Halifax L9501 (24/07/1941)

Halifax L9501 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft which took off from Stanton Harcourt to attack the Battleship Scharnhorst (anchored at La Pallice) on 24th July 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Robert Fenwick Owen (Pilot)
  • Leslie Alec Hayward (2nd Pilot)
  • Eric Arthur Fawns Gibb (Observer)
  • Douglas Peter Hogg (WOP / AG)
  • Herbert Reginald Higgins (Air Gunner)
  • Rodney Gordon Mullally (Air Gunner)
  • James William Hays (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “During the attack, enemy fighters delivered, in all, ten attacks on Halifax L9501, one being claimed as shot down. Great coolness and deliberation was shown by Sgt Higgins, the tail gunner in fighting back and successfully defending his aircraft. On seeing an apparently disabled Halifax being attacked by two ME 109’s he directed his Captain to the scene of the combat and succeeded in drawing off one of the attackers”.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Journey to the target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book describes the journey to the target as follows:

“The aircraft took off and proceeded via Lizard Point to a point 50 miles west of Ushant and then direct to the target. The journey from base to the turning point was made at a height of 1,000 feet and below, with the climb to the bombing height taking place between this point and the target. 19,000 feet was the intended bombing height but only 15,000 feet was reached before arrival at the target area. The weather was excellent, brilliant sunshine and no cloud, with perfect visibility.

An enemy destroyer was passed in the proximity of the Île d’Yeu, which, apparently believing itself to be under attack, commenced evasive action and opened fire, but did no damage”.

It was assumed that the destroyer warned the authorities of the impending attack and the German defences were fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft”.

The squadron’s Operations Record Book goes on to describe the arrival and subsequent attack as follows:

“As the squadron approached the target area, a very heavy barrage of A.A. fire was immediately put up, and some 30 enemy fighters were observed, some in the air and others taking off from aerodromes in and about La Rochelle”.

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) shows that the aircraft forced landed at Weston Zoyland (Somerset) due to fuel shortage

There appears to have been minimal damage to the aircraft as the aircraft remained on charge of the squadron and was operational again (with much the same crew) on 30th July 1941


Halifax L9527 (24/07/1941)

Halifax L9527 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft which took off from Stanton Harcourt to attack the Battleship Scharnhorst (anchored at La Pallice) on 24th July 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Clarence Arthur Godwin (Pilot)
  • Greville Gascoyne Esnouf (2nd Pilot)
  • Arthur George Eperon (Observer)
  • Eric Oswald Thomas Balcomb (WOP / AG)
  • Reginald Thomas Rudlin (WOP / AG)
  • Sidney Harry James Shirley (Air Gunner)
  • Conrad Howard Newstead (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “As the squadron approached the target area, a very heavy barrage of A.A. fire was immediately put up, and some 30 enemy fighters were observed, some in the air and others taking off from aerodromes in and about La Rochelle. The squadron proceeded in echelon formation as planned but the intensity of the A.A. fire not only damaged several aircraft, but one, L9527, captained by F/Sgt. Godwin, was seen to go down in a slow spiral with smoke coming from one or two of its engines”.

Wartime activity relating to the loss

On 24th July 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 24th July 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.

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 Communique No. 81 (Flight 09/10/1941) reported GG Esnouf, CA Godwin, CH Newstead, RT Rudlin and SHJ Shirley as “missing, believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Communique No. 112 (Flight 26/02/1942) reported GG Esnouf, CA Godwin, CH Newstead, RT Rudlin and SHJ Shirley “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 the next of kin, along with any monies due

The squadron record book shows the following notifications were received in relation to the crew:

  • 07/08/1941: Telegram received from International Red Cross Society states that PO Eperon (Wounded) and Sgt Balcomb of F/S Godwin’s crew are prisoners of war.
  • 17/08/1941: Information received, passed on from International Red Cross Society that F/S Godwin, captain of an aircraft missing during the attack on the Scharnhorst on 24th July 1941 and the remainder of the crew, except PO Eperon and Sgt Balcomb, already reported prisoners of war, were killed.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

AG Eperon and EOT Balcomb, baled out of the aircraft 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 No. 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, show the following details:

  • AG Eperon
    • Captured: La Rochelle (Leg Wound)  24/07/1941
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Aug-41 to Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag X-C, Lübeck Sep-41 to Oct-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag VI-B, Warburg Oct-41 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Oflag XXI-B, Schubin (Poland) Oct-42 to Apr-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-43 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Marlag und Milag Nord, Tarmstedt Jan-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated   May-45
  • EOT Balcomb
    • Captured: La Rochelle (slight wound over eyes)  24/07/1941
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Jul-41 to Aug-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IIIE, Kirchhain Aug-41 to Mar-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Mar-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: Apr-45

Note: EOT Balcomb escaped the marching column on 15th April 1945 and he joined french POW in a farmhouse. He was liberated by the 11th Armoured Corps three days later (18th April 1945)

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.

CWGC records do not show where the remains of of the five missing crew members were located but show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at ANGLES COMMUNAL CEMETERY as follows:

  • ESNOUF, Greville Gascoyne, ‘929408’,  Joint grave 2.
  • GODWIN, Clarence Arthur, ‘745859’, Joint grave 2.
  • NEWSTEAD, Conrad Howard, ‘567204’, Grave 3.
  • RUDLIN, Reginald Thomas, ‘912084’, Grave 1.
  • SHIRLEY, Sidney Harry James, ‘804422’, Grave 4.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Journey to the target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book describes the journey to the target as follows:

“The aircraft took off and proceeded via Lizard Point to a point 50 miles west of Ushant and then direct to the target. The journey from base to the turning point was made at a height of 1,000 feet and below, with the climb to the bombing height taking place between this point and the target. 19,000 feet was the intended bombing height but only 15,000 feet was reached before arrival at the target area. The weather was excellent, brilliant sunshine and no cloud, with perfect visibility.

An enemy destroyer was passed in the proximity of the Île d’Yeu, which, apparently believing itself to be under attack, commenced evasive action and opened fire, but did no damage”.

It was assumed that the destroyer warned the authorities of the impending attack and the German defences were fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft.

Chris Goss

The aircraft was hit by flak and attacked by day fighters from I Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 2 (I/JG 2) which was based at Brest Nord and 2 Staffel Ergänzungsgruppe/JG 53 (2 Erg/JG 53) based at Vannes-Meucon. It crashed at a farm (“Le Terrier Du Four”) near the small town of Angles in France

angles-crash

[Courtesy of Chris Goss]

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7864 Flight Sergeant CA Godwin, Sergeant CH Newstead, Flight Sergeant SHJ Shirley, Sergeant GG Esnouf, Sergeant RT Rudlin, Sergeant LH Newstead: killed; Flight Lieutenant AG Eperon, Sergeant EOT Balcomb: prisoners of war; aircraft shot down near La Rochelle, Halifax L9527, 35 Squadron, 27 April 1941.

EOT Balcomb’s Ashes

The ashes of EOT Balcomb were placed alongside his crew mates at Angles upon his death

Crew Memorial

halifax-l9527

[Courtesy of David Forsyth]

75th Anniversary Commemoration Service

A Commemoration Service was held in Angles on the 75th Anniversary of loss …. read more

floral-tributes-at-the-graves

Floral tributes at the graves following the 75th Anniversary Commemoration Service

Halifax L9525 (15/07/1941 [Non Op)

Halifax L9525 was being utilised for XXX on 15th July 1941.

Its crew comprised:

  • AS Woolnough
  • Others

The AM Form 1180 shows “Overshot: Rain and no wind. Brakes failed to have effect due to wet surface, swung off runway to avoid obstructions. Hit portable landmark beacon parked off perimeter track outside aerodrome”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The Movement Card shows that the aircraft was classified as FA (AC) on 15th July 1941; there is nothing recorded in the squadron’s Operation Record Book. There are no dates showing when it was returned to the squadron.

Aircraft Crash Log (Compiled by Nicholas Roberts)

Overshot after brake failure


Halifax L9524 (24/07/1941)

Halifax L9524 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft which took off from Stanton Harcourt to attack the Battleship Scharnhorst (anchored at La Pallice) on 24th July 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Terence Patrick Armstrong Bradley (Pilot)
  • Douglas Rowley-Blake (2nd Pilot)
  • Thomas Reginald Nixon (Observer)
  • Peter George Bolton (WOP / AG)
  • Richard Charles Rivaz (Air Gunner)
  • Wallace Llewellyn Berry (Air Gunner)
  • HE Wheeler (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Halifax L9524 obtained good sight on target but bomb doors failed to open due to hit by anti-aircraft fire. Doors did however open in time to deliver attack on a moving destroyer, south of the target, but evasive action necessary in countering both flak and enemy aircraft attacks did not permit observation of the results. Tail gunner had one gun out of action and another firing spasmodically, but succeeded in defending the aircraft and shot down one enemy. Sgt Bolton, the first wireless operator received injuries to the chest and died instantly and Sgt Rowley-Blake, the second pilot, received slight shrapnel wounds in the left thigh, calf and shoulder. Although the aircraft suffered damage to one propeller and the controls and the other many hits, it returned safely to St Eval.“.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) records shows the following burial details:

  • BOLTON, PETER GEORGE, Sergeant, ‘944667’, ST. EVAL CHURCHYARD Row 1. Grave 16.

[Source: ww1cemeteries.com]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Journey to the target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book describes the journey to the target as follows:

“The aircraft took off and proceeded via Lizard Point to a point 50 miles west of Ushant and then direct to the target. The journey from base to the turning point was made at a height of 1,000 feet and below, with the climb to the bombing height taking place between this point and the target. 19,000 feet was the intended bombing height but only 15,000 feet was reached before arrival at the target area. The weather was excellent, brilliant sunshine and no cloud, with perfect visibility.

An enemy destroyer was passed in the proximity of the Île d’Yeu, which, apparently believing itself to be under attack, commenced evasive action and opened fire, but did no damage”.

It was assumed that the destroyer warned the authorities of the impending attack and the German defences were fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft.

The squadron’s Operations Record Book goes on to describe the arrival and subsequent attack as follows:

“As the squadron approached the target area, a very heavy barrage of A.A. fire was immediately put up, and some 30 enemy fighters were observed, some in the air and others taking off from aerodromes in and about La Rochelle.

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft was allocated to 43 Group; it was returned to the squadron on 12th September 1941.

AM Form 1180

There does not appear to be an AM Form 1180 for this incident

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7855 Sergeant P G Bolton: killed; Sergeant D Rowley-Blake: injured; operational flight over La Rochelle against Scharnhorst, Halifax L9524, 35 Squadron, 24 July 1941.

D Rowley-Blake

D Rowley-Blake was operational again by 7th September 1941


Halifax L9521 (08/07/1941)

Halifax L9521 was one of seven No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Synthetic Oil Refinery at Leuna on the night of the 8th / 9th July 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Lionel William Bovington (Pilot)
  • Archie Robert Kiddey (2nd Pilot)
  • George Donald Barry (Observer)
  • Albert Edward Hammond (WOP / AG)
  • Henry Septimus Bradbeer (Air Gunner)
  • Noel Eric Henry Coleman (Air Gunner)
  • Thomas Arthur Parkes (Flight Engineer)

L9521 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft was not heard of again and is now officially reported missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 9th July 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 8th / 9th July 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.

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 Communique No. 86 (Flight 30/10/1941) reported NEH Coleman, AE Hammond and TA Parkes as “missing, believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Communique No. 114 (Flight 05/03/1942) reported NEH Coleman, AE Hammond and TA Parkes “previously reported missing, believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”

Note: Presumption of death meant that a death certificate could be issued; personal belongings could then be returned to the 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:

  • 12/08/1941: Information received, passed on from International Red Cross Society quoting German information states that according to F/S Barry, Sgts. Coleman and Parkes and F/S Hammond were killed on 8th July 1941 and buried in a cemetery at Uden, Holland and that Sgt Bradbeer is a prisoner of war

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

HS Bradbeer, LW Bovington, AR Kiddey and GD Barry survived the crash

  • HS Bradbeer (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Hospitalised: Marine Lazarett, (Naval Hospital) at Bedburg-Hau in Westphalia immediately after being captured. Doctors fought to save his right leg which had been seriously damaged but eventually it had to be amputated.
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IXC (Bad Sulza)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III
    • Repatriated: October 1943.
  • GD Barry
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Probably with Bovington and Kiddey
    • Died as POW: 25th April 1945.

LW Bovington and AR Kiddey 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, show the following details:

  • LW Bovington
    • Captured: Nr Eindhoven Drome
    • Interrogated Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Jul-41 to Jul-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IX-C, Bad Sulza Jul-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
  • AR Kiddey
    • Captured: Holland
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IX-C, Bad Sulza Aug-41 to Apr-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-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: Apr-45

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.

CWGC records show that the remains of NEH Coleman, AE Hammond and TA Parkes were located at Uden, Holland.

l9521-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at UDEN WAR CEMETERY on 19th June 1946 as follows:

  • PARKES, THOMAS ARTHUR, Sergeant, ‘526677’, Grave 5. D. 3.
  • HAMMOND, ALBERT EDWARD, Flight Sergeant, ‘535641’, Grave 5. D. 4.
  • COLEMAN, NOEL ERIC HENRY, Sergeant, ‘1107286’,  Grave 5. D. 5.

GD Barry’s remains were located at Diepholz Cemetery, Germany.

barry-concentration

His remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 7th June 1947 at HANOVER WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • BARRY, GEORGE DONALD, ‘580820’, Grave 6. G. 16.

[Source: FindaGrave]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Lt. August Geiger, 9./NJG1 , near Mook 10km S Nijmegen,  03.32

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7483 Flight Sergeant A E Hammond, Sergeant H E Coleman, Sergeant T A Parkes: killed; Sergeant L W Bovington, Sergeant A R Kiddey, Sergeant H S Bradbeer, Flight Sergeant G D Barry: prisoners of war; aircraft shot down and crashed, Mook, Holland, Halifax L9521, 35 Squadron, 9 July 1941. With negatives.

Halifax L9512 (24/07/1941)

Halifax L9512 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft which took off from Stanton Harcourt to attack the Battleship Scharnhorst (anchored at La Pallice) on 24th July 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Stanley Desmond Greaves (Pilot)
  • John Noel Gibson (2nd Pilot)
  • Wilfred Campbell Walters (Observer)
  • Albert Henery (WOP / AG)
  • Ernest William Constable (WOP / AG)
  • Allan Gillbanks (Air Gunner)
  • Gordon Herbert Frank Ogden (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Halifax L9512 was seen to score a direct hit on the Scharnhorst but in the conflict with enemy fighters and bad visibility caused by AA bursts was not seen again and did not return. It is officially reported missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 25th July 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 24th / 25th July 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:

  • 07/08/1941: Telegram received from International Red Cross states that F/S Greaves and his crew are prisoners of war, although all except Sgt Walters and Henery were wounded.

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:

  • SD Greaves
    • Captured: Ile de Re (Injuries to right leg)  24/07/41
    • Hospitalised: Lucon Jul-41
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Aug-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-E, Kirchhain Aug-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: Apr-45
  • EW Constable
    • Captured: La Rochelle 24/07/41
    • Imprisoned: Potier (Hospital?)  Jul-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-E, Kirchhain Aug-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, Fallingbostel Jul-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • JN Gibson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-E, Stalag Luft III, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357?
    • Repatriated
  • WC Walters  (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-E, Stalag Luft III, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357?
    • Repatriated
  • A Henery (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-E, Stalag Luft III, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357?
    • Repatriated
  • A Gillbanks (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured: (Badly injured with head wound)
    • Hospitalised?
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag 357?
    • Repatriated
  • GHF Ogden (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-E, Stalag Luft III, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357?
    • Repatriated:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Journey to the target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book describes the journey to the target as follows:

“The aircraft took off and proceeded via Lizard Point to a point 50 miles west of Ushant and then direct to the target. The journey from base to the turning point was made at a height of 1,000 feet and below, with the climb to the bombing height taking place between this point and the target. 19,000 feet was the intended bombing height but only 15,000 feet was reached before arrival at the target area. The weather was excellent, brilliant sunshine and no cloud, with perfect visibility.

An enemy destroyer was passed in the proximity of the Île d’Yeu, which, apparently believing itself to be under attack, commenced evasive action and opened fire, but did no damage”.

It was assumed that the destroyer warned the authorities of the impending attack and the German defences were fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft.

The squadron’s Operations Record Book goes on to describe the arrival and subsequent attack as follows:

“As the squadron approached the target area, a very heavy barrage of A.A. fire was immediately put up, and some 30 enemy fighters were observed, some in the air and others taking off from aerodromes in and about La Rochelle.

Cause / Location of Loss

Ile de Ré, France [Crew baled out]

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7872 Flight Sergeant S D Greaves, Sergeant J N Gibson, Sergeant W C Walters, Sergeant G H F Ogden, Sergeant E W Constable, Sergeant A Gillbanks, Sergeant A Henery: prisoners of war; aircraft crashed during operational flight over La Rochelle against Scharnhorst, Halifax L9512, 35 Squadron, 24 July 1941.

Crew Reunion

A crew reunion at Linton-On-Ouse in 1981

greaves-crew-reunion-raf-mod-uk
Henery , Ogden, Gibson, Greaves, Constable, Walters, Gillbanks [Source: RAF.mod.uk]

Halifax L9511 (24/07/1941)

Halifax L9511 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft which took off from Stanton Harcourt to attack the Battleship Scharnhorst (anchored at La Pallice) on 24th July 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • George Walton Holden (Pilot)
  • Henry Anthony Perks (2nd Pilot)
  • Alistair William Steven (Observer)
  • James Patrick Henderson (WOP / AG)
  • JH Smith (WOP / AG)
  • Harold Walter Stone (Air Gunner)
  • (Possibly) William David Perriment

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Enemy aircraft attacked on approaching target area and accurate heavy AA fire was encountered immediately upon entering the area. The port wheel of Halifax L9511 was burst and the aircraft holed in many places, and although preparation was made to deliver attack the bombs hung up. The aircraft was then attacked by enemy fighters, the first attack with cannon fire killing PO Stone and raking up through the fuselage and wounding both beam gunners Sgt Smith severely and Sgt Perriment slightly. The Captain held steady both his aircraft and his section in the formation. Sgt Perriment although in acute pain kept his post and continued in the defence of the aircraft and Sgt Smith in a state of semi-coma and barely able to see, persisted in remaining by the second operator, supervising the operation of the set and so the aircraft returned safely to England, landing at St Eval.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) records show the following burial details:

  • STONE, HAROLD WALTER, Pilot Officer, ‘45899’, BRISTOL (GREENBANK) CEMETERY, Screen Wall. UU. 114.
stone-hw-memorial

[Photograph © gravestonephotos.com]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Journey to the target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book describes the journey to the target as follows:

“The aircraft took off and proceeded via Lizard Point to a point 50 miles west of Ushant and then direct to the target. The journey from base to the turning point was made at a height of 1,000 feet and below, with the climb to the bombing height taking place between this point and the target. 19,000 feet was the intended bombing height but only 15,000 feet was reached before arrival at the target area. The weather was excellent, brilliant sunshine and no cloud, with perfect visibility.

An enemy destroyer was passed in the proximity of the Île d’Yeu, which, apparently believing itself to be under attack, commenced evasive action and opened fire, but did no damage”.

It was assumed that the destroyer warned the authorities of the impending attack and the German defences were fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft”.

The squadron’s Operations Record Book goes on to describe the arrival and subsequent attack as follows:

“As the squadron approached the target area, a very heavy barrage of A.A. fire was immediately put up, and some 30 enemy fighters were observed, some in the air and others taking off from aerodromes in and about La Rochelle”.

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 shows that the aircraft was allocated to 43 Group (Maintenance Unit); it was returned to the squadron on 3rd December 1941

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7850 Pilot Officer H W Stone: killed; Sergeant J H Smith, Sergeant W Perriment: injured; Warrant Officer G A Holden, Sergeant H A Perks, Sergeant J W Steven, Sergeant J P Henderson: uninjured; aircraft hit by enemy anti aircraft fire over La Rochelle, France, Halifax L9511, 35 Squadron, 24 July 1941.

W Perriment / JH Smith

Neither W Perriment nor JH Smith appear to have flown operationally with the squadron after this incident

Halifax L9508 (24/07/1941)

Halifax L9508 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft which took off from Stanton Harcourt to attack the Battleship Scharnhorst (anchored at La Pallice) on 24th July 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • George Arthur Litchfield Elliot (Pilot)
  • James Braidwood Stark (2nd Pilot)
  • [-] White (Observer)
  • John Collins (WOP / AG)
  • [-] Elcoate (WOP / AG)
  • [-] Hill (Air Gunner)
  • [-] Berwick (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “During the attack, Halifax L9508 suffered, in all, nine attacks by enemy fighters. The tail gunner, Sgt. Hill, not only successfully defended the aircraft throughout and enabled its withdrawal, but came away with one enemy aircraft confirmed shot down to his credit. Aircraft returned safely to England on three engines, landing at St Eval”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 shows that aircraft was classified FB (AC) on 24th July 1941 and it is possible that it was posted to 43 Group (Maintenance Unit), although no date is shown. The aircraft was operational again by 7th August 1941.

Journey to the target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book describes the journey to the target as follows:

“The aircraft took off and proceeded via Lizard Point to a point 50 miles west of Ushant and then direct to the target. The journey from base to the turning point was made at a height of 1,000 feet and below, with the climb to the bombing height taking place between this point and the target. 19,000 feet was the intended bombing height but only 15,000 feet was reached before arrival at the target area. The weather was excellent, brilliant sunshine and no cloud, with perfect visibility.

An enemy destroyer was passed in the proximity of the Île d’Yeu, which, apparently believing itself to be under attack, commenced evasive action and opened fire, but did no damage”.

It was assumed that the destroyer warned the authorities of the impending attack and the German defences were fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft.

The squadron’s Operations Record Book goes on to describe the arrival and subsequent attack as follows:

“As the squadron approached the target area, a very heavy barrage of A.A. fire was immediately put up, and some 30 enemy fighters were observed, some in the air and others taking off from aerodromes in and about La Rochelle.

Halifax L9507 (25/07/1941)

Halifax L9507 was one of two No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 25th / 26th July 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Ernest Ronald Peter Shackle Cooper (Pilot)
  • John Milne Rigg Cruickshank (2nd Pilot)
  • Robert Victor Collinge (Observer)
  • Albert James Heller (WOP / AG)
  • Douglas James Mennie (WOP / AG)
  • Reginald Arthur Bates (Air Gunner)
  • Ernest Short (Flight Engineer)

L9507 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft was not heard of again and is now officially reported missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 26th July 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 25th / 26th July 1941.

AIR 81/7893 (0123)

A copy of the follow up letter sent out by the Air Ministry Casualty Branch

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 Communique No. 79 (Flight 18/09/1941) reported RV Collinge and DJ Mennie as “missing, believed killed in action”. Also RA Bates, ERPS Cooper, JMR Cruickshank, AJ Heller and E Short as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Communique No. 123 (Flight 09/04/1942) reported RV Collinge and DJ Mennie “previously reported missing, believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Communique No. 126 (Flight 23/04/1942) reported RA Bates, ERPS Cooper, JMR Cruickshank, AJ Heller and E Short “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”

Note: Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings could then be returned to the 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:

  • 16/08/1941: Information received, passed on from International Red Cross Society, that F/S Collinge and Sgt Mennie of PO Cooper’s crew, missing on operations 25th/26th July 1941, were killed

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.

German Record for RV Collinge

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.

CWGC records show that the remains of all members of the crew were located at Doberitz Standortfriedhof

l9507-concentration-report

Their  remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY on 29th October 1946 as follows:

IDENTIFIED

  • HELLER, ALBERT JAMES Flight Sergeant ‘552112’ Grave 8. Z. 1.
  • COLLINGE, ROBERT VICTOR Flight Sergeant ‘581204’ Grave 8. Z. 2.
  • SHORT, ERNEST Sergeant ‘567019’ Grave 8. Z. 3.

COMMUNAL GRAVE

  • MENNIE, DOUGLAS JAMES Sergeant ‘940550’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.
  • BATES, REGINALD ARTHUR Flight Sergeant ‘751214’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.
  • COOPER, ERNEST RONALD PETER SHACKLE Pilot Officer ‘87050’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.
  • CRUICKSHANK, JOHN MILNE RIGG Sergeant ‘1051632’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Hit by unidentified Berlin-based Flak and crashed near Brieselang, 7 km. NE Wustermark, time unknown.

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7893 Pilot Officer ERPS Cooper, Sergeant JHR Cruickshank, Sergeant Collinge, Flight Sergeant AJ Heller, Sergeant DJ Mennie, Flight Sergeant RA Bates, Sergeant E Short: killed; aircraft shot down and crashed near Wustermark, Germany, Halifax L9507, 35 Squadron, 26 July 1941

It provides the following information:

“The Halifax aircraft took off from its base at 10.45 on 25th August 1941 to attack a target in Berlin and failed to return. A telegram from the International Red Cross Committee in Geneva quoting information from Berlin states that six men were killed in a Halifax machine on July 26th, the names of two members of the crew (Mennie and Collinge) being given. As the crew consisted of seven, one man remains unaccounted for”

Halifax L9502 (07/07/1941)

Halifax L9502 was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Frankfurt on the night of the 7th / 8th July 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Peter Langmead (Pilot)
  • William Troy Hogan (2nd Pilot)
  • George Roberts (Observer)
  • Kenneth Cattran (WOP / AG)
  • Ronald Ford Jackson (WOP / AG)
  • Kenneth Hartland (Air Gunner)
  • Frederick Hubert Brown (Flight Engineer)

L9502 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft was not heard of again and is now officially reported missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 8th July 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 7th / 8th July 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:

  • 26th July 1941: Information received from the International Red Cross that P Langmead and all his crew, missing on operations on 8th July 1941 are safe and prisoners of war, but Sgt’s Jackson and Cattran are seriously wounded

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

  • K Cattran (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained)
    • Captured (Injured)
    • Hospitalised (wounded in the arm)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IX-C, Bad Sulza?
    • Repatriated: 1943?
  • G Roberts (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained)
    • Captured
    • Hospitalised?
    • Imprisoned?
    • Repatriated?

P Langmead, WT Hogan, RF Jackson, K Hartland and FH Brown 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:

  • P Langmead
    • Captured: Limburg  08/07/1941
    • Interrogated Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Jul-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag VII-C, Laufen Jul-41 to Aug-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag X-C, Lübeck Aug-41 to Oct-41
    • Imprisoned: Oflag VI-B, Warburg Oct-41 to Sep-42
    • 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, Tarmstedt Feb-45 to Apr-45
    • Imprisoned: Oflag XXI-B, Schubin (Poland) Apr-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated:  May-45
  • WT Hogan
    • Captured: Near Maastricht  08/07/1941
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IX-C, Bad Sulza Jul-41 to Apr-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • RF Jackson
    • Captured: Belgium  08/07/1941 (wounded in the leg and face)
    • Hospitalised: Reserve Lazarett Münstereifel Jul-41 to Feb-42
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Feb-42 to Apr-42
    • Hospitalised: Reserve Lazarett, Ober Massfeld? Apr-42 to Jan-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Jan-43 to Oct-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Nov-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Kiefheide / Groß Tychow Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Feb-45 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • K Hartland
    • Captured Holland  08/07/1941
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IX-C, Bad Sulza? Jul-41 to Apr-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-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
  • FH Brown
    • Captured: Limburg  08/07/1941
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IX-C, Bad Sulza? Jul-41 to Jul-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Jul-42 to Jul-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Jul-43 to Nov-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Nov-44 to Mar-45
    • Repatriated: May-45

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Flak Claim: Coned by searchlights, hit by 2./Res. Flak Abt. 264, 3./Res. Flak Abt. 233, 1.-5./Res. Flak Abt. 407, 4.&5./Res. Flak Abt. 141, 4.&5./Res. Flak Abt. 404 and 4.&5./Res. Flak Abt. 241, crashed at Meeuwen, NE of Hasselt ca. 01.54hrs

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch File

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7458 Flying Officer P Langmead, Sergeant W T Hogan, Sergeant G Roberts, Sergeant R F Jackson, Sergeant K Cattran, Sergeant K Harland, Sergeant F H Brown: prisoners of war; aircraft shot down and crashed near Maastricht, Holland, Halifax L9502, 35 Squadron, 8 July 1941.

Information provided by SJ Cattran (2017)

Sgt Kenneth Cattran was my grandfather. After crash landing in July 1941 he was repatriated wounded in 1943. He spent time in various POW camps and escaped from one but was recaptured. My father says Sgt Cattran spent time in Stalag Luft VIIIB but I have not seen any records of his time as a POW anywhere. He was put in a “mental institution” as punishment for the escape attempt. The wound was to his arm. A British doctor wanted to amputate it but a German counterpart felt that he might still be able to make some use of it in later life despite having no elbow joint. He became a very successful house builder after the war and was grateful to that German doctor.

Halifax L9495 (17/07/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9495 was landing at Linton-On-Ouse at the end of a ferry flight on 17th July 1941.

Its crew comprised:

  • JB Tait
  • Others?

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “aircraft did a wheels up landing at Linton. All crew escaped uninjured”.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The Movement Card shows that the aircraft was classified as FA/E and it was struck off charge

AM Form 1180

The Accident Card shows “Undercarriage failed to lower; port up lock control unsatisfactory”

Linton-On-Ouse ORB

The Linton-On-Ouse Operations Record Book shows that JB Tait ferried the Commander-in-Chief, Bomber Command to Middleton-St-George on 17th July, so the loss may be associated with the return flight.


Halifax L9491 (24/07/1941)

Halifax L9491 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft which took off from Stanton Harcourt to attack the Battleship Scharnhorst (anchored at La Pallice) on 24th July 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Alexander Cameron Maxson  Millar (Pilot)
  • Frank Edward Booy (2nd Pilot)
  • (Possibly) Jack Dunthorne Laurie Hall (Observer)
  • George Alexander Chalmers (WOP / AG)
  • Herbert Reginald Higgins (WOP / AG)
  • Donald Fezard Walker (Air Gunner)
  • (Possibly) Noel Grimoldby (Flight Engineer)

During the attack, L9491 was engaged in five encounters with enemy fighters, the first attack wounding the tail gunner Sgt. Walker in the leg and rendering his turret unserviceable. He remained in his turret however and continued giving directions to his Captain until a further attack, with cannon fire, completely wrecked the inter-comm. The remaining guns were made full use of and the aircraft otherwise successfully defended during the engagements and returned safely to England landing at St. Eval”.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Journey to the target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book describes the journey to the target as follows:

“The aircraft took off and proceeded via Lizard Point to a point 50 miles west of Ushant and then direct to the target. The journey from base to the turning point was made at a height of 1,000 feet and below, with the climb to the bombing height taking place between this point and the target. 19,000 feet was the intended bombing height but only 15,000 feet was reached before arrival at the target area. The weather was excellent, brilliant sunshine and no cloud, with perfect visibility.

An enemy destroyer was passed in the proximity of the Île d’Yeu, which, apparently believing itself to be under attack, commenced evasive action and opened fire, but did no damage”.

It was assumed that the destroyer warned the authorities of the impending attack and the German defences were fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft.

The squadron’s Operations Record Book goes on to describe the arrival and subsequent attack as follows:

“As the squadron approached the target area, a very heavy barrage of A.A. fire was immediately put up, and some 30 enemy fighters were observed, some in the air and others taking off from aerodromes in and about La Rochelle.

AM Form 78

The Movement Card shows that the aircraft was allocated to No. 43 Group (Maintenance Unit) after the incident; it was returned to the squadron on 13th October 1941

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7873 Sergeant W Walken: injured; Pilot Officer ACM Millar, Sergeant FE Booy, Sergeant JD Hall, Sergeant R Frimildby (sic N Grimoldby), Sergeant JI Robinson, Flight Sergeant GA Chalmers: uninjured; enemy action, Halifax L9491, 35 Squadron, 24 July 1941.


Halifax L9490 (17/07/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9490 was hit whilst on the ground at RAF Linton-On-Ouse on 17th July 1941 (probably by L9495?)


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The Movement Card shows that the aircraft was classified as FA/B on the 17th July 1941; it was allocated to No. 43 Group and subsequently struck off charge (27/07/1941?)

AM Form 1180

To be obtained