S.R. Thornley crew 21.5.43 †

23/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Dortmund
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble, and the remaining aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Some very large fires were seen, and the bombs were seen to explode amongst large buildings. Medium and Heavy A.A.Fire co-operating with searchlights was encountered. One aircraft was hit whilst over the target, and the port outer propeller was shot off, but the aircraft successfully returned to base. Some enemy aircraft were seen, and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was good in the target area, but identification was difficult owing to smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. Stirling Mk.III,BK.783 captained by Sergeant S.M. Tietjens failed to return.

Stirling Mk.I BK646 AA-N

Sgt. Alan Joseph Lyall Sedunary, RAAF AUS.416619 – Pilot.
Sgt. Sidney Russell Thornley, RNZAF NZ40109 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Aubrey Lens, RAFVR 149672 – Navigator.
Sgt. Cecil Reginald Parish, RAFVR 1332576 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Douglas Hamilton Moss, RNZAF NZ404653 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Frank Kitchener Alcock, RAFVR 532245 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Jack Ernest Nicholson, RAFVR 1800467 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. John James Gratton, RAFVR 1351568 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:19 – Landed 03:31
Flight Time 04:12

21/05/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with Mines of 1500lb, All of the aircraft successfully dropped their Mines in the allotted area. And the parachutes were seen to open. No. A.A. Fire, searchlights or enemy aircraft were encountered. The weather was good, but visibility was impaired by sea haze. Navigation was very good..

Stirling Mk.III BK783? AA-Q (

Sgt. Sidney Russell Thornley, RNZAF NZ40109 – Pilot.
Sgt. Allan McWilliams, RNZAF NZ416586 – Navigator.
Sgt. Allan Corson Anderson McPhail, RNZAF NZ41194 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Domenico Ruocco, RAFVR 1383593 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Cyril Walter Larkin, RAFVR 904570 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Victor Dartnell, RAFVR 1811761 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick George Hooper, RAFVR 1234152 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:59 – Landed 02:14
Flight Time 04:15

25/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Dusseldorf
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack with bombs of 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. Four aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble, and one failed to return. The remaining eleven aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, and some large explosions were also seen. Both heavy and light A.A. Fire was encountered, co-operating with searchlights, which were ineffective. Some enemy aircraft were seen and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. Ten tenths cloud was prevalent in the target area, but visibility was fairly good. Navigation was very good. This missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.I. BK602, captained by Sergeant T.W. Darton.

Stirling Mk.III BF561 AA-O

Sgt. Sidney Russell Thornley, RNZAF NZ40109 – Pilot.
Sgt. Allan McWilliams, RNZAF NZ416586 – Navigator.
Sgt. Allan Corson Anderson McPhail, RNZAF NZ41194 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Domenico Ruocco, RAFVR 1383593 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Cyril Walter Larkin, RAFVR 904570 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Victor Dartnell, RAFVR 1811761 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick George Hooper, RAFVR 1234152 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:55 – Landed 03:57
Flight Time 04:02

29/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Wuppertal
Twenty aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with bombs of 2000lb, 1000lb, and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft failed to take-off owing to the rear turret being unserviceable, and two returned early. Four aircraft failed to return. The remaining thirteen aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very large fires were seen and also some big explosions. Some heavy A.A.Fire was encountered, but it was ineffective. No searchlights were seen. A few enemy aircraft were seen and one short combat took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The weather was good in the target area, but visibility was impaired by smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk.III BK776 Captained by P/O. R.F.Bennett, Mk.I EF398, captained by F/O. R.B. Vernazoni, MK.III EH881 captained by Sgt. J.H. Carey and Mk.III Bf561 captained by Sgt. S.R. Thornley.

Stirling Mk.III BF561 AA-O

Sgt. Sidney Russell Thornley, RNZAF NZ40109 – Pilot.
Sgt. Allan McWilliams, RNZAF NZ416586 – Navigator.
Sgt. Allan Corson Anderson McPhail, RNZAF NZ41194 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Domenico Ruocco, RAFVR 1383593 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Cyril Walter Larkin, RAFVR 904570 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Victor Dartnell, RAFVR 1811761 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick George Hooper, RAFVR 1234152 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:14 – Landed –
Flight Time – Missing

Stirling Mk.III BF561 AA-O was brought down near the village of Gladbeck, 21 miles North West of the target. The crew may have been on their bombing run-up when hit by either AA fire or by a night- fighter. The bomb load was still on board when the aircraft crashed and exploded on impact, killing all on board. They were buried in a collective grave at Gladbeck but later reinterred at Reichswald Forest Cemetery.

F/S Sydney Russell Thornley, RNZAF NZ40109 – Pilot.
Killed age 25.
Son of John and Martha Jane Thornley, of Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 29. E. 15-18.

Sgt. Allan Mcwilliam, RNZAF NZ416586 – Navigator.
Killed age 20.
Son of Bruce Carmichael Mcwilliam and of Ellen Winifred Mcwilliam (Nee Jack), of Hampden, Otago, New Zealand.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 29. E. 15-18.

Sgt. Allan Corson Anderson Macphail, RNZAF NZ41194 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 30.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 29. E. 15-18.

Sgt. Domenico Ruocco, RAFVR 1383593 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 20.
Son of Francesco Domenico Ruocco and Mary Elizabeth Ruocco; Husband of Esther May Ruocco, of Harringay, Middlesex.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 29. E. 15-18.
‘To live in hearts
You leave behind
Is not to die’

Sgt. Cyril Walter Larkin, RAFVR 904570 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 23.
Son of Frederick Walter and Charlotte Emma Larkin, of Kilburn, Middlesex.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 29. E. 15-18.
‘God bless you.
We shall meet again
Mum & Dad’

Sgt. John Victor Dartnall, RAFVR 1811761 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 19.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 29. E. 15-18.

Sgt. Frederick George Hooper, RAFVR 1234152 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 21.
Son of Harry and Amy Victoria Maud Hooper, of Brighton, Sussex.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 29. E. 15-18.
‘To the memory
Of our dear son.
“Till we meet again”
Mum, dad and family’

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