On 21st April 1942, 115 Officers, NCOs and airmen ground personnel took leave for RAF Station Kinloss, which was to be used as an advance base for an attack on the Battleship “Tirpitz”.
On 22nd April, eleven aircraft and crews followed them up to Kinloss including Halifax W1020 which was crewed as follows:
- Michael Reginald Mark Pooles (Pilot)
- Gerard John Peter Henry (Observer)
- Allan Wilstrop (WOP / AG)
- Donald Edgar Rarity (WOP / AG)
- Frank William Gosnell Hill (Air Gunner)
- Hubert Allan Booth (Flight Engineer)
On the night of 27th / 28th April 1942 it was one of eleven aircraft which took part in a raid on the battleship which was moored in Fættenfjord, Norway.
W1020 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows ” Took off from Kinloss at time stated, Tirpitz being the target. Nothing heard since take off”.
Wartime activities relating to the loss
On 28th April 1942 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 27th / 28th April 1942”.
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. 144 (Flight 06/08/1942) reported MRM Pooles, GJP Henry, DE Rarity, A Wilstrop, FWG Hill and HA Booth as “missing”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 224 (Flight 29/04/1943) reported MRM Pooles, GJP Henry, DE Rarity, A Wilstrop, FWG Hill and HA Booth “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
Note: Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings could then be sent to 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:
- 10/07/1942: An Air Ministry signal reports the F/L Pooles and his crew in W1020, lost on 27th / 28th April were all killed
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 all the crew members were located, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at TRONDHEIM (STAVNE) CEMETERY as follows:
- POOLES, MICHAEL REGINALD MARK Flight Lieutenant ‘68736’ Grave A IV British. J. 11.
- HENRY, GERARD JOHN PETER Pilot Officer ‘48086’ Grave A IV British. J. 7.
- RARITY, DONALD EDGAR Sergeant ‘950595’ Grave A IV British. J. 9.
- WILSTROP, ALLAN Sergeant ‘1054130’ Grave A IV British. J. 12.
- HILL, FRANK WILLIAM GOSNELL Pilot Officer ‘120706’ Grave A IV British. J. 14.
- BOOTH, HUBERT ALLAN Sergeant ‘519995’ Grave A IV British. J. 13.
[Courtesy of Linzee Duncan]
Location of Loss
Borås, Skjekstadmark, Norway
[Source: archieraf (Original Photo by T Eggan)]
Note: Memorial is for the crew of Halifax W1020 and Lancaster L7572 from 97 Squadron