They almost made it …

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Had his Wellington bomber not been shot down 11 Sep 1942, my Uncle Bud would have celebrated his 96th birthday tomorrow.

Through his service records and extensive online searching, quite a bit is known about Flight Sergeant Frank John (Bud) Gallagher’s time in World War II. He trained in Canada and England, graduating from bombing and gunnery school before being shipped overseas in Feb 1942.

We were never sure exactly where his plane went down (somewhere over the English Channel?) but thanks to a letter (passed along to me by my Mom recently) from Bud’s brother Bruce that had been sent to my parents in 1995, more clues emerged. Bruce’s letter noted:

A friend of mine (Doug McLean) who I curl with does a lot of work for the Legion. He has looked into and found the location of all the graves of the Army, Air Force and Navy personnel from Cape Breton. One day when we were curling I told him about Bud and he asked me his full name and around what date he was reported missing. The next time we curled he handed me the information I am passing on to you.

Uncle Buds crew members

My Uncle Bud’s body was never found, nor was the body of Flight Sergeant Richard Melvin George. Both of their names appear on Panel 104 at Runnymede Memorial in England.

a photo I took at Runnymede Memorial of a portion of Panel 104 showing the names of F J Gallagher and R M George

a photo I took at Runnymede Memorial of a portion of Panel 104

However, the bodies of Pilot Richard Edgar Bertram and Flight Sergeant Cleveland John Eggleton must have been found (most likely washed up on a Belgian beach) as their remains are buried at cemeteries in Adegem and Oostduinkerke in Belgium. Based on that information and the number of Bud’s Wellington aircraft (BJ 987), we were finally able to figure out where the plane went down.

Bud’s plane left RAF Finningley, South Yorkshire, England on the night of 11 Sep 1942 on a mission to Dusseldorf, Germany. On their return from the Dusseldorf raid, a German bomber knocked them out of the sky near Nieuwpoort, Belgium and they crashed into the sea.

wellington bj987 2

Wellington Oostduinkerke

translated from the original Belgian by Google Translate

SOURCE

Looking at a map, it’s rather eerie to note that had Bud’s plane not been hit by the German bomber at that location near the coast of Belgium, they might have ended up safe. Had they been able to fly another 15 minutes across the English Channel, they could have been home free.

They almost made it.

Sgt Frank John Gallagher

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