R.C. Whitmore crew 2.9.43 †

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)

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.

More light can be shed on the loss of EH877 thanks to Dirk who recently contacted me regarding the loss of this aircraft an also another. Dirk, has researched the fates of several aircraft around where he lives

Dirk has spoken with Mr. Karl-Heinz Brandau in Gleidingen. 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.

Map comped

Two views of the crash site of EH877 on Google Earth – images supplied by Dirk Hartmann

AP Gleidingen (3)

The crash site today.
© Dirk Hartmann

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

P/O Richard Charles Whitmore, RNZAF NZ421123 – Pilot.
Killed age 22.
Son of Christopher John and Charlotte Whitmore, of Pukekohe East, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 8. C. 1.

F/O David Maurice Adamson, RNZAF NZ41052 – Navigator.
Killed age 27.
Son of James Maurice Adamson and of Davina Adamson (Nee Martin), of Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand; Husband of Eva A. Adamson, of Auckland City, New Zealand.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 8. C. 4.

Sgt. Hugh Munn, RAFVR 1349759 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 22.
Son of Hugh and Martha M. Munn, of Glasgow.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 8. C. 3.
‘At the going down
Of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember him’

Sgt. Frederick Charles Cowan, 1387682 – Wireless Operator.
P.o.W.
Prisoner of War Number: 250701
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalags IVB, Luft III. Promoted to F/S whilst interred
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. John Bosworth Beresford, RAFVR 1583723 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 20.
Son of John Bosworth Beresford and Florence Maud Beresford, of Meadows, Nottingham.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 8. C. 2.
‘Though absent,
You are always near,
Still loved,
Still missed and ever dear’

Sgt. Frederick John Charles Chesson, RAFVR 1336122 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 21.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Joint grave 8. C. 5-6.

P/O Tame Hawaikirangi Thomas Waerea, RNZAF NZ421300 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 29.
Son of Niwa and Emere Waerea, of Nuhaka, Hawke’S Bay, New Zealand; Husband of Taku Waerea, of Ellerslie, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Joint grave 8. C. 5-6.

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

Whitmore crew comped

After capture, Frederick  Cowan, 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.

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

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