Halifax W1048 (27/04/1942)

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 W1048 which was crewed as follows:

  • Donald Philip MacIntyre (Pilot)
  • Ian Hewitt (Observer)
  • David Lionel Perry (WOP / AG)
  • Joseph Pierre Gaston Blanchet (WOP / AG)
  • Ronald Horace David Wilson (Air Gunner)
  • Victor Charles Stevens (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.

W1048 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:

  • None found during research of this aircraft

Crew members who survived the crash and evaded capture

DP MacIntyre, I Hewitt, AL Perry, JPG Blanchet and RHD Wilson survived the crash and evaded capture.

  • DP MacIntyre
    • Evasion Route: Norway / Sweden Apr-42 to May-42
    • Held: Sweden May-42 to Jun-42
    • Repatriated: Leuchars 14/06/1942 (Prisoner Exchange)
  • I Hewitt
    • Evasion Route: Norway / Sweden Apr-42 to May-42
    • Held: Sweden May-42 to Jun-42
    • Repatriated: Leuchars 14/06/1942 (Prisoner Exchange)
  • DL Perry
    • Evasion Route: Norway / Sweden Apr-42 to May-42
    • Held: Sweden May-42 to Apr-43
    • Repatriated: Leuchars 03/04/1943
  • JPG Blanchet
    • Evasion Route: Norway / Sweden Apr-42 to May-42
    • Held: Sweden May-42 to Apr-43
    • Repatriated: Leuchars (09/04/1943)
  • RHD Wilson
    • Evasion Route: Norway / Sweden Apr-42 to May-42
    • Held: Sweden May-42 to Apr-43
    • Repatriated: Leuchars (09/04/1943)

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

VC Stephens survived the crash and was captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

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

  • Captured: Trondheim 27/04/1942 (Broken Foot)
  • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt May-42
  • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Aug-43
  • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Aug-43 to Jul-44
  • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Sep-44
  • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Sep-44 to Apr-45
  • Repatriated: May-45

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Bomber Command Loss Card

Hit by flak and ditched Lake Hoklingen, Norway

DFC Citation for DP MacIntyre and I Hewitt

One night in April 1942, F/O MacIntyre and P/O Hewitt were captain and navigator respectively of an aircraft detailed to carry out a low level attack on the German naval base at Trondheim. The target was located and, in the face of intense opposition from the enemy’s ground defences, the attack was pressed home with great coolness and determination from a low level. During this operation the aircraft was hit. The outer portion of the wing caught fire, and the fuselage and cockpit were filled with smoke. Soon the aircraft was well alight, and as it became uncontrollable F/O MacIntyre decided to descend on to a lake, to which he was directed by P/O Hewitt. This he achieved by a feat of superb airmanship. The crew then manned their dinghy and made their way to the side of the lake. After a perilous journey, and suffering great hardships, F/O MacIntyre and his crew eventually reached England. The greatest credit is due to both these officers for their calm efficiency and courageous devotion to duty.

Evasion Report Numbers (National Archives)

  • WO208/3309/746 DP MacIntyre
  • WO2O8/3309/747 I Hewitt
  • WO208/3312/1133 DL Perry
  • WO208/3312/1153 PG Blanchet
  • WO208/3312/1152 RHD Wilson

Extract from Blanchet and Wilson’s Evasion Report

Our craft was hit by light flak over Trondheim while we were bombing the Tirpitz and we crashed on a lake about 0050 hours, 28 April 1942. The other members of the crew were:

  • P/O MacIntyre (S/P.G. -746)
  • P/O Hewitt (S/P.G. – 747)
  • Sergeant Perry (S/P.G. – 1132)
  • Sergeant Stevens (left injured in Norway).

The whole crew continued together after landing, as described in P/O MacIntyre’s and P/O Hewitt’s report. P/O McIntyre, our captain, decided about 1800 hours that we should split up into two groups. He went with F/O Hewitt and Sergeant Perry, and we went with Sergeant Stevens who had broken the arch of his foot in landing. We were near Levanger when we split.

After leaving the others, our party continued walking across country. We had many fences to climb, and Sergeant Stevens fainted several times. His foot was badly swollen and a bone was sticking out. Eventually, on 29 April, we left Sergeant Stevens, at his own request, at a farm house about 15 miles from Levanger, where the people, who spoke English, promised to get him a doctor. We left him 150 kroner, half our rations, a compass and a map.

We then continued east to a frozen lake which we crossed three days after we had crashed (31 April) [sic]. On the day we left Sergeant Stevens we were almost caught by a party of about 25 Germans, who searched a house near the one where we were being sheltered. We left the house at once and got away through the woods.

We made east after crossing the frozen lake, to another large lake across the frontier in Sweden. We crossed the frontier about six days after we had crashed, at a point about ten miles north of Storlien. We got considerable help on the way from the Norwegians, and about two days before we reached the frontier we got food and shelter at a shack, where the people also supplied us with maps and a compass and showed us a route to the border.

We gave ourselves up after crossing the frontier and were taken to Storlien (one night in prison) and Ostersund (two days). We were then interned from 5 May 1942 to 5 April 1943 in Falun camp.

Extract from “Making For Sweden… Part 1 – The RAF 1939 to 1945”

The following extract from the book “Making For Sweden… Part 1 – The RAF 1939 to 1945” by Rolph Wegmann and Bo Widfeldt describes their escape through Sweden and their repatriation.

“Flying at low level on three engines and on fire was a ‘dicey’ proposition. Eventually the Halifax was put down on the ice of lake Hoklingen. The crew made a swift exit from the burning bomber and the rear gunner, Sergeant Stephens, broke his ankle in the process. The ice was cracking and Pilot Officer Hewitt had an inadvertent dip in the cold water after jumping from the aircraft. During their exit from the bomber the crew came under small arms fire, and Sergeant Stephens had to be left on the beach. He was later taken prisoner by the Germans. The others divided into two parties before leaving the area.

The first of the two groups to reach Sweden comprised Pilot Officer MacIntyre, Pilot Officer Hewitt and Sergeant Perry, arriving on 1st May 1942. The second group, formed by Sergeant Wilson and Sergeant Blanchet, reached Skalstugan on 3rd May. The two parties had been helped to the Swedish border by independent groups of friendly Norwegians. Both groups were taken to Undersaker for interrogation.

Following the interrogation, the men were taken to Falun by train for internment in Framby. Pilot Officer MacIntyre and Pilot Officer Hewitt were repatriated on 1st June 1942 in exchange for a German crew that landed in Sweden on 29th May 1942. Sergeant Perry left Sweden on 30th March 1943, followed by Sergeant Wilson and Sergeant Blanchet on the 5th April 1943″

Aircraft Recovery

The aircraft was recovered from Lake Hoklingen in 1973 and parts are now on display at the RAF Museum, Hendon.

More information can be found at: http://www.archieraf.co.uk/archie/1048tls.html

W1048 (Bjorn Olsen)

Photograph of W1048 being raised from Lake Hoklingen [Source: Bjorn Olsen]

Halifax W1048 at the RAF Museum

Notes:

  1. There is a painting by Chris Golds depicting events on the night