Halifax L9566 (10/09/1941)

Halifax L9566 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Turin on the night of the 10th / 11th September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Gerald Standish Williams (Pilot)
  • Alexander Osborne (2nd Pilot)
  • James Oliver Hedley (Observer)
  • Charles Frederic Seymour Ryder (WOP / AG)
  • Ernest H Jackson (WOP / AG)
  • Alexander Urquhart (Air Gunner)
  • John Edmond Murrell (Flight Engineer)

L9566 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Task completed message was received shortly after 01.00hrs then at about 05.25hrs SOS received. Fix showed aircraft off track near St Marlo. QDMs were given. At approximately 06.00hrs signalled “30 minutes petrol left” but should have been near English Coast. “We are going out to sea if we follow QDMs” was received from aircraft at 06.15hrs. Radio location plot placed an aircraft then at twenty five miles north of Le Havre. This aircraft was not heard of again and did not return, presumably mistaking the Cherbourg peninsular for the coast of Kent and turning, actually, back to France”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 11th 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 10th / 11th 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.

For the remainder of the war, the Air Ministry Casualty Branch utilised information obtained from radio intercepts and from the German Authorities and prisoners of war (which was supplied via the International Red Cross) to establish whether lost crew had been killed, wounded, imprisoned or were “missing”; the squadron and the relevant families were kept informed.

No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:

  • 16/10/1941: Information received through International Red Cross Society quoting Berlin states that F/O GS Williams and all members of his crew missing on operations on 11th September 1941 are all safe and prisoners of war in Germany

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

All crew members 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:

  • JE Murrell
    • Captured: Cherbourg 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
  • GS Williams
    • Captured: Near Barfleur, France (11/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag XC, Lubeck Sep-41 to Oct-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag VIB, Warburg Oct-41 to Sep-42 [Escaped]
    • Imprisoned: Oflag XXI-B, Schubin (Poland) Sep-42 to Apr-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-43 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Marlag und Milag Nord, Westertimke Feb-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • A Osborne (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • JO Hedley (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Not known
    • Repatriated:
  • CSF Ryder (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Not Known
    • Repatriated:
  • EH Jackson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • A Urquhart (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

P4 Casualty Branch File

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/8990 Flying Officer G S Williams, Sergeant A Osborne, Pilot Officer J O Hedley, Sergeant E M Jackson, Sergeant C F S Ryder, Sergeant A Urquhart, Sergeant J E Murrell: prisoners of war; aircraft force landed near Valognes, France, during return from operational flight over Turin, Italy, Halifax L9566, 35 Squadron, 11 September 1941. With photographs.