S/L Guy Benjamin Treasure - Pilot - Aged 28 - (C.W.G.C.)
Sgt Derek Sykes - F/E - Aged 23 - (C.W.G.C.)
F/O Sydney James Bailey - Nav - Aged 20 - (C.W.G.C.)
F/O Gordon Fraser - B/A - Aged 34 - (C.W.G.C.)
Sgt Robert William Collins - WOp - Aged 23 - (C.W.G.C.)
Sgt Leonard Thomas Archard - A/G - Aged 18 - (C.W.G.C.)
Sgt Eric Boys Bland - A/G - Aged 18 - (C.W.G.C.)
The following has been sent to us by Derrick's Niece, Mel Herman who has done a staggering job of detailing what happened to her uncle and the rest of the crew.
It is going to take me some time to get everyone's page made up, there is just so much information, so please do check back here during the next week or so, thanks. (13/05/12).
Derrick “Bill” Sykes
Born 22nd March, 1921 in Dewsbury, Yorkshire; second of 6 children
Entered the RAF in Sept 1936 aged 15 as part of Trenchard’s Boy Apprentices’ scheme; attended RAF Halton 1936-39 and qualified as Fitter II (A&E – airframes & engines) a fortnight before war broke out.
1939-41: served with 102 and 108 Maintenance Units with 46 & 47 Sqns (Hurricanes) in UK (including ill-fated Norway expedition) and
1941-43: in N Africa
Sqn Ldr Guy Benjamin Treasure -
I am in touch with a brother & sister
Treasure and crew are recorded as being posted on to the Squadron in June with Treasure listed as F/Lt promoted to Acting S/Ldr.
They went on Ops almost immediately without Treasure’s doing any trips as a 2nd Pilot (he had done a previous tour).
|5 June||Maisy Medium Battery||0052||0546|
|6 June||Saint Lo||2231||0315|
|22 June||Minelaying (nr. Cap de la Chevre)||2318||0359|
*** NOTE: Although no one is absolutely certain which aircraft was hit by the bombs and which by the debris (witness accounts disagree), it is generally accepted (from eye witness reports in the air and on the ground) that this is the correct version.
F/Sgt Donald MacConigill Stevens (28) (Pilot)
F/Sgt Leonard Charles Carter (22) (Navigator)
F/Sgt Harold Joseph Middleditch (21) (Air Bomber)
F/Sgt Dick Richardson (22) (W Operator)
Sgt Dennis Brooks (20) (Air Gunner)
Sgt Frank Dawson (20) (Air Gunner)
Sgt Michael Joseph Louis Priest (19) (Flight Engineer)
F/O Raymond Arnold Rosen (Pilot)
F/S Henry Charles Williamson-Rattray (Navigator
F/O Jack Cyril Lelliott (Air Bomber)
Sgt Gordon Seymour Lind (W/Op) AG
Sgt Arthur Stanley Fordham (Air Gunner)
Sgt A W D McKinnon (Air Gunner)
Sgt Daniel Daley (Flight Engineer)
This crew was hit by flak a week later on 01/07/44 in a raid on St Martin l'Hortier; Rear Gunner Sgt AWD McKinnon survived and evaded capture; those who died are in Poix-de-Picardie (previously Poix-de-la-Somme) cemetary.
Derrick was not supposed to fly on ops that day: he had obtained leave from Sunday morning 25 June in order to return home (Dewsbury) for his wedding; as he could not get transport off the base till the afternoon, he elected to join his crew on this “milk run”
Reconnaissance photos taken during a 21 June raid on the Montorgueil launch site by USAAF 9th Air Force showed that this target had effectively been rendered inoperative; sadly this information only reached the squadrons on Sunday 25 June when the No. 4 Group aircraft were already in the air.
Derrick’s family waited in vain for further news after the “missing” telegram was received; some days later, his sister Daphne went to Pocklington to be told about the “collision”; it was her idea to go to the pub frequented by the airmen that led her to discover the truth of what had happened.
It was well known that accidents of this kind happened often on night ops; as this one occurred in daylight, there were many eye-witnesses to the accident and in later years their accounts have been written up in several publications:
As far as is known, it is also the only such accident in which the Bomb Aimer concerned was aware of his tragic mistake.
Some members of the 10 Sqn crew had not realised that they were responsible for the accident until they returned to base; Jock McKinnon (the only crewmember to survive the war) reports that he was unaware until, in the truck from dispersal to debriefing, he heard the A/B apologise to the Pilot; they reported what had happened to G/Capt Thomson who put it down to the “one of those things that happens in war” which, sadly, it was.
As a result of this incident, daylight flying formations within 4 Group were re-appraised: in future operations, Halifaxes were instructed to fly in loose V formations which would reduce the risk of collisions and of being hit by bombs.
Several very small pieces of wreckage with the EEP (English Electric Preston) discovered at the “woods” crash site have confirmed this was where MZ753 came down.
One of the Fontaine l’Etalon villagers (then a teenager) involved in the recovery of the crew’s bodies has also kept a larger piece of wreckage (leading edge of wing) since 1944 and has sliced off pieces to give to numerous crew families who have visited over the years. The villagers also continue to keep the crew graves in immaculate condition and have held regular commemorations.
From information supplied by (amongst others)
Tom Wingham DFC
Ron & Marion Archard
Cas & Bob Collins
Arthur C Smith
RAF MUSEUM Hendon
Various kind respondents on Internet sites and per mail