lb. and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb.. Three aircraft returned early, but the remainder dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a very successful and concentrated attack. Numerous fires which appeared to be merging into one large fire were seen, and were still visible as the aircraft were returning over the DUTCH Coast. Heavy A.A. fire and a great number of searchlights were encountered, but proved ineffective. Several enemy aircraft were seen and one of our Stirlings was hit, but the attacker was not seen, damage was received to the tail and mainplane, and the port petrol tanks were punctured. The aircraft, however, was safely flown back to base and a crash landing was made with three engines. It was clear over the target and visibility was excellent. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 01:55
Flight Time 06:50

23/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Mannheim
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to carry the above operation with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4lb.. Three aircraft failed to return, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This was, undoubtedly, a good attack, concentrated fires which were spreading to the West, and large heavy explosions were seen. Moderate heavy A.A. fire and a large curtain of searchlights were encountered, but caused no trouble. Enemy aircraft were very active and several combats took place. The aircraft captained by W/O. P. MOSELEY had a combat with a JU88 which was claimed as a probably destroyed. In the action our aircraft received damage the Pilot W/O. P. MOSELEY and the Mid Upper Sgt. C. MIDDLETON were slightly injured. The aircraft captained by P/O A. BURLEY had three combats with enemy aircraft, one of which was claimed as destroyed, the two as  damaged. The weather was good with clear visibility. Navigation was excellent. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk.111 EF459 captained by P/O C.C. LOGAN, EH946 captained by F/Lt. G. TURNER , and EH935 captained by F/O L. KIRKPATRICK.

Stirling Mk.III EH901 JN-O

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:40 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 06:20

27/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hanover
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4lb. Two aircraft failed to return and one returned owing to its rear turret being unserviceable. The remainder dropped their bombs in the target area. This was an exceedingly successful and well concentrated attack, considered to be even better than the previous one. Numerous large fires and columns of smoke rising to 12,000ft., were seen, and the fires were again visible at the DUTCH Coast. Very moderate and ineffective heavy A.A. fire, numerous searchlights and flares were encountered. Many enemy aircraft were seen and several combats took place. The air craft captained by F/Sgt. HORGAN, D. had a combat with a JU88 which was claimed to be destroyed. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. BURTON, H., sighted a JU88 and the Rear Gunner fired, it was seen to fall in flames and was claimed as destroyed. Two other short combats took place and one of our aircraft received slight damage. The weather was poor on the outward and return journeys, but good with clear visibility over the target. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirling Mk.III, EF515 captained by Sgt. MARTIN, R., and EH877 captained by F/Sgt. WHITMORE, R.

Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, RAFVR 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

The Whitmore crew in Stirling MK.III EH877 JN-C, took off between 19:45 and 20:00hrs to join a main force of 678 aircraft attacked Hanover the second time that month. Although the attack was well concentrated, incorrectly forecast wind speeds, used by the Pathfinders to mark the target, resulted in the center of the city being spared – the majority of bombs falling approximately 5 miles North of Hanover city center.

There is little information regarding the exact cause of loss of EH877. Some, sources report seeing it falling in flames, the aircraft apparently breaking up in the air prior to final impact.

All of the Whitmore crew were killed apart from Frederick Cowan, the Wireless Operator.

In discussion with Dianne and David there seems within the family a little discussion regarding the details of Fred’s escape and survival. Given the description that exists, we must therefore assume that Fred escaped the aircraft prior to a crash and therefore with (or without)  a parachute.

F/S Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot. Died age 22.
F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ415052 – Navigator. Died age 27.
Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber. Died age 22.
Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer. Died age 22.
Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner. Died age 21.
Sgt. Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner. Died age 29.

All crew were laid to rest in Hanover War Cemetery, Germany.

After capture, Frederick, prisoner 250701, would spend the remainder of the War in Dulag Luft, Stalag IVB and Stalag III. During this period he was promoted to Flight Sergeant. He returned to the United Kingdom at the end of the War.