KENNETH EDWARD AMBLER
460 SQUADRON RAAF

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Subject:   460 squadron
Date:           Wed, 22 Sep 1999 21:11:33 +1000
From:         "Chris Sutton" <chris@mousehouse.com.au>

Hello Peter

First may I say what a wonderful site you have built! All of my life I was immersed in 460 Squadron pride and history and this is truly a joy!

My father was Kenneth Edward Ambler. He was a member of the RAF flying with the RAAF. He was a bomb aimer in 460 Squadron, stationed most of the time at Binbrook. He was a member of the crew of Fl Lt Donald Harold Heggie that was shot down in the early hours of the morning of 22nd March 1945. You have it listed as 21st March, I guess that was the night they took off for the raid on Brukstrasse.

My dad and Don were the only two to survive. Don Heggie is still living, hale and hearty and 80 years old - in Sydney. I am very close to him and his family. After the war he persuaded my Dad and Mum to move to Australia from Britain and we lived with them for some time. His daughter and I are the same age and closer than sisters.

Dad spoke often of his time with 460 Squadron and with a great deal of pride in its achievements. He loved to tell of his companions and their doings. He left behind, in my care, some of his memorabilia.

I have his pay book, his badge and a diary he kept during his training in South Africa. If you look at my web page www.ambler-sutton.aust.com you will find photos that you are most welcome to download and scans of his pay book.

My brother has some audio tapes that Dad recorded before his death in 1995. He had started to put his life story onto tape for us. I have not been able to bear to listen to them, but if there are tales of the RAAF on them I will let you know. Ted will know.

Thanks again for the site. I hope I can help you grow it.

Regards

Christine Ambler-Sutton

 

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The crew that went down with the Lancaster on 22 March 1945, may be as follows:-

Kenneth Edward Ambler
Sergeant H.J. Brooke
Sergeant W.T. Dean
Sergeant H.H. Dunkerley
Flight Lieutenant Donald Harold Heggie
Sergeant D. Robinson
Pilot Officer A.C. Trotter

 

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KENNETH EDWARD AMBLER

The following information and photographs are from Christine Ambler-Sutton's home page titled "Of Immigrant Stock - The Amblers and Suttons in Australia":-

 

THE AIR FORCE YEARS 1942 - 1946

Kenneth joined the RAF in 1942. He was sent to South Africa to train as an air bomber. Ken was always very expressive and he wrote well. From the day of his leaving England by ship to go to South Africa, until his return, he kept a journal. On the 13th March, the day of sailing for Freetown, he wrote;

"I was (and still am) eager to go overseas, but when the time came for me to step aboard, I had a terrible feeling of regret, I felt I couldn't leave that country which had given me birth..."  The journal goes on to describe his time in South Africa, the people he met and the day to day living of a aircraftsman in training in a strange land.

The journey to South Africa took 31 days, under very poor conditions aboard ship. The food was bad, the conditions were extremely hot, and there were the tensions of being in constant danger of enemy attack on the convoy.

Ken was in South Africa for 10 months. He trained in Durban and East London. While he found Durban beautiful, he didn't find the people very hospitable. East London he said, "more than made up for Durban's lack of friendliness. He was quite disappointed that in all that time he never once saw "trackless" jungle.

While there, he trained as an air bomber at 48 Air School. There is a photograph of the course group in his journal. I wonder how many of these fine young men survived the war.

 

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When he returned to England after his training, Kenneth was transferred, 'loaned' to the Royal Australian Air Force. He was posted to 460 Squadron RAAF to fly in Lancaster bombers.

 

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The crew were Ken, the pilot Don Heggie, F. Brook, H. Dunkerley, W.J. Dean, D. Robinson, and Jerry Flanagan.

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Dad never spoke much of his air raid experiences. His flight log gives the details of where and when, raids over Dresden, Hamburg, Koln and many other well known targets, but he never talked about them. He spoke often, though, of the Air Force and the men and women he had known. He had a gift for storytelling and would regale us with all the old RAF tales whenever he was given the opportunity.... but none of the battle stories, no word of bombing raids, except to say that he had been on them.

Their aircraft was shot down over the Black Forest of Germany, on April 22nd 1945. All members of the crew, with the exception of Don Heggie and Ken Ambler were killed. (Jerry Flanagan was not aboard that day, he had appendicitis.) Their graves are in the Black Forest.

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Vera received a telegram from the War Office telling her that her husband was missing, presumed dead. For six weeks she didn't know if he was alive or had been killed. Ken and Don were prisoners in Germany until the end of the war. All that we ever heard of his time as a POW was when he rebuked me if I left food on my plate, telling of how hungry he had been and how he would have appreciated any kind of food. He couldn't abide waste in those early years after the war.

 

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Kenneth was demobbed in 1946. He entered the Fire Training College, winning the Silver Axe as the top graduate. He became a fireman in his home town of Preston. Leaving the Preston fire brigade he worked for a while in the atomic energy plant at Salwick and then took up a position as Chief Fire Officer at Whittingham Hospital, Europe's largest mental asylum.

 

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Subject:   460 Squadron Site
Date:           Sat, 4 Dec 1999 11:47:47 +1000
From:          "Chris Sutton" <chris@mousehouse.com.au>

Peter

Yes, A C Trotter is the right name - I think he was the one who took Jerry's place as he was ill. I will check again with Don Heggie at
Xmas. We are going down south for a week or so then, I will be at Ted's and will find out about the audio tapes. If I can bring myself to listen to them now I shall copy them and put them on CD. I will then copy some for use on the web site.

Cheers
Chris

 

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Subject:   Presumed missing
Date:           Tue, 7 Dec 1999 21:17:28 +1000
From:          "Chris Sutton" <chris@mousehouse.com.au>

Hi Peter

I spent this morning going through some old 'treasures' of my Mum's. I haven't been able to face that job until now - and it was not an easy task.

Paul called a couple of times and asked if this was the Eumundi Waterworks - and it was. Lots of tears today. A great deal of that emotion came from the shoebox of letters and notes and clippings and telegrams that I found at the bottom of the storage box. Inside was all of the correspondence that Mum received from the telegram notifying her that Dad was missing, presumed killed, to the letters from the ministry informing her of her entitlements and letters from the wives and mothers of the crew that were killed. Dad's first letter as a POW is there. There is a letter to Dad post-war informing him of the burial places of the crew and their grave numbers, and a report from the German authorities as to the condition of the plane and the airmen's bodies and where in relation to the plane they were found. Peter it's a treasure trove! I can now tell the story of what it was like to be the wife or mother of an airman missing in action - I can build a picture of what happened that dreadful evening that the plane came down from both my Mum and Dad's perspective. ? I shall speak to Don and ask him to tell me what happened that night, if he will. He remembers things a little differently to Dad I know, but he can fill in the gaps. I have also found some writings of my father's, his account of the time from the beginning of the raid to coming home.

If this is of interest to you, when I have finished the story I will pass it on.

The web site gets better ever time I go in there! Thanks for including me in it...

Cheers
Chris

 

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Subject:    Presumed missing
Date:             Fri, 10 Dec 1999 14:30:35 +1000
From:           "Chris Sutton" <chris@mousehouse.com.au>

Hi Peter

Attached are two files - One is a transcription of the report made following the crash of Dad's plane. It was in too bad a state to scan.

The other is the Air Ministry's letter giving Dad information he had requested regarding the burial places etc of the crew.

On looking closely at the material I found earlier this week, I have a feeling that the report is in actual fact the report of either the Red Cross or the salvage team. The fact that they 'subdued' the local Burgomaster makes me think it was the salvage team.

Cheers
Chris

 

Investigation of crashed Lancaster
Reported near Leichlingen by the
Captain of the aircraft F/Lt. Heggie RAAF

Enquiries were made at the Burgomaster’s Office at Leichlingen relative to this aircraft and revealed that no information was available due to previous destruction of office records, it was recommended that enquiries be made at the Police Headquarters at Opladen. Several other interesting points however, came to light. (see later in this report)

At Opladen the Chief of Local Police (civilian), Dr (Law) Schmitz-Beuting, was interviewed and subdued before producing document "A" attached.

Early negative information was discounted on close questions before the document required was finally produced with profuse apologies.

As quoted in document "A" enquiries were then carried out at Bergisch Neukirchen and the Burgomaster there was cooperative. He produced another report similar but more detailed to document "A" (copy of which is being collected at a later date)

Investigations were then carried out at the site of the crashed aircraft. The aircraft was a Lancaster, crashed on the rear of a house at 04.30 hours on the 22nd March, 1945, and was minus one engine and tail unit, Cat.E. (burned), partially buried. Nothing more than parts of two parachutes were found. Local gossip had it at the time three bodies had been in the aircraft, but only two were apparently recovered. It was established that these two bodies were beyond recognition, the householder had seen them in the morning. His house was badly damaged and burned.

An interview with the undertaker was made in an endeavour to determine how the other two airmen mentioned had met their death. The following can be accepted as an accurate statement: Two bodies in aircraft burned beyond recognition. Two bodies approximately 1 kilometre apart from wreckage were intact but had broken arms and legs and severe head injuries. These injuries could have been sustained in disintegrating burning aircraft was hovering at three thousand feet. Scene of one position of a body showed broken fence wires, no earth marks, was in an isolated orchard containing bomb craters. Aircraft was still burning 2 hours after the crash.

A visit to the cemetery found a communal grave situated between civilian graves. One cross with RAF roundal, numbers

1

2

3

4

with the names of Sgt Dunkerly and Sgt Brooke against the numbers 1 and 2. Numbers 3 and 4 were blank. The undertaker was anxious to complete the cross.

Graves were in the churchyard of the Evangelical Cemetery at Bergisch Neukirchen. Grave in fair condition, instructions given for immediate renovation were immediately put into effect.

The site of the missing engine and rear turret were close to that of one body, (about 1000 yards from the aircraft), and a tail unit minus turret was seen elsewhere, and thought to be from the same aircraft.

Such records as were seen on the Police and Borgomaster’s file were obviously very incomplete and unsuitable for service reference. It is imagined that the army authorities in that area at the time would have collected far more complete records, i.e. (a) although the Captain is referred to, his name does not appear anywhere, (b) one airman held a conversation with the householder at Bergisch Neukirchen. The airman was under escort and conducted to the burned out wreckage. No reference to the visit is made in official records, and no reason was known for such a visit being necessary.

 

Copy.                                                            

Air Ministry,                                
London Road,                       
Stanmore,                         
Middlesex.                    

19th January, 1950.

Sir,

I am directed to refer to your letter, dated 3rd January, 1950, and to say that the only information available with regard to the fate of your crew-companions is that the aircraft crashed at Bergisch Neukirchen, seven miles south of Soligen, and that five members of the crew lost their lives.

Four bodies were recovered, two from the aircraft and two which had been thrown clear or who had unsuccessfully baled out. Of these, two were identified as Sergeants Dunkerly and Brooks. The fifth body was not recovered until the aircraft wreckage was salvaged by a British Salvage Team in November 1945. Identity was not established and the body was interred with his four companions who had been previously buried.

The communal grave at Bergisch Neukirchen was later exhumed and the occupants transferred to the British Military Cemetery at Rheinberg. During this operation it was possible to establish the individual identity of Pilot Officer Trotter in addition to Sergeants Brooks and Dunkerly.

Your crew-companions now rest in the British Military Cemetery at Rheinberg, Plot XI, Row C. Sergeants Dean and Robinson, who could not be individually identified, rest in Graves 16 and 17, which are collectively marked, and Sergeant Brookes, Sergeant Dunkerly and Pilot Officer Trotter rest in Graves 18, 19 and 29 respectively.

                             I am,   Sir,
                                    Your obedient Servant

                  (Signed)         R.W. Maddock.

 

 

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This page first produced 26 November 1999

This page last updated 05 September 2015