Tag Archives: John Johnston

Liverpool (Ford) Roman Catholic Cemetery – S/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton Mid RAF 42475

ERM Appleton

It took me a good while to find the gravestone of Squadron Leader Edward Appleton. Whilst I am experienced enough to not automatically expect a Commonwealth War Grave, when I finally did find the stone, I was a little perplexed – this  increased whilst trying to find out what actually happened to Edward on the 31st of August 1943.

Upon finding Edward’s gravestone, I was interested to see it existed as an additive inscription to a stone that already recorded 5 other individuals, all members of the Southwell family. The gravestone read as follows:

Joseph Louis Southwell who departed this life on September 18th 1893 aged 41 years. This stone is erected by his  employers and friends as a token of respect and esteem a trusty servant a loyal friend. R.I.P
Joseph L. Southwell who departed this life on May 25th 1882, aged 9 years.
Also of Humphrey Southwell who died on April 24th 1915 aged 34 years.
Elizabeth Jane Southwell, died 10th December 1929
Lucy Agnes Southwell died 19th February 1931.
S/Ldr Edward Robert M. Appleton killed on active service 31st August 1943 aged 23 years R.I.P

I would obviously be fascinated therefore to understand the relationships and relevance of the inscriptions…….

The details of Edwards death are also a little complicated, relative to the normal post about an airman killed with the Squadron, so thanks to Kevin for pointing me in the direction of a thread on the RAF Commands forum within which the events of the night of Edward’s death were discussed and discovered – so belatedly and indirectly thank-you also to all of those that contributed to this original discussion thread.

Edward arrived at  Newmarket on the 16th April 1943. On the 26th of that month he flew as 2nd Pilot in Peter Buck’s crew to Duisburg.

26/04/1943 – Attack Against Targets At Duisburg
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1000 lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. One aircraft however failed to take-off as the pilot was sick. And two aircraft returned early. The remaining five aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, which was a mass of flames. Large concentrated fires being seen which were spreading. Very heavy A.A.Fire was experienced in the target area, which was mainly predicted and co-operation with cones of searchlights. Some enemy aircraft were seen and one combat took place. The weather was very good in the target area, but visibility was impaired by haze caused by the large fires. Navigation was very good. Stirling Mk.III BF517, captained by F/O P.J. Buck, was attacked by an unseen fighter when about 30 miles North of the target. The rudder and tail of the aircraft was damaged, and the rear gunner was mortally wounded. The fighter was evaded and by jettisoning all moveable objects height was maintained and the aircraft returned to base where a perfect crash landing was made. Besides the rear gunner who lost his life, minor injuries were also received by two other members of the crew.

Stirling Mk.I BK619 AA-X

P/O Peter John Oswald Buck, RNZAF NZ413377 – Pilot.
F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Alexander Fielding Minnis, RAFVR 126499 – Navigator.
Sgt. A.P. Sadler, RAFVR 1379771 – Air Bomber.
P/O John Henry Symons, RCAF R.77568/ J.16507 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J.W. Jones, RAFVR 1068491 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J. Watson, RAFVR 1021021 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Brian Arthur Rogers, RAFVR 1384352 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:15 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 04:00

https://75nzsquadron.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/img_0017.jpg

The rear gunner’s turret of a 75(NZ) Squadron Stirling being inspected by S/Ldr. Dick Broadbent and W/Cdr. Wells, a visiting fighter pilot, after damage by a night fighter over Duisburg on 26th April 1943.

Above, a photograph from “The Royal Air Force at Newmarket”. The caption identifies the incident and links it therefore to the attack on the Buck crew and the death of Sgt. Brian Rogers. A post showing Sgt. Roger’s name on the screen wall of the City of London Cemetery and Crematorium and more details by the attack by the Nachtjagd can be read here.

The Appleton crew began their tour on the 27th April with a fairly standard and considered ‘easy’ Gardening Op.

27/04/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operations, with mines of 1500 lb. One of these returned early owing to engine trouble and the remainder successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. No enemy aircraft, A.A. fire or searchlights were encountered. There was heavy cloud and occasional rain storms in the mining area although visibility was good, except for haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.I BK614 JN-H

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
P/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:07 – Landed 05:51
Flight Time 04:44

01/05/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with Mines of 1500lb, only two aircraft, however, took-off owing to bad weather. They successfully dropped their Mines in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. Some enemy aircraft and a few searchlights were encountered, but they were ineffective. There was 7/10th. Cloud over the gardening area, although visibility was good, Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BK776 AA-R

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
P/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:31 – Landed 05:19
Flight Time 07:48

04/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets At Dortmund
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets, with bombs of 2000lb 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft, however, failed to take-off owing to engine trouble. The remaining aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, with the exception of two which returned early owing to engine trouble. Large fires and explosions were seen, which appeared to come from the center of the target area. Some A.A.Fire and searchlights were encountered, but they were ineffective. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. No cloud was prevalent in the target area, and visibility was good, ground detail was obscured by the smoke from the fires. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK721 AA-Z

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
Sgt. Robert Frederick Harvey, RNZAF NZ416483 – 2nd Pilot.
P/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:58 – Landed 03:52
Flight Time 04:54

12/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets At Duisburg
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2000lb, 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. Stirling Mk.III. BK.721 captained by F/Lt. E.R.M. Appleton, whilst taking off failed to clear an obstruction at the end of the runway and crashed almost immediately afterwards, all the crew with the exception of the captain and the wireless operator, F/Sgt. Cocks, S.G. were killed. The captain received severe injuries and the wireless was also injured, both were admitted to hospital. As a result of this crash two aircraft were unable to take-off. One aircraft returned early owing to the Captain being sick. The remaining five aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, and large concentrated fires and some explosions were seen. Some heavy A.A.Fire, co-operating with searchlights was encountered, but it was ineffective. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. The weather was very clear in the target area with good visibility except for ground haze which prevented identification. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BK721 AA-Z

F/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, RAF 42475 – Pilot.
Sgt. Robert Frederick Harvey, RNZAF NZ416483 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O John Johnston, RNZAF NZ416198 – Navigator.
P/O Selwyn James Clubb, RNZAF NZ414593 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Gordon Cocks, RNZAF NZ404624 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James Samuel Andrews, RAFVR 634968 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Bernard Arthur Riley Moore, RAFVR 1106308 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Joseph Wykes, RAFVR 1127228 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:37 – Landed –
Flight Time Crashed

It is only writing this that I realise that only a few weeks ago I visited Cheltenham Cemetery to record the headstone of Sgt. Bernard Moore. To read more details of this incident that killed all crew bar Edward and his Wireless Operator, Stanley Cocks click here.

One might speculate as to whether Edward was enjoying incredibly good luck, or those around him bad. Despite surviving the “Devils Dyke” crash Edward was seriously injured. The Form 540 shows that Edward was promoted to the rank of Acting Squadron Leader with effect from the 7th of May, authority dated the  16th. A day later on the 17th May, Edward was posted to Non Effective Strength, Base Head Quarters at Mildenhall, where we must assume he undertook appropriate duties while he recovered from the crash of the 12th of May.

On the 31st of August S/L Edward Appleton was an observer on a B-17F of 422 Night Leaflet Squadron (USAAF), the bomber, 42-5376 coded JJ-X “Eager Eagle” was Piloted by 1st Lt Floyd H. Truesdell, out of Chelveston, Northamptonshire.

The flight plan called for an altitude of 7000 feet. The right waist gunner S/Sgt John E. Breen said that the last report he had heard over the inter-phone before the collision was 7200 feet. The flight plan route was over Foulsham.

At approximately 23:30, a Royal Air Force Beaufighter V8715, collided with B-17F Aircraft, Serial No. 42-5376.

The Beaufighter was evidently in a steep bank to the right hitting the B-17 between the No. 3 and No. 4 engines from the front. The force of the collision split the Beaufighter in half and severed the right wing of the B-17F. The two waist gunners, S/S John E. Breen and Sgt Carl G. Ruehl, both parachuted to safety. The B-17F crashed into a farm building on the Parish Church Farm on the south edge of the town of Foulsham, Norfolk County, England, killing 9 other crew members including F/L E. M. Appleton, an RAF Pilot on Detached Service with the 305th Bombardment Group from Royal Air Force No. 3 Group, riding as Observer. There were no civilian casualties.

The farm building was partially demolished, killing five (5) bullocks.

Under the ‘CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS’ of the subsequent investigation it was noted that both aircraft were flying without navigation lights as they were above 5000 feet and there was a Red Air Raid alert on at that time. The accident was unavoidable.

Squadron Leader Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, MiD was 23 years old.

Cheltenham Cemetery – Sgt Bernard Arthur Riley Moore RAFVR 1106308

BAR Moore Cheltenham

The ‘summer’ has arrived and with it some time from work so I have decided to try to visit a few cemeteries over the period and record a few more gravestones for the Roll of Honour pages of the blog. Time spent on Google Maps has allowed me to plot where all the outstanding ones are in the UK and it has also allowed me to understand what might be the logistics of gathering them. Depending on the weather, there may well be some stupendous road trips ahead!

On the way to my Mother, I took a relatively modest diversion on the M5 to visit Cheltenham Cemetery and the grave of Sgt Bernard Arthur Riley Moore.

Bernard was killed on the 13th of May 1943 when the Stirling he was Mid Upper Gunner in, suffered an engine failiure of the starboard inner engine. Without the necessary power to climb after take-off, BK721 AA-Z clipped the ‘Devils Dyke’ and crashed a short distance from the North West end of runway of Newmarket. Only the Pilot, Squadron Leader Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton and the Wireless Operator Flight Sergeant Stanley Cocks survived, however both were seriously injured.

Bernard was returned home to be buried in Cheltenham. Likewise and accordingly, Sgt James Samuel Andrews was buried in Guildford Cemetery, Surrey and Sgt Joseph Wykes lays in Dalbeattie Cemetery, Urr, Kirkcubrightshire.

The 3 RNZAF airmen in the crew, Sergeant Robert Frederick Harvey, Flying Officer John  Johnston and Flying Officer Selwyn James Clubb were all laid to rest in Newmarket cemetery.

 

 

Newmarket Cemetery – Aircrew headstones recorded

Newmarket Cemetery CWWG PlotOnce again, many thanks for his continuing efforts regarding the contribution of gravestone images for the Roll of Honour – having already provided Cambridge and Feltwell cemeteries, he has now added Newmarket to the list.

 

FRANKLIN Welch Lawrence Whitcombe

On the night of the 16th December 1942 nine Stirling bombers of the Squadron were detailed to undertake a Gardening Op off Bordeaux.

The surface wind at Newmarket around take off time was fluctuating and tending toward crosswind. Then it backed severely so that the flare path was downwind. During take-off at 21.45hrs, the first three aircraft swung badly on take off, but this was promptly rectified and they became airborne.

The next Stirling due to take off, R9245, Piloted by Sgt. Benjamin Franklin, was subjected to the  same wind effect causing it to swing dangerously, but Sgt. Franklin kept power on to counter it and continued the take-off attempt. The aircraft became airborne briefly but crashed a mile away from the airfield. Two mines exploded and all the crew were killed.The remaining aircraft, due  to take off were grounded.

It was later established that the starboard undercarriage had hit Devil’s Dyke (a mound around the perimeter of Newmarket airfield) and broke off the oil tank to the starboard inner engine, causing it to seize and turning the aircraft into the ground.

The other 3 members of the crew, Sgt Edgar William Harvey RNZAF NZ41902 is buried Lakenham (St. John the Baptist and All Saints) Churchyard, Sgt Tom Pascoe RAFVR 1308491 rests in Ashburton (St. Andrew) Churchyard Extension and Sgt Eric James Burbridge RAFVR 1392526 lays in Wandsworth and Streatham Cemetery, Surrey.

 

WALSH Moffatt Reddiclife Curtis Stuart

Nine Stirlings were dispatched on the 9th April 1943 from Newmarket to attack targets at Duisburg. On return, a brief wireless message was received from Stirling Mk.III BK770. This short distress signal was all that was heard from the aircraft. A ground report was later received advising an aircraft had crashed at Valley Farm, Bressingham, Norfolk. Soon after impact an explosion was observed and the aircraft burst into flames. None of the crew survived. BK770 was the first Mk.III Stirling to be lost by 75(NZ) Squadron.

The remaining 2 members of the crew, Sgt John William Scudder RAFVR1291875 is buried in Streatham Park Cemetery and Sgt Jack Herbert Worthington RAFVR 574819 rests in Worthing (Durrington) Cemetery Sussex.

 

Harvey JOHNSTON,Clubb

Nine aircraft were sent to attack targets at Duisburg on the night of 13th May 1943. The Stirling Mk.III BK721, captained by S/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, suffered a starboard inner engine failure during take off. The resulting loss of power prevented the aircraft from gaining the necessary speed and more crucially height and it collided with the earth mound round the airfield  perimeter – the  ‘Devil’s Dyke’ before crashing a short distance from the NW end of the runway, killing all crew members except the Squadron Leader Appleton and the Wireless Operator F/S Stanley Cocks, who were both badly injured.

The remainder of the crew, not buried in Newmarket Cemetery are, Sgt James Samuel Andrews RAFVR 634968, buried Guilford Cemetery, Surrey, Sgt Bernard Arthur Riley Moore RAFVR 1106308 rests in Cheltenham Cemetery and Sgt Joseph Wykes RAFVR 1127228 lays in Dalbeattie Cemetery, Urr, Kirkcubrightshire.

 

Newmarket Cemetery

I was contacted this evening by Tony who maintains a website about the war memorial and graves at Newmarket Cemetery. Within the cemetery are 13 boys from 75(NZ) Squadron who lost their lives in 3 crashes when the Squadron was flying from Newmarket.
They are;

FRANKLIN Sgt Benjamin Allan RNZAF (NZ414277) Pilot. Age 21.
LAWRENCE Sgt William Joseph RCAF. (R.70294) Flight Engineer. Age 22.
WELCH Sgt Harold Rangi, RNZAF, (NZ41709) Wireless Operator. Age 22. d.
WHITCOMBE Sgt William Henry, RNZAF. (NZ41561) Observer/Navigator . Age 32.
The above aircrew were killed on the 16th December 1942 when their aircraft crashed on take-off, the mine they were carrying, for a gardening op in the Gironde Estuary, exploded on impact.

MOFFATT F/Sgt Bertram Augustus, RCAF (R.802237) Navigator. Age 25.
REDDICLIFFE Sgt Francis Henry RAF. (1030797) Air Bomber. Age 28.
CURTIS Sgt Stanley Arthur RAF ,(1386838) Mid Upper Gunner. Age 28.
STUART F/Sgt Phillip Gordon, RCAF. (R.93568) Rear Gunner. Age 30.
WALSH W/O John Arthur Ernest, RNZAF. (NZ401294) Pilot . Age 27.
The above aircrew were killed when the aircraft they were flying in crashed on return from a raid on Duisberg at Bressingham, Norfolk on the 9th April 1943.

HARVEY Sgt Robert Frederick RNZAF (NZ416483) Pilot. Age 23.
CLUBB Fg Off. Selwyn James RNZAF (NZ414593) Air Bomber. Age 20.
JOHNSTON F/O John RNZAF (NZ416198) Navigator. Age 28.
The above crew were killed after the aircraft they were flying in crashed on take-off after its inner starboard engine failed as part of the raid on Duisberg on the 13th May 1943.

A thirteenth airman who is from 75(NZ), Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Drayton RAFVR 1331697 doesn’t seem to be very accurately listed in the Squadron Nominal roll – I’ll need to do some more digging on him……

Hopefully by putting their names up here it provides another point where people may come across them and therefore we might be able to learn a little bit more about them.

See more detailed information on the boys here