Halifax L9503 (15/09/1941)

Halifax L9503 was one of four No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hamburg on the night of the 15th / 16th September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Harold Stanley Brown (Pilot)
  • John Henry Barrett (2nd Pilot)
  • John Anthony Arnsby (Observer)
  • Henry Edward Greene (WOP / AG)
  • Ronald C Shaw (WOP / AG)
  • Sidney Thomas Fisher (Air Gunner)
  • James William Hays (Flight Engineer)

L9503 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Nothing more was heard of from this aircraft which is now officially reported Missing”

HalifaxL9503 at Northolt (IWM CH17539)

Halifax L9503 at Northolt [© IWM CH17539]

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 16th 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 15th / 16th 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. 91 (Flight 27/11/1941) reported HS Brown as “missing, believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 123 (Flight 09/04/1942) reported HS Brown “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:

  •  19/10/1941: Information received through the International Red Cross Society quoting German information states that P/O HS Brown, captain of the aircraft missing on operations 16/09/1941 was killed but that the remainder of the crew are all safe and prisoners of war.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

JH Barrett, JA Arnsby, HE Greene, RC Shaw, ST Fisher and JW Hays 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:

  • JH Barrett (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag X-C, Stalag Luft III
    • Repatriated:
  • JA Arnsby (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • HE Greene (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • RC Shaw (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • ST Fisher (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • JW Hays (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:

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 Runnymede Memorial, which was unveiled in 1953.

CWGC records show that the remains of HS Brown were located at Kiel Garrison Cemetery.

L9503 Concentration

His remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at KIEL WAR CEMETERY on 20th May 1947 as follows:

  • BROWN, HAROLD STANLEY, Pilot Officer ‘108027’  Grave 3. J. 6.
Brown H S (findagrave)

[Source: FindaGrave]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Coned by searchlights of M.Flak.Abt 251 for 17mins, hit by flak of M.Flak.Abt 211, 221, 231 and 251; crashed near Revensdorf at 23.37

spurensuchesh.de/revensdorf

  • Cause of Loss: Flak (Tuttendorf Battery)
  • Location of Loss: Revensdorf (Schleswig-Holstein), Germany