Halifax HR865 (23/08/1943)

Halifax HR865 was one of twenty three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 23rd / 24th August 1943.

It was equipped with Gee and H2s

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Lawrence Edward Nicklin Lahey (Pilot)
  • David Farrant Bland (Navigator)
  • John William Annetts (Air Bomber)
  • Daniel David Cleary (Wireless Operator)
  • Leonard Alan Such (Air Gunner)
  • Robert Scott Hogg (Air Gunner)
  • Wilfred Ernest Sutton (Flight Engineer)

The route for the bomber stream was as follows: East Coast, 52°50N 03°30E, Egmond, 52°50N 09°30E, 52°05N 13°47E, Berlin, 52°50N 13°40E, Mano Island, 55°00N 07°00E, East Coast

HR865 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 24th 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 23rd / 24th August 1943”.

lahey-telegram2

Copy of telegram sent to LEN Lahey’s family

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 provided No. 35 Squadron with the following information regarding the crew:

  • 13/10/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that P/O Lahey and crew, missing on 23rd / 24th August 1943, are all prisoners of war

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

All members of the crew 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:

  • LEN Lahey
    • Captured: 20 miles from Brandenburg Aug-43
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft, Frankfurt Aug-43 to Sep-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Sep-43 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Marlag und Milag Nord, Westertimke (Tarmstedt) Feb-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • DD Cleary
    • Captured: Outside Genthin (South of Magdeburg) Aug-43
      Interrogated: Dulag Luft, Frankfurt Aug-43
      Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Sep-43 to Apr-45
      Repatriated: May-45
  •  RS Hogg
    • Captured: Berlin 23/08/1943
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft, Frankfurt Aug-43 to Sep-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg Sep-43 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  •  WE Sutton
    • Captured: Genthin (nr Berlin) (23/08/1943)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft, Frankfurt Aug-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Sep-43 Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • JW Annetts (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan
    • Repatriated:
  • DF Bland (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan
    • Repatriated:
  • LA Such (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg
    • Repatriated:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim; Hptm. H Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, Stab II./NJG3, nr Dorst, NNW Neuhaldensleben (Germany), 5500m, 00.18 (Note: claim not listed in OKL/RLM; Stab II./NJG3 Confirmed Abschussubersicht)

Extract from LEN Lahey’s Repatriation Report [Source: Australian Archive]

Hit by JU88 at 17000ft causing breakdown in hydraulics and fire in starboard wing and starboard inner motor. After applying fire extinguishers to starboard inner without avail, the order to bale out was given and acknowledged by each member of the crew who jumped in turn. The mid-upper gunner was slightly wounded in the legs and pilot had slight wound in the head. Aircraft crashed about 20 miles from Brandenburg

Bomber Command Loss Card

  • All crew baled out; shot down nr Magdeburg (Dirglitz)
  • Text on reverse of card is difficult to read and needs to be deciphered