Sunday, October 24, 2010

#5 Sgt Sidhu--The night of 28/29 April 1943

W7513 took off at 20.42 hrs from R.A.F. Newmarket in Suffolk.It was part of a huge 207 aircraft force on a "Gardening" (Mine laying) operation. A total of 593 mines were laid off Heligoland, in the river Elbe and in the Great and Little Belts. Low cloud base forced the aircraft to fly very low over the German and Danish coasts. Because of this they took very heavy flak and also attacks from Luftwaffe night fighters. Records confirm that there was a German flak ship also operating the coast that night. 68 Lancasters, 60 Halifaxes, 47 Wellingtons, 32 Stirlings - were involved in the operations that night. 167 aircraft laid 593 mines off Heligoland, in the River Elbe and in the Great and Little Belts. Low cloud over the German and Danish coasts forced the minelayers to fly low in order to establish their positions before laying their mines and much German light Flak activity was seen. 22 aircraft - 7 Lancasters, 7 Stirlings, 6 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes - were lost. This was the heaviest loss of aircraft while minelaying in the war, but the number of mines laid was the highest in one night.

6 Mosquitoes had also carried out a raid to Wilhelmshaven, dropping many flares to divert attention from that part of the minelaying force which was operating nearby. No Mosquitoes lost.'
Although this was the largest mine laying operation in one night of the whole war it came at a price. A total of 22 aircraft were lost (75 Squadron lost 4 aircraft alone, with a total of 28 crew members killed) - 9 aircraft were lost by the night fighters and the remainder from the flak. Stirling W7513 is not on the Luftwaffe claims list for this raid so it is thought that it had been taken down by flak - Possibly shot down near the
target area, the plane and the
crew disappeared without a trace.

"28 - 29 april 1943 (00.35 hours) The Langelands Bælt near Vesternæs. Stirling Mk I W7513 (AA-G)
No 75 Sqn, Newmarket, Suffolk. Mine
laying: The western part of the Fehmarn Belt (
7 MIA).

Possibly shot down in the area, the plane and the crew disappeared without a trace.

Date: 28/29th April 1943 Mission: Gardening

Unit: No.75 Squadron (R.N.Z.A.F.)

Type: Stirling I

Serial: W7513

Code: AA-G

Base: Newmarket, Suffolk

Location: Unknown - probably over target area.

Pilot: Sgt. Keith Halliburton 415411 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu 946455 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? Killed

Nav: Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter 42297 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 29. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Leslie Thomas Scarfe 1261331 R.A.F.V.R. Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Church 1196564 R.A.F.V.R. Age 29. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Henry George Boxall 1393248 Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alexander Clunie Howell 392104 Age 23. Killed

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