Born: 1922, Ipswich.
Died: 26th November 1943; age: 21. Died charred to his aircraft.
Rank: Flight Sergeant/Pilot; Service Number: 1335537.
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 180 Squadron.
Aircraft: North American Mitchell II
Plot 6. Row F. Coll. Grave 3-5.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of John Charles & Laura Alice Howlett, of Ipswich.
Father: John Charles Howlett, born July 1888, Ipswich.
Mother: Laura Alice Howlett (nee Begg), born 1893, Ipswich.
26th November 1943
Aircraft: B-25 Mitchell – type C-20; Serial Number: FV912; Operation: Crossbow – the Allied bombing offensive against the German V-weapon sites. In the afternoon of the 26th November 1943, 180 Squadron led the Allied bombing mission on a construction site at Martinvast, Lower Normandy, France. The squadron encounter heavy flak causing FV912 and FL707 to collided.
Crew of FV912:
Charles Sidney Graves; Sergeant/Navigator/Bomber; age 21; R.A.F.V.R.
George James Saunders; Sergeant/Wireless Operator/Air Gunner’ age 26; R.A.F.V.R.
Frederick Burgess Dixon; Warrant Officer/Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; age 23; R.A.F.
Crew of FL707:
Samuel Robert Troman; Flight Sergeant/Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; age 22; R.C.A.F.
William Anderson Solheim; Lieutenant; age 24; U.S.A.A.F.
Cecil Gwynne Underwood; Flight Sergeant; age 29; R.A.A.F.
Allen John Painting; Warrant Officer; age 26; R.A.A.F.
W/O Jenkin Williams who was on the raid, described the barrage in his short story “The Box”:
“Dirty black pock marks came from nowhere, in front of us, and gradually got more concentrated until it seemed impossible to get around them even if we could – and we couldn’t. Then we saw it – the box – a fiendishly contrived form of anti-aircraft defence, the box barrage. The strategy was to send up a continuous and highly concentrated number of shells in a box-like area, through which the bombers must fly to get to the target. The heights at which the shells exploded varied, so that anyone flying between certain limits, either above or below the bombing height was likely to get clobbered, because they must at the crucial time, fly on a straight and level course to drop their bombs.
I looked up from my periscope sight for a brief moment at Eddie in the mid upper. He had revolved the turret to face the nose of the aircraft – ‘Jeez-us! – God Almighty – look at that lot!” Then he turned back to face the tail and continued to search, although we’d be very unlikely to meet any enemy fighters in this flak and getting blacker. The leading squadron was already on the bombing run and all twelve of the first two boxes were getting clobbered. The bastards had been waiting for us – they were throwing up everything except the kitchen stove, and we expected that anytime.”
In April, 2004, at Treauville, a dedication ceremony and Remembrance Mass was held to honour the airmen who had lost their lives in the air raid near Couville.