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06 Oct 2021
Pilot Frederick Brook Birmingham and Crew – 462 Squadron RAAF Middle East

 

 

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

If you can help, please make contact.

Information sourced from: 462 Squadron Operational Record Book (ORB) for 1943 from the National Archives of Australia (NAA); Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; Australian War Memorial; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; London Gazette; reference was also made to "To See the Dawn Again" by Mark Lax & Leon Kane-Maguire; and "462 Squadron RAAF Second World War Fatalities" by Alan Storr (books details in Acknowledgements).
Terminology in the 1942, 1943, and early 1944 ORB for 462 Squadron differs from later usage e.g. Observer/Navigator; Bombardier/Air Bomber/Bomb Aimer; Tail/Rear Gunner.

This page is a work in progress, with more to be added.

 

BIRMINGHAM and his crew in Halifax II BB423 failed to return from an Op on the night of 18/19 August 1943, flying from Hosc Raui. Their graves are in the Salerno War Cemetery, Italy.

Captain: Frederick Brook BIRMINGHAM KIA
Observer/Navigator: Ernest Frederick BASS KIA
Wireless Operator: Charles Sydney HOLTER KIA
Tail Gunner: Alfred WHITING KIA
Flight Engineer: Albert Arthur SCOTT KIA

Other crew members, not on the last fatal flight
Mid-Upper Gunner: L F DAVIES (?)
Bomb Aimers: Various
Crew substitutes and Second Pilots – listed in Crew Ops

Enlistment details; Additional Crew Information; the Crew Ops;
Details of last Op 18/19 August 1943.

 

Pilot

Name: Frederick Brook BIRMINGHAM
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 113268
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Next of Kin: Frederick Arthur BIRMINGHAM
Date of Death: 19 August 1943
Rank at Death: Flight Lieutenant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command
Honours and Gallantry: Distinguished Flying Cross

Age at Death: 22
Grave reference: V. C. 22, Salerno War Cemetery, Italy.
Headstone Inscription:
To live in the hearts
Of those we love
Is not to die

Son of Frederick Arthur and Florence Agnes BIRMINGHAM,
of Selsden, Surrey, England.
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Observer / Navigator

Name: Ernest Frederick BASS
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1292885 / 157436
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Next of Kin: Albert Arthur BASS
Date of Death: 19 August 1943
Rank at Death: Pilot Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: .....
Grave reference: V. C. 20, Salerno War Cemetery, Italy.
Headstone Inscription:
God be with you
Till we meet again

Son of Albert Arthur and Evelyn Dorothy BASS,
of Anerley, Kent, England.
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Wireless Operator

Name: Charles Sydney HOLTER
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 924883 / 161300
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Next of Kin: Richard HOLTER
Date of Death: 19 August 1943
Rank at Death: Pilot Officer
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 28
Grave reference: V. C. 21, Salerno War Cemetery, Italy.
Headstone Inscription:
To the world
He was just a man,
To us
He was all the world

Son of Richard and Mary Caroline HOLTER,
of Eastbourne, Sussex, England
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Tail / Rear Gunner

Name: Alfred WHITING
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1380793
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Next of Kin: Edgar WHITING
Date of Death: 19 August 1943
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: ...
Grave reference: V. C. 24, Salerno War Cemetery, Italy.
Headstone Inscription:
His memory
Is our dearest treasure
Which we will love
And keep for ever

Son of Edgar and Matilda Ann WHITING,
of Nantybwch, Tredegar, Monmouthshire
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Albert Arthur Scott, 16890 RAAF,  462 Squadron, Middle East Command.
Photo from the Australian War Memorial collection, ID MEA0516

Sergeant Albert Arthur SCOTT, 16890 RAAF, 462 Squadron, Middle East Command.
This is one of several "Crew" photos taken at the same time and place (probably Hosc Raui, mid-1943) at 462 Squadron, Middle East.

SCOTT's RAAF Service File is now available. His details will be added in the future.

 

Flight Engineer

Name: Albert Arthur SCOTT
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 16890
Date of Birth: 07 May 1910
Place of Birth: Lawlers, Western Australia
Date of Enlistment: 18 June 1940
Place of Enlistment: Perth, WA
Next of Kin: Margaret Adeline SCOTT
Date of Death: 19 August 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 33
Grave reference: V. C. 23, Salerno War Cemetery, Italy.
Headstone Inscription:
He died that we might live.
Loved daddy
Of Laurie, Alma and Nev

Son of Arthur John and Florence Margaret SCOTT,
Husband of Margaret Adeline SCOTT,
of East Perth, Western Australia
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Mid-Upper Gunner

Name: L F DAVIES
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (?)
Service Number: ..... (not yet identified)
Date and Place of Birth: .....
Date and Place of Enlistment: .....
Next of Kin: .....
Rank at 462 Squadron: Sergeant

[Also recorded as DAVIS, no Air Force listed]

DAVIES Ops as MU/AG with this crew were from 29 January 1943 to 06 May 1943; then a further 3 Ops as Tail Gunner in June 1943 with them. No other MU/AGs flew with the Birmingham Crew at any time. Davies did not fly with any other crew as Mid-Upper or Tail Gunner, so it is assumed he was posted elsewhere after June. On 20 Feb 1943, he is recorded as MU/AG for 2 crews – BIRMINGHAM and HALLEY.
[Not to be confused with Bombardier DAVIES, flying with the KNIGHT Crew in 462 Squadron during 1943.]

30 April 1943 permission was granted for the removal of the mid-upper and front turrets of 462 Squadron's Halifax II aircraft. The last Op for 462 Squadron with a Mid-Upper Gunner present was 12 June 1943.
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Bomb Aimers

P/O HARTLEY – on 06 June 1943
P/O PAGE RAAF – 17 June 1943
Sgt JAMES – 22 June 1943
P/O WOODS – 26 June 1943
Sgt BIRKENES RCAF – 12 July 1943

No Bomb Aimers were listed in the ORB for any of the other Ops by the BIRMINGHAM Crew.
Initials were not recorded. Air Force was not recorded, other than:-
A (for RAAF); NZ (for RNZAF); CAN (for RCAF). Therefore assumption is that the other personnel were RAF or RAFVR.

From research, they were probably ......
P/O later F/O Hetley James HARTLEY, 129680 RAF (of THIAVILLE Crew, also KNIGHT Crew)
P/O later F/O Ernest Goldsmith PAGE, 407623 RAAF
(of RHV THOMAS Crew)
Sgt later F/Sgt J JAMES, RAF (VR?) named as 'Paddy', from Northern Ireland in "To See the Dawn Again"; given name and Service Number not yet identified); 21 Ops with MF HALL Crew; 8 Ops with KANE Crew; 5 Ops with KNIGHT Crew; and single Ops with other crews.
P/O later F/O George Edward WOODS, 49576 RAF (of BROWNE Crew)
Sgt, later F/Sgt, later W/O Ronald Herbert BIRKENES J.60572 RCAF (of BROOMFIELD Crew)
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Enlistment details – to be added after checks and confirmation of Service Numbers – please make contact if you believe there are errors in initials, or given names, or Service Numbers.

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Additional Crew Information – more to be added

BIRMINGHAM – Distinguished Flying Cross; Awarded posthumously on 03 April 1945, with effect from 18 August 1943 (London Gazette 37012, page 1783)

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Crew Ops – extra detail to be added (DNTO – did not take off; FTR – failed to return)

Pilot Frederick Brook BIRMINGHAM – Tasked with 25 Ops; (2 DNTO; 4 early returns, 19 completed);
Crew FTR, Missing, Op 25, KIA.

Second Pilots – 5 Ops – Sgt EVANS (twice); Sgt JUGGINS; Sgt ALLARD; F/Sgt CROOT

Observer/Navigator Ernest Frederick BASS – 13 Ops with BIRMINGHAM; 6 Ops with RHV THOMAS Crew;
Missing on personal Op 19, KIA.

Substitute Observers – 12 Ops – F/O DUNLOP; Sgt MAYLAND; F/O HOOL; Sgt COOKSON; P/O PAGE (twice); Sgt TAYLOR; NELLO, Sgt BOOTH; P/O DEVERS (twice); P/O WATSON

Wireless Operator Charles Sydney HOLTER – 16 Ops with BIRMINGHAM;
Missing on personal Op 16, KIA.

Substitute Wireless Operator – 9 Ops – Sgt LANGFELD (?) X 6 Ops; Sgt GRIFFIN x 3 Ops.

Tail Gunner Alfred WHITING – 22 Ops with BIRMINGHAM; 1 with CRAIG Crew;
Missing on personal Op 23, KIA.

Substitute Tail Gunner – Sgt DAVIES x 3 Ops

Flight Engineer Albert Arthur SCOTT – 25 Ops with BIRMINGHAM; 1 with CRAIG Crew;
Missing on personal Op 26, KIA.

Mid-Upper Gunner L F DAVIES – 18 Ops with BIRMINGHAM; 15 as Mid-Upper Gunner, and 3 as Tail Gunner.

Bomb Aimers – 5 Ops – names and dates in previous section, each flying 1 Op with this crew. It is assumed that when Bomb Aimers were not listed in ORB, the bombing duties were carried out by the Observer on approach to the target.

Table of Op Details, including dates, aircraft identification, Targets, actions – to be added.
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Details of last Op 18/19 August 1943

ORB, August 1943, Form 541, page 6 (Record of Events)

Night of 18/19 August 1943 – Halifax II, BB423, Up at 0032 hours from Hosc Raui;
F/L F B BIRMINGHAM, Capt;
F/S E F BASS Obs;
Sgt C S HOLTER Wop/AG;
Sgt A A SCOTT F/Eng (A);
F/S A WHITING T/Gun.
"This aircraft was detailed to attack MARSHALLING YARDS, CROTONE, ITALY, but no news of this a/c has been received since it was airborne, and it must therefore be presumed missing."

Other Aircraft and Crews on this Op
Halifax II – W1169 Pilot R H V THOMAS and Crew; up 0022; landed 0730
Halifax II – BB413 Pilot W J SPENCER and Crew; up 0027; landed 0748
Halifax II – W7847 Pilot J D EVANS and Crew; up 0038; landed 0750
Halifax II – BB333 Pilot W C E CRAIG and Crew – DNTO owing to u/s port outer radiator gauge.
Halifax II – W7755 Pilot H L BAKER and Crew; up 0055; landed 0728

ORB, August 1943, Form 540, reverse of page 1 (Summary of Events) – quote as recorded ....

"Hosc Raui Landing Ground, Cyrenaica"

"Six Aircraft were detailed to bomb railway marshalling yards at CROTONE, ITALY.
At least four aircraft reached target area, crews report actual yards difficult to
identify, although town and mouth of river S.ANNA were pin-pointed, and position of
target estimated from there. Own bursts were difficult to identify, but estimated target
area was covered with numerous small and 3 or 4 target fires, accompanied by explosions.
when aircraft left. One aircraft did not take off owing to engine trouble. One aircraft
failed to return – no news has been received since it was airborne at 0032 hours, but from
reports from crews it is believed to have been lost over target, as an explosion was seen
there at 13,000 feet about 0417 hours."

"Halifax II No. BB423"
..... List of crew by Service Number, Rank, Initials, Surname, crew position.....
[BASS and HOLTER were listed at rank of F/Sgt, with their original RAFVR Service Numbers. BASS was Commissioned 31 July 1943, to rank of Pilot Officer, with new Service Number; HOLTER similarly on 15 August 1943.]

"On the night of the 18/19t, August, 1943, the above crew and aircraft was detailed
to attack Crotone railway marshalling yards. The aircraft took off from HOSC RAUI at 0032
hours, and nothing further has been heard. Other crews report on return however, that
they had seen an aircraft shot down in flames from 13,000 feet about 0417 hours C over
target. As no other crew is known to be missing from operations in this area that night,
it seems likely that the aircraft was lost over the target, probably owing to enemy action,
though evidence as to the actual cause is inconclusive."

No official crash investigation report has been obtained, but the five bodies had obviously been retrieved after the crash.
The crew are buried together in the Salerno War Cemetery. Italy
Plot V (or 5) Row C, Graves 20 to 24 –
20 Obs BASS; 21 W/Op HOLTER; 22 Pilot BIRMINGHAM; 23 F/Eng SCOTT; 24 Gunner WHITING.
Crotone is located on the south-east coast of Italy (heel of the boot). Salerno War Cemetery is 352 Km distant on the west coast, about 80 km south-east of Naples. Therefore the bodies must have been buried locally near Crotone, and later retrieved by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and relocated to Salerno war Cemetery. CWGC information about the Salerno War Cemetery is that the site was chosen in November 1943, and contains local burials from Allied fighting after 8-9 September 1943, and also that bodies were later brought in from a wide area. However no "Grave Concentration Report" from the CWGC, has been located for this crew.
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