Date Lost: 30/05/1942
Squadron Code: 'S'
Aircraft & Serial Number: Lockheed Hudson V - AM842
Flight/Mission Details:

Base: North Coates
Take off time: Night
Op: Strike (enemy shipping off the coast of Texel in the Frisian Islands)

Date of death for crew is listed as 29/05/1942 or 30/05/1942. In the record of citation (DFC) for W/C Niven, it states that the mission on this day was ferrying Hudson aircraft back to Britain.(possibly incorrect?)..

According to the book "Searching for the Hudson Bombers", during this strike F/L Collie's aircraft was heavily damaged by Flak but managed to make it back to base and S/L Evans aircraft hit a ship mast and the crew considered themselves lucky to have made it back to base and live to fight another day...

Niven had also only been Commander of 59 Sqn for a month..


The following was submitted by David Lefurgey (nephew of W/C Niven): 21/11/2009

My uncle was W/C Robert Henry Niven, a Canadian in the RAF, and was the Commanding Officer of 59 from about March until he went missing on the night of 30 May/June 01 1942. The mission was to attack enemy shipping near the island of Texel in the Frisian Islands, and it was a diversionary attack for the first 1,000 Plane Raid over Cologne. Although noted as a diversionary strike, no Coastal Command aircraft officially took part in the raid on Cologne, as their participation was refused to Bomber Command by the Admiralty.

Members of his crew were:
P/O JJ Reilly from Edmonton, Canada as the Navigator
Sgt. John Horridge (Howarth) from England as the Air Gunner
P/O Douglas Richards from Australia (pos W.op/AG)


Buried: All the crew were killed. Wg Cdr Niven and PO Reilly have no known grave and their names are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Runnymede, Surrey, UK. F/O Richards is buried in the Sage War Cemetery Locality Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, Germany. Sage is a village 24kms south of Oldenbhurg. Sgt Howarth is buried in the Schiermonnikoog (Vredenhof) Cemetery, Freisland, Netherlands. The small island of Schiermonnikoog is the most northerly of the Frisian Islands. (RAAF Casualties in WW2 - Alan Storr)

Crew Details:

All lost:

Source: C/C Losses - McNeill

During WWII, the RAF used three-letter codes to identify their aircraft from a distance. Two large letters were painted before the roundel, which signified the squadron to which the aircraft belonged, and another letter was painted after the roundel which indicated the individual aircraft. Aditionally, there was the individual serial number for each aircraft, which was painted in a much smaller size, usually somewhere at the rear of the aircraft: (more)

Codes used by RAF 59 Squadron:

PJ Sep 1938 - Sep 1939
TR Sep 1939 - Oct 1942
1 Aug 1943 - Jul 1944
WE Jul 1944 - Oct 1945
BY Oct 1945 - Jun 1946, Dec 1947 - Oct 1950