Halifax HR862 (17/08/1943)

Halifax HR862 was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Peenemunde on the night of the 17th / 18th August 1943.

It was equipped with Gee and Nav Aid Y (H2S)

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Peter Roland Raggett (Pilot)
  • Albert Joseph Perkins (Navigator)
  • Stanley Alfred Baldwin (Air Bomber)
  • Frederick Roberts (Wireless Operator)
  • Douglas Stewart Wood (Air Gunner)
  • Peter Henry Palmer (Air Gunner)
  • Vincent Webster (Flight Engineer)

The route was: 5510N 0700E, 5525N 0827E, Peenemunde, Mano, 5510N 0700E

HR862 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after take off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 18th 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 17th / 18th 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. 299 (Flight 28/10/1943) reported PR Raggett, AJ Perkins, SA Baldwin, DS Wood and V Webster as “missing believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 380 (Flight 04/05/1944) reported AJ Perkins, DS Wood and V Webster “previously reported missing believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 442 (Flight 16/11/1944) reported SA Baldwin and PR Raggett “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:

  • 22/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Roberts and Sgt Palmer, missing on 17th / 18th August 1943, are prisoners of war and that F/S Raggett, F/O Baldwin, P/O Perkins, Sgt Wood and Sgt Webster were killed

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

F Roberts and PH Palmer 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:

  • PH Palmer
    • Captured: Near Peenemunde Aug-43 (Injured)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Sep-43 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • F Roberts (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg
    • 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.

Original Burials

CWGC records show that the remains of  PR Raggett, AJ Perkins, SA Baldwin, DS Wood and V Webster were located at Greifswald Cemetery, Pommern

hr862-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 30th July 1948 at BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • BALDWIN, STANLEY ALFRED, Flying Officer ‘124761’  Joint grave 2. J. 16-17.
  • PERKINS, ALBERT JOSEPH, Flying Officer ‘128669’ Grave 2. J. 15.
  • RAGGETT, PETER ROLAND, Pilot Officer ‘149324’ Joint grave 2. J. 16-17.
  • WEBSTER, VINCENT, Sergeant ‘814232’ Grave 2. J. 18.
  • WOOD, DOUGLAS STEWART, Flight Sergeant ‘1351620’ Coll. grave 2. F. 1-16.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Ofw. Karl-Heinz Scherfling, 10./NJG1, Near Greifswald (Germany), 2800m, 01.28

Map