20/21.04.1943 No. 75 Squadron (N.Z) Stirling III BF506 P/O. Tolly Location: Bögballe, Denmark. +

Mission: Rostock (Heinkel factory)

Date: 20/21st April 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 75 Squadron (N.Z.)

Type: Stirling III

Serial: BF506

Code: AA-P

Base: R.A.F. Newmarket, Suffolk.

Location: Bögballe, Denmark

Pilot: P/O. Alan Gray Tolley NZ411954 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Gerald Albert Raymond Town 1217965 R.A.F.V.R. Age 22. Killed

Obs: Fl/Sgt. William Henry Ellis 1021328 R.A.F.V.R. Age 31. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Frank Wakefield Upton NZ404430 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 28. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Cyril Thomas Cobb NZ412315 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 30. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Joseph Earle 1332585 R.A.F.V.R. Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ian Charles Salt NZ404046 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 20. Killed


Took off at 22.05 hrs. from Newmarket, Suffolk to bomb the Baltic ports of Rostock and Stettin on the Oder together with a mixed force of 425 aircraft. Also airborne at the same time was a small diversionary force of 11 Mosquito’s to carry out the first ever high level nuisance attack on Berlin undertaken by Mosquito’s, they were employed as a diversion for the main force of heavy bombers which had been assigned to attack Rostock and Stettin.

We are indebted to Maori Television for allowing us the use of this interview film with Brian and Diane Ramsay in assisting us in contacting relatives. We hope, that with your assistance in the circulation of both this page of remembrance and the interview to contact all the crew. So please send this page link to all your contacts.


Crash site of BF506 (Courtesy Søren Flenstead - see acknowledgements)

The crew were last heard on W/T at 03.00 hrs. signalling “starboard inner on fire”. Nothing further was heard, and the Stirling crashed in flames at Bögballe, 15 km N of Vejle, Denmark. Its demise is reported to have been caused by a night-fighter attack. No further news was received. (2) The Stirling crashed within 100m of a farmhouse that was occupied at the time. The ensuing glow in the sky caused by the flames from the crash helped another Stirling to belly land in a nearby field after which the crew were captured and became pow's. After the crash, nearby Luftwaffe soldiers from the airfield at Rye retrieved the bodies of 6 of the crew, taking them to Esbjerg for burial. When the crash site was excavated on May the 11th, the body of Flight Sergeant Cobb was found and laid to rest with his crew on the 18th. May.

75-squadron-stirling-bf506-aa-p-pilot-officer-a.tolley-rnzaf  75-squadron-stirling-bf506-aa-p-sergeant-gerald-albert-raymond-town  75-squadron-stirling-bf506-aa-p-sergeant-frank-upton002crnzaf
Above left - right: P/O. Tolley, Sgt. Town, Fl/Sgt. Upton(Sgt. Town photo courtesy of Norman Smith.
Fl/Sgt. Upton photo courtesy of Brian and Diane Ramsay - nee Upton)

fl003asgt.-william-henry-ellis  75-squadron-stirling-bf506-aa-p-flight-sergeant-cobb002crnzaf.  75-squadron-stirling-bf506-aa-p-flight-sergeant-ian-salt002crnzaf
Above left to right: Fl/Sgt. Ellis, (Courtesy Lynne Truex) Fl/Sgt. Cobb and Fl/Sgt. Salt (Courtesy Auckland Museum - Cenotaph database)

(2) Stirling BF506 was intercepted at 02.46 hrs over Bögballe south west of Horsens by Ofw. Rudolf Mangelsdorf 12./NJG3 - his first of the war. He went on to become an "Ace" with 10 confirmed kills. He survived the war but we have no further details. (With thanks to Theo Boiten for this information)

Above left: William Ellis with his wife Mary and daughter Adrianne (Courtesy Lynne Truex)

Sgt. Town with whom it is believed to be Sgt. Earle (Courtesy of Norman Smith )

(1) Fl/Sgt. Frank Upton received his secondary education at Christchurch Technical College where he received his Senior Free Place. He was single and played, football, rugby as well as acting as a surf lifesaver at Taylors Mistake near Christchurch, New Zealand. His family knew him as “Dick”. One of four boys and one girl, his grandmother was born and lived in Denmark prior to emigrating with her two brothers to New Zealand. (Frank's plane crashed just a few miles away from her birthplace in Denmark.) After school he was employed as a clerk by W.H.Harris Ltd, Tinsmiths of Christchurch before applying for aircrew on the 12th of October 1939. After enlisting at the Initial Training Wing on 24th November 1940 and on completion of his training, he was posted on 20th January 1941 to No 3 Elementary Flying Training school at Harewood. Here his flying training was terminated and he was re-mustered to an air observer and re posted on the 13th April to the I.T.W, Levin. On 18th June 1941 he embarked for Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme. Shortly after his arrival in Canada, Fl/Sgt. Frank Upton was posted on 6th July 1941 to No 6 Air Observers School, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. On 28th September he proceeded to No 3 Bombing and Gunnery School, Macdonald, Manitoba where on 8th November 1941, he was awarded his air observers badge and promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was further promoted to Flight Sergeant on the 1st April 1943. On 9th November 1941 he was posted to No 1 Advanced Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba and after completing the course was posted to No 1 “Y” Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 19th December 1941 for embarkation to the United Kingdom. He arrived at No 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth on 30th January 1942 and was posted on the 24th April to No 10 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit, Dumfries, Scotland. Here he trained on Dominee, Anson, Botha and Fairey Battle aircraft. Late in May he was posted to No 11 O.T.U, Bassingbourn, Hertfordshire where he crewed up and completed his training as an air bomber on Wellingtons. On 25th August he converted to Stirlings at 1651 H.C.U, Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire. In late September he was posted to 1657 C.U, Stradishall, Suffolk and on 20th October was attached to 214 Squadron at Chedburg, Suffolk on Stirlings where he took part in 2 mine laying ops. Early in December he was posted to 90 squadron, Bottesford, Notts, carrying out further mine laying ops to the Gironde river, France. He was posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron, Newmarket, Suffolk, on 29th January 1943, taking part in 8 operational flights including Kiel, Duisberg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Mannheim as well as 2 mine laying ops to the Frisian Islands and St.Nazaire in France.


A bronze plaque engraved with the names of the seven-crew members and mounted on a small stone at the base of a large rock identifies the crash site. A service on the 4th May 1998 was attended by Mr and Mrs Ramsay, (niece of Fl/Sgt. Upton) and the crew was remembered in a service and wreath laying Memorial Day. These photo's of the memorial are kindly supplied by Allied Airmen - Allierede flyvere 1939-45 DK who we hope to work further with over the coming months. They have also researched this loss and are very much involved in the reunion planned for 2013. With thanks to Anders Straarup. A Mads Nielsen was a cabinet maker and also the undertaker for the Parish. He was called upon to supply the coffins for this lost crew. This effected him and his wife Kirstine a great deal so much so that they decided they would donate this memorial stone to the lost airmen. Their daughter Signe Rømer attended and provided a speech at the memorial on the 4th May 2008. See photo's below of the service held in 1998 (The memorial stone was in fact unveiled in 1971, but the plaque added in 1998):

The memorial (Courtesy of Brian and Diane Ramsay)
The memorial - still covered in blue fabric. (Courtesy of Brian and Diane Ramsay)

Brian and Diane Ramsey - nee Upton, visiting the crew graves in 1982 (Courtesy of Brian and Diane Ramsay)
Local schoolchildren sing hymns at the ceremony (Courtesy of Brian and Diane Ramsay)
Crew graves (Courtesy Mike Harrison)

Burial details:

P/O. Alan Gray Tolley. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Coll. grave A.11 11-14 Son of Henry John and Eva Florence Tolley, of Wellington City, New Zealand.

Sgt. Gerald Albert Raymond Town. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Grave A.11. 15 Son of Winnifred Louise (nee Masters) and Ernest G Town of Kent.

Sgt. Town, known as “Jerry”, enlisted in 1941 with his school friend and crew member, Frederick Earle. Both attended Ashford North County Modern boys school from 1932-6, where they are remembered on the Roll of Honour for WW2, he is also remembered on Ashford Civic war memorial.

Fl/Sgt. William Henry Ellis. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Coll. grave A.11 11-14 Born June 1912 in Lancashire, England. Eldest son of Alice Emmeline Rigby b. 1888 and William Ewart Ellis b. 1885. Only brother of Robert Rigby Ellis b. 17 May 1915 Husband of Mary F Stevens (married April 1939) Father of Adrianne M Ellis b. 1940 and Elizabeth Ellis b. 1941. Uncle to Robert’s daughters: Fern Graham (nee Rigby Ellis) b. 1946 and Lynne Truex (nee Rigby Ellis) b. 1949

Fl/Sgt. Frank Wakefield Upton. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Coll. grave A.11 11-14 Born on the 15th of August 1914, son of Frederick Samuel and Isabel Upton of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Fl/Sgt. Cyril Thomas Cobb. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Grave A. 9. 6 Son of Fred and Mary Cobb, of Thames, Auckland, New Zealand.

Sgt. Frederick Joseph Earle. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Coll. grave A.11 11-14 Son of Frederick Earle and stepson of Edith A. Earle of 14, Gladstone Road, Willesborough, Ashford, Kent. Frederick Earle attended Ashford North County Modern Boys School with Gerald Town. They attended the school from 1932-6 and both enlisted at the same time in 1941. They are buried next to each other at Fourfelt. Both are commemorated on the schools Roll of honour for WW2.

Fl/Sgt. Ian Charles Salt. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Coll. grave A.11 11-14 Son of Charles Henry and Margaret Crawford Salt (nee Boa) of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. Researched by: Linda Ibrom for the A.R. Society - dedicated by Brian and Diane Ramsay (nee Upton), Niece of Fl/Sgt. Frank Upton to all the relatives and friends of the crew. Also, a big thank you to Lynne Truex (relative of Sgt. Ellis) for some great photo's and further information. Acknowledgments: With thanks to the following: Brian and Diane Ramsay, Norman Smith, Anders Straarup of the Allied Airmen - Allierede flyvere 1939-45 DK, Auckland Museum - Cenotaph database, for photographs, Theo Boiten - "German Nightfighter War Diaries", the work of the C.W.G.C. Also, many thanks to Søren Flenstead.

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