Wellington X3840 is Really X3480
Research is in part ensuring the facts are correct and digging into inconsistencies to correct them.
The most important part of the story of
X3480 must be remembered to be the crew and what happened to them.
The second part is making certain the history of the squadron is recorded accurately.
A Simple Typo Error
There can be found a number of different references to Wellington X3480 incorrectly numbered X3840. A seemingly
small point for sure although it does lead to confusion which should be corrected and I hope to clear this up
with what I have found during my research.
Since this typo appears in a book that is widely used and very highly thought of it becomes a bit of an uphill
battle to correct the other sources which have used the incorrect number.
What appears to me is that the two middle numbers of the serial number "48" were entered reversed
as "84" at some point making the serial number X3840 in their book.
A check through the squadron ORB reveals that there was no aircraft of that serial
number listed from January 1942 through to July of 1942 the period before and after the loss of X3480.
One more fact which to me makes it clear that the aircraft was X3480, and that is in the works of Vince Elmer who
researched and recorded 419 Squadron history at least two decades before the release of the book.
In Mr. Elmer's records the Wellington is X3480.
Another Source Uses the 3840
The well done and very appreciated website listing aircraft serial numbers and information related to them
provides a listing of both X3480 (the correct serial number) and X3840 as if they were two different aircraft.
The two descriptions are separated by listings of the many serial numbers which fall between these two numbers.
The line for Wellington X3480 data shows it to be VR-J then has all the information correct except
the date, which is given as May 7/8.
The line for Wellington X3840 data also lists it as VR-J and shows the date as May 8/9 1942, which is the night
that X3480 was lost. Although the number of crew men on board listed is incorrect.
Both Wellingtons are listed as VR-J, even though they were lost only hours apart according to these listings.
If VR-J was lost on the night of May 7/8 it would be unusual for another aircraft to be readied as VR-J that very night.
What research Found
On the night of May 7/8 only four Moose aircraft were on that mine laying operation. They were
X3486,X3483,X3723 and X3715. X3480 was not any operations that night.
On the night of May 8/9 1942 VR-J Wellington X3480 took off from Mildenhall on a bombing operation to Warnemunde.
The Wellington was carrying two 1,000 pound GP bombs as well as three 500 pound GP bombs, with a crew of six.
The Wellington's pilot was F/S J.D. Giddens, the sixth member of the crew that night was 2nd. Pilot Sgt. MacCullum.
The squadron log shows X3480 took off at 2215, lists the bomb load and "and did not return"
Which appears to show that the correct serial number is X3480.
Wellington X3480 had a short life with 419, first showing up on a May 4th operation followed by a May 6th operation then
the final operation on May 8/9th 1942. F/S Giddens was the pilot on all the operations.
As a researcher I realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to compile such huge listings, working at just a squadron
level such as I do, allows for more time to look into reference material to keep information correct.