Halifax L9506 was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hanover on the night of the 15th / 16th June 1941.
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- James Whiteford Murray (Pilot)
- David Scott Shearman Wilkerson (2nd Pilot)
- Thomas Reginald Nixon (Observer)
- Douglas James Mennie (WOP / AG)
- Ernest William Constable (WOP / AG)
- Luther Martin (Air Gunner)
- J Colgan (Flight Engineer)
The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Aircraft was attacked by one or possibly two He113 and was badly damaged by cannon fire. The starboard outer engine was hit and stopped and the controls were shot through and partially jammed. The rear gunner (L Martin) sustained injuries as a result of the encounter but continued his fire and caused the enemy to break off its attacks. The aircraft returned to Bircham Newton where it made a crash landing”
AM Form 78
The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as FB/E and it was struck off charge on 16th June 1941
P.4 (Cas). Casualty Branch File
The following Casualty file is held at the National Archives:
AIR 81/6934 Sergeant L Martin: injured; Pilot Officer D S S Wilkerson, Sergeant T R Nixon, Sergeant J Constable, Sergeant D J Mennie, Sergeant J Colgan: uninjured; crash landing due to enemy action, Halifax L9506, 35 Squadron, 16 June 1941.
L Martin returned to the squadron and was operational by 25th July 1941.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal [London Gazette Date: 15/07/1941]. The citation reads “One night in June, 1941 Flying Officer Murray and Sergeant Martin were the captain and rear gunner respectively of an aircraft detailed to carry out a bombing mission over Hanover. On the outward journey, the aircraft was suddenly engaged by an enemy fighter, which opened fire with cannon and machine guns causing severe damage to the aircraft and the rear gun turret. Nevertheless Sergeant Martin, who was wounded in the head and arm, continued to engage the enemy finally causing him to break off the attack. The aircraft was last observed diving steeply away. With great skill, Flying Officer Murray flew his severely damaged aircraft back to this country, after dropping his bombs on an enemy objective, making a successful landing at an aerodrome without injury to the crew. Flying Officer Murray displayed great airmanship, while Sergeant Martin showed great fortitude in very difficult circumstances”
Note: The citation also applies to the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to JW Murray
Halifax L9506 at West Raynham on 6th June 1941 (IWM H10315)
- It is likely that the He113 quoted in the ORB were identified based on German propaganda photographs, newspaper articles and aircraft profiles, as the aircraft did not actually exist. It is understood that the propaganda photographs actually showed a small number of He100 at various locations and with differing markings to suggest that the fictitious He113 (supposedly an improved version of the He100) was in full production. It is likely therefore that the aircraft that carried out the attack were Bf109