Halifax L9508 (02/09/1941)

Halifax L9508 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 2nd / 3rd September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • R James (Pilot)
  • SR Arthur (2nd Pilot)
  • HS Oldman (Observer)
  • RG Mullally (WOP / Air Gunner)
  • JK Young (WOP / Air Gunner)
  • TE Allanson (Air Gunner)
  • ARP Mills (Flight Engineer)

The route was Base, Flamborough, Meldorf, Neumunster, Target, Neumunster, Meldorf, Flamborough, Base

L9508 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Except for the call-sign received from eighty miles north of the target going in, this aircraft was not heard of again and is now officially reported Missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 3rd September 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 2nd / 3rd September 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. 114 (Flight 05/03/1942) reported R James and JK Young “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 sent 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:

  • 06/10/1941: News received from International Red Cross Society through Air Ministry that all the members of FO James crew, missing on operations 3rd September 1941, are prisoners of war except Sgt Young who was killed. No mention was made of FO James.
  • 19/10/1941: News received through International Red Cross Society quoting German sources states that FO James, missing on operations 3rd September 1941, was killed near Berlin.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

SR Arthur, HS Oldman, RG Mullally, TE Allanson and ARP Mills survived the crash and were captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Their POW Liberation Questionnaires, which were completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre, RAF Cosford, in 1945, show the following details:

  • SR Arthur
    • Captured: 17 miles NW Berlin (03/09/1941)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to May-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to Oct-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Oct-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Repatriated: Apr-45
  • HS Oldman
    • Captured: Berlin (03/09/1941)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to May-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Jun-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Jun-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Jul-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: Apr-45
  • RG Mullally
    • Captured: Berlin Area (03/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to May-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Jun-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Jun-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Aug-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • TE Allanson
    • Captured: Berlin (02/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to Apr-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to Oct-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Nov-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Repatriated: Apr-45
  • ARP Mills
    • Captured: Berlin (03/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to Jun-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Jun-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to Oct-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Nov-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Repatriated: May-45

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 show that the remains of R James and JK Young were located at Bernau New Cemetery

l9508-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY on 23rd November 1946 as follows:

  • JAMES, ROSS, Flying Officer, ‘42062’,  Joint grave 4. J. 18-19.
  • YOUNG, JOHN KENNETH, Sergeant, ‘947403’, Joint grave 4. J. 18-19.

 

 


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Dr Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Hit by Flakgruppe Berlin-Nord, Crashed between Basdorf and Zühlsdorf (Brandenburg, Germany), time unknown

From the memoirs of SR Arthur [Courtesy of Elaine James]

“We came out of Berlin on a course of about 320 degrees and the searchlights and anti-aircraft were absolutely continuous. They were accurate and about eight miles north-west of Berlin we were hit on the inner port engine which caught fire at about 18,000 feet. We did all necessary to try and starve the fuel to that engine, feathered it and it didn’t go out, so the Captain said: ‘Abandon aircraft’. The crew jumped through very heavy flak and one of them was killed by anti-aircraft fire. With the crew out, the Skipper and I sat up in the cockpit. He then threw the aeroplane into a steep-angled dive in an attempt to blow it out, the theory being that if the engine was being starved of fuel maybe we could put it out. We ended up at 3,000 feet and levelled off and it was still burning. He told me to jump and I declined. One doesn’t normally use the word that I did but it was obvious that he was going to try to get the aeroplane home and I had the same idea. But we were a flying bomb. We had the full fuel load and the engine on fire. We resumed course for home and I had the hood open, we’d opened the hatch. My Captain had his parachute on and I had mine on and it was obvious that the aeroplane was going to blow up. He promised he would jump with me. As I jumped the aircraft blew up and I was just below it and bits fell past. It really was a bit frightening. I landed in what turned out to be Goebbel’s estate, north-west of Berlin, in a large wood. I was unhurt, I had no idea where I was but pulled the parachute in and sort of settled down for the night. I’d hurt my ankle. But the Germans were pretty quick off the mark and they had motor cycles and sidecars – with guns in the sidecars – combing the woods to find us. I was caught the following morning trying to steal a bottle of milk: I headed for the nearest sound of a cock crowing and went to a farm but I was caught”

Crew Information

The following link provides information on R James’ operational sorties as Captain of a No. 35 Squadron aircraft and the composition of his crew on these sorties: