Halifax L9499 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Kiel on the 30th June 1941 (daylight raid)
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Thomas Douglas Inglis Robison (Pilot)
- Laurence Hancock (2nd Pilot)
- Ernest Joseph Harding (Observer)
- Alexander James Davie (WOP / AG)
- Richard Norman Hares (Air Gunner)
- Robert Dunn (Air Gunner)
- Percy Ingham (Flight Engineer)
L9499 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “It is reported that it delivered its attack from 18,000ft and on turning off the target was attacked by enemy fighters. It was seen to go down in a glide and had shot down one of the enemy but did not re-appear”
Wartime activity relating to the loss
On 30th June 1941 the squadron informed Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that the aircraft and crew were missing.
A telegram, along with a follow up letter from the Commanding Officer, was sent to the next of kin of each crew member advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations on 30th June 1941”.
The crew’s kit and personal belongings were removed from their lockers and catalogued; kit was returned to stores and personal belongings sent to the RAF Central Depository at RAF Colnbrook.
The Air Ministry Casualty Branch, which was responsible for investigating, monitoring and reporting on the status of missing aircraft and airmen, subsequently published the following information regarding the crew:
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 76 (Flight 14/08/1941) reported TDI Robison, L Hancock, AJ Davie, RN Hares, R Dunn and P Ingham as “missing, believed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 113 (Flight 05/03/1942) reported TDI Robison, L Hancock, AJ Davie, RN Hares, R Dunn and P Ingham previously reported “missing, believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”
Note: Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings could then be returned to the next of kin, along with any monies due.
No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:
- 11/07/1941: Signal received from Air Ministry forwarding notification by International Red Cross that all members of F/L Robisons’ crew, missing on the daylight raid on Kiel on 30th June 1941, had all been killed except Sgt Harding (Observer) who was slightly wounded and is a prisoner of war
Crew member(s) who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned
EJ Harding survived the crash and was captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
His POW Liberation Questionnaire, which was completed as part of the repatriation process shows:
- Captured: “Near Tonder” believed to be near Tonning 30/06/1941
- Imprisoned: Stalag IX-C, Bad Sulza Jul-41 to May-42
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Jun-43
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Jun-43 to Jul-44 (Evacuated)
- Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Aug-44
- Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 to Apr-45 (Evacuated)
- Repatriated: May-45
German Capture Report [Source P4 Casualty File]
Post War search for the missing crew members
After the war, an investigation officer from the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was tasked with locating the remains of the missing crew member(s).
Original German documents, burial records and eye witness accounts were utilised to establish the location of the crash site, the cause of the loss and the initial fate of the crew; information was recorded in a MRES Investigation Report.
As part of the process, any remains that were located were exhumed, identified (wherever possible) and concentrated (reinterred) at one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Cemeteries in the country that they fell, in accordance with Government policy at the time.
Graves were marked with a simple wooden cross, which was replaced by the familiar CWGC headstone during the 1950’s.
Missing airmen who could not be found, or formally identified, had their names commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, which was unveiled in 1953.
CWGC records do not show where the remains of TDI Robison, L Hancock, AJ Davie, RN Hares, R Dunn and P Ingham were located, but the MRES Report shows Welt Cemetery, Eiderstedt (Row 42).
Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at KIEL WAR CEMETERY on 20th August 1947 as follows:
- DUNN, ROBERT Sergeant ‘1109715’ Grave 4. C. 14.
- INGHAM, PERCY Sergeant ‘526092’ Grave 4. C. 15.
- HARES, RICHARD NORMAN Sergeant ‘1113461’ Grave 4. C. 16
- DAVIE, ALEXANDER JAMES Flight Sergeant ‘620056’ Grave 4. C. 17.
- HANCOCK, LAURENCE Sergeant ‘977649’ Grave 4. C. 18.
- ROBISON, THOMAS DOUGLAS INGLIS Flight Lieutenant ‘42768’ Grave 4. C. 19.
Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd War Diaries)
Nightfighter Claim: Oberleutnant Walter Fenske, 3./NJG1, 3km S Garding (Schleswig-Holsten, Germany), 13.20
P4 Casualty Branch File
The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:
AIR 81/7283 Flight Lieutenant T D I Robison, Sergeant L Hancock, Flight Sergeant A J Davie, Sergeant R N Hares, Sergeant R Dunn, Sergeant P Ingham: killed; Sergeant E J Harding: prisoner of war; aircraft shot down and crashed at Welt, Germany, Halifax L9499, 35 Squadron, 30 June 1941. With photographs.
The following extracts are from the file
- The aircraft left Linton at 10.05hrs on 30th June 1941 in a daylight formation attack on Kiel. The sub-formation which this aircraft was leading attacked the target at approximately 13.15hrs, all aircraft taking avoiding action from AA fire. Halifax L9499 was then seen to dive away from the target and was immediately attacked by enemy fighters, one of which was seen to be shot down.
- According to Otto Andresen, former Customs Official, the aircraft, a Halifax, was intercepted and shot down by an ME111 whilst returning from a daylight raid on Kiel, approximately 13.25hrs on 30th June 1941. The aircraft burst into flames mid-air after being hit and continued to burn after crashing (at Welt, Garding, District of Eiderstedt). Otto Andresen conversed with the only surviving member, the navigator named Harding who told him that the aircraft was one of twelve engaged on a raid on Kiel that day. Harding had baled out through the bomb bays.