Halifax L9569 (10/09/1941)

Halifax L9569 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Turin on the night of the 10th / 11th September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • John Craig Hamilton (Pilot)
  • Thomas Craig Stobie (2nd Pilot)
  • Jeffrey Arnold Longford (Observer)
  • James Patrick Henderson (WOP / AG)
  • John Peter Burton Buckley (WOP / AG)
  • John Collins (Air Gunner)
  • Walter Roy Stapleford (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft returned safely, but forced landed near Eythorne, Kent due to petrol shortage, without casualty or damage to aircraft.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 (Accident Card shows “10/10th cloud and wireless trouble prevented the pilot from determining his position and force landed before running out of petrol. The pilot emphasised the urgent need for extra petrol storage for type, if they are to undertake long flights”.

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft remained on charge of the squadron and that no repairs were required

Halifax L9566 (10/09/1941)

Halifax L9566 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Turin on the night of the 10th / 11th September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Gerald Standish Williams (Pilot)
  • Alexander Osborne (2nd Pilot)
  • James Oliver Hedley (Observer)
  • Charles Frederic Seymour Ryder (WOP / AG)
  • Ernest H Jackson (WOP / AG)
  • Alexander Urquhart (Air Gunner)
  • John Edmond Murrell (Flight Engineer)

L9566 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Task completed message was received shortly after 01.00hrs then at about 05.25hrs SOS received. Fix showed aircraft off track near St Marlo. QDMs were given. At approximately 06.00hrs signalled “30 minutes petrol left” but should have been near English Coast. “We are going out to sea if we follow QDMs” was received from aircraft at 06.15hrs. Radio location plot placed an aircraft then at twenty five miles north of Le Havre. This aircraft was not heard of again and did not return, presumably mistaking the Cherbourg peninsular for the coast of Kent and turning, actually, back to France”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 11th September 1941 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 September 1941”.

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.

For the remainder of the war, the Air Ministry Casualty Branch utilised information obtained from radio intercepts and from the German Authorities and prisoners of war (which was supplied via the International Red Cross) to establish whether lost crew had been killed, wounded, imprisoned or were “missing”; the squadron and the relevant families were kept informed.

No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:

  • 16/10/1941: Information received through International Red Cross Society quoting Berlin states that F/O GS Williams and all members of his crew missing on operations on 11th September 1941 are all safe and prisoners of war in Germany

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

All crew members 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:

  • JE Murrell
    • Captured: Cherbourg Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to May-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Jun-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Jun-43 to Jul-44
    • imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Aug-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • GS Williams
    • Captured: Near Barfleur, France (11/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag XC, Lubeck Sep-41 to Oct-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag VIB, Warburg Oct-41 to Sep-42 [Escaped]
    • Imprisoned: Oflag XXI-B, Schubin (Poland) Sep-42 to Apr-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-43 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Marlag und Milag Nord, Westertimke Feb-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • A Osborne (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • JO Hedley (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Not known
    • Repatriated:
  • CSF Ryder (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Not Known
    • Repatriated:
  • EH Jackson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • A Urquhart (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

P4 Casualty Branch File

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/8990 Flying Officer G S Williams, Sergeant A Osborne, Pilot Officer J O Hedley, Sergeant E M Jackson, Sergeant C F S Ryder, Sergeant A Urquhart, Sergeant J E Murrell: prisoners of war; aircraft force landed near Valognes, France, during return from operational flight over Turin, Italy, Halifax L9566, 35 Squadron, 11 September 1941. With photographs.

Halifax L9526 (10/09/1941)

Halifax L9526 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Turin on the night of the 10th / 11th September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Edmund Keith Creswell (Pilot)
  • Douglas Rowley-Blake (2nd Pilot)
  • Alfred Abels (Observer)
  • Stanley Turner (WOP / AG)
  • Walter Montague Gordon Wing (WOP / AG)
  • G Lowe (Air Gunner)
  • Frank Stewart (Flight Engineer)

L9526 returned safely but forced landed near Thetford due to lack of wireless assistance and petrol shortage. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but no member of the crew was injured.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM 1180

Low Cloud – Wireless Operator intercepted QDM for another aircraft as one for himself. After turning on to it, pilot realised the error and turning sharply back to original course momentarily starved port … engine which cut. Pilot forced landed (Riddlesworth, Norfolk) before other engines cut due to fuel shortage.

Pilot emphasised need for extra petrol tankage on the Halifax (although it was also noted on the card that most of them had been fitted with these)

WR Chorley (RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)

“Forced landed 06.22 in a field near Harling Road Station on the rail line between Thetford and Norwich. No one was hurt and the Halifax was not seriously damaged,. However, it never flew again and by mid-1942 the airframe was in use as instructional aid, bearing the serial 3034M”

AM Form 78

The movement card shows that the aircraft was allocated to 43 Group (Maintenance Unit) on 13th September and then to Handley Page on 17th September; it was not returned to the squadron