R.J. Watson crew 16.12.43 †

16/12/1943 – Attack against a Special Target
Eight aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with bombs of 500lbs. Two aircraft crashed whilst taking off and one returned early. The remaining aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a good concentrated attack and many large bomb bursts were observed. No opposition of any kind was encountered. The weather on route was good and visibility was clear except for slight ground haze. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/O Hugh William Henderson, RNZAF NZ421713 – Navigator.
F/S Lorraine Harold Frank Peterson, RNZAF NZ413888 – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Jones, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Cyril Beech, RAFVR 1584473 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Colin B. Armstrong, RAFVR 2209010 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Robert James Ian Melville, RNZAF NZ42349 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed 20:35
Flight Time 02:25

04/01/1944 – Attack against a Special Target
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500 lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. The attack was very concentrated and appeared to be a success. Some slight heavy A.A. Fire and a few enemy aircraft were encountered but proved negligible. In spite of 3-4 10ths. cloud at the target, visibility was good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
Sgt. John Charles Lawrence Carey, RAFVR 245811/ 172120 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Donald Nelson Cook, RNZAF NZ417268 – Navigator.
Sgt. C. Hinder, RAFVR 1221913 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. F. Andrews, RAFVR 1078392 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. J. Buckman, RAFVR 1890438 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. G. Hopkins, RAFVR 1046625 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. H. Pritchard, RAFVR 1259238 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:15 – Landed 04:50
Flight Time 02:35

20/01/1944 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Seven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1500 lbs. One aircraft was withdrawn but the remainder successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area. No opposition was met and the trip was uneventful. The weather was good and visibility clear except for slight sea haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ422282 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Hugh William Henderson, RNZAF NZ421713 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RNZAF NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:00 – Landed 20:00
Flight Time 03:00

27/01/1944 – Mining of the East Coast of Denmark
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500 lbs., which were successfully dropped in the allotted area. Some light and heavy A.A. Fire was encountered, but proved to be negligible. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was very good, and although it was very dark, visibility was clear. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/S Drummond Blair Livingstone, RNZAF NZ424959 – Navigator.
F/S Ralph Morley Woods, RAFVR 1386860 – Air Bomber.
F/S Arthur Stanley Jones, RNZAF NZ421977 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Cyril Beech, 1584473 1584473 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Colin Armstrong, RAFVR 2209010 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Robert James Ian Melville, RNZAF NZ42349 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:40 – Landed 22:55
Flight Time 06:15

11/02/1944 – Mining off Mouth of River Ardour
Of the nine aircraft which were laying mines of 1500 lbs off the mouth of the river ADOUR, all but one did so though it meant flying down through very bad icing cloud and in these conditions one jettisoned to lighten the load.

Stirling Mk.III EF215 AA-M

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/S Drummond Blair Livingstone, RNZAF NZ424959 – Navigator.
F/S Ralph Morley Woods, RAFVR 1386860 – Air Bomber.
F/S Arthur Stanley Jones, RNZAF NZ421977 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Cyril Beech, RAFVR 1584473 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Colin Armstrong, RAFVR 2209010 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Robert James Ian Melville, RNZAF NZ42349 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:35 – Landed 02:25
Flight Time 07:50

15/02/1944 – Mining in the Kiel Bay
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to lay mines in Kiel Bay. Fourteen aircraft dropped 42 mines in 10 minutes. One aircraft returned early with a starboard engine failure. A very successful operation.

Stirling Mk.III EF215 AA-M

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/S Drummond Blair Livingstone, RNZAF NZ424959 – Navigator.
F/S Ralph Morley Woods, RAFVR 1386860 – Air Bomber.
F/S Arthur Stanley Jones, RNZAF NZ421977 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Cyril Beech, RAFVR 1584473 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Colin Armstrong, RAFVR 2209010 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Robert James Ian Melville, RNZAF NZ42349 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:25 – Landed 23:55
Flight Time 06:30

02/03/1944 – Special Operations – March Moon Period WHEELWRIGHT 70 (ABORTIVE)
Operation WHEELWRIGHT 70 (Abortive).
Reception area was reached, but unable to obtain pin point owing to variable low stratus cloud.

Stirling Mk.III ??-?

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/O Hugh William Henderson, RNZAF NZ421713 – Navigator.
F/S Ralph Morley Woods, RAFVR 1386860 – Air Bomber.
F/S Arthur Stanley Jones, RNZAF NZ421977 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Cyril Beech, RAFVR 1584473 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Colin Armstrong, RAFVR 2209010 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Robert James Ian Melville, RNZAF NZ42349 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time no record

04/03/1944 – Special Operations – March Moon Period TRAINER 124 (RESULT UNKNOWN)
Operation TRAINER 124 (Result unknown).
The m/n. crew in Stirling “M” took off at 20.51 hours. The aircraft failed to return and nothing was heard after take-off.

Stirling Mk.III EF215 AA-M

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/O Hugh William Henderson, RNZAF NZ421713 – Navigator.
F/S Ralph Morley Woods, RAFVR 1386860 – Air Bomber.
F/S Arthur Stanley Jones, RNZAF NZ421977 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Cyril Beech, RAFVR 1584473 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Colin Armstrong, RAFVR 2209010 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Robert James Ian Melville, RNZAF NZ42349 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:51 – Landed –
Flight Time – Missing

The wreckage of Stirling Mk.III EF215 AA-M was found on a mountainside at Rochefort-Montagne, 15 miles West South West of Clermont-Ferrand, where six of the deceased crew were buried. The only survivor was Sgt C. B. Armstrong, who escaped with relatively few injuries. He was taken into custody as a POW.

S/Ldr. Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
Killed age 27.
Son of Hubert Ernest and Lily May Watson, of Karori, Wellington, New Zealand.
Buried Clermont-Ferrand (Des Carmes Dechaux) Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row A. Grave 1.

F/O Hugh William Henderson, RNZAF NZ421713 – Navigator.
Killed age 24.
Son of J. Frazer Henderson and Mary Henderson, of Waikouaiti, Otago, New Zealand.
Buried Clermont-Ferrand (Des Carmes Dechaux) Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row A. Grave 2.

F/S Ralph Morley Woods, RAFVR 1386860 – Air bomber.
Killed age 29.
Son of Charles Frederick and Elizabeth Agnes Woods, of New Milton, Hampshire; Husband of Joan Alice Woods, of Penryn, Cornwall.
Buried Clermont-Ferrand (Des Carmes Dechaux) Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row A. Grave 3.

F/S Arthur Stanley Jones, RNZAF NZ421977 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 28.
Son of Daniel Jones and of Harriet Jones (Nee Tremplett); Husband of Albertine Francoise Jones, of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand.
Buried Clermont-Ferrand (Des Carmes Dechaux) Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row A. Coll. grave 4-6.

Sgt. Cyril Beech, RAFVR 1584473 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 20.
Son of Herbert and Nellie Beech, of Halmer End, Staffordshire.
Buried Clermont-Ferrand (Des Carmes Dechaux) Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row A. Coll. grave 4-6.

Sgt. Colin B. Armstrong, RAFVR 2209010 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P.o.W.
Prisoner of War Number: 27446
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag VIII/ 357
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

F/S Robert James Ian Melville, RNZAF NZ42349 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 26.
Son of David and Vida Mabel Melville, of Piha, Auckland, New Zealand; Husband of Win Melville, of Finsbury, London.
Buried Clermont-Ferrand (Des Carmes Dechaux) Communal Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Row A. Coll. grave 4-6.