READER, Edgar Henry

Ake Ake Kia Kaha...For ever and ever be strong

No.1331432, Sergeant, Edgar Henry READER
Aged 21

75 (NZ) Squadron, Royal; Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in Action on Wednesday 23rd June 1943

Edgar Henry Reader was born in Fordham (Newmarket Q1-1922 3B:808), baptised 5th June 1927 in Fordham, son of Henry John and Alice May READER (née WARREN).
He attended Soham Grammar school from 1934 to 1938. In 1939 it appears to be his family at Station Cottages, Fordham - father Henry J [4-5-1892] LNER Goods Porter; mother Ethel ? M [8-7-1894], there are two closed records.

Thanks to his nephew Adrian and the 75(NZ)Squadron blog we have the following:-

Edgar enlisted in the RAFVR in January 1941 and was called up in July 1942. Initial training in Blackpool was followed by training as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner at No. 1 Signal School, Cranwell, 2 Signal School, Yatesbury and 3 Air Gunner School, Castle Kennedy. Posted to 12 Operational Conversion Unit at Chipping Warden in October 1942, on 12th April 1943 he was transferred to 1651 Conversion Unit at Waterbeach to convert to Stirling bombers. Finally he arrived at 75 (NZ) Squadron at Newmarket on 14th May 1943.
His 1st mission was mine laying around the Frisian Island on 21st May 1943 in Stirling BK809 (this aircraft later crashed on take-off from RAF Mepal on 8th September 1943).
His next mission was aboard Stirling BK619, mine laying again at the Frisian Islands. This was followed by another trip in Stirling BK 619 on 29th May to bomb Wuppertal, home of the Goldschmitt firm which produced the wood adhesive used in the production of He162 and Ta154 aircraft.
His fourth mission was once more in BK619, one of only two aircraft on this mission. His fifth mission was on 21st/22nd June, in BK619, one of 15 from 75 (NZ) Squadron detailed to attack Kiel. One aircraft returned early due to engine trouble and since Edgar's aircraft is recorded as landing about 90 minutes before the rest, it has to be assumed that it this was BK619.
His sixth, and final mission was on Stirling EF408 AA-P on the night of 22nd/23rd June 1943 to Mulheim. Taking off from Newmarket at 23:40, the time down is entered as "missing". Four Stirlings were seen destroyed on their bombing run. two colliding and 2 hit by flak. It seems that Edgar's aircraft crashed into the town of Gelsenkirchen.
The crew were :-
Pilot- 656588 F/Sgt Benjamin Brinley WOOD (RAFVR)
Navigator- NZ402563 F/Sgt George King SAMSON (RNZAF)
Air Bomber- NZ415738 F/Sgt Stuart Richard BISSETT (RNZAF)
Wireless Operator- 1331432 Sgt Edgar Henry READER (RAFVR)
Flight Engineer- 1266998 Sgt Stanley Lawrence WEBB (RAFVR)
Mid Upper Gunner- 1609558 Sgt Frederick John HOBBS (RAFVR)
Rear Gunner-1235070 Sgt Cyril Benjamin HEMMINGS (RAFVR).
Initially the crew were buried in Bismarck Friedhof in Gelsenkirchen-Huellen and later moved to Reichswald Forest War Cemetery after the war (9th May 1947).

Addition to the grave of Fred and Emma Warren in the extension to Fordham Churchyard:- Beneath an engraved image of a pair of RAF wings:
Commemorating Sgt Edgar H. Reader, R.A.F.V.R. dearly beloved and only son of Harry and Ethel Reader, who died on active service 23rd June 1943, aged 21 years. " We thank thee our God for every remembrance of him. Interred at Bismarck Cemetery, Gelsenkirchen, Germany".

Remembered in Fordham..images by Nick_2 via

photo; Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Edgar Reader is buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany, grave 19:G:3
and commemorated on the family grave in Fordham and Roll of Honour of Soham Grammar School

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details