Halifax HR819 was one of eighteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Aachen on the night of the 13th / 14th July 1943.
It was equipped with Gee and Nav Aid Y (H2S) and was part of the Main Force
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Edward Wright Saywell (Pilot)
- Ernest Raymond Moore (Navigator)
- Frank William Whittaker (Air Bomber)
- Ronald William Wisson (Wireless Operator)
- Frank Frederick Ward (Air Gunner)
- Stuart Fred Hughes (Air Gunner)
- Joseph Marsh (Flight Engineer)
The route was Noordwick, 5100N 0616E, Aachen 5020N 0542E, Cayeux
HR819 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after taking off”
Wartime activities relating to the loss
On 14th July 1943 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 13th / 14th July 1943”.
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. 288 (Flight 07/10/1943) reported EW Saywell as “missing” and FW Whittaker, ER Moore, SF Hughes, FF Ward and J Marsh “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 389 (Flight 01/06/1944) reported EW Saywell “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 391 (Flight 08/06/1944) reported ER Moore “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 393 (Flight 15/06/1944) reported SF Hughes “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
Note: It is believed that No. 288 should have read “missing” for all crew members as it was far too soon after the loss for presumption of death
No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:
- 03/09/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that Sgt Wisson, missing on 13th / 14th July 1943, is a prisoner of war
Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned
RW Wisson survived the crash and was captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
His POW Liberation Questionnaire, which was completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, shows the following details:
- W Wisson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI / Stalag 357
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 EW Saywell, FW Whittaker, ER Moore, SF Hughes, FF Ward and J Marsh were not located (or formally identified) and, as such, their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:
- HUGHES, STUART FRED, Sergeant ‘1021591’ Panel 154.
- MARSH, JOSEPH, Sergeant ‘1080667’ Panel 158.
- MOORE, ERNEST RAYMOND, Sergeant ‘1379660’ Panel 159.
- SAYWELL, EDWARD WRIGHT, Flight Sergeant ‘415372’ Panel 199.
- WARD, FRANK FREDERICK, Sergeant ‘1321748’ Panel 168.
- WHITTAKER, FRANK WILLIAM, Flight Sergeant ‘1231515’ Panel 139.
[Courtesy of Clive Lewis]
Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)
Nightfighter Claim: Hptm. Hans-Dieter Frank, Stab I./NJG1, N Leuth (Germany) (5B), 5400m, 01.39