Halifax W1147 (25/07/1942)

Halifax W1147 was one of eight No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Duisburg on the night of the 25th / 26th July 1942.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • JE Maple (Pilot)
  • CE Evans (Observer)
  • DM Ross (WOP / Air Gunner)
  • JF Day (WOP / Air Gunner)
  • WA Allsopp (Air Gunner)
  • HEV Bruce (Air Gunner)
  • JT Bennett (Flight Engineer)

Halifax W1147 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Took off from Linton to attack Duisburg; nothing was heard from this aircraft after take-off and it failed to return”.

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 26th July 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 25th / 26th July 1942”.

An example of the telegram that was sent

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. 162 (Flight 08/10/1942) reported JE Maple, CE Evans, DM Ross, JF Day, WA Allsopp and HEV Bruce as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 224 (Flight 29/04/1943) reported JE Maple, CE Evans, DM Ross, JF Day, WA Allsopp and HEV Bruce “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:

  • 22/12/1942: Information received from the Air Ministry that P/O Maple, P/O Day and Sgt Allsopp were all killed on the night of 25th July 1942

Crew members who survived the crash, evaded capture and returned to the UK

JT Bennett survived the crash and evaded capture as follows:

  • Evasion Route: Holland / Belgium / France / Spain / Gibraltar (Comet 41)
  • Repatriated: Whitchurch (14/09/1942)

It is understood that he was initially captured with injured leg, but escaped

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 DM Ross, CE Evans and HEV Bruce were located at Uden

w1147-concentration-1

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 21st June 1946 [Ross and Evans] and 2nd July 1946 [Bruce] at UDEN WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • ROSS, DOUGLAS MACRAE, Flight Sergeant ‘R/76228’ Joint grave 4. A. 10-11.
  • EVANS, CLARENCE ERNEST, Flight Sergeant ‘R/91535’ Joint grave 4. A. 10-11.
  • BRUCE, HADDO ERIC VON, Pilot Officer ‘J/15668’ Grave 4. A. 13.

The CWGC records show that the remains of JE Maple, JF Day and WA Allsopp were located N. of S. Hertogenbosch (GSGS 2541)

w1147-concentration-3

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 4th December 1947 at JONKERBOS WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • MAPLE, JOHN EDWARD, Pilot Officer ‘110870’  Joint grave 18. E. 7.
  • DAY, JOHN FRANCIS, Pilot Officer ‘J/8099’ Joint grave 18. E. 7.
  • ALLSOPP, WILLIAM ARTHUR, Sergeant ‘411063’ Grave 18. E. 8.

 


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Oblt. Kurt Loos, 1./NJG1, 3km N S-Hertogenbosch (Holland) (5B), 3000m, 02.26

WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)

Crashed 02.30hrs near S-Hertogenbosch (Holland)

Evasion Report Numbers (National Archives)

WO208/3310/854 JT Bennett

Citation for DFM award (JT Bennett)

JT Bennett was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his efforts. The recommendation, but not the final citation, reads:

This airman was a member of a crew of an aircraft shot down over Holland on 25th July 1942 while returning from an attack on Duisberg.  Unable to escape from the scene of his landing through a leg injury sustained while baling out, he was arrested by the enemy and imprisoned. Applying an old stratagem, he soon succeeded in breaking out and, escaping from the neighbourhood, went into hiding. During this period he endeavoured to rescue other British airmen who had baled out nearby, and also avoided detection from no less than four searches of his place of concealment. He ultimately reached Belgium by crossing a bridge at the Dutch-Belgian frontier, pausing a while to offer cigarettes to the enemy sentries.  Passing through Belgium and France he reached Paris to find himself suspected and shadowed by a Gestapo agent.  He lured his would-be captor into an air raid shelter where he overpowered and killed him. Sergeant Bennett then continued his adventurous journey into Spain, whence he was repatriated on 13th September 1942.  This airman displayed the greatest courage, coolness and resource in carrying out his escape from the enemy.


Notes:

  1. WA Allsopp’s service file is digitised in the Australian Archives; there are no details regarding the loss