Halifax HR863 (09/07/1943)

Halifax HR863 was one of nine No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Gelsenkirchen on the night of 9th / 10th July 1943.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Edmund Solomon (Pilot)
  • Horatius Douglas Stewart White (Navigator)
  • Donald William McGlashan Archer (Air Bomber)
  • Stanislaus Cyril McKiernan (Wireless Operator)
  • Alexander Stephen (Air Gunner)
  • Ronald Cecil Davies (Air Gunner)
  • Alfred Norman Leslie Moss (Flight Engineer)

The route was Happisburgh, Texel, 5215N 0705E, Gelsenkirchen, 5040N 0725E, 5005N 0635E, 5000N 0115E, Beachy Head, Reading

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Both the bomb aimer and the navigator were hit by flak at position of green steady but bombed successfully.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Citation for HDS White

One night in July 1943 this airman was navigator of an aircraft detailed for an operation against Gelsenkirchen. On the outward flight, whilst many miles from the target, the bomber was his by anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant White sustained 3 wounds in the leg but, in spite of considerable pain, he continued to navigate the bomber to the target which was successfully attacked. On the return flight he made light of his injuries and remained at his station to navigate the aircraft safely back to base when he collapsed through loss of blood. Sergeant White displayed outstanding fortitude and courage, setting an example worthy of high praise.’


Notes:

  1. HDS White (Navigator) was posted to RAF Wyton as N/E (Sick) on 29th August 1943, returning to the squadron on 12th September 1943.
  2. DWM Archer (Air Bomber) had returned to operational duties by 24th July 1943

Halifax JB787 (25/07/1943)

Halifax JB787 was one of twelve (reduced from twenty one) No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Essen on the night of the 25th / 26th July 1943.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Douglas Milmine (Pilot)
  • Norman Alfred John Pearce (Navigator)
  • Reginald Ernest Bates (Air Bomber)
  • Thomas Price (Wireless Operator)
  • George Murray Galbraith (Air Gunner)
  • Stuart Henry Piper (Air Gunner)
  • Donald Eddie Killick (Flight Engineer)

The route was 53°00N 03°32E, Egmond, 51°53N 06°28E, Essen, Noordwijk, 52°40N 03°05E

JB787 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard of it from time of take off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 26th July 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 25th / 26th July 1943”.

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 Casualty Communique No. 284 (Flight 23/09/1943) reported NAJ Pearce, T Price, GM Galbraith and DE Killick as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 369 (Flight 13/04/1944) reported NAJ Pearce, T Price, GM Galbraith and DE Killick “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 sent to 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:

  • 04/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Bates and Sgt Piper, missing on 25th / 26th July 1943, are prisoners of war
  • 20/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that F/O Milmine, missing on 25th / 26th July 1943, is a prisoner of war
  • 27/10/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Pearce, Sgt Price, Sgt Galbraith and Sgt Killick, missing on 25th / 26th July 1943, were killed

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

D Milmine. RE Bates and SH Piper 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:

  • D Milmine
    • Captured: Didams? (01/08/1943)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Aug-43 to Jan-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • RE Bates (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg
    • Repatriated:
  • SH Piper (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg
    • Repatriated:

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 NAJ Pearce, T Price, GM Galbraith and DE Killick were located at Dusseldorf North Cemetery (Nordfriedhof) (Graves 201 – 204)

jb787-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY on 10th October 1946 as follows:

  • KILLICK, DONALD EDDIE Sergeant ‘928731’ Grave 6. C. 6.
  • GALBRAITH, GEORGE MURRAY Sergeant ‘1574286’  Grave 6. C. 7.
  • PRICE, THOMAS Sergeant ‘1210898’ Grave 6. C. 8.
  • PEARCE, NORMAN ALFRED JOHN Sergeant ‘1237466’ Grave 6. C. 9.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachjagd Combat Archive)

Hit in the tail unit just after bombing by 3. & 5./schw. Flak Abt. 445 and 1.,3. & 4./schw. Flak Abt. 471; crashed west of Kirchhellen (Germany) at 00.45hrs. Note; there were 22 other flak battery claims for this aircraft 

Bomber Command Loss Card

The Bomber Command Loss Card suggests that the aircraft was hit by AA fire, with the crew baling out north of Essen.

Original Burial Records

The following is an extract from the original burial records:

JB787 Burial Record.JPG

[Courtesy of Matthias Hundt]

Halifax HR906 (29/07/1943)

Halifax HR906 was one of twenty one No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hamburg on the night of the 29th / 30th July 1943.

It was equipped with Nav. Aid Y (H2S) and was carrying 12 x 500lbs MC. Its designated Path Finder role was Main Force.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Robert Spooner (Pilot)
  • William Lacey Breckell (Navigator)
  • David James Anderson (Air Bomber)
  • William John Spence (Wireless Operator)
  • Rex Gordon Perrett (Air Gunner)
  • Roy Webb (Air Gunner)
  • Eric Charles Fox (Flight Engineer)

The route was 54°30N 07°00E, 54°30N 09°44E, Hamburg, 53°23N 09°38E, 54°20N 07°00E

HR906 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after taking off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 30th July 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 29th / 30th July 1943”.

perrett-telegram-1

Copy of telegram sent to the family of RG Perrett  [Source: recordsearch.naa.gov.au]

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 Casualty Communique No. 296 (Flight 21/10/1943) reported R Spooner, DJ Anderson, WJ Spence, R Webb and EC Fox as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 391 (Flight 08/06/1944) reported R Spooner, DJ Anderson, WJ Spence, R Webb and EC Fox “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 546 (Flight 01/11/1945) reported RG Perrett” 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 sent to 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:

  • 13/10/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that F/S Spooner, F/O Anderson, Sgt Spence, Sgt Webb and Sgt Fox, missing on 29th / 30th July 1943, were killed

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

WL Breckell survived the crash and was captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

His POW Liberation Questionnaire, which was completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, shows the following details:

  • WL Breckell
    • Captured: Hamburg Area 29/07/1943
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft, Frankfurt Aug-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Aug-43 to Jan-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IIIA, Luckenwalde Jan-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-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 R Spooner, DJ Anderson, WJ Spence, RG Perrett, R Webb and EC Fox were located at Stade Community Cemetery

hr906-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at BECKLINGEN WAR CEMETERY on 24th September 1946 as follows:

  • ANDERSON, DAVID JAMES Flying Officer ‘129172’  Grave 14. E. 2.
  • WEBB, ROY Sergeant ‘1430274’ Grave 14. E. 3.
  • PERRETT, REX GORDON Warrant Officer ‘404983’ Grave 14. E. 4.
  • FOX, ERIC CHARLES Sergeant ‘1455705’ Grave 14. E. 5.
  • SPENCE, WILLIAM JOHN Sergeant ‘1123753’ Grave 14. E. 6.
  • SPOONER, ROBERT Pilot Officer ‘156601’ Grave 12. G. 6.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Probable Nightfighter Claim: Uffz. Walter Kauderer, II./JG Herrmann, SW Hamburg, 4-5000m, 00.50. (Note: coned by 1. & 2./Flaksheinw. Abt. 530 (o) and 1. & 4./Flaksheinw. Abt. 508, also by claimed by flak of 4./schw. Flak Abt. 418 (Eisb.), 2./schw. Flak Abt. 535 (Eisb.), 2. & 3./schw. Flak Abt. 336 and 5./schw. Flak Abt. 601 (o) (Grossbattr. Neugrabbin), I. & 4./schw. Flak Abt. 336 (v) (Grossbattr. Billwarder insel) (“Halifax nr. Beckdorf 01.00hrs)

Bomber Command Loss Card

Information supplied by WL Breckell; The fuselage was in flames and there was an explosion. The aircraft went out of control and went down in a spin when the pilot gave the order to abandon the aircraft. I forced the hatch open and went out. The air bomber had come from the aiming position in the nose and was kneeling by the navigator’s table. I heard no more of the crew until I was told at Dulag Luft that six were found dead in the aircraft

Extract from WL Breckell’s POW Document

[Courtesy of Roger Breckell]


Notes:

  1. PG Perrett’s service file is digitised in the Australian Archives and contains a photograph of his original wooden grave marker


Halifax HR851 (29/07/1943)

Halifax HR851 was one of twenty one No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hamburg on the night of the 29th / 30th July 1943.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Harold Cass Pexton (Pilot)
  • Francis Fenton (Navigator)
  • Cyril Duggan Hughes (Air Bomber)
  • Colin John Weldon (Wireless Operator)
  • Charles Frederick Andrew (Air Gunner)
  • William David Ronald Walters (Air Gunner)
  • Ernest Frederick John Willis (Flight Engineer)

The route was 5430N 0700E, 5430N 0944E, Hamburg, 5323N 0938E, 5420N 0700E

HR851 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after taking off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 30th July 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 29th / 30th July 1943”.

Letter Cropped [Courtesy of Kevin Gummer]

Extract from letter sent to the family of EFJ Willis [Courtesy of Kevin Gummer]

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 Casualty Communique No. 294 (Flight 21/10/1943) reported HC Pexton, CD Hughes, CF Andrew, WDR Walters and EFJ Willis as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 397 (Flight 29/06/1944) reported HC Pexton, WDR Walters and EFJ Willis “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 398 (Flight 06/07/1944) reported CF Andrew and CD Hughes “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 sent to 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:

  • 05/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Weldon and F/S Fenton, missing on 29th / 30th July 1943, are prisoners of war.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

F Fenton and CJ Weldon 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:

  • F Fenton
    • Captured Hamburg Area  29-07-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Aug-43 to Nov-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Nov-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Keifheide Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag XI-B, Fallingbostel Mar-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated   May-45
  • CJ Weldon
    • Captured: 20 km south of Hamburg 30/07/1943
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Aug-43 to Nov-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Nov-43 to Jun-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Keifheide Jun-44 to Feb-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Mar-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-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 CD Hughes, CF Andrew, WDR Walters and EFJ Willis were located at Lueneburg Central Cemetery, Germany

hr851-1-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 18th April 1947 at HAMBURG CEMETERY as follows:

  • HUGHES, CYRIL DUGGAN, Flight Sergeant ‘1036179’ Grave 10A. J. 11
  • ANDREW, CHARLES FREDERICK, Squadron Leader ‘115930’  Grave 10A. J. 12..
  • WALTERS, WILLIAM DAVID RONALD, Sergeant ‘1261582’ Grave 10A. J. 13.
  • WILLIS, ERNEST FREDERICK JOHN, Sergeant ‘573470’ Grave 10A. J. 10.

[Photographs courtesy of Colin Ainsworth]

The remains of HC Pexton were not located (or could not be formally identified) and, as such, his name is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:

  • PEXTON, HAROLD CASS, Flight Lieutenant ‘81650’ Panel 120.

[Courtesy of Clive Lewis]

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Flak Claim: Coned by Flaksheinw. Abt. 530, hit by 2./schw. Flak Abt. 418 (Eis), 1., 2., 3., & 5./schw. Flak Abt. 607, 1., 3. & 4./schw. Flak Abt. 603 and crashed at Podendorf nr Moisburg at 01.10hrs

“Joe” Weldon’s recollection of the events [Courtesy of Colin Ainsworth]

This personal story was given by my Father in law, “Joe” Weldon in an interview with war historian Martin Middlebrook, and gives his account of the attack on Hamburg, Germany on the night of 29 / 30 July 1943

“I stood beside the pilot as we approached the target. The bomb aimer and navigator were working hard, to get our position right, because we were Blind Markers. While we were running up, straight and level, we were coned. I’d been in searchlights before but never as bad as this. It felt as though every searchlight in Hamburg was on to us and every gun in Hamburg was firing at us. The pilot started to jink, to avoid the Flak, but with the idea of keeping us on to the release point.

We dropped our bombs and markers – as far as I know at the right place – and turned on to our new course, continuing our evasive action all the time. Then, only a few seconds later, I heard a ‘clang’ as the aircraft was hit, not a heavy hit, just one lump of shrapnel but it hit the navigator. Someone, probably the pilot, asked him if he was alright. The nav said ‘Carry on, lads.’ It was about then I got my parachute and the pilot’s parachute and put them on; chest-type packs they were. We didn’t hear anything more from the navigator and he was either very badly wounded or dead soon after. We seemed to be getting away – the Flak was getting less – but the searchlights still followed us, we were being passed on by one batch after another.

I think we were over the countryside when the mid-upper shouted, ‘Fighter’, and he opened up. But we never heard a word from the rear gunner; I am certain that he was unconscious from oxygen failure. He had complained earlier in the flight about oxygen trouble. We were hit by cannon fire straight away. Fortunately for me, when I had come up, earlier, from my own position to stand by the pilot, I had closed the armour – plating door between where I was standing and the rear of the aircraft – something I had rarely done before. The flight engineer would normally have been standing there but, with that recent introduction of Window, he was further back, throwing Window out. I heard the cannon shells exploding against this armour plating.  I think they were coming along the body of the aircraft. I remember being very thankful that I had shut that door. We never heard another sound from the men in the rear of the aircraft after the cannon shells.

It didn’t seem long before we were being hit again and, this time, he got the starboard – outer engine which was set on fire. Ben pressed the fire extinguisher but nothing happened. Then the fighter made another run and the pilot told us to bale out. ‘Better go, lads.’ Then, almost immediately,, I think he was hit because he flopped forward.

All hell broke loose after that. The aircraft went over and must have gone into a spin. I was thrown into a heap and, when I was able to get to my feet, I found the open escape hatch above my head; it was normally in the floor. I can remember what I thought then. ‘Bloody hell! The wife’s going to get a telegram in the morning, saying I was missing.’ But I didn’t’ think I was going to be killed; that was the last thought in my mind. ‘There was someone else in there but I don’t know whether it was the bomb aimer or navigator. I went for that hatch; I didn’t hang about, I can assure you.

The crew member behind Weldon was Flight Sergeant Frank Fenton, the bomb aimer, he had already pushed the dead or dying navigator out with his parachute release pulled and who, now, gave Weldon a push. The Halifax crashed near Moisburg, sixteen miles from the centre of Hamburg. The pilot Ben Pexton has no known grave. The navigator Sergeant Cyril Duggan Hughes along with Middle upper gunner Sergeant William David Ronald Walters, Squadron Leader Sergeant Charles Frederick Andrew and Sergeant Ernest Frederick John Willis are buried alongside each other in the commonwealth war grave in Hamburg. Grave 10a J10, 11, 12, 13.

The bomb aimer pushed out of the stricken aircraft survived the parachute escape but died in the POW Camp later.

The extract is included in the book “The Battle of Hamburg” by Martin Middlebrook

Crew Memorial

The stained glass window in St. Mary’s Church, Watton, East Yorkshire, commemorating HC Pexton and his crew.

Pexton Crew [Tony Hibberd, FB].jpg

[Courtesy of IBCC Memorial Database Project]

Halifax HR803 (24/07/1943)

Halifax HR803 was one of twenty three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hamburg on the night of the 24th / 25th July 1943.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Nicholas Joseph Matich (Pilot)
  • Cyril Arthur Hewlett (Navigator)
  • Ralph Wilbert Tully (Air Bomber)
  • Francis Robert Dolling (Wireless Operator)
  • Albert Thomas Tuck (Air Gunner)
  • Albert Victor Forsyth (Air Gunner)
  • Ronald McTavish Mather (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “When taking off, both outer engines failed at a height of 2 feet and the aircraft crash landed in a field beyond the aerodrome. There were no casualties”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 shows: Engine Failure on take-off;  port outer and starboard outer. Pilot retracted undercarriage. Shortage of fuel port outer due collapsed …….. pipe.

AM Form 78

The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as Cat FB on 24th July 1943; it was sent to Handley Page on 14th August 1943 and struck off charge on 23rd August 1943.

CA Hewlett Letter

In a letter, CA Hewlett recalled “At the point of take-off we lost an engine; the engine restarted, we had a quick consultation and I confirmed that we could reach our target on time by taking a direct route. We went round again, again the engine failed at the same point and we now had no brakes, so the undercarriage was selected up and we belly flopped into a field. No casualties and no after effects”.

Halifax HR819 (13/07/1943)

Halifax HR819 was one of eighteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Aachen on the night of the 13th / 14th July 1943.

It was equipped with Gee and Nav Aid Y (H2S) and was part of the Main Force

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Edward Wright Saywell (Pilot)
  • Ernest Raymond Moore (Navigator)
  • Frank William Whittaker (Air Bomber)
  • Ronald William Wisson (Wireless Operator)
  • Frank Frederick Ward (Air Gunner)
  • Stuart Fred Hughes (Air Gunner)
  • Joseph Marsh (Flight Engineer)

The route was Noordwick, 5100N 0616E, Aachen 5020N 0542E, Cayeux

HR819 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after taking off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 14th July 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 13th / 14th July 1943”.

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 Casualty Communique No. 288 (Flight 07/10/1943) reported EW Saywell as “missing” and FW Whittaker, ER Moore, SF Hughes, FF Ward and J Marsh “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 389 (Flight 01/06/1944) reported EW Saywell “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 391 (Flight 08/06/1944) reported ER Moore “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 393 (Flight 15/06/1944) reported SF Hughes “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”

Note: It is believed that No. 288 should have read “missing” for all crew members as it was far too soon after the loss for presumption of death

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

  • 03/09/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that Sgt Wisson, missing on 13th / 14th July 1943, is a prisoner of war

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

RW Wisson survived the crash and was captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

His POW Liberation Questionnaire, which was completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, shows the following details:

  • W Wisson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI / Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:

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 EW Saywell, FW Whittaker, ER Moore, SF Hughes, FF Ward and J Marsh were not located (or formally identified) and, as such, their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:

  • HUGHES, STUART FRED, Sergeant ‘1021591’ Panel 154.
  • MARSH, JOSEPH, Sergeant ‘1080667’ Panel 158.
  • MOORE, ERNEST RAYMOND, Sergeant ‘1379660’ Panel 159.
  • SAYWELL, EDWARD WRIGHT, Flight Sergeant ‘415372’ Panel 199.
  • WARD, FRANK FREDERICK, Sergeant ‘1321748’ Panel 168.
  • WHITTAKER, FRANK WILLIAM, Flight Sergeant ‘1231515’ Panel 139.

[Courtesy of Clive Lewis]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Hptm. Hans-Dieter Frank, Stab I./NJG1, N Leuth (Germany) (5B), 5400m, 01.39

External Link

http://www.102ceylonsquadron.co.uk/AachenRaid/index.html

Halifax HR777 (15/07/1943)

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 shows that the aircraft was “repaired on site” on 15th July 1943 and returned to the squadron on 20th July 1943.

There are no details in the squadron’s Operations Record Book suggesting that it was damaged on this date; further research required.

AM Form 1880

  • AM Form 1180 to be obtained 

Halifax HR673 (03/07/1943)

Halifax HR673 was one of seven No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Cologne on the night of the 3rd / 4th July 1943.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Donald Harold Milne (Pilot)
  • Anthony Graham Cox (Navigator)
  • Peter Richard Lissner (Air Bomber)
  • John Jolly (Wireless Operator)
  • Kenneth Wolstencroft (Air Gunner)
  • Robert Abner Hugh Bowring (Air Gunner)
  • Thomas Reginald Maxwell Smith (Flight Engineer)

The route was: Orfordness, 5122N 0320E, 5058N 0632E, Target, Turn Right, 5047N 0723E, 5012N 0644E, 5020N 0132E, Dungeness.

HR673 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after taking off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 4th July 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 3rd / 4th July 1943”.

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 Casualty Communique No. 282 (Flight 23/09/1943) reported DH Milne, AG Cox, PR Lissner, J Jolly, RAH Bowring, K Wolstencroft and TRM Smith as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 367 (Flight 06/04/1944) reported DH Milne, AG Cox, PR Lissner, J Jolly, RAH Bowring, K Wolstencroft and TRM Smith “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 sent to 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:

  • 06/10/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Milne and crew, missing on 3rd / 4th July 1943, were all 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.

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 the crew members were located at St Trond (Brusthem) Cemetery

hr673-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at HEVERLEE WAR CEMETERY on 21st March 1947 as follows:

  • MILNE, DONALD HAROLD, Flight Sergeant ‘416596’ Grave 5. A. 1.
  • WOLSTENCROFT, KENNETH, Sergeant ‘1117841’ Grave 5. A. 2.
  • BOWRING, ROBERT ABNER HUGH, Sergeant ‘1333462’  Grave 5. A. 3.
  • SMITH, THOMAS REGINALD MAXWELL, Sergeant ‘1045872’ Grave 5. A. 4.
  • COX, ANTHONY GRAHAM, Sergeant ‘1384312’ Coll. grave 6. D. 1-20.
  • JOLLY, JOHN, Sergeant ‘1129588’ Coll. grave 6. D. 1-20.
  • LISSNER, PETER RICHARD, Sergeant ‘1385054’ Coll. grave 6. D. 1-20.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Hptm. Siegfried Wandam, I./NJG5 [det. II./NJG1],  1km NE Riemst ENE Tongeren (Belgium) (6B), 5300m, 01.29