Halifax HR798 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Dusseldorf on the night of the 11th / 12th June 1943.
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Nelson Alexander Cobb (Pilot)
- David Archibald Codd (Navigator)
- Walter Palfrey Trask (Air Bomber)
- Charles Henry Bulloch (Wireless Operator)
- Norman Francis Williams (Air Gunner)
- Thomas Richard Desmond Smith (Air Gunner)
- Roland Hurlston Baldwin (Flight Engineer)
The route was: 5145N 0350E, 5055N 0630E, Dusseldorf, turn wide left, 5117N 0630E, Noordwijk
The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Two aircraft attacked the target, but the third (HR798) was forced to jettison when attacked by two fighters before reaching the objective. Both fighters were shot down by the rear gunner F/S Williams, who with the other gunner, F/S Smith was wounded and afterwards admitted to hospital.
NF Williams / TRD Smith Injuries
NF Williams was wounded in the leg and abdomen. He was admitted to Ely Hospital and returned to the squadron on 5th August 1943.
TRD Smith was grazed on the head, was concussed and his optic nerve was damaged. He was unable to fly again due to impaired vision
Injury Report sent to family of NF Williams [Courtesy of Geoff Swallow]
CGM Citation for NF Williams
One night in June 1943, this airman was the rear gunner of an aircraft detailed to attack Dusseldorf. During the operation, the bomber was intercepted by 2 enemy fighters. In the first encounter, Flight Sergeant Williams’ turret was rendered unserviceable, while he sustained several bullet wounds in the legs and body. Nevertheless, when the second fighter attacked, Flight Sergeant Williams skilfully gave his captain directions which enabled the fighter to be evaded. Flight Sergeant Williams then delivered an accurate burst of fire which caused the enemy aircraft to explode in the air. The first fighter resumed the attack but, although in considerable pain, with both legs partially paralysed, Flight Sergeant Williams with a well placed burst of fire from close range, shot the enemy aircraft down. Making light of his injuries he remained in his damaged turret until a landing was effected when his turret had to be cut away before he could be extricated. By his great skill, courage and determination, this airman contributed in a large measure to the safe return of the bomber and its crew.
Combat Reports available at TNA:
- AIR 50/185/130
- AIR 50/185/131
- AIR 50/185/132
- AIR 50/185/133
- AIR 50/185/134
- AIR 50/185/135
- AIR 50/185/136
Cobb (Left hand picture), Smith, Trask and Williams (Right hand Picture)
[Source: Blue Job, Brown Job by David Codd DFC]
- More information can be found in the book Blue Job – Brown Job by David Codd DFC