Halifax W7906 (28/02/1943)

Halifax W7906 was one of eight No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack St Nazaire on the night of the 28th February 1943.

Its six-man crew comprised:

  • Donald Frederick Edgar Charles Dean (Pilot)
  • Dudley Peter David Archer (Navigator)
  • Alfred Edward Ralph Bexton (Air Bomber)
  • Allan Roland Ball (Wireless Operator)
  • James Russell Griffin (Air Gunner)
  • Donald Harrington Craig (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “During the outward journey, when the aircraft was flying at 13,000 feet, the port outer engine coolant temperature rose dangerously and the propeller was feathered, the aircraft gradually losing height down to 9,000 feet. However, St Nazaire was attacked in good visibility. Just after setting  out for base, the starboard inner engine failed, flames shooting out of the air intakes, and the aircraft slowly lost height to 3,000  feet. All preparations were made for ditching and the return journey was made through cloud. The aircraft was “homed” by searchlights and after further difficulties reached the aerodrome at Harrowbeer, the flare  path of which was extremely feeble. The Captain landed the aircraft halfway along a runway, 1100 feet in length; the aircraft overshot, the undercarriage collapsed in rough ground where the aircraft came to rest, no casualties occurring.

Note: The Record Book shows the aircraft serial as W7877, but this is incorrect


DFEC Dean Citation

DFEC Dean was awarded the Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions during this incident. The citation reads:

“One night in February 1943, this officer captained an aircraft, detailed to attack St. Nazaire. Whilst crossing the Channel, on the outward flight, one of the port engines failed. Nevertheless, Sqn. Ldr. Dean continued his mission. Whilst over the target area his aircraft was held in searchlights and subjected to heavy fire from the ground defences. Despite this, he pressed home a vigorous attack. Shortly after, the aircraft was headed for home, one of the starboard engines failed. Sqn. Ldr. Dean succeeded in maintaining height and eventually reached an airfield in this country where he effected a masterly landing in difficult circumstances”

Armstrong-Whitworth FK8 B5775 (28/02/1918)

Armstrong-Whitworth FK8 B5775 was being used for a Height Test Practice Flight on 28th February 1918

Its crew comprised:

  • GAM Webster
  • CF Witt

The RFC Casualty Report shows “Machine left aerodrome at 2.00pm on a Height Test Practice Flight, and, at about 3.15pm when at 8,000 – 10,000ft it was seen to loop, but continued to dive to about 5,000ft when the wings were seen to crumple and fold back (62C.U.30.C); pilot and observer were killed”

The aircraft was struck off charge of the squadron, with serviceable parts returned to 2 AD

Post War

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s records do not show where the remains of GAM Webster and CF Witt were located but show that after the war they were concentrated (reinterred) as follows:

  • WEBSTER, G A M Second Lieutenant BRIE BRITISH CEMETERY II. G. 5.

[Source: Find-a-Grave]


Casualty Card (GAM Webster) 

[Source: RAF Museum]

Casualty Card (CF Witt)

Witt C F Incident

[Source: RAF Museum]

Routine Orders

Halifax LV857 (28/02/1944)

Halifax LV857 was being utilised for a local flight on 28th February 1944.

The crew comprised:

  • JR Petrie-Andrews
  • Others?

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Whilst carrying out feathering procedure on the port outer propeller, P/O Petrie-Andrews experienced trouble whilst on a local flight and when circling the aerodrome engine caught fire but was kept under control by fire extinguishers and ultimately extinguished by the fire tender party when the aircraft landed. A few seconds after touchdown the port outer propeller fell off onto the runway but the aircraft suffered no further damage”


AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) does not contain any information regarding the incident.

AM Form 1180

There is no AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) available for this incident; as such, no further details are available