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6 September 2017
Pilot Peter George Batty Warner and Crew – 462 Squadron RAAF Middle East

 

 

 

Wanted: Photo of Warner Crew, or individuals,
and information about them.

If you can help, please make contact.

 

 

Warner and his crew in Halifax II W7758 failed to return from an Op on the night of 14 July 1943. Four were killed, and 2 survivors were rescued from the sea by British Navy vessels.

Wing Commander Warner was the Commanding Officer of 462 Squadron at the time of his death.

Links to Captain Warner, Observer Elphick, WOP/AG Copley, F/Eng Loomes, Tail Gunner Parsons, and Bombardier Ainley;
Additional Crew Information; Details of Op and Aircraft Loss.

Information sourced from the 462 Squadron Operational Record Book for July 1943 from the National Archives of Australia; Australian War Memorial; Air Force Lists; London Gazette; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; and the family of C R B Ainley. The July 1943 ORB for 462 Squadron does not include the service numbers of mentioned aircrew, and only occasionally the member's Air Force.

 

 

Captain

Name: Peter George Batty WARNER
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 84972
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Single
Next of Kin:
Date of Death: 14 July 1943
Rank at Death: Wing Commander
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

Age at Death: 24
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 267, Alamein Memorial
Son of Cuthbert Philip Warner and Mary Clarissa Warner,
of Notting Hill, London, England.
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Observer

Name: Stanley James ELPHICK
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 116532
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Single
Next of Kin:
Date of Death: 14 July 1943
Rank at Death: Flying Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: No

Age at Death: 30
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 268, Alamein Memorial
Son of John William Elphick and Dorothy Elphick,
of Forest Hill, London, England.
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Wireless Operator / Air Gunner

Name: Robert Davies COPLEY
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1289545
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Single
Next of Kin: Robert James Copley (?)
Date of Death: 14 July 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: No

Age at Death: 23
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 270, Alamein Memorial
Son of Robert James Copley, and Ellen Agnes Copley,
of South Harrow, Middlesex, England.
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Flight Engineer

Name: E LOOMES
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (?)
Service Number: .....
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: Survivor, 14 July 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not Known

Age at date of Aircraft Loss: .....
Son of .....
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Tail Gunner

Name: Roy Edward PARSONS
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 129972
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Married
Next of Kin: Doris Hilda Parsons
Date of Death: 14 July 1943
Rank at Death: Flying Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM)

Age at Death: 28
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 268, Alamein Memorial
Son of Joseph E and Gertrude M Parsons of Southwick, Sussex,
husband of Doris Hilda Parsons.
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Bombardier

Name: Charles Robert Borden AINLEY
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1451753
Date of Birth: 2 April 1921
Place of Birth: Bawtry, near Doncaster, Yorkshire
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Date of Aircraft Loss: Survivor, 14 July 1943
Rank at date of Aircraft Loss: Sergeant
Posting at date of Aircraft Loss: 462 Squadron RAAF
Prisoner of War: No
Awards or Honours: Not known

Age at date of Aircraft Loss: 22
Son of Arthur and Ellen Ainley, Bawtry, near Doncaster, Yorkshire.

Photos below.

 

Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron RAAF, Libya 1943.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753,
RAFVR, 462 Squadron RAAF, Libya 1943.

 

Caterpillar Club Card for Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753, RAFVR, 462 Squadron, Libya 1943.
Photo supplied by Karen Ainley.

Caterpillar Club Membership Card for Charles Robert Borden AINLEY, 1451753, RAFVR, having saved his life by parachute on 14 July 1943, while posted to 462 Squadron RAAF in Libya.

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Additional Crew Information

Peter George Batty WARNER was the Commanding Officer of 462 Squadron, at the rank of Wing Commander at the time of his death on 14 July 1943. He had been in command since 14 January 1943. The role of C/O was temporarily taken over by Reginald Owen Buskell, DFC 77460 RAFVR, and in mid August 1943 William Taylor Russell 39341 RAFO took command.

Charles Robert Borden AINLEY served in the role as Bombardier with Warner's crew for the Op on 14 July 1943, but apparently had also trained and crewed as Navigator. Prior to graduation, he enlisted from the University of Sheffield where he was studying French, History and Maths. He returned to the University of Sheffield after the war to complete his studies. He died of a heart attack on 17 June 1982 at his home, 48 Oak Road, Glinton, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Prior to his death at the age of 61, he had been a Deputy Head for some years at a large local secondary school.
His family has many documents and photographs relating to his service in the Middle East during 1943/44. However he is only in two of those photos, so he may have been the person using the camera.

Although the ORB states that Ainley was only slightly injured, his family had thought that he had severely damaged his legs. He was temporarily knocked out when baling out of the aircraft and was in the sea for an hour. Fortunately he had regained consciousness in time to release his parachute and Mae West life jacket, or he may not have survived. No doubt after rescue, he would have required medical attention for immersion, possibly hypothermia, injuries, and slight concussion. No records have yet been located to document this. Due to having his life saved by parachute, he became a Member of the Caterpillar Club (Membership Card shown in previous section). He may also have qualified for membership of the Goldfish Club (for those airmen who owed their lives to the successful use of a life jacket, or a rubber dinghy or other life raft).

One of the documents to survive, is a very battered 462 Squadron "Leave Pass" signed out for 24 August 1943 to 31 August 1943, stamped Squadron Station Commander and signed by W. Russell (W/Cdr William Taylor Russell 39341 RAFO). This may have assisted with his recovery after the traumatic event of 14 July. He was back on Ops with the R H V Thomas crew by 3 September 1943 (The Leave Pass is shown on that page.)

Ainley's log book has not survived. With reference to the 462 Squadron ORB, only the one Op has been located for Ainley with the Warner crew in July. However, due to the difficulty in reading the ORB, there may have been more. There are nine Ops recorded for Ainley as Bombardier in the R H V Thomas crew from 3 to 27 September 1943.

Ainley was a Sergeant in July 1943, but had been promoted to Flight Sergeant by 7 September 1943, when he was recorded on his 2nd Op with the Thomas crew. No further ops have been located for Ainley from October 1943.

Postings IN and OUT for NCOs were not recorded in the ORB, so Ainley's arrival and departure from 462 Squadron is currently not known. His training locations, and postings before and after 462 Squadron are also not yet known. These details may be available after his Service File is sourced. Like many of his fellow War Veterans, Ainley did not speak of his war experiences with his family, nor did he talk about the other members of his crew.

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Details of Op on the night of 14/15 July 1943

Form 540, Summary of Events, Hosc Raui, L. G. Cyrenaica (sic, now Libya) 14/15 July 1943 .... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

14/15/7/43. 7 aircraft were detailed to bomb passenger Railway Station, Messina. 3 Aircraft
bombed the target from 10,000 to 12,000 feet. Bursts seen or believed in the vicinity
of target area which was already covered by glowing red fires, too numerous to pin-
pointed(sic). 2 aircraft landed at Malta owing to engine trouble. 1 aircraft returned early
owing to engine trouble and jettisoned bombs in sea. 1 aircraft has not been heard of
since it took off, and is therefore resumed missing.

(next page)
14/15/7/43. See Appendix "A" for full details on Halifax aircraft W.7758 - W/Cmdr. P.G.B.
WARNER, D.S.O., and crew - reported as missing from operations on 14/15th July, 1943.

17/7/43. S/Ldr. R.O. BUSKELL, D.F.C., assumed command of the Squadron with effect from 17th
July, 1943, vice Wing Commander, P.G.B. WARNER, D.S.O., reported as missing from
operations on 15/15th July, 1943.

Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix "A", July 1943
14/15th July 1943, detailed to attack Passenger Railway Station, Messina, Sicily. (Listed as 1 to 7 as per the sequence in the ORB. These pages are blurred and very difficult to read, so apologies for any errors.)

1. Halifax II W.7671 (?) Sgt D R Browne (RNZAF) and crew; load 10 x 500lb G.P. bombs; up 2010; over target at 0001 hrs; bombed on 3rd run; flak damage to aircraft; landed safely at Malta 0230.

2. Halifax II W.1149 F/Sgt J E Thiaville (RCAF) and crew; up 2004; this aircraft was detailed to attack as above, but task was abandoned owing to engine trouble, landed 2220 at Hosc Raui.

3. Halifax II W.1172 F/Lt F B Birmingham and crew; up 2010; this aircraft was detailed to attack as above, but task was abandoned owing to engine trouble. Bombs were jettisoned and aircraft landed safely at Malta on three engines at 0050.

4. Halifax II W.7758 W/Cmdr P G B Warner and crew (Captain W/Cmdr P G B Warner, Obs. F/O S J Elphick, WOP/AG Sgt R D Copley, F/Eng Sgt E Loomes, T/Gunner F/O R E Parsons, Bombdr Sgt C R B Ainley); up 2000; detailed as above; reported as shot down into sea at 2315 (details of the Loss of this Aircraft in next section).

5. Halifax II BB.382 (?) S/Ldr Buskell and crew; up 2010; detailed as above; bombed target; took evasive action from enemy fighter aircraft; returned safely to base and landed 0250 (?) at Hosc Raui.

6. Halifax II W.7849 (?) F/O J H MacIntosh (RCAF) and crew; up 2012; detailed as above; bombed target; returned safely to base and landed 0320 (?) at Hosc Raui.

7. Halifax II DT.613 (?) Sgt J O Broomfield (?) (RCAF) and crew; up 2005; detailed as above; on first bombing run, bomb doors failed to open; bombed target on second run but was coned by search lights and had to take violent evasive action; returned safely to base and landed 0335 (?) at Hosc Raui.

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Aircraft Loss Halifax II W7758

ORB, Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix "A", July 1943
14/15th July 1943 ...... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

This aircraft was detailed to attack as above,
but was shot down into the sea 15 miles off
Cape Spartivento. Since this aircraft was
reported missing, two survivors have returned
to the Squadron, viz. Sgt. Loomes (F/Eng) and
Sgt. Ainley (Bombdr.). The aircraft was
proceeding normally to target with all crew at
their stations when at approx. 2310-2320 hrs
at about 10,000 feet, 10-15 miles off Cape
Spartivento, a number of detonations were
heard and felt in port wing (No aircraft
or ship was seen to account for the detonations,
but it was thought that they were due to cannon
fire from an unseen fighter). The whole port
wing, including both engines became at once
enveloped in flame and fuselage filled with
smoke. Sgt. Loomes went aft to try to deal with
the smoke in the fuselage and was not aware
that the order had been given to bale out until
seeing the tail-gunner rotate his turret and
bale out. He assumed that he had missed hearing
the order to bale out through not being plugged
into the intercom, and baled out. Meantime
the aircraft had continued to fall ablaze and
seem to turn sharply, followed by a big yellow

(next page)
flash (probably on hitting water), after which
F/Eng. saw only a black smoke pall. The
F/Eng. swam and drifted in the direction of
the Sicilian coast and was picked up off
Catania by H.M.S. NUBIAN, after about 12 hours
in the water. Sgt. Ainley, the Bombardier,
was at his station in the nose when he heard
the order to bale out given by the captain.
By this time, the Navigator and W/Operator
were standing aft of the escape hatch in the
nose. As they showed no sign of jumping, Sgt.
Ainley jumped out himself, and banged his chin
on the edge of the hatch as he fell, knocking
him out temporarily. He recovered consciousness
in time to detach his parachute before hitting
the water, and to inflate his Mae West. He was
fortunately picked up by H.M. Gunboat 652,

after only about one hour in the water. His
injuries proved not to be serious, and he
recovered quickly. No news of the remaining
members of the crew has been received, and
their fate remains uncertain.

(Not mentioned in the report, but after regaining consciousness Sgt Ainley also
must have pulled the ripcord on his parachute. Gunboat may be 662?)

It seems that the bodies of the other four members of the crew were never recovered, as their names are recorded on columns at the
Alamein Memorial, for those who have no known grave.

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