Personnel Index - Detail
6/7 June, 1942; EMDEN:
In good weather conditions, a main force of 233 aircraft set out to attack the German town of Emden. With only a slight ground haze over the target, successful bombing results were achieved by the crews. 49 Squadron detailed 7 aircraft for the operation, but only 5 managed to become airborne from Scampton by 23.30hrs. The price of success was paid for in the loss of 9 crews out of the total force - 3 Manchesters, 3 Wellingtons, 2 Stirlings and 1 Halifax failed to return. Tragically, two extremely experienced aircraft captains and their crews from 49 Squadron were amongst those reported missing: Five crew members of the aircraft piloted by S/Ldr Peter De Mestre DSO DFC (L7469) were killed and the captain plus two others were reported missing.
S/L P.M. De Mestre DSO DFC Pilot (Missing)
Sgt A.F. Buttel RAAF 2nd Pilot (Killed)
P/O R.H.J. Thorndyke A/OB (Missing)
F/S M.E. Whitehill RAAF A/G (Killed)
Sgt G.C. Whitfield W/AG (Killed)
Sgt L.J. Jones W/AG (Missing)
Sgt D.S. Halliday W/AG (Killed)
Their Manchester was intercepted at 3500m over the North Sea, 20km NW of Borkum by a night-fighter captained by Nacht Jagd "Experten" Oblt Ludwig Becker (VI/NJG2) and shot down at 0044 for his 20th Abschusse.
The aircraft crashed into the North Sea with the loss of all seven crew, three of which have no known grave.
Images courtesy of the Australian War Museum via Geoff Swallow
Borkum Germany 24/06/1942
A graveside service at the funeral of Sgt Buttel RAAF.
The funeral was attended by a Guard Of Honour from the Luftwaffe, headed by an officer, a German Naval Band, and the wreath bearers. The service began with a choral, played by the band. This was followed by an address by the chaplain, the consecration of the bodies and the laying of wreaths, while the military detachment presented arms and the band played another choral. The ceremony was concluded by the firing of a salvo. Sgt Buttel's body was according to the Wehrmacht information bureau recovered from the sea on 22nd June 1942 by a German patrol boat and
buried together with an unknown member of the RAF, in the Lutheran Cemetery with full military honours.