LEST WE FORGET
Air Operations: (No. 462 Squadron Halifax aircraft W7758), Mediterranean, 14 July 1943
Wing Commander Peter George Batty Warner DSO (RAFVR), Commanding Officer No 462 Squadron
Halifax W7758 took off from Hose Ruai at 2000 hours on the night of 14 July 1943 to bomb Messina Railway Station, Sicily. Four aircraft of the Squadron took part in the mission and of these W7758 failed to return. It was believed that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter into the sea about 10 miles off Cape Spartivento shortly before midnight on July 14th.
The crew members of W7758 were:
Sergeant C R B Ainley (RAF) (Bomb Aimer) Rescued
Sergeant Robert Davies Copley (1289545) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Stanley James Elphick (116532) (RAFVR) (Observer)
Sergeant E Loomes (RAF) (Flight Engineer) Rescued
Flying Officer Roy Edward Parsons DFM (129972) (RAFVR) (Tail Gunner)
Wing Commander Peter George Batty Warner DSO (84972) (RAFVR) (Pilot) Commanding Officer, No. 462 Squadron
Sergeant Loomes and Sergeant Ainley were rescued and survived. Sergeant Loomis reported as follows “the aircraft was proceeding normally to the target when at approx 2310/2320 hours at about 10,000 feet and 10/15 miles off Cape Spartivento, a number of detonations were heard and felt in the port wing (thought due to cannon fire from an unseen fighter). The port wing and the two port engines were enveloped in flames and the fuselage filled with smoke. The Flight Engineer went aft to try to deal with the smoke in the fuselage and was not aware that the Bale out order had been given until seeing the Tail Gunner restate his turret and bale out. He assumed that he had not heard the order because his Inter Com was unplugged and baled out. Meantime the aircraft continued to fall ablaze and seen to turn sharply followed by a big yellow light and a pall of black smoke. The Flight Engineer swam and drifted in the direction of the Sicilian coast and was picked up off Catania by HMS Nubian after about 12 hours in the water.”
Sergeant Ainley reported that he was at his station in the nose when he heard the bale out order. By this time the Navigator and WOP were standing aft of the escape hatch in the nose. As they showed no sign of jumping he jumped out and banged his chin on the edge of the hatch as he fell and was temporarily knocked unconscious. He recovered consciousness in time to detach his chute before hitting the water and to inflate the Mae West. He was fortunately picked up by HM Gunboat 662 after about 1 hour in the water. His injuries were not serious.
The names of Wing Commander Warner, Flying Officer Elphick Sergeant Copley and Pilot Officer Parsons are commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt.
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records