Halifax W1049 (08/06/1942)

Halifax W1049 was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Essen on the night of the 8th / 9th June 1942.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Norman Wallis MacKenzie (Pilot)
  • Herbert Henry Sandford (Observer)
  • Jonathan Raymond Field (Air Bomber)
  • Leslie Smith (WOP / AG)
  • Leslie Ledger (Air Gunner)
  • [-] Richmond (WOP / AG)
  • John Griffin Davis (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Took off from Linton for Essen; this aircraft was hit over the target and landed in sea but all the crew were picked up and reached Yarmouth at 13.05 safe.


No. 279 Squadron Operations Record Book

Three aircraft on search. Message intercepted from Hudson R giving sighting report of dinghy. Proceeded to position given. Located dinghy and circled with three aircraft of second formation. Second three aircraft on same search. Observer of Hudson R (P/O Boxall) sighted yellow dinghy with six or seven occupants. Lindholme opened successfully but occupants of dinghy made no attempt to secure it properly because of choppy sea. Six aircraft circled dinghy three of which returned to base. Two rescue launches arrived and picked up survivors and took them to Yarmouth. Photographs taken.

Halifax W1049 [IWM C.26179]
Oblique aerial photograph taken from a Lockheed Hudson of No. 279 Squadron RAF showing High Speed Launch HSL 130 from Yarmouth, rescuing the crew of a Handley Page Halifax from their dinghy in the English Channel. They had been forced to ditch after their aircraft incurred damage from anti-aircraft fire while raiding Essen, Germany.  [Source: © IWM (C 2617)]

Citation for award of DFM to L Smith (Wireless Operator)

This wireless operator has participated in many attacks on enemy and enemy occupied territory. One night his aircraft was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire and forced into the sea 50 miles off the English coast. It was due to the excellent wireless assistance given by this airman that the crew were rescued after only eight hours in the dinghy.