Halifax W1047 (05/10/1942)

Halifax W1047 was one of twelve No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Aachen on the night of the 5th / 6th October 1942.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Jack Gordon Kerry (Pilot)
  • Horace Johnson (Navigator)
  • Walter Chester (Air Bomber)
  • William Gorman (WOP / AG)
  • Peter Richard Parsons (Air Gunner)
  • Royston Denis William Carrington (Air Gunner)
  • Wilfred Thomas Palmer (Flight Engineer)

W1047 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Took off with a load of 15 x 250lb incendiaries after which nothing further was heard from the aircraft”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 6th October 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 5th / 6th October 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. 192 (Flight 21/01/1943) reported JG Kerry, H Johnson, W Chester, W Gorman, RDW Carrington, PR Parsons and WT Palmer as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 255 (Flight 15/07/1943) reported JG Kerry, H Johnson, W Chester, W Gorman, RDW Carrington, PR Parsons and WT Palmer “previously reported as missing” 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:

  • 09/01/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that the following aircrew, missing on 5th / 6th October 1942, were killed: S/L Kerry, P/O Johnson, F/L Carrington, Sgt Chester, Sgt Gorman, Sgt Parsons and Sgt Palmer

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 do not show where the remains of JG Kerry, H Johnson, W Chester, W Gorman, RDW Carrington, PR Parsons and WT Palmer were located but show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at LILLE SOUTHERN CEMETERY as follows:

  • CARRINGTON, ROYSTON DENIS WILLIAM, Flight Lieutenant ‘124265’  Plot 5. Row A. Grave 14.
  • CHESTER, WALTER, Sergeant ‘1206770’ Plot 5. Row A. Grave 20.
  • GORMAN, WILLIAM, Sergeant ‘1120631’ Plot 5. Row A. Grave 17.
  • JOHNSON, HORACE, Pilot Officer ‘120391’ Plot 5. Row A. Joint grave 18-19.
  • KERRY, JACK GORDON, Squadron Leader ‘84325’ Plot 5 Row A. Joint grave 18-19.
  • PALMER, WILFRED THOMAS, Flight Sergeant ‘526543’ Plot 5 Row A Grave 16.
  • PARSONS, PETER RICHARD, Sergeant ‘1312836’ Plot 5 Row A. Grave 15.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Collision with a Nightfighter: Ofw. Gerhard Jecke, 2/NJG4, Charleroi (7A) (France), 4200m, 22.30 


Notes: 

  1. The Halifax crashed whilst trying to force land at Marquillies, near Lille
  2. Jecke’s crew member Uffz. Oswin Mehnert baled out but Jecke was killed when his plane crashed at Gilly, Charleroi after the collision.