Halifax HR861 (10/08/1943)

Halifax HR861 was one of twenty one No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Nuremberg on the night of the 10th / 11th August 1943.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Elliss Trevor Ware (Pilot)
  • Charles Bowmer Russell (Navigator)
  • Gordon Davidson Hogg (Air Bomber)
  • Glenburne George Galvin (Wireless Operator)
  • Reginald Hamblin (Air Gunner)
  • William George Jackett (Air Gunner)
  • Jack Fiddler (Flight Engineer)

The route was Beachy Head, Le Touquet, 4935N 1040E, Nuremberg, 4910N 1100E, 4917N 0826E, Le Touquet, Beachy Head

HR861 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 11th August 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 10th / 11th August 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. 293 (Flight 14/10/1943) reported R Hamblin, WG Jackett and J Fiddler as “missing believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 380 (Flight 04/05/1944) reported R Hamblin, WG Jackett and J Fiddler “previously reported missing believed killed in action” 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:

  • 03/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that F/O Galvin, missing on 10th / 11th August 1943, is a prisoner of war
  • 07/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that F/O Ware, P/O Hogg and F/O Russell, missing on 10th / 11th August 1943, are prisoners of war and that F/S Hamblin, F/S Jackett and Sgt. Fiddler were killed

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

ET Ware, CB Russell, GD Hogg and GG Galvin survived the crash and were captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Their POW Liberation Questionnaires, which were completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, show the following details:

  • CB Russell
    • Captured: Mainz 11/08/1943
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Aug-43 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to Feb-45
    • Imprisoned: ? Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • GD Hogg
    • Captured: Frammersheim 11/08/1943
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Aug-43 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • ET Ware (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan
    • Repatriated:
  • GG Galvin (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan
    • Repatriated:

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 R Hamblin, WG Jackett and J Fiddler were located at Framersheim Cemetery, Alzey District, Land Hessen.

hr861-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 7th May 1948 at RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • FIDDLER, JACK, Sergeant ‘633093’  Grave 17. C. 21.
  • HAMBLIN, REGINALD, Flight Sergeant ‘1575323’ Grave 17. C. 23.
  • JACKETT, WILLIAM GEORGE, Flight Sergeant ‘1075889’ Grave 17. C. 22.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Hptm. Heinrich Wohlers, Stab 1./NG6, nr Schafhausen, 1 km. NE Alzey (Germany)

Bomber Command Loss Card

  • GG Galvin: Fire in fuselage rendered communication impossible
  • GP Hogg: I gave Fiddler his chute; he was in a dazed condition. Explosion after I left so probable that he was injured
  • Attacked by nightfighter north of Worms (49°35N 08°22E), caught fire and exploded; 3 bodies found in wreckage, believed to be Jackett, Hamblin and Fiddler.
  • More text which needs to be deciphered 

Map showing original burial location