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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 205833
Last updated: 14 October 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic well model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Vickers Wellington Mk IV
Owner/operator:460 Sqn RAAF
Registration: Z1381
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 6
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Hoogstede, Niedersachsen -   Germany
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Breighton
Destination airport:
Takeoff at 23:27 hrs for an operation to Bremen.
The aircraft was shot down by the night fighter crew of Unteroffizier Rudolf Frank & Unteroffizier Hans-Georg Schierholz of the 1./NJG 3, who had left Vechta at 00:41 hrs in Bf 110 E-2 D5+HH.
WO Reed, Sgt Radke and Sgt Wyllie became POW’s. In a later statement WO Radke said “Near the Dutch border returning from the target while at about 13,000 feet, the Front Gunner reported ‘two gun flashes in front and directly in line with us’, and then almost immediately we received a hit on the port motor or nacelle. The Pilot ordered me
to open the front turret my first attempt being unsuccessful. The plane was diving all the time, seemingly uncontrollable and unresponsive to movement of control column. I handed the pilot his chute turned to see the front gunner getting out of his turret. Ordered by the Pilot to abandon which was done in this order from the port hatch – myself, front gunner, observer. The 2nd pilot was still by the main spar when observer left and the pilot still at controls. About 9000 feet when I left. Aircraft still in dive and burning from port nacelle or wing. Rear gunner baled out independently. 2nd skipper jumped too late (at about 50 feet) and skipper was still at controls when crash occurred. Saw no chutes in the air. Made no contact with other surviving members Wyllie and Reed until 5 hours after
capture. Germans showed us the other three members personal kit and told us – Skipper was killed when plane crashed. Dowling (2nd pilot) killed when chute failed at low altitude, Taylor was killed when caught in H.T.wires while landing by chute.” WO Reed also in a later statement reported “the aircraft received a direct hit when returning from the target at 8000 feet. The aircraft was on fire and I abandoned the aircraft. Radke and Wyllie were captured with me. Johnston, Downing and Taylor were all killed.” Sgt Wyllie (POW) was shot on 22 April 1943 while trying to escape from captivity (Stalag 344 Lamsdorf) and is buried in the Krakow British Military Cemetery, Poland.

Bill Reed's exploits in attempting to escape were remarkable. He attempted his first escape on 20th September 1942 with an New Zealand air gunner and a pilot, Sgt W Smith, the were discovered cutting the wire on the camp. He later exchanged identities with "Harold Bagshaw RE- PoW NO.13884" on 7th April 1943 and was sent to work in a stone quarry, ten days later he again escaped with Egon Blumenthal and after reachin Stettin by 20th April he stowed away on a swedish boat. They hid in a lifeboat but became trapped inside after a Swedish sailor inadvertantly lashed down its cover tightly. A German patrol boat found them on 24th April 1943 and he was handed to the Gestapo. He was sent to a German prison on 2nd May 1943 and under guard returned to Stalag VIIIb (it was here that he learned of the death of Sgt Wyllie who had escaped around the same time and was murdered after being re-captured near Krakow on 22nd April 1943). Sgt Reed then exchanged identities with "J Minsky" and sent to work on a railroad maintainance, he had tried to go with Blumenthal under his own correct identity but Blumenthal was stopped. Reed swapped his Red Cross food and cigarettes with Polish and Czech workers for clothes and money and made his third escape bid on 27th July 1943 travelling by train, via Berlin, Frankfurt and arrived at Stettin on 1st August 1943. He was again captured by the Gestapo on 5th August 1943 but recognised by his captors and given seventeen days solitary confinement. He was then returned to Stalag VIIIb (renamed Stalag 344) and admitted to hospital with malnutrition. He had planned to make his fourth escape attempt around 9th May 1944 but it was discovered before he got anywhere, as "Pte Elykim Wald - 4647" he managed to get onto a working party in a coal mine under Nazi control. Two days later he witnessed two escapees shot and the Germans then made a search and discovered his escape kit. The attempt was off for the time being but after he had sent word back to the prison camp to supply him with new kit he made his fifth and final escape bid on 11th July 1944 with "Pte H Toch" exchanging food for clothes from Czech workers. Again he travelled to Stettin by train arriving on 13th July 1944. By this date the RAF had severely bombed Stettin and he later reported that it looked nothing like it did on his previous visits. Again stowed away on a boat and this time he got through and eventually made it to Malmo, Sweden on 17th July 1944 and contacted the British authorities. He also sent a series of coded telegrams home to people he knew in Australia. He made it back to the UK on 10th August 1944 he was admitted to hospital in Ely on his arrival for proper treatment to his dislocated shoulder.

He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Gazetted on 1st December 1944, for his escape attempts and eventual success and was presented with his DCM in Canberra on 18th March 1946. After recovering in hospital he was allowed to return home to Australia by the end of March 1945 but then his personal records show that he had requested training as a fighter pilot. This was refused and he was de-mobbed. Nothing more is known of him after this date and it seems his story has remained untold on the internet. He was born on 15th June 1920 in Sydney but enlisted in Melbourne on 14th September 1940.

Maxwell Wyllie's time in captivity was also eventful but sadly did not end with the same happy result. In April 1943 he escaped from a PoW work camp E.479 at Tarnowitz with another PoW (Joseph Terry - PoW No.4428) exchanging identity with "Mordechai Melzer". On 22nd April 1943 the pair was re-captured on a railway line between Trzebinia and Kressendorf, Krakow by a German Special Service security patrolman Alfred Gebauer and a Polish railway policeman, Stanislaw Krakowski. They immediately admitted to being escaped Allied PoW's and the German, Alfred Gebauer, began waving a gun around and shot Maxwell Wyllie twice at close range. There is a possibility that Gebauer was later tried for this murder. Maxwell Wyllie was twenty seven years old and was initially buried in Kressendorf Cemetery (Krzeszowice), Poland and his grave was attended by local people prior to the post-war war grave investigation unit locating his burial location. He was then re-buried in the British Military Cemetery in Krakow Cemetery, Poland. He was Mentioned in Despatches in June 1944 with a high number of service personnel after his death. He was born on 10th November 1915 in Brisbane and enlisted on 5th January 1941 also in Brisbane.

Pilot: Aus/404784 Flt Sgt Arthur Maxwell Johnston RAAF - Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Coll. grave 15. B. 9-18.
2nd Pilot: Aus/407709 Sgt Darryl Downing RAAF - Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Coll. grave 15. B. 9-18.
Observer: Aus/405001 Sgt Maxwell Joseph Andrew Wyllie, MID RAAF Stalag 344 Lamsdorf. PoW Number . Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery Poland 1. C. 13.
Wireless Operator/Gunner: Aus/405139 Sgt D A Radke RAAF PoW Stalag 344 Lamsdorf. PoW Number 24980.
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: Aus/407775 Sgt William James Taylor RAAF - Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 15. C. 14.
Air Gunner: Aus/402479 WO William Gerald Reed DCM RAAF PoW


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Revision history:

08-Feb-2018 17:13 Red Dragon Added
09-Feb-2018 13:33 Red Dragon Updated [Source, Narrative]
23-Oct-2018 19:29 Nepa Updated [Operator, Destination airport, Operator]
05-May-2020 14:22 TigerTimon Updated [Other fatalities, Location, Country, Source, Narrative]

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