Stoppie Stopforth

Tribute page: WW2 SAAF pilot  Lieutenant Colonel Hendrik Bernardus "Stoppie" "Ginger" Stopforth

Hi and welcome to this site!

I made contact with Mariaan Bester who kindly send me copies of her dad's war memorabilia including photographs and flying log book pages. Mariaan did research regarding the detail of her dad's service in the SAAF and wrote the tribute as well as his service profile. This page is a gesture towards his remembrance. 

Tinus le Roux

May 2021

A tribute to our dearest beloved father, Lieutenant Colonel Hendrik Bernardus Stopforth, who served as a SAAF Bomber Pilot with 16 Squadron during WW2  

Henry Stopforth was born in Krugersdorp on the 6th of August 1920. When he finished school, he enrolled at Potchefstroom University to study history (as his major subject) to eventually become a university lecturer (in history). He obtained a merit study bursary to study history at the University of Potchefstroom. Although his father owed a farm at Nooitgedacht, nearby Krugersdorp, both his parents were also qualified teachers. When WW2 started, all bursaries were frozen, so he decided to join the SAAF to train as a Pilot.

Henry, Stoppie or Ginger, as his co-pilots, friends, colleagues and superiors knew him, joined the SAAF from 3 March 1941 as Air Pupil at 75 Air School until 20 September 1941. He became a Pupil Pilot from 20 September 1941 to 28 January 1942 at AFS Potchefstroom, thereafter moved to AFS Vereeniging from 28 January 1942 to 30 June1942, where he qualified as a pilot and proudly received his wings at a Wings Parade.

From 30 June 1942 to 14 August 1942, Henry went to AFS Pietersburg for a two-month   course, a Pilot GD Oxford Conversion. He was posted to East Africa from 14 August 1942 as a Bomber Pilot for 16 Squadron until 30 March 1943. During the period of April in 1943 he came down with Malaria and had to stay behind to recuperate, before he was transferred to the Middle East to continue his duties. This info I picked up while working through the War Diaries. None of my siblings or I were even aware that our Father fell ill with Malaria during the war. He was transferred to the Middle East, after recuperating from Malaria, until 3 July 1944

 During this period, he was in transit from the MAF Depot from 3 July 1944 to 17 August 1944 where he reported for duty at 16 Squadron, in Italy (Balkans). After the war ended, he returned home on the 25 th May 1945.

My Grandparents Stopforth received a telegram from my father’s superiors that “their son was missing in action “I can just imagine their shock when after a period their son just appeared to recuperate at home after his crash. Lt Buster Keeton was his Wingman/Navigator in the Middle East and Italy (Balkans). My father and his navigator, survived three aircraft crashes, two at East Africa, one where the hydraulics would not engage and they had to make a belly landing, secondly, also faulty hydraulics when the aircraft flipped and landed on one wing, thirdly in France, they were attacking an enemy target when the bottom(hydraulics) of the aircraft were shot away and the had to make a crash landing at Cannes, France (occupied by Germany at the time). When they eventually reached base, they were both sent to the Union to recuperate. My fathers’ face was full of glass splinters, when the glass of the cockpit shattered when their aircraft was shot at. In those days it was just important to recover. No cosmetic surgery done. My fathers’ face was full of lumps where the glass penetrated his face. It never seemed to bother him. They both reported back in November 1944 in Italy, Berca 3.

Because of his love for Opera music, my Father often visited the Opera Houses, while he was in Italy. His friends knew he would always have a music instrument (usually a guitar) with him wherever he goes, to entertain his friends by making music while they gathered together at the base, when off duty. 

After WW2 he enlisted as a permanent SAAF Pilot. Henry got married to my Mother, Martha Maria Hermitage. Four children were born in their marriage, three daughters and an only son, Henry jnr. who tragically died in a car crash at the tender age of 18 years in 1977, about two years before, during 1975, my Father passed away.

Henry was posted to Ysterplaat AB 17 Squadron at Cape Town until April 1954, thereafter he was posted to Central Flying School (CFS at Dunnottar). In 1957 he was part of a team of pilots that were sent to the UK to receive aircraft training for Shackletons and Vampires. The trained pilots returned to the Union by flying the aircraft they received training for. During 1962 het was posted to Pretoria, promoted to Lt Colonel, where he became a lecturer at the SAAF College at Voortrekkerhoogte. He was later promoted as head of the College for a few years. During 1965 he was posted to Germany (Keulen) as an Air Force Attache’. His health was deteriorating and therefore could not accept this promotion (which was to be the highlight of his SAAF career, and of course a terrible disappointment to him, my mother and us children)

My Father has flown the following aircraft during his Pilot Career: 1. PV, 2. Beaufighter, 3. Beaufort I and II, 4. Blenheim I. IV and V, 5. Oxford, 6. D H.Tiger, 7.Harvard, 8. Heart Variant, 9. Auster T. 10. Vampire (trained on the Jet Provost while in the U.K.) 11. Sabre .12. Hawker Heart.13. Hawker Hind.14. Hawker Audax. 15. Dakota.

We went to the SAAF Officers Mess one Sunday for dinner to visit my Father whilst he stayed at one of the flats at the Mess. He attended a course at the SAAF College during the week. After dinner at the Mess, my father told me he wanted to show me the spot in the Officers Mess garden where he and other WW2 pilots “buried” all insignia from the war when the war ended. Not sure if it was only 16 Squadron pilots. To this day I remember exactly where the spot is 3(not sure if it is still there after all these years), but never thought about is again until recently when I started to summarize the sorties he was involved in from the WW2 Diaries.

He is a true WW2 hero to me and my sisters, our family, friends and everybody who knew him. We are proud to call Henry Stopforth, our Father.

Our tribute to our Father, from your loving daughters Mariaan Bester, Antoinette de Jager and Annemarie Greeff.


P.S. When I decided to venture on this journey of WW2, I was not prepared for the cruel and brutality of War. I was emotional, most of the time. As I read through the WW2 Diaries summarizing the sorties my Father was involved in, I realised the death and destruction our War Heroes had to deal with each day, not knowing if you will be returning to base, unscathed. If you saw your friends’ aircraft plunge into the sea, how it affected everyone emotionally. I salute all our soldiers with the utmost respect. 

WW2 Fighter Pilot Lt HB Stopforth, Sorties Listed for East Africa, Middle East and Italy from 14 August 1942 to 25 May 1945


WW2 East Africa 14 August 1942 to 23 March 1943

Sorties for January 1943:  

08 January 1943: Kalifi: Duty:   2 Lt. Stopforth. Crew: 2 Lt Erasmus, F/Sgt Pettett as crew did a training sortie and searched for an “Enemy Cruiser” between the Coast and Zanzibar sending back the necessary signals.  Airborne 0610 hours. 0810 Spotted enemy cruiser M.T.B.1 at 0800, M.T.B.2 at 0807 amplifying report, M.T.B.3 at 0830, enemy has reversed course at Kalifi at 1015. (42046) (41844)

14 January 1943: Kalifi: 2Lt Stopforth carried out a practice sortie in which bombs were dropped on the raff (11 ½ practice) A test was carried out with a camera photographing the strikes of the bombs (41847)

24 January 1943: Kalifi: Duty: Routine patrol AB1: Blenheim 659 (W) Airborne 1055 hours. Crew” 2lt Stopforth (pilot) 2 Lt Field, F/SGT Pumphrett. Nothing sighted, landed 1440 (41851) (42056)

26 January 1943: Kalifi: Duty: Blenheim 450 “A” Crew: 2 Lt Stopforth, 2 Lt Stewart, F/SGT de Jager, took off at 0755 hours, for R.D.F. Calibration test. Landed 1140 hours. (41852)

Blenheim 471 “C” Crew: Lt Stopforth, Lt Stewart, F/Sgt de Jager, took off to continue the R.D.F. Calibration test but had to land again at 1415 hours as W/T receiver u/s.

31 January 1943: Kalifi: OC held meeting with head of sections to discuss promotions and increments: 2Lt HB Stopforth left this Squadron on posting to R.A.F. Station Gilgil. (41856)

16 Squadron moved from East Africa to Middle East in April 1943. On 15 April 1943 Capt Sanders, Lt Simpson, Lt Andrew landed at L.G.224 on the 18th April 1943. Meanwhile Lt Stopforth had gone down with Malaria at Wadi Halfa, so Lt Gee went there on the 30 th April 1943 to fly Lt Stopforth’s aircraft up to L.G. 224, arriving there on 2 nd May 1943. Once all the aircraft arrived at L.G.224, they were routed by H.Q., R.A.F. and M.E. to L.G.91, where they were later joined by the rest of the Squadron which had come up by sea.

AIR 54-60 NO 16 SQUADRON 1-2/2-2 (WW2 Diaries)

WW2 Middle East 30 March 1943 to 3 July 1944

Sorties for May 1943:

16 May 1943: L.G. 91: Duty: RAT and SNOOP Practice Air Patrols 6 Bisley Aircraft took part. Bisley “Q” crew Lt Stopforth , Lt Gregory and F/Sgt Hall 1415 – 1745 (41906)


29 May 1943; L/G.91: Duty: Two practice A/S patrols (Rat and Snoop) were laid out but Bisley “Z” returned owed to W/T failure: Aircraft “Z” Lt Stopforth, Lt Weber, F/Sgt (LAM?) Buys 1450 – 1750 hours. (41908)

31 May 1943: L/G/91: Duty: Two more practice Rat and Snoop patrols were carried out but “R” had W/T trouble and only their closing down signal was received.  Aircraft“R” Lt Stopforth, Lt Kuhn, F/Sgt Greenberg 1405 – 1735 hours (41909)

No Sorties for June 1943:  Preparing for the general move to Misurata, flying has stopped so that aircraft could be serviced for the flight to the new base, and the R.S.U.

Sorties for July 1943: Misurata

01 July 1943: Misurata: There were no operations to-day. The chief event was a perfect belly landing of a Beaufort “R” by Lt Truter, owing to a burst tyre immediately after take-off. (There has been a lot of burst tyres on this Drome, due to the stony surface at the further end of the Drome has been kept very busy as a result.) Lt Truter was taking L t Stopforth on a conversion flight. Lt Stopforth dropped a message in his helmet “Tyre burst – am belly landing GOSH!” To get rid of the petrol, Lt Truter continued for two hours on conversion, then jettisoned the remainder and came in (41921)

13 July 1943 Misurata W: Duty:Lt Stopforth and Crew left for the Delta by DC 3 to fetch another Beaufort (41926)

19 July 1943: Misurata W: Lt Stopforth came back today with another Beaufort 11 from L.G.91. This makes 7 Mark 11 in all now on our charge. (41930)

21 July 1943: Misurata W: Duty: Convoys ‘Cockatoo’ and ‘Canteen’ were given A/S escort today: ‘Cockatoo’ was escorted by Lt Stopforth in “U” airborne from 0910 to 1440 hours. Lt Stopforth reported a Destroyer one of the escorts left the convoy at 1210 hours and went off on course of 140 degrees. ‘Canteen’ left Tripoli was sighted by Lt Stopforth at 1340 hours, on his return route (41931)

22 July 1943: Misurata W: Duty: Escorts to ‘Canteen’ continued till 1700 today: Lt Stopforth in aircraft  “Y” followed from 0555 till 1025 (41932)

AIR 54-60 1.2 16 Squadron (WW2 Diaries)

27 July 1943: Misurata W: The relieving aircraft, Lt Stopforth in “W” had not arrived at the time but Lt Stewart could not wait as trouble had developed with the petrol feed to the starboard engine .At 1308 however on the way back he met Lt Stopforth on aircraft “W” who picked up the convoy “ AVOCADO” at 1335 from Lt Stewart, in 3225N 1616E and continued escort till 1705 when his relieving aircraft was sighted (41937)

29 July 1943: Misurata W: Ther in was a bad sand storm to-day and today all flying was stopped. The only operation that had to be cancelled was an area patrol for which LT Stopforth and crew had been briefed. (41938)

Sorties for August 1943:Misurata: 

01 August 1943 Misurata W: Lt Stopforth continued the escort of “Crafford” from 1551 to 1700 and landed 1825 with nothing unusual to report (41942)

02 August 1943: Misurata W: At 1820 a square search was carried out over an area of approximately 14miles radius of the datum point but no sighting was made. Meantime while Lt Stopforth in a Beaufort “Z” had continued the escort of “TRAFFORD” from 1551 to 1700 and landed at 1825 with nothing unusual to report (41942)

10 August 1943: Misurata W: The bigger and more important of the convoys are taking a more direct route from Malta to the BENGHAZI area therefore limiting our A/S escort to that part of their route that lies between 1640E and 1630E. As the key rendezvous position south of Malta has to be reached in daylight for the purpose for joining and detaching the minor convoys, our stretch is generally reached at night. This fact, with the long flight there and back and the increased navigation difficulties has caused the crews to christen this stretch “Hell’s Kitchen”. Capt Schravesande took off in aircraft “R” at 0710 picking up the convoy at 0837 but he had to leave early at 1022 owing to high oil pressure. Lt Stopforth in airrcraft “Z” contacted the convoy at 1223 but also had to leave early owing to engine trouble, both Aircraft safely reached base. (41946)

30 August 1943: Misurata W: Area patrols ahead of track of convoy “ROOK” were carried out by Beaufort “Y” (Lt Stopforth) and Beaufort “C” (Capt Sanders). The first aircraft took off at 1710 hrs. on the 29 th and landed at 2240 hrs. Second aircraft carried out the same duty at 0650 hrs. to 1210 hrs. on the 30 th. Both patrols were uneventful. (41961) Crew of Lt Stopforth, Lt Keeton, F/Sgt van Rensburg, F/Sgt Stauch. Beaufort A/c Airborne 1045 landed 1455 no incidents (42178)

Sorties for September 1943

01 September 1943: Misurata W: At 1050 Lt Stopforth in Beaufort “U” took off for a Wellington reported missing by 201 Group between Misurata West and Marble Arch. The Beaufort flew along the Coast North of the Main Coastal Road searching the area between road and sea from Misurata and Marble Arch. At 1258 the aircraft returned to base, flying all the way about 4 miles South of the Main Coastal Road. The missing Wellington was not sighted and the Beaufort landed at base at 1515. (41966)

03 September 1943: Misurata W: A large convoy comprises of 44 landing craft, 8 motor launches, 2 mine sweepers plus other smaller craft- 60 Vessels in all. Lt du Downer made the first sortie in Beaufort “J” and was over the convoy from 0820 to 1145 when relieved by LT du Toit in aircraft “D”. Lt Stopforth in aircraft “X” continued the escort while followed by Capt. Bell in “J” when the patrol was broken off at 2000 with the convoy in 3400N 1226E- the limit of our area. There were no incidents during this operation. (41967)

15 September 1943: Misurata W: There were seven sorties over convoy “Untrue”- over 19 Merchant Vessels, 3 Tankers, 5 Corvettes and 3 A/S Whalers. Lt Stopforth carried out the first escort locating convoy at 1116. He was followed by Lt. Smith who was up from 1211 to 1801. Lt. Boshoff relieved 1807 and started inner patrol at 1500 feet at 1830. One large merchant vessel detached and took up a rear-guard position behind the convoy. At 1845 this vessel opened fire at the Beaufort from both sides of convoy as aircraft was carrying out inner patrol at rear of convoy. Aircraft fired the letter of the day and firing ceased for five minutes but was resumed again as aircraft proceeded to inner patrol at rear of convoy. Aircraft then went to the head of the convoy and completed the patrol there. The relieving Beaufort “F” Lt Ridley took over at 1913, and carried out outer A/S patrol until 2200 when course was set for Berca. A report on the firing on our Aircraft was handed to Group Captain Anderson, 238 Wing, who took the matter up. Lt Ridley landed at Berca following an arrangement with 247 Wing which is explained hereafter. A signal was received from 247 Wing to the following effect :

 “Request you continue A/S cover to “Untrue” until 07000/17. Our Wellingtons required for shipping sweeps. Please confirm”.

This was immediately laid on. Lt Gee in aircraft “Y”, Lt du Toit in aircraft “K” and Lt Westmoreland in aircraft “C” took off in the afternoon and landed in Berca (247 Wing) carrying out an A/S sweep en route. Meanwhile Lt Simpson did a night escort to “Untrue” taking off from Misurata at 2015B/16 and landing at Berca at 0120B/17.(41978)

21 September 1943: Misurata W: Two area patrols long the track of “Liege” were carried out by Lt. Stopforth and Capt. Schravesande respectively. The former took off at 0930 and landed at 1445. Capt. Schravesande, at 1429 a distress Signal (presumably from an aircraft), was picked up on A.S.V. about two miles from  the Beaufort and plotted north of ZUARA. A report was made on landing at 1850, and this was transmitted to 210 Group, who are responsible for Air/Sea Rescues. The following Signal was received from 247 Wing at Berca 3:- “Request 5 Beauforts be sent to Berca 3 to provide cover to “TRAFFORD” from 1900 tonight. All Wellingtons used on bombing raid. Suggests first two Beauforts arrive Bonlyerca 16000/27 : Please confirm “. At this possible juncture it was possible to send only three aircraft from this squadron to Berca and between 1505 and 1515. (41982)

24 September 1943: Misurata W: Two sorties were called for to give A/S cover to convoy “Horatius” – composition 19 merchant vessels and 7 escorts. Lt. Downer was up from 0650 to 1205 followed by Lt. Stopforth from 0916 to 1200. The first aircraft reported having carried out recognition procedure as laid down for escorts, but only one escort ship replied, after half- an-hours delay. The second aircraft reported recognition procedure acknowledged. (41985)

26 September 1943: Misurata W:  Convoy “Wagon” entered Misurata area from Berca area and Capt. Schravesande left at 0920 to escort this convoy 3210N, 1617E, to 3222N, 1600E ,- (flying time 4 hours 57 minutes). Lt. Stopforth followed from 1355 to 1635 leaving “Wagon” in 3232N, 1522E. Both patrols were without incident. (41986)

Sorties for October 1943:

04 October 1943: Misurata W: As no A/S  cover to large convoys were called for, the standard area patrols of Tripoli area were laid on. Lt. Stopforth left first at 0955 – down at 1505. Capt. Sanders took off at 1355 and landed at 1700. Both patrols were without incident. (41993)

19 October 1943: Berca 3: Lt Stopforth took off at 0815C, to continue the A/S search, starting from datum point 3242N, 2050E and covering an area bounded by 3301N, 2145E, 3317N, 2108E, 3301E, 2205E, 3327N, 2123E, 3241E. Landed 1400C. (42011) 

24-25 October 1943: Berca 3: Convoy “Parcel” was escorted from 1452C/24 to 0430/25. Composition was 8 Merchant vessels and 2 escort vessels. Three sorties were flown Lts Stopforth, Downer and Ridley. All successfully located and escorted the convoy. (42003)

27 October 1943: Berca 3: Lt. Kenyon, airborne at 0300 contacted and escorted “Cockatoo”, followed by Lt. Simpson at 0515. “Cockatoo” and “Untrue” crossed at 0730 (“Untrue West to East – “Cockatoo” East to West) in position 3408N, 1845E. Here it was established that “Untrue” was 25 miles South of track and “Cockatoo” was ahead of estimated position. From this time on, with the convoys located and correctly plotted, the last three sorties by Lts> Richards, Downer and Stopforth, were carried out to schedule. (42004)

Sorties for November 1943:

02 November 1943: Berca 3: A/S hunt with “Sooty”: This hunt continued according to M.J.A.O. Lt. Ridley took off at 0025 landed 0505 Lt Platt up at 0400 down at 0910. Lt. Stopforth up at 0745 down 1320. Bad weather interfered with Operations. There were no contacts with enemy Submarines. (42024)

08 November 1943: Berca 3: A/S escort to convoy “Horatius” (11 M.V. 1 Tanker 4 E.V.) Lt. Richards airborne 0630 landed 1200. Lt. Stopforth airborne 1010 landed 1540 Both contacted and escorted convoy.

New Beaufghters received 4 November 1943. Training continues on the Beaufighters. Lt Stopforth was taken up by Major Loock. All pilots have now been taken up in the Beaufighters. All are enthusiastic regarding the performance of this aircraft. The venerable Beauforts alas, notwithstanding their fine service, are now sadly unpopular. (42019)

13 November 1943: Berca 3: A/S escort to convoy “Trafford”. Lt. Stopforth (Pilot).  Airborne 1015. Met convoy 1134 and escorted until 1335. No incidents. (42020)  

20 November 1943: Berca 3: A busy day with a large number of ships in the area.  A/S escort to convoy “Rump”. Lt. Stopforth airborne at 0830 landed 1355. Carried out CLA patrol ahead of convoy. Patrol was carried out. Nil report. (42023) 

26 November 1943: Berca 3: A/S escort to convoy “Datum”. 25 MV, 5 EV, 1 Submarine. Lt. Stopforth airborne 1015 landed 1545. All found the convoy and escorted without incident. (42028)

Sorties for December 1943:

01 December 1943: Berca 3: A/S escort to convoy “Tryst” 29 M/V, 6 E/V Three sorties. Lt. Stopforth airborne 0530 – 1005. Convoy met and escorted without incident. (42033)

AIR 54-60 NO 16 SQUADRON 2-2 and 1-2 (WW2 Diaries)


Sorties for January 1944:

16 January 1944: Berca 3: Beauforts are being replaced by Beaufighters , therefore training is needed. The next Crew on the roster for Shallufa were supposed to take-off this morning. They were Lt Col Lorentz (OC 16 Squadron), Lt’s Stewart, Simpson, Stopforth (pilots) with Lt’s Hall, Ray, Cohen, Steyn, Keeton (observers). Unfortunately, the weather was very bad and the Met.  Report so threatening that the OC decided to postpone the take-off to tomorrow. Heavy rain and thick cloud caused the eventual cancellation of all flying. (42260)

17 January 1944; Berca 3: This morning another Detachment left for training at Shallufa. In spite of inclement weather Lt Col Lorentz took-off with his observer 2Lt Hall. The rest of the Crew comprised – Pilots-  Lt’s Stewart, Simpson, Stopforth with Lt’s, Cohen, Steyn, Keeton (observers) (42260)

AIR 54-61 NO 16 SQUADRON 1-2 (WW2 Diaries)

Sorties for February 1944: 

 05 February 1944: Berca 3: Today the Squadron carried out its first official Operation being briefed, to give long-range fighter cover to convoy, “Blanket”, consisting of one Cruiser. Major Loock in aircraft “W” and Lt. Louw in aircraft “Q” took off at 1139 and met the convoy at 1157. Lts. Kenyon and Stopforth were the relieving pair, and they ran into very stormy weather. The Cruiser was located and low-cover patrol commenced, but the weather deteriorated, 10/10 cloud forming in. AT 1600 the Cruiser could no longer on account of the low cloud, but the patrol was continued over its estimated position. At 1731 the second pair of Beaufighters set course for base, landing at 1815. (42268)

12 February 1944: Berca 3”: Fighter cover to convoy “Noble” -2 D.E. -1 M/V. Lts. Downer, Strange, Kenyon, Stopforth, in two pairs. All patrols without incident. The weather again, poor with strong winds. (42273)

17 February 1944: Berca 3: Lt. Kenyon and Lt. Stopforth took off to carry out fighter protection to convoy “Clinch” Both found the Convoy and no incidents were reported. (42276)

26 February 1944: Berca 3: Fighter cover to convoy “Rubble” Lts. Harrison and Stopforth off at 1225, landed at 1600 on fighter cover for convoy “Rubble”. Duty carried out – no incidents. It is noteworthy, however that our aircraft were the only ones to locate the convoy, Patrols by other Squadrons were all unsuccessful. (42281)

Sorties for March 1944:

03 March 1944: Berca 3: Sweep Southern Greece: Crew: Capt Clements, 2 Lt. Buchner, Lt. Anderson, 2 Lt. Bradford, Lt du Toit, 2 Lt. de Jager, in aircraft ”D”Lt. Stopforth, Lt Keeton. These were briefed to sweep the Gulf bounded by the Southern three fingers of Peloponessus, as outlined in the appended Sortie Report. No sightings were made but an enemy Radar Post in Sapienze Island was photographed. The experience gained however, was valuable in so far as the low flying over the intervening expanse of the Mediterranean, and also retaining formation, etc., were concerned. On landing at base Lts Stopforth and Keeton had a very narrow escape. The pilot put down a good landing but the aircraft jumped into the air and came down on one wing, completely wrecking itself. Another experienced pilot had the same trouble in the same aircraft a few days previously and no satisfactory explanation has been arrived at. (42285) (29405)

11 March 1944: Berca 3: Training carried out (Formation, Cannon-Fire and RP) L Col Lorentz, Lts Kenyon, Stopforth, and Strange to follow in the morning at 0630 hrs (42291)

12 March 1944: Berca 3: Lt-Col Lorentz, Lts Kenyon, Stopforth and Strange took off at 0630 for Gambut (42291)

22 March 1944: Berca 3: No operations, and only training and only training for our “Sprogs” during today. In the afternoon, however, Group Captain Anderson of RAF Station, Berca, organised a special Night Co-operation Exercise, with Wellingtons dropping flares over a wreck in the vicinity of Benghasi and Beaufighters making a sham attack. At 1015 Lts Platt, Stopforth, Kenyon and Richards took off and for an hour carried out the sham attacks on the wreck after the” Wimpeys” had dropped flares. The idea was to familiarize our crew with the type of illumination used by Wellingtons when on a night attack, and the correct method of follow up by the attacking force. The experience gained proved very valuable, in view of the possibility of Beaufighters being used for night attacks of a greater extent than hitherto. (42297)

27 March 1944: Berca 3” Fighter cover for convoy “Nursemaid”. One pair of Beaufighters escorted “Nursemaid” without incident. Major Loock, Lts Strange, Stopforth and Louw stood-by for a possible strike, but his did not eventuate and the crews were stood down at 1500 hrs. (42298)

Sorties for April 1944

08 APRIL 1944: Berca 3: Offensive Shipping Sweep- Southern Greece. A sweep of four Beaufighters were laid on today, carried out by the” Lucky Chums” (as Major Clemens’s team are called) They were (Pilots) Major Clements, Lt Anderson, Lt Platt and Lt Stopforth. The formation took off at 0605, setting course on a route via Kythera, Githion and the Gulf of Kalamata, avoiding Kalamata Harbour. At 0815 in position 3649N, 2247E (Vroukios) one Caique of approx. 80 tons was seen and attacked. The leader‘s rockets undershot. Lt Platt followed and scored two direct hits with 25lb armoured piercing R.P. The other aircraft overshot but all scored numerous cannon strikes. Upon being hit by the two rockets, the caique is reported to have burst into flame with clouds of smoke – giving the impression that it was carrying oil or fuel of some sort. No opposition was encountered and no further sightings made. On the return journey in the region 3400N, our aircraft spread out in line abreast and swept the area to Cape Aamer looking for the suspected U/Boat. No sighting made. Aircraft landed at 1035. (42308) (29421)

15 April 1944: Berca 3: Fighter cover for convoy “Stack” Lt Stopforth and Lt Wallem (a recently converted pilot) escorted this convoy without incident. We now have four of the new pilots operational. (42314)

26 April 1944: Berca 3: Offensive Sweep Messalonghi, Patras and Zante. Crews Major Clements Lt Cohen, Capt Barrett Lt Haupt, Lt Stopfoth Lt Keeton. This was a sweep of “looking for trouble” variety, to sweep West coast of Greece and attack any suitable shipping target. Airborne at 0630 the formation set course. Lt Platt scored direct hits with two salvos of two rockets each and Capt Barrett’s one pair of R.P. undershot slightly and quite probably hit the target (100 ton Caique) below the waterline. All aircraft scored numerous cannon strikes and the caique was left heeling over in a sinking condition. Earlier on Major Clements led the formation over the hills of Cephalonia and coming suddenly upon the bay of Argostolion, saw a 3 000ton Merchant Vessel. As these large vessels are well armed and fearsome in attack, this sudden discovery caused something of a sensation among the Beaufighters which turned to seek pastures new with all due speed. R.A.F Station considered that this ship might be a hospital ship. In any case this Harbour was too well defended for any prolonged investigation. (42323) (29424)

AIR 54-61 16 SQUADRON 1-2(WW2 Diaries)


WW2 Italy 17 August 1944 to 25 May 1945

Lt Buster Keeton was the navigator for Lt Stopforth throughout the Italy period and last period of the Middle East

Sorties for October 1944 Italy

09 October 1944: Italy:(4 Sorties) Duty: To photograph enemy billets in a church near Barmash (Albania) p.p. QM 883199 and an observation post at QM 815810: Crew: “F”Lt Ashdown(Pilot), Lt Dixon(Nav), “E” Lt Stopforth( Pilot), Lt Keeton(Nav) The mission was successfully completed but Aircraft “E” developed engine trouble on the way back and forced to land at Brindisi (29313)(29664)

12 October 1944: (4 Sorties): Duty: To carry out a shipping sweep form Khaikis to Volos, Greece, refuelling en route at Brindisi. (29314) Crew: aircraft X” Lt Stopforth (pilot), Lt Keeton (nav) At 1413 hours a convoy of 4 Pil Boats, loaded with troops accompanied by one smaller unidentified boat was sighted in the Oreos channel at p.p. QY 8257, these were proceeding in a North Easterly direction in line astern but immediately on being attacked took violently evasive action. The attack lasted about ten minutes during which all the boats were raked with cannon fire and 18 x 25lb A.P.R.P ’s were fired of which 10 are claimed underwater hits. During the attack many troops jumped into the sea and were also sprayed with canon and Navigtor’s M.GM fire. When the Aircraft left the scene of the action the convoy had pulled closer inshore and stopped. One Pil boat was burning fiercely with black smoke rising to 1000 feet and with numerous explosions (probably ammunition) taking place on board. Aircraft “F” was apparently hit by 20mm flak when breaking away from its first attack. The aircraft was seen turning on its back and plunge into the sea about 30 yards behind the convoy. Claims: 1 Pil boat on fire with smoke rising to 1000 feet destroyed (flamer confirmed by photos) 1 Pil boat destroyed at stern, probably destroyed. 2 Pil boats damaged. Many casualties among troops. (29314/29315) (29868)

14 October 1944: (4 Sorties): Duty: To locate and attack 2 Siebel Ferries which were last reported travelling South at 1000 hours in position 43 degrees 50’N 40 degree 50’E near Sali. Additional targets were to be 1 ship and 4 small craft in position 44degree 13’N 14 degree 50’ East. Crews:aircaft “E” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton( nav). “G” developed engine trouble after take- off and was forced to returned to base. The rest of the formation carried out a search of the area as briefed, terminating in the Gulf of Fiume without making any sightings. (29316) (29672)

16 Ocober 1944: (4 Sorties): Duty: Lead by 4 Beaufighters of 19 Squadron to attack 3 to 4 A.F.V.’s and some M.T. which were reported at the Monastery near Tomislavgrad: Crew: aircraft “U” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton ( nav) “U” was forced to land soon after take-off due to u/s electrical system. The other 3 aircraft made five runs over the target area selecting individual targets for attack with cannon 25lb and 60lb R.P.’s. Many rounds of cannon fire were fired into the target area also 6 x 25lb R.P.’s and 14 x 60lb R.P.’s of which 25 pounder scored a direct hit on one tank and the rest straddled the target area. Claim: 1 tank probably destroyed 1 tank damaged. (29317) (29672) (29678)

18 October 1944: (8 Sorties): Duty: To sweep the entrance of Salonika Bay for the mine layer “Zues” and other possible mine laying vessels 60lb and 25lb R.P.’s was carried on alternate aircraft: Crew: aircraft “U” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton(nav) Immediately the formation crossed the East Coast of Greece a convoy moving at speed of 6 kts was seen off Atheridha point. The convoy consisted of a torpedo boat, or mine layer leading boat, an “E”-boat, an E.M.S Craft, 5 or 6 barges approximately 100 feet long and a trawler type vessel in the rear. Rocket attacks were concentrated on the Torpedo Boat and E.M.S Craft but no hits were claimed – the nearest being 10 feet made a wheels-up lading at Canne due to hydraulic trouble.  Aircraft “E” force-landed in Greece. V.H.S. Contact was maintained with the pilot until 1245 hours he reported that reached 5500 feet and was heading South with one engine U/S. he is believed to have been orbiting in the area until the last report was received, although crews of the other aircraft also orbiting in the area, failed to see him after the attack (See Appendices 15915A.)  After the crash of Lt Stopforth (pilot for Beaufighter “U”) and Lt Keeton(nav) they both went on special leave to the Union, to recuperate. The hydraulic system was shot away during the attack. (29321) They reported back to base in November 1944 (29323). Claims: 1 EMScraft, 1 Torpedo boat, 1 E boat and 1 barge are claimed as damaged. (29318)

Sorties for November 1944 Italy:

02 November 1944: (4 Sorties): Duty: To carry out a shipping sweep on the Gulf of Quanaro and Fiume and the Planinski Channel: Crew: Beaufighter “Z” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav). 4 Beaufighters airborne from Biferno L.G. encountered bad weather which was steadily deteriorating so finished the sweep in position WN 8727 and were forced to return to base after several attempts to penetrate to the target area had failed. (29329/29706)

05 November 1944: (12 Sorties): Duty: To attack enemy fortified positions at the Caserma Ali Ritz barracks: (p.p. QG 320418) at Tirana (Albania): Crew: Beaufighter “Z” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav), (29329)  Aircrafts “W” and “R” both experienced vibration of their port engines and were forced to return soon after take-off. The rest of the formation (9 A/C) went on to attack the target. 56 x 60lb H.E.R.P hits were scored on buildings and 10 near misses Cannon strikes were scored an one Navigator silenced a 20mm A.A. gun with M.G. fire. Photographs show R.P. hits from 1 st Aircraft well concentrated in the target area and a dense column of black smoke rising (appendix 3 and 3A) (29330) (29708)

07 November 1944: (11 Sorties): Duty: To attack enemy held barracks (p.p. G302411) at Tirana (Albania): Crews: Beaufighter “Z” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) (29330): At 1509 hours the target was attacked by all Aircraft with 86 x 60lb H.E.R.P.’s of which 58 scored direct hits on the buildings and 18 were near misses. The whole area was thoroughly sprayed with cannon and M.G. fire. Photographs show hits well concentrated in target area. (See appendix 5 and 5A) (29330/31) (29710)”

23 November 1944: 8 Sorties To attack enemy concentrations in Danilovgral (WM 890790) Crew: Beaufighter”Z” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) At 0155 hours the formation attacked the target re with 64 x 60lb HERP’s and cannon fire. Direct hits were scored on buildings in the town some of which were seen to disintegrate and crumble. Two explosions took place in the centre of the town along the main street. Debris from the first explosion was flung 500 ft into the air (29333) (29719)

 AIR 54-186 NO 16 SQUADRON 1-3

Sorties for December 1944: Italy

16 December 1944: (12 Sorties): Duty: To attack transport on road Bioce (WO.0874)- Natesevo (WV 2998) Yugoslavia where large concentrations were last reported as a result of the withdrawal of 21 Moutain Corps: Crew: Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) (29359): 12 Beaufighters were airborne from Biferno L.G. to attack up to 200 stationery M.T. found facing North at 500 yard intervals on the road North of Klopot between p.p. WN 115780 and 130792. From 1220 to 1250 hours these were attacked with R.P.’s and cannon fire by aircraft operating in sections of 4. A new method was tried the aircraft diving from 8000‘to 6000’ and releasing the rockets in pairs when pulling out of the dive. While this proofed effective from the point of view of flak evasion the results were not as good as those achieved by the normal method of attack. 40 of the R.P.’s scored near misses on the road and cannon strikes on the road were observed. 12 M.T. were seen to be smoking and two on fire but some of these may have been a result of previous raids. (29360) (Appendix 8 and 8A)(29359)(29772)

17 December 1944: (9 Sorties): Duty: To attack C.D.Guns at two points WO 35548 and WO 348524: Crews: Beaufighter“X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) 9 Beaufighters were airborne from Biferno L.G. at 0715 hours. 6 Beufighters were to attack guns at WO 355484. Aircraft”E” had engine trouble and was airborne at 0730 hours but was unable to join the formations over Dugi Island the aircraft experienced electrical failure and was forced to return to base and landed at 0905 hours. The remaining 5 aircraft attacked the target with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s and cannon fire, 28 Hits were scored in the target area. Aircraft “K” was slightly damaged by debris from the target. 3 Beaufighters led by 3 Beaufighters from 19 Squadron attacked a gun position at WO 348524 with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s. Of the R.P.’s carried by 16 Squadron aircraft16 scored hits in the target. (Appendix 9) (29360) (29774)

22 December 1944: (8 Sorties): Duty: To attack an explosive motor-boat base at Lusino Island (Map-Ref WO 357509): Crew: Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth(pilot) Lt Keeton(nav) 8 Beaufighters were airborne from Biferno L.G. at 1125 hours. The target consisted of a ship beached at the stern with camouflage between it and the (29361) shore which was assumed to be a depot for midget submarines and buildings on the shore opposite the ship as barracks used for the crews. The target was attacked at 1230 hours with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s cannon and M.G. fire. Many hits were scored in the target area. Subsequent reports refer to the target as a base for explosive motor boats. (appendix 12 and 12A) (29362)

28 December 1944: (8 Sorties): Duty: To attack Karlovac Marshalling yards (MAP ref RK2058)(Yugoslavia: Crew: Beaufigter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) At 1315 hours the target area was reached but no attack was made as the target was completely obscured by cloud, and the formation returned to base. (29362) (29872)

AIR 54-185 NO 4 16 SQUADRON 2.3(WW2 Diaries)

AIR 54-186 NO 16 SQUADRON 1-3

Sorties for January 1945: Italy

3 January 1945 (12 sorties) : Duty: To attack Karlovac marshalling yards (map ref RK 2058) Yugoslavia : Bueafighter “X” of Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) returned back to base owing to spluttering of the port engine and landed at 1230 hours. (33807)

4 January 1945 (7 sorties): Duty: To attack the German held village of Obcina(Map ref RD 7403) in Yugolavia :  “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav)  9 Beaufighters were airborne from Biferno L.G. At 1212 hrs after R/T contact had been made with the Marauders, who reported that their attack was completed the target was attacked with 60 lb HERP’s machine gun and cannon fire, two buildings were set on fire. (33808/7)

15 January 1945 (10 sorties): Duty: To attack Coastal Defence Guns at Lussino Island (Map Ref: WO343529): Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth(pilot) Lt Keeton(nav) 10 Beaufighters took off from Biferno LG at 1045 hrs to attack Coastal Defense Gun positions at pp WO 343529 in Lusson island. The aircraft were airborne at 1025 hours and set course for the target via Uijan Trstnik Islands. Two Mustangs were unable to make their attack in time and at 1222 hrs. The Beaufighters went in with the R.P. Cannon .303, their run being in NE/SW direction. (33809)

16 January 1945 (7 sorties):Duty : to attack Coastal Defensive guns on Lussino Islands Map ref WC 347524: Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton(nav) The formation were aiborne at 1125hrs from Biferno LG. The main target consisted of Coastal Defence Guns on Lussino Islands and two aircraft detailed by to attack the Power station pp WO 343524, The Guns were attacked, numerous cannon strikes were scored in the area of the Guns. A fire started in the target area with a fierce red flame at first, smoke later rising to 500 ft. 4 R.P. hits were scored on the Power Station and some rockets which overshot fell near a flak point on the heill side (33810)

19 January 1945(8 sorties): Duty:To attack the conveyor belt on the coaling wharf “ in ARSA channel map ref RJ 045035: 8 Beaufighters were airborne from Biferno at 1135 hrs. Beaufightert”E” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) At 1300hrs the target was attacked with cannon and machine gun fire. Intermittent rain and poor visibility combined with the poor visibility combined with the poor position of the target in a deep and narrow valley resulted in poor shooting. No direct hits were claimed. One salvo of 8 RP’s hit the railway and houses in the south of the target were set on fire (33811)

24 January 1945(8 sorties) :Duty:To attack a suspected human torpedo base in Cigale Cove, LUSSINO Island (p.p. W.O. 357493): Beaufighter “U” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) 8 Beaufighters were airborne from Biferno L.G. at 1300hrs. At 1444hrs. the formation attacked the target with cannon and machine gun fire. The aircraft were briefed to attack individual targets with the following results: The first three aircraft attacked a house reported to be used as a mess by the enemy crews. Three direct hits were scored on the house from where black smoke was seen pouring after the attack. One Beaufighter attacked human torpedoes moored against the shore at the end of the Cove. R.P. hits (pilot) were scored amongst three possible boats. 8 R.P. hits were scored near the position and an explosion was caused with smoke rising to 50 ft. One aircraft attacked a possible dump of explosive warheads on the east side of the Cove. 8 R.P. hits were scored on the target area, but results were not observed. A light flak gun in this area was silenced with cannon and machine gun fire. The remaining Beaufighter attacked a dual purpose gun position on the hill at a position of p.p. W.O.355486 but the salvo of R.P.’s undershot. (33813) (photograph taken by Lt Stopforth flying third in the formation shows the results of the attack on the house, it gives an idea of the appearance of the Cove (Photo 33875 and 33876)


Sorties for February 1945 Italy

1 February 1945 (7 Sorties): Duty:to attack an enemy held village of ZUZEMBERK (map ref RD 7293) : Beaufighter “Y” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton )Nav) The 7 Beaufighters were airborne at1225 hrs. 10/10 Sc. Cu was encountered over the NORTHERN  DALMATION Islands. After several attempts to find a break in the clouds, the leader decided at1330 hrs. to return to base (33900)

5 February 1945: (11 sorties): Duty: to attack (1) Marshalling Yards at BANOVA JARUGA and (2) Marshalling Yards at KUTINA in YUGOSLAVIA. Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav). 11 Beaufighters were airborne at 1255 hrs. The formation reached the target area at 1428 hrs. The first four aircraft to attack KUTINA M/Y and the rest BANOVA JARUGA M/Y. These two targets were attacked with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s cannon and machine gun fire. At KUTINA 10 R.P. hits and 8 near misses were scored among 80 stationery wagons and 2 locomotives. Black smoke was seen rising after the attack and one flak position was silenced with cannon fire. 22 R.P. hits and 16 near misses were scored among 40 covered wagons at BANOVA JARUGA, 1 wagon was seen ablaze, but detailed results were not observed. (33902)

9 February 1945 (4 Sorties)3rd operation of the day. To attack enemy landing craft at RAB Island: Beaufighter X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav). At 1 355 hrs. the formation left base to attack the enemy landing craft. The formation was unable to locate the landing craft, but at 1505 hrs. attacked a coaster in a cove at WO 593739 with a 25lb AP AND 60lb H.E.R.P.’s scoring 14 R.P.hits. Later inspection of the photographs revealed that the coaster attacked was a wreck. The Village of RAB was well sprayed with cannon and machine gun fire, but results were not observed. Considerable medium flak was fired from the target area (33904) (33962)

10 February 1945: (7 Sorties) : Duty: To attack the enemy held strongpoint at ZAFARA (map ref RJ 728942) YUGOSLAVIA : Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav). 7 Beaufighters were airborne at 1422 hrs, they attacked the target with 60 lb HERP’s, cannon and machine gun fire, scoring 20 direct hits and 2 near misses on a large building in the village and 8 direct hits on buildings at ZUZEMBERK p.p. RJ 7293. Many cannon strikes were observed on buildings in the target area. Black smoke was seen rising from one of the buildings.

13 February 1945: (8 sorties): Duty: To attack the enemy held strongpoint at ZAFARA (map ref RJ 728942) YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “A” L t Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) Beaufighters set course at 1210 attack the target consisting of a large building and a village. At 1340 hrs the attack was commenced scoring 26 direct hits and 60lb H.E.R.P.’s on the large building and 16 on the village, many cannon strikes were observed. The roof of one building was seen to disintegrate, further detail of damage done were not observed. (33905) (33966)

AIR54-192-1-2 16 sqdr jan-mar1945

Sorties for March 1945 Italy

3 March 1945: (6 Sorties): Duty: To attack gun positions on RAB  Island (p.p. WO 569844)Beaufighter “F” Lt Stopforth(pilot) Lt Keeton (nav). 6 Beaufighters were airborne at 1400 hrs. The aircraft “T” of Lt Stopforth returned to base at 1435hrs. owing to engine trouble.

8 March 1945: (10 Sorties): Duty: To attack two barrack buildings in the village SKOFJA LOKA (map ref RD 239311) in YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “T” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav).  10 Beaufighters were airborne at 1320 hrs. armed with rocket projectiles, 20 mm cannon and machine guns. At 1350 hours, the buildings were attacked. 64 Rocket hits were scored on the buildings. Photographs substantiate the claims that the roofs at least two buildings were severely damaged. Further damage to buildings could not be assessed owing to smoke and debris, but the 8 salvos must have done more damage. When the leading Beaufigther made its attack there was a collection of men in the courtyards who wasted no time in making for cover, but a goodish number of casualties must have resulted from the strafing as well as from the rocket strikes on the buildings in which they sought shelter (34045)

9 March 1945: (7 Sorties): Duty: To attack a castle at BRSLJIN (map ref RJ 888923) in YUGOSLVIA: Beauifghter “Y” lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav).  At 0905 hrs. the formation set course for the target but two hours later at p.p .WO 9585 turned back owing to dense cloud down to zero feet with precipitation and landed at base at 1220A hrs.(34045)

11 March 1945: (11 Sorties): Duty: To attack a castle at BRSLJIN Castle (map ref RJ 888923) in YUGOSLVIA: Beaufighter “P” Lt Stopforth (pilot)Lt Keeton (nav). The formation consisting of 11 Beaufighters set course at 1335A hrs. to attack the Castletle with H.E.R.P.’s. The aircraft “P” of LT Stopforth developed engine trouble and had to return to base at 1405A hrs.

12 March 1945: (11 Sorties): Duty: To attack Barracks at SKOFJA LOKA (map ref RD 239311): Beaufighter “Y” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) The formation was airborne at 1045A hrs. At 1345 hrs one aircraft returned to base owing to engine trouble. The area was raked with cannon and machine gun fire but results were not observed. (34046)

18 March 1945 (8 sorties:Duty : To attack explosive motor boats beaches on LUSSINO Island at pp.WO3152. Beaufighter “T” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav). The aircraft were airborne at 1350
A hrs. Reports had stated that the boats had been  beached and might be concealed in the trees,  accordingly the beach, the trees and small houses in the area were attacked, 26, 8 and 16 RP, hits being scored on the respective targets. An explosion was caused in the trees (34048)

20 March 1945: (10 Sorties): Duty: To attack enemy held village IDRIJA (map ref RD 0112) Beaufighter “T” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton(nav) The formation was airborne at 1025 hrs. At 1055A hrs aircraft “A” landed having had to abandon the operation due to unserviceable V.H.F. 9 Beaufighters scored 53 direct hits on buildings around a square at p.p. RD 0112. A large building was set on fire and the flames were reported by both 19 SAAF and 249 RAF Squadrons which were also operating in the area. A further RP hits were scored in the factory southeast of the town. One aircraft encountered flak from the building southeast of the square and fired his salvo in retaliation but the results were not observed. (34049)

22 March 1945: (8 Sorties): Duty: To attack enemy forces at OZAIJ (RK 1570) and patrol roads in the vicinity: Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) The aircraft operated in two sections of four, with an hour’s interval between attacks. The first four had an uneventful trip, the target was identified and attacked at 1458 hrs.27 R.P. hits were scored on the village but no particular results were observed. No targets were found on the roads. The next section attacked at1552 hrs. The first salvo of rockets 60lb H.E.R.P.) struck at the foot of a large castle-like building and hit something highly inflammable which exploded and burst into flame which spread to the buildings. (34050) Another explosion with fire was caused by subsequent explosions salvos. When flying over the roads the formation was fired on by enemy troops using L.M.G. and three aircraft were holed. Subsequent messages from the field reported that these attacks caused the enemy to withdraw (34051)

24 March 1945: (7 Sorties): Duty: To attack barrack at STOCSRKA (WB 810338): Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) The aircraft attacked in two sections, taking off after an interval of 1 ½ hours, the target being a large building. Partisans awaited the attacks before launching their own assault. The first section attacked at 1156 hrs. scoring 24 R.P. hits on the block particularly at the north-eastern corner. After the attack on the way back to base, the leader’s aircraft had engine trouble and was compelled to land at MOSTAR L.G. No 3 picked the crew up and brought them back to base. The second section of three aircraft attacked at 1305A hrs. and scored a further 21 R.P. hits. In both attacks limited cannon fire was used owing to the close proximity of Partisan forces (34052) (Photographs 34114, 34158, 34159, 34160, 34161, 34162, 34170 Lt Stopforth bottom far left)

26 March 1945 (4 Sorties) Duty: To attack the Marshalling Yards at Nova GRADISCA (SE 645345) Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) The attack followed immediately upon a bombing attack by the Marauders or 39 Squadron RAF and was made 1343 hrs. All 4 aircraft attacked at the same time, approaching from the South East each selecting a particular target in the Marshalling Yards. Flak positions had been pinpointed at briefing and these were heavily strafed with cannon fire. 19 RP hits were scored at the target area, striking two signal boxes, some trucks and probably cutting the line in two places. (34052)

Sorties for April 1945 Italy

1 April 1945: (8 Sorties): Duty: To attack the enemy held village of DVOR (RD 746935) in YUGOSLAVIA Beaufighter “S” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) 8 Beaufighters were briefed to attack the enemy held village. At 1225A hrs the aircraft armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s cannon and machine guns made their attack. The first section of four aircraft attacked what has been identified as the village of RACNA at RD 5402. They scored 24 hits on the village which resulted in one fire. The second section attacked DVOR and obtained 32 R.P. hits on buildings around the church, but results were not observed. Both sections used very little .303 M.G. or cannon fire. (34206)

3 April 1945: (12 Sorties): Duty: To attack enemy held villages in YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “S” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) At 1310B hrs. 12 Beaufighters were airborne from Biferno L.G. armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s cannon and .303 M.G.’s to attack enemy held villages in YUGOSLAVIA. The first 6 aircraft attacked Sardinja VAS (RD 7494). 39 Direct rocket hits were scored on the village, and it was well raked with cannon and machine gun fire. Three fires were left burning when the aircraft left the target area. Two aircraft attacked DVOR (RD 746913), first making two runs with cannon fire then on the third run, 12 rocket hits were obtained on a house East of the church resulting in one fire. The remaining 4 aircraft attacked VINKOV VRH (RD 7591) scoring 20 direct hits with their rockets, and using cannon. Several fires were caused by this attack. The last aircraft in the formation found the village obscured by smoke and attacked a large building at RD 750912, causing a fierce blaze (34216,34217) (Attack Photographs: 34218, 34219, 34220)

5 April 1945: ( 4 Sorties): Duty: To attack enemy a mansion at CERNIC  (SF 645380) in YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “A” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) 4 Beaufighters were armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s cannon and .303 MG.’s were airborne from BIFERNO L.G. at 0650B hrs. to attack enemy H.Q. in a mansion in CERNIC  (SF 645380) in YUGOSLAVIA. At 0820B hrs. the target was attacked ,32 direct rocket hits being scored on a large building as SF 645380 and as a result of which smoke and debris were seen. Only a small quantity of cannon was used on the target. (34223) (Attack photographs 34226, 34227)

7 Apri 1945: (8 Sorties): Duty: To attack the enemy held village of GOTTEDRASIZZA (RD 1104) in YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “W” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) .8 Aircraft armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s attacked the enemy held village. 56 R.P. hits were obtained on the village, 3 fires being caused. The village was well sprayed with cannon and machine gun fire. (34239)

9 April 1945: (9 Sorties): Duty: To attack BACCACIA DI MODERA (RC 820283) and IDRIA DELLA BACCIA (RC 831275): 9 Aircraft carrying 60lb H.E.R.P.’s were airborne from BIFERNO L.G. at 0905B hrs. to attack the two enemy held towns, the targets were reached at 1054B hrs. A section of 5 aircraft scored 38 direct hits and two near misses on houses at BACCACIA DI MODERA. Smoke and debris were seen, otherwise results were not observed. The target was well sprayed with cannon and machine gun fire. The other section of four aircraft had to make a high level attack on IDRIA DELLA BACCIA owing to the mountainous nature of the surrounding ground. Troops were seen running into buildings in the Southern part of the village, 22 direct hits and 8 near misses were scored on buildings, 6 rockets were seen to bust inside a Church, but not much exterior damage was visible. A house was set on fire on the North West corner of the village, and smoke arose from other houses. The village was raked with cannon and machine gun fire. (34252)

12 April 1945: (10 Sorties): Duty: To attack the town of POSTUMIA (RJ 166873) and to attack barracks at RJ 165871 in YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “Y” Lt Stopforth (pilot) L Keeton (nav) 10 Beaufighters were carrying 60lb H.E.R.P.’s were airborne from BIFERNO 1400B hrs. 4 To attack POSTUMIA and 6 to attack barracks at RJ 165871. At 1532B hrs. the target was attacked. The four aircraft attacking POSTUMIA (RJ 166873) scored 28 direct hits on a Church and large building in the vicinity as a result of which the Church and a nearby house were burning well when the aircraft left the target area. Buildings at RJ 133825 were attacked in error by the second section, 43 direct hits being scored with rockets. Results were not observed. Both targets were liberally sprayed with cannon and machine gun fire (34272)

17 April 1945: (12 Sorties): Duty: To attack barracks at POSTUMIA (RJ 165871): Beaufighter “F” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav ) 12 Beaufighters were airborne from BIFERNO L.G. at 1125B hrs. to attack Barracks at POSTUMIA(RJ 165871). The aircraft were armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s, 20mm cannon and .303 machine guns. At 1301B hrs. the target was attacked. 86 Rocket hits were scored in the target area (RJ 165871) the whole area being covered in smoke. The area was also raked with cannon and machine gun fire. Results were not observed. (34288) (Attack Photographs 34290, 34291)

21 April 1945: (9 Sorties): Duty: To attack IDRIA (RD 020125) and DOLOTTELZA RC 925046) enemy held villages in YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) .7 Beaufighters escorted by 2 Mustangs from 213 Squadron were airborne from BIFERNO L.G. 1025 hrs 7 aircraft to attack IDRIA (RD 020125) and two to attack DOLOTTELZA (RC 925046) enemy held villages in YUGOSLAVIA. The aircraft were armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s. 20mm cannon an .303 MG. The first section reached IDRIA at 1140 hrs. and scored 48 direct hits on the village which was also well straddled with cannon and machine gun fire. Many of the houses were severely damaged, and an explosion with a large fire resulted in the centre of the village. DOLOTTELZA was attacked at 1145B hrs, 10 direct hits being scored on two houses which are claimed as destroyed. One person was killed by cannon fire. This target was also well sprayed with cannon and machine gun fire (34315)

23 April 1945: (14 Sorties): Duty: To attack two targets IDRIA (RD 07) and ZOLLA (RH 100100) enemy held villages in YUGOSLAVIA: Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) 14 Beaufighters armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s, 20mm cannon and.303 MG. were airborne from BIFERNO L.G.1410B hrs. to attack the two targets, enemy held villages in YUGOSLAVIA. Two Mustangs operated in the same area as distant fighter escort. At 1630B hrs. IDRIA was attacked by the first 8 aircraft, 64 direct hits were scored on the village as a result of which a small explosion took place on the East side of the village, and a fire as seen blazing in the area about the mine. The entire village was covered in smoke which rose to 3000 feet. The remaining 6 aircraft attacked ZOLLO at 1629 hrs, 30 direct hits and 8 near misses being scored on houses in the village. Smoke to 2500 feet was seen rising from the target, but further results were not observed. (34320)

30 April 1945: (12 Sorties): Duty: To attack enemy assembly at RADOVIJIC (RD 142508) and G STRAZA (RJ 8288): Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Lt Keeton (nav) 12 Beaufighters armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s, 20mm cannons and.303 MG. were airborne from BIFERNO L.G, 8 to attack enemy assembly at RADOVIJIC (RD 142508) and 4 to attack G STRAZA (RJ 8288). At p.p. RH 9599 the first section encountered 10/10 Cu and str Cu with base 2000 feet, and was forced to turn back at. The second section encountered similar weather conditions and turned back RJ 9275 (lt Keeton ‘s last sortie as navigator to Lt Stopforth, to return to the Union of South Africa) (34341)

Sorties for May 1945 Italy

4 May 1945: (6 Sorties): Duty: To attack an ammo dump and barracks at SKOFJA LOCA (RD  233305): Beaufighter “X” Lt Stopforth (pilot) Capt Cohen (nav). 6 Beaufighters armed with 60lb H.E.R.P.’s, 20mm cannon and .303 MG ‘s 25 and 60lb R.P.’s were airborne from BIFERNO L.G. to attack both targets 3 aircraft to each target. At 1202 hrs. the target was attacked 10 25lb A.P. R.P. hits being scored on the ammo dump which appeared to be deserted. 200 Cannon shells and a limited number of .303 were fired into the target but no results were observed. The barracks at RD 234306 were straddled with 26 60lb HERP’s, smoke and debris being observed. The barracks at RD 234306 were straddled with 26 60lb, cannon, rockets and machine gun fire. (34383, Photographs of 16 Squadron 34392, 34393)

 AIR 54-192-1-2/2-2 16 SQDR(WW2 Diaries)

16 Squadron : Lt Stopforth sitting 5th from the right. 

Photo from the book “ Path of duty” ( with permission from the author)

  1. Whilst in the UK , Stoppie Stopforth visited Shetland to see the wild Shetland ponies, resting his feet for a few moments. 

  1. Stoppie and Raais Hermitage on their wedding day. 

Lt and Mrs Stopforth

Aerial attack

Aerial attack

Aerial attack

Aerial attack

Aerial attack

  1. 16 Squadron-Lt Stopforth sitting first from left

Lt Stopforth recuperating at his parents home after his Beaufighter was damaged during a sortie, the plane crashed in Cannes in France 18 th of October 1944. On the photo with his sister you can see he was very thin and emaciated. He never spoke about it. 


  1. I Lt Stopforth left, his co-Pilot Lt Buster Keeton on the right,during WW 2. Buster was Stoppie’s Best man when Stoppie got married. 

  1. Lt Stopforth and his cousin, person on the left. 

  1. A group photo of all the pupil pilots, Lt Stopforth siting first from left. 

  1. Capt. Stopforth (then) and a colleague while in the UK, Vampire training in 1957. 

  1. Vampires over Cape Town (Lt Stopforth part of the team that trained in the UK and piloted the new aircraft to the Union of South Africa in 1957

  1. One of Stoppie’s aerial attack photos used in a museum in Slovenia (Idrija), Mr. Tinus le Roux visited this museum and send me a photo of the display. 

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