LEST WE FORGET
Aircraft Operations: (No. 458 Squadron Wellington aircraft MP744), Protville, Tunisia, 30 July 1943
The No. 458 Squadron Operations Record Book (ORB) records the following “six Wellingtons of this Squadron were detailed on the night of 30/31st July 1943 to carry out reconnaissances along the east coast of Corsica and Sardinia and the approaches to Spezia. There was also a cross over patrol between Elba and the west coast of Italy returning along the west coast of Corsica and Sardinia.”
“One of the aircraft Wellington FU – D (MP744) (Flight Lieutenant Graham) took off from Protville, Tunisia. At 2157 hours and when in the vicinity of Plane Island, the aircraft sent a message to base ‘engine trouble’. It jettisoned its load of flares and returned to base. Unfortunately the aircraft crashed on landing at 2220 hours and caught fire. The Captain and the second pilot were killed and the other crew suffered badly from burns.”
The crew members of MP744 were:
Sergeant Birchall* (Wireless Operator)
Flight Lieutenant Donald Duncan Graham (J/5999) (RCAF) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Healy* (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Hicks* (Navigator)
Sergeant Robertson* (Wireless Operator)
Flying Officer Frederick Kameil Verhaest (J/20570) (RCAF) (Second Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Graham and Flying Officer Verhaest are buried in the Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery which is located 60kms west of Tunis, Tunisia.
* These names have been taken from the ORB and are unable to be corroborated by other records for further identification.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Operations Record Book No. 458 Squadron Entry for 30 July 1943
Alexander, P. (Peter) We Find and Destroy: history of No. 458 Squadron, The 458 Squadron Council, 1959