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Mission: Dunkirk Docks

Date: 03rd May 1942 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 418 Squadron R.C.A.F. (City of Edmonton)

Type: Boston III

Serial: W8340

Code: TH-G

Base: R.A.F. Bradwell Bay

Location: R.A.F. West Malling, Kent.

Pilot: P/O. Harold Herbert Whitfield 112313 R.A.F.V.R. Age 22. Killed

Obs: Fl/Sgt. George Emerson Fallis R/86387 R.C.A.F. Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Earl Williams R/76043 R.C.A.F. Age 20. Killed

Ground: Fl/Lt. Horace William Biggs M.i.D 45371 R.A.F. Age 42. Killed


Took off for a raid on the Dunkirk dock area with 5 other Bostons, when, during take off the starboard oleo and landing wheel fractured and fell from the aircraft, tearing off a major portion of the starboard elevator and tailplane.
The aircraft crash, the bomb load exploded and the aircraft was completely destroyed.

A ground crew member on the ground was also killed in the resulting explosion.

Sister aircraft to W8340 - Boston III from 418 Squadron (archives)

Letter to Goldye Williams - sister of Sgt. Robert Earl Williams A typed transcript has been provided to the A.R. Society by Terry McCulley (his great nephew)

Sat. Nite. Jan.3. 42
No. 286 Sqdn.

Dear Dude:
Well here I am again after two weeks leave during which neither Dickey nor myself wrote a single letter. I know I ought to be ashamed to admit it but some how or other we seemed to be on the move all the time both in Edinburgh where we spent a week and London where we stayed for a similar period. Had a swell time in Scotland and the lady of the place where we stayed treated us wonderful. We made ourselves right at home there and had our Xmas dinner with her family.

Well Dude this is a very fine station. As you can see we’re now on a squadron and very lucky at that as it’s a swell bunch of boys on it and we’re treated just lovely. Our quarters are good only two to a room Dickey and I living together. The food is the best we’ve had on any station yet including Canada. We get bacon or ham and eggs three times a week and the rest of the meals are equally as good. By the way we eat four full meals a day at 9A.M, 12 noon, 5p.m. and another full meal at 9p.m. Today for breakfast we had ham and eggs, for dinner fish and chips, for supper roast beef and spuds and for our night meal potatoes and cheese. Boy I eat like a horse since I’ve hit this place.

Received your lovely parcel just before I left on leave. Thanks a million. Everything was just swell and did the candy ever go good. I took it with me on leave and gave the kids at the place we stayed a few pieces of the Xmas. Candy and I couldn’t get rid of them for the rest of my leave. The hankies and tie were also like pennies from heaven as we can’t even buy a hankie over here without clothing coupons and we don’t get those. By the way I ration my gum to myself, a stick before each flight as I don’t feel right flying without a wad of gum in my cheek. I didn’t see Johnny or Bob Graham yet as when we got to Scotland we couldn’t travel because there was a ban on uniformed men traveling between Dec. 22 and 29th However one day went to see Dickey’s sister who is a nurse in the 14th. general and I ran into the Cape Breton Highlanders. Boy it was good to see em all. A lot of boys from Florence, Mulley, Mr. Gear and son, Felix McIntyre, Chet Marks, Bob Gillan, Louis Jeasome, Harry Blinkhorne, Eddie Ross, John C Sam Snow, a Carey from Bras D’or a cousin of ours whom I met at the Beaver Club in London and a lot of boys from Syd. Mines and N Sydney that I knew. I guess they don’t get treated as well in the army as we do as they didn’t sound too enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Well Dude guess by this time Bob will know about half as much about a gun as I do ahem! Ahem! Seriously thought I haven’t touched a gun since I left Mountain View. Over here I’m strictly a wireless operator and I don’t mind that at all as when we’re not taking morse we can change our frequency and listen to a broadcasting station. Oh yes can’t Bob do something about the Jap. Navy? I’ll be loosing faith in him if he doesn’t brighten up and sink the whole Jap fleet. I smoked your tobacco on my leave and just had finished smoking the last one and was thinking to myself that I’d have to do without cigs. For an indefinite period when in walks Dickey with 300 sweet caps from Mom. Boy what a pleasant sprise. Guess I’ll sign off for this time as I’m running out of both news and paper. Give my best regards to Bob.

All my love: Earl.

Thanks again for the parcel

Photographs of the funeral taken by Bob Lyons, who at the time was serving with the Royal Navy. Bob was married to Goldye Williams (Courtesy Terry McCulley)

Bob Lyons at the grave of Sgt. Robert Earl Williams (Courtesy Terry McCulley)

Burial details:

P/O. Harold Herbert Whitfield. Culham Churchyard. Son of Herbert Peter and Doris Eveline Whitfield, of Abingdon, Berkshire

Fl/Sgt. George Emerson Fallis. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 37.I.8. Son of William Russell Fallis and Charlotte Fallis, of Carberry, Manitoba, Canada.

Sgt. Robert Earl Williams. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 37.I.9. Son of Robert and Martha Williams of Florence, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Fl/Lt. Horace William Biggs M.i.D. Maidstone Cemetery. Plot C.C.1. Grave 43. Son of Tom and Fanny Margaret Ann Biggs; husband of May Eleanor Biggs, of Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Researched by David King A.R. Society for Terry McCulley great nephew of Sgt. Robert Earl Williams also for Goldye Williams and relatives/friends of the crew.

The British Library is preserving this site for the future in the UK Web Archive at All Aircrew Remembered on our Remembrance pages, are therefor not just remembered here, but also subsequently remembered and recorded as part of our nation’s history
and heritage at The British Library.