Halifax JP121 (20/02/1944)

Halifax JP121 was one of seventeen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Stuttgart on the night of the 20th / 21st February 1944.

It was equipped with H2S, Monica and Fishpond and was carrying 10 x 500lb MC and various target markers. Its designated Path Finder role was Visual Backer Up.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • James Gray Leslie (Pilot)
  • Frederick Iredale Stephens (Navigator)
  • Owen Letchworth Roberts (Air Bomber)
  • Jack Whitehouse (Wireless Operator)
  • Francis Norman Paisley (Air Gunner)
  • Raymond Cecil Davis (Air Gunner)
  • Dennis Stanley Male (Flight Engineer)

The route was 5110N 0240E, 4752N 0855E, Target, 4900N 0708E, 5110N 0240E

JP121 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 21st February 1944 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 20th / 21st February 1944”.

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:

  • 21/03/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that FI Stephens, JG Leslie and FN Paisley, missing on 20th / 21st February 1944, are prisoners of war
  • 30/03/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that  J Whitehouse, OL Roberts, DS Male and  RC Davis, missing on 20th / 21st February 1944, are prisoners of war

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

JG Leslie, FI Stephens, OL Roberts, J Whitehouse, RC Davis, FN Paisley and DS Male 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:

  • JG Leslie
    • Captured: Black Forest  22/02/1944
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Mar-44 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Aug-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Sep-44 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated:   May-45
  • FI Stephens
    • Captured: Freiburg  23/02/44
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Feb-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Feb-44 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Marlag und Milag Nord, Westertimke (Tarmstedt) Feb-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • OL Roberts
    • Captured: Nr. Nurstadt? 21/02/1944
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Feb-44 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Marlag und Milag Nord, Westertimke (Tarmstedt) Feb-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • J Whitehouse
    • Captured: Nr Stuttgart 21/02/1944
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Mar-44 to Jun-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jun-44 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Jul-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • RC Davis
    • Captured: Black Forest 21/02/1944
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Mar-44 to Jun-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jun-44 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Jul-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • FN Paisley
    • Captured: Nr Frankfurt 21/02/1944 (Broken arm, ribs and cut face)
    • Hospitalised: Hohemark Hospital, Frankfurt Feb-44 to Mar-44
    • Hospitalised: 1249, Obermassfeld Mar-44 to May-44
    • Hospitalised: 1288, Meiningen May-44 to Oct-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VII, Bankau Oct-44 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • DS Male
    • Captured Near Frieburg 21/02/1944
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Mar-44 to Jun-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jun-44 to Aug-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter claim: Uffz. Lorenz Gerstmayr, 4./NJG3, 10-15km W Stuttgart, 03.12. Also claimed by Flak of 2 & 3/schw. Flak Abt. 357.

“Crash of the Halifax JP121 TL-U at the Silberberg – Hinterzarten, 21st February 1944”

A booklet entitled “Crash of the Halifax JP121 TL-U at the Silberberg – Hinterzarten, 21st February 1944” was produced by Theo Gremmelspacher (Birkenweg 18, Hinterzarten). The content was agreed by surviving crew members (who received a summary in English). Trying to get hold of a copy of this document

Crash Location

It is understood that the aircraft crashed near the small community of Todtmoos in the Black Forest area of South Germany.

[Source: badische-zeitung.de]

Crew Information

The following link provides information on JG Leslie’s operational sorties as Captain of a No. 35 Squadron aircraft and the composition of his crew on these sorties