Halifax L9569 (09/12/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9569 was being flown by RA Norman and crew (Night Exercise) on 9th December 1941.

The AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) shows “Tail wheel collapsed on landing causing swing; suspected severe tail wheel …………. . Isolated case in this squadron although experienced in 765 Squadron and Conversion Flight; failure to be watched in future.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft was sent for repair; it was returned to the squadron on 31 January 1942

AM Form 1180

Halifax L9524 (18/09/1941 [Non Op])

The AM Form 1180 shows “Pilot (P/O Creswell) overshot runway (Linton-on-Ouse), brakes applied too late. Swung at end of run and tail wheel struck built up earth”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft remained on charge of the squadron; it was operational again by 29th September 1941

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)
  • [-] 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 L9524 (22/10/1941)

Halifax L9524 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Mannheim on 22nd October 1941

The seven-man crew comprised:

  • David Scott Shearman Wilkerson (Pilot)
  • John Stanley Gearing (2nd Pilot)
  • Ian Hewitt (Observer)
  • David Lionel Perry (WOP / AG)
  • Francis Montague Davis (WOP / AG)
  • George Barry Pennell (Air Gunner)
  • Donald Harrington Craig (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “On returning to base, the aircraft crashed on landing, the starboard undercarriage collapsing; no-one was hurt”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180 / AM Form 78

The AM Form 1880 (Accident Card) shows that the undercarriage collapsed on normal landing; aircraft may have suffered an internal fracture when a heavy landing was made previously

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft was sent for repair; it was returned to the squadron on 21st January 1942

DSS Wilkerson

The Casualty File shows that Wilkerson was slightly injured; slight laceration of forehead, left eyebrow; he was operational again by 26th October

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch File

AIR 81/9794 Pilot Officer D S S Wilkerson: injured; aircraft accident at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Halifax L9524, 35 Squadron, 22 October 1941.

  • Extracts from the file:
    • Pilot’s Report: The sortie was carried out and a return to base made at 01.15hrs, three circuits of aerodrome were made whilst in TR9 communication with Regional Control. A “green” was then received from the flare path and undercarriage lowered and checked by both pilots, the green light also showing. A normal approach was made at 115mph and full flaps from 600ft at outer circle the green section of the glide path indicator being observed all the way in. A normal hold off was made with no apparent drift; after touching down lightly on the port wheel the aircraft commenced to settle down normally. After a short run the starboard undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft swung round on the outboard engine and wing tip

Halifax L9522 (16/06/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9522 was being utilised for XXX on 16th June 1941

Its crew comprised\:

  • P Langmead
  • Others

The AM Form 1180 shows “Skidded on landing, swung violently, undercarriage collapsed.” The Station Commander added “Centre of gravity of modern aircraft is well to the rear and any tendency to swing, unless checked immediately, becomes very violent and, it would seem, uncontrollable”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as FA (AC) on 16th June 1941. It was returned to the squadron on 3rd November 1941

Aircraft Crash Log (Compiled by Nicholas Roberts)

Skidded on landing and undercarriage collapsed


 

Halifax L9502 (12/06/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9502 was being utilised for an air test on 12th June 1941

The crew comprised:

  • P Langmead
  • Others

The AM Form 1180 shows “Normal but slightly tail wheel first landing with slight drift which, coupled with structural weakness of tail wheel assembly, caused assembly to snap, aircraft swung and undercarriage collapsed. Tail wheel assembly being strengthened (OC)


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as FA (AC) on 12th June 1941

Aircraft Crash Log (Compiled by Nicholas Roberts)

Swung

Halifax L9503 (15/09/1941)

Halifax L9503 was one of four No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hamburg on the night of the 15th / 16th September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Harold Stanley Brown (Pilot)
  • John Henry Barrett (2nd Pilot)
  • John Anthony Arnsby (Observer)
  • Henry Edward Greene (WOP / AG)
  • Ronald C Shaw (WOP / AG)
  • Sidney Thomas Fisher (Air Gunner)
  • James William Hays (Flight Engineer)

L9503 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Nothing more was heard of from this aircraft which is now officially reported Missing”

HalifaxL9503 at Northolt (IWM CH17539)

Halifax L9503 at Northolt [© IWM CH17539]

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 16th 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 15th / 16th 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.

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. 91 (Flight 27/11/1941) reported HS Brown as “missing, believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 123 (Flight 09/04/1942) reported HS Brown “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.

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

  •  19/10/1941: Information received through the International Red Cross Society quoting German information states that P/O HS Brown, captain of the aircraft missing on operations 16/09/1941 was killed but that the remainder of the crew are all safe and prisoners of war.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

JH Barrett, JA Arnsby, HE Greene, RC Shaw, ST Fisher and JW Hays 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:

  • JH Barrett (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag X-C, Stalag Luft III
    • Repatriated:
  • JA Arnsby (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • HE Greene (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • RC Shaw (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • ST Fisher (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • JW Hays (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, 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 Runnymede Memorial, which was unveiled in 1953.

CWGC records show that the remains of HS Brown were located at Kiel Garrison Cemetery.

L9503 Concentration

His remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at KIEL WAR CEMETERY on 20th May 1947 as follows:

  • BROWN, HAROLD STANLEY, Pilot Officer ‘108027’  Grave 3. J. 6.
Brown H S (findagrave)

[Source: FindaGrave]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Coned by searchlights of M.Flak.Abt 251 for 17mins, hit by flak of M.Flak.Abt 211, 221, 231 and 251; crashed near Revensdorf at 23.37

spurensuchesh.de/revensdorf

  • Cause of Loss: Flak (Tuttendorf Battery)
  • Location of Loss: Revensdorf (Schleswig-Holstein), Germany

Halifax L9493 (15/04/1941)

Halifax L9493 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Kiel on the night of the 15th / 16th April 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Wallace Ivor Lashbrook (Pilot)
  • Alfred Ronald Robbins (2nd Pilot)
  • Ronald Ernest Hewlett (Observer)
  • Charles Andrew Muir (WOP / AG)
  • Ronald Leslie Somerville (WOP / AG)
  • William Broadbent (Air Gunner)
  • Frank Stewart (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Heavy flak caused the starboard undercarriage to fall down. Returned to base but was prevented from landing due to the presence of enemy aircraft. While circling the aerodrome firstly inboard port and then outboard port engines failed; correction of a resultant downward swing caused forced landing in a field near Tollerton Village, Yorkshire and aircraft hit a tree. The navigator and tail gunner were slightly injured”.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 shows: Engine failed, petrol having drained through balance lock, having been flying on left hand circuit for 1 1/2 hours. Engineer cut all engines when instructed to turn on all cocks, landed straight ahead due to lack of control and aircraft ran into tree

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch File

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/5887 Sergeant RE Hewlett, Sergeant W Broadbent, Sergeant F Stewart: injured; aircraft crashed at Tollerton on return from operational flight, Halifax L9493, 35 Squadron, 16 April 1941.

It contains the following information:

” Sgts. Hewlett and Broadbent admitted York Military Hospital with minor injuries”

Extract from L Somerville’s Flying Log Book

The following extract from L Somerville’s Flying Log Book shows his entry for this date

[Courtesy of Marham Aviation Heritage Centre]

WI Lashbrook’s Memories

It is understood that the following text (original internet source no longer accessible)  provides WI Lashbrook’s memories of the events:

“On April 15th 1941 the first raids by Halifax over Germany were flown to Kiel Harbour Germany. Wally’s Aircraft L9493 was hit by flak (anti aircraft fire) over the target resulting in the wheels and flaps lowering under accumulator pressures. The resistance and impact on stability can be imagined. The early Halifax was not equipped with undercarriage “up locks” The result was a six hour return trip across the North Sea under these conditions which ran the fuel dry. Due to the fact that a JU-88 had been in the area the airfield lights had been doused and L9493 had been given up for lost as its slow pace had put if far behind the rest of the squadron. In the airfield circuit at 1500 feet the starboard engines spluttered out. The flight engineer was ordered aft to switch to another tank that hopefully still contained a few gallons necessary to land. In the stress of the moment the engineer forgot to turn off the empty starboard tank before selecting the new tank. This caused an airlock in the entire fuel system and the port engines died as well. At 1500 feet there was insufficient air space to do anything but prepare for the inevitable crash landing. The crew assumed their positions while Wally crossed his fingers and unable to see the ground could only go through the landing motions. Happily there turned out to be a small field below close to the base. With the flaps and landing gear down he brought the aircraft in at 100-110 mph. In pitch darkness the aircraft struck a tree just after touchdown and broke up into 4 sections. The cockpit containing the two pilots, the starboard wing with its engines still attached to the main part of the fuselage contained the flight engineer. The wireless operator, navigator, mid-upper gunner and the port wing with its engines was some distance from the rest of the wreck with the tail section containing the rear gunner even farther away. Remarkably there was no fire after the initial pandemonium but there was a disconcerting hissing sound. Wally called to his co-pilot, whose seat behind him had collapsed, to get out as fast as he could, and he himself tried unsuccessfully to open the overhead cockpit canopy to make his exit that way. His efforts were to no avail as the canopy had jammed. He therefore started to make his way in the pitch darkness to the rear of the aircraft. After two strides he fell out on to the ground, fortunately making a soft landing.

There was just sufficient light outside the aircraft for him to call the crew together and take stock of their injuries which, in the circumstances, were, unbelievably, of a minor character. One member, however, was missing – the rear gunner. His name was called and, in very strong language, a reply came from an area 10 or so yards down the hedgerow. The gunner was trapped in his turret, and he was rescued with the aid of a fire-axe retrieved from the main wreckage. He was only mildly concussed and for a while after his release he reeled like a drunken sailor. The hissing noise coming from the aircraft had now subsided and in the dawn light, it was seen to be due to the automatic inflation of the dingy which was now perched on the wing fully inflated.

As the wireless operator, Sgt. Somerville, was uninjured he was left in charge of the crew whilst Wally, also uninjured, went off to seek some help. Some two hundred yards from the scene of the crash he came to the River Swale across which, in the half light, he could see a cottage. He decided to wade the river which turned out to be muddier, deeper and colder than he anticipated. However, he ploughed on his murky way until finally he reached the far bank and thence to the cottage. He banged on the door repeatedly, until at last the upstairs window opened and a man’s voice told him to “bugger off”. It appeared that he thought the stranger at his door was a German as his sleep had been disturbed by the air-raid siren and gunfire.

Wally persuaded him otherwise. The home owner dressed and rode off on his bicycle to telephone for assistance. Before the man left, Wally told him he would wait in the road to lead the ambulance to the crash. Wally waited a miserable 45 minutes, wet and muddy as he was, and without a dry cigarette. He was a heavy smoker in those days. The ambulance appeared with the Squadron Commander, Squadron leader Willie Tait, aboard who explained the delay. The first ambulance called out had overturned on the way to the scene. Two of the crew subsequently did not perform any further flying duties and were posted elsewhere.

Following this crash landing all Halifax aircraft were withdrawn from operations in order to be fitted with mechanical “up-locks” to the undercarriage, and off-cocks placed in the hydraulic pipelines to the flaps accumulator. Operations were resumed as modified aircraft became available”


Halifax L9489 (10/03/1941)

Halifax L9489 was one of seven No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the docks and shipping canal at Le Havre on 10th March 1941.

Its six-man crew comprised:

  • Peter Alexander Gilchrist (Pilot)
  • Reginald Lucas (2nd Pilot)
  • Edward Rolfe Arnold (Observer)
  • Stanley Broadhurst (WOP / AG)
  • Albert Edward Cooper (Air Gunner)
  • Ronald Godfrey Aedy (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “On the return flight the aircraft was mistaken for an enemy machine and shot down in flames at Merrist Wood, Normandy, Surrey at 22.40 hours. The Captain, PA Gilchrist and the Flight Engineer, RG Aedy, escaped by parachute, but the remainder were killed in the crash. Gilchrist suffered only bruises and returned to duty; Aedy was admitted to the County Hospital, Guildford, with bullet injuries”

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

  • ARNOLD, EDWARD ROLFE, ‘77908’, LEATHERHEAD (SS. MARY AND NICHOLAS) CHURCHYARD Near South Boundary.

[Source: FindaGrave]

  • BROADHURST, STANLEY, ‘550817’, MANSFIELD WOODHOUSE CEMETERY Sec. B. Grave 3193.
    • Photograph of headstone not available
  • COOPER, ALBERT EDWARD, ‘77963’, COGGESHALL BURIAL GROUND Sec. C. Grave 243.

[Courtesy of Shirley Ratcliffe]

  • LUCAS, REGINALD, ‘741992’, MANSFIELD (NOTTINGHAM ROAD) CEMETERY Grave 1998.

[Source: Military Images]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) shows “Shot down by British fighter. Starboard outer engine failure due to machine gun bullets. Starboard inner caught fire due to bullets. Members of the crew unable to leave aircraft because front escape hatch failed to open”

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft was struck off charge of the squadron

Personnel

PA Gilchrist and RG Aedy did not participate in any further operational sorties with the squadron

Crew Memorial

44329395_708284509556245_5976094654741872640_n

Memorial to the crew at the site of the crash [Courtesy of IBCC Memorial Database Project]

Article from the Surrey Advertiser

The night a crew’s home thoughts were shot out of the sky .

They were home safe. The enemy coast and the bitterly cold English Channel were behind them. Halifax L9489 F-Freddie was on course for its base at Linton-on-Ouse near York.

The crew was more relaxed now, though still alert. As they approached the skies over Surrey, the thoughts of flight engineer Ron Aedy were probably on Kingston upon Thames, where he was born. Teddy Arnold, the Observer, may have glanced down and wondered about his family in Leatherhead, where he was brought up. Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Stan Broadhurst was another member of the crew with links with Surrey . He had been at school at Witley .

Peter Gilchrist, having handed over control of the aircraft to 2nd Pilot Reg Lucas, was enjoying a flask of coffee. The mission to Le Havre was accomplished. Soon they would be landing at their home base.

Suddenly, a devastating burst of gun fire set the starboard outer engine of the Halifax on fire. Soon the fire spread to the inner engine, engulfing the wing. The aircraft was doomed.

Gilchrist ordered the aircraft to be abandoned. It crashed in Minty’s Field in the grounds of Merrist Wood Agricultural College. Only two of the crew of six survived .

The tragedy of it all was that F-Freddie, on its first operational sortie, was not shot down by an enemy aircraft but by one of our own, possibly an RAF night fighter which had mistaken the Halifax for a He111 or a Ju88 .

The incident, blandly recorded in S/Ldr Gilchrist’s log as “Shot down by night fighter (RAF) Aldershot – Guilford area. Sgt Aedy wounded, crew killed”.

A rather sad beginning has inspired retired headmaster Dennis Hoppe, who lives near Farnham, to write a book about the incident, about those who survived and those who were killed. It is a superbly researched story of a tragic accident, one of many during WWII, in which airmen died as the result of what became known as friendly fire .

In the attack on F-Freddie, Sgt Aedy was severely wounded by shrapnel. Having given the order to abandon the aircraft, S/Ldr Gilchrist left through the escape hatch above the pilot’s seat. At the same time, the injured Aedy was assisted by his fellow crew members and bundled out of the main fuselage door, ensuring his rip cord was pulled as he left.
In doing so, 2nd Pilot Sgt Lucas, Observer P/O Arnold, WOP/AG Sgt Broadhurst and Rear Gunner Sgt Cooper left it too late to save themselves and sacrificed their lives to save their crew mate.

F-Freddie hit the ground in a corner of Minty’s Field in Normandy at 22.40. Peter Gilchrist landed in a field of cattle, opposite the Duke of Normandy pub , about a quarter of a mile from the crash site. Ron Aedy’s cries for help brought rescuers to him and he was soon in hospital in Guilford. Reg Lucas was critically injured in the crash and died in Guilford Hospital the next day . His three companions perished in the crash .

The port inner engine and much of the forward section of L9489 remained in the ground until unearthed by Croydon Aviation Archaeology Society.

Today , a corner of Minty’s Field remains a shrine to the memory of those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and peace .

“A rather sad beginning” by Dennis Hoppe

A booklet entitled “A rather sad beginning” has been written by Dennis Hoppe about this loss

Halifax L9486 (30/03/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9486 was participating in the Air Fighting Development Unit (AFDU ) trials at Duxford on 30th March 1941.

Its crew comprised:

  • EG Franklin
  • Others?

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “L9486 experienced hydraulic failure of the undercarriage and it returned to Linton-On-Ouse, making a sad but beautiful landing on the belly of the aircraft, causing only the minimum amount of damage”.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The Movement Card suggests that the aircraft was off strength until 20th August 1941 (but this may have been when it was returned following a subsequent undated incident)

AM Form 1180

The Accident Card shows “Undercarriage failed to lower; landed undercarriage retracted


 

Halifax L9493 (10/03/1941)

Halifax L9493 was one of seven No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the docks and shipping canal at Le Havre on 10th March 1941.

Its six-man crew comprised:

  • Richard Vernon Warren (Pilot)
  • Stanley Desmond Greaves (2nd Pilot)
  • Clement Watt Wilson (Observer)
  • Ronald Leslie Somerville (WOP / AG)
  • [-] Hogg (WOP / AG)
  • Gordon Herbert Frank Ogden (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Shrapnel from a very near heavy shell-burst holed the aircraft in many places and injured the navigator. With commendable fortitude this N.C.O carried out his duties, including the aiming and releasing of the second stick of bombs. The radiator of the starboard inner engine was punctured causing over-heating of the engine, which had to be switched off: also a hydraulic failure caused the starboard undercarriage to fall. The aircraft returned to base at the time stated on three engines and with one leg down”.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

There are no entries suggesting that the aircraft was struck off charge of the squadron as a result of this incident

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch File

The following casualty files are available at the National Archives

AIR 81/5409 “Sergeant C W Wilson: injured; aircraft hit by enemy anti aircraft fire over target, Halifax L9493, 35 Squadron, 10 March 1941. (Note: Related files: 4952, 4956”)

It contains the following information (which contains graphic detail of injury):

“Sgt CW Wilson admitted to hospital (Military Hospital, York). Compund comminuted left patella as a result of gunshot wounds. Left patella removed wound excised shrapnel removed from knee joint”


Notes:

  1. The Operations Record Book shows that this was L9493, but there is no record of this on the movement card; however the movement card for L9494 shows that it was damaged on 10th / 11th March 1941. It is unclear which of these two aircraft was involved; the RAF Museum has advised that there are no accident cards for either aircraft for this date.

Halifax V9979 (30/12/1941)

Halifax V9979 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the battle cruisers (Scharnhorst and Gneisenau) in Brest harbour on the 30th December 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Stuart Auldjo Middleton (Pilot)
  • Robert Alexander Fisher Frew (2nd Pilot)
  • Leslie John Percival Foster (Observer)
  • John Albert Orton (WOP / AG)
  • Peter Clement Godwyn Maflin (WOP / AG)
  • Matthew George Kipling (Air Gunner)
  • Arthur Stanley Greenwood (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “V9979 was observed to receive a direct hit under the port wing, but though its descent was followed well down to within two or three thousand feet evasive action prevented eye witnesses from following it right down, so it is not known whether he was able to regain control and bale out on time”.

V9979 [Source - Linzee Duncan]

V9979 during a raid on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in December 1941
[Courtesy of Linzee Duncan]

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 31st December 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 30th December 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 Casualty Communique No. 109 (Flight 19/02/1942) reported SA Middleton, RAF Frew, JA Orton, PCG Maflin, LJP Foster, MG Kipling and AS Greenwood as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 138 (Flight 02/07/1942) reported SA Middleton, RAF Frew, JA Orton, PCG Maflin, LJP Foster, MG Kipling and AS Greenwood “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 the next of kin, along with any monies due.

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 Runnymede Memorial, which was unveiled in 1953.

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

  • FOSTER, LESLIE JOHN PERCIVAL, Pilot Officer, ‘68739’,  Plot 40. Row 1. Grave 12.
  • FREW, ROBERT ALEXANDER FISHER, Pilot Officer, ‘104518’, Plot 40. Row 1. Grave 22.
  • GREENWOOD, ARTHUR STANLEY, Sergeant, ‘570897’, Plot 40. Row 1. Grave 11.
  • KIPLING, MATTHEW GEORGE, Sergeant, ‘614312’, Plot 40. Row 1. Grave 6.
  • MAFLIN, PETER CLEMENT GODWYN, Sergeant, ‘911942’, Plot 40. Row 2. Grave 18.
  • MIDDLETON, STUART AULDJO, Squadron Leader, ‘90371’, Plot 40. Row 2. Grave 10.
  • ORTON, JOHN ALBERT, Sergeant, ‘964519’, Plot 40. Row 2. Grave 17.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Location of Loss

Porspoder, NW France

P4 Casualty File

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/11291 Squadron Leader S A Middleton, Pilot Officer R A F Frew, Pilot Officer L J P Foster, Sergeant J A Orton, Sergeant P C G Maflin, Sergeant M G Kipling, Sergeant A E Greenwood: killed; aircraft shot down and crashed near Porspoder, France, Halifax V9979, 35 Squadron, 30 December 1941.

WR Chorley (Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses)

“From eyewitness statements it is reported that the bomber, with one engine ablaze, passed low over the village of Lanildut [Finistere], NW of Brest, pursued by a fighter which in turn was shot down by Sgt Kipling just moments before the Halifax hit the sea, finishing up on rocks at Porspoder a few kilometres to the north of Lanildut. Soon after the crash the Germans requisitioned some seaweed boats and having searched the area returned to the small harbour at Mazou with a number of badly burned bodies though it is believed some were still alive. All were examined by a German doctor but those who had survived succumbed to their injuries. A few days later a teenage girl found the body of the wireless operator whom she identified from his tag as Sgt Maflin”

Crew Information

Foster Crew [Courtesy of Clive Barrington]

Believed to be Middleton’s Crew 18th December 1941 [Courtesy of Clive Barrington]

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

– SA Middleton

Halifax V9978 (18/12/1941)

Halifax V9978 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the battleships (Scharnhorst and Gneisenau) in Brest Harbour on 18th December 1941 (daylight).

It was crewed by:

  • Basil Vernon Robinson (Pilot)
  • Harry R Larson (2nd Pilot)
  • Alfred Abels (Observer)
  • Norman Henry Hood (WOP / AG)
  • Walter Harold Mennell (WOP / AG)
  • Richard Charles Rivaz (Air Gunner)
  • [-] Burtonshaw (Flight Engineer)

The route was as follows: Base, Lundy Island, Lizard Point, Lanildut, Target

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Heavy flak burst observed under port wing by other aircraft in the formation. V9978 was repeatedly hit. Port inner engine failed immediately after leaving target, feathered with difficulty. Shortly afterwards starboard outer engine failed and at 12.41 hours a Glycol leak developed in the same engine followed by a small fire and flames were observed in the cowling. The same engine totally failed at 12.50 hours. Propeller boss holed by shrapnel. Port inner engine and port main plane behind port inner engine both holed by shrapnel. Subsequently aircraft made a successful landing on the sea and crew took to dinghy until rescued. Excellent visibility”.

All personnel were rescued; RC Rivaz sustained a slight injury to his ankle.

V9978 [IWM C3046]
Halifax V9978 over the target area during this raid [Source: IWM C3046]

The aircraft of FO Wilkerson circled the ditched aircraft and crew in the dinghy and for half an hour remained in the vicinity, communicating by wireless to the shore stations and did not depart until he was satisfied that everything had been done to ensure the rescue of the crew in the dinghy.



ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Cause / Location of Loss

  • Flak Damage
  • In the sea, 50 miles south of Plymouth

P4 Casualty File

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/11099 Flying Officer R C Rivaz: injured; Wing Commander B V Robinson, Sergeant H R Larson, Flying Officer A Abels, Sergeant N H Hood, Sergeant W H Mennell, Flight Lieutenant F E P Burtonshaw: uninjured; aircraft crashed at sea on return from operational flight over Brest, France, enemy action, Halifax V9978, 35 Squadron, 18 December 1941.

ADM199/2327 Admiral Superintendent’s Office

18 December 1941, the 6th Motor Launch Flotilla operating out of Lowestoft received a report of a Halifax ditching. ML 157 was sent to the area. Seven men in the water, seven rescued.

Extract from Coastal Command Review Vol.1:

An investigation, for Air Sea Rescue, into a forced landing in the sea by an aircraft of Bomber Command has revealed a story of such practical interest as to justify its inclusion in this review, as an example of how the job should be done. It was a Halifax II and it was lost on 18th December 1941. The incident has proved that four-engined aircraft are no more dangerous to ditch than twin, with the aid of previous drill.

While engaged on operations over north-west France, the aircraft had taken off from Linton-on-Ouse at 0959 hours to attack German main naval units. Prinz Eugen, Gneisenau and Scharnhorst.  (Operation Veracity I). Fighter protection was given by 10 Squadron of Fighter Command. Both port motors were struck by flak. Only the port inner airscrew was feathered, the port outer mechanism having failed. Thus the captain was forewarned of the impending ditching. When the aircraft was struck by the flak, at 14,000 ft., considerable difficulty was experienced in maintaining a low rate of descent. Full rudder and aileron bias and full aileron with half rudder was required in order to control the aircraft. At 5,000 ft. all hope of maintaining height was abandoned and preparation for ditching began.

The wireless operator remained at his set, transmitting SOS, and he put I.F.F. to distress signal. Owing to the exertions of the captain in controlling the aircraft, the second pilot was unable to strap him in. The crew moved to the following ditching stations: second pilot prone on the floor between the rest seats, the navigator, rear gunner and engineer lay on the floor with their feet braced against the rear spar, the front gunner lay on the rest seat with his feet against the fore spar. The crew were not anchored to the aircraft.

Six hundred gallons of fuel remained in the aircraft. There were no bombs and the bomb doors were closed. No equipment was jettisoned. The wheels were up. A gradual descent was made at approximately 110 m.p.h. at 2,800 r.p.m. on both starboard engines. Any increase of power above this resulted in loss of control. At about 1,000 ft. the wireless operator moved to his ditching station on the rest seat with his feet braced against the fore spar. Both the mid-upper and the pilot’s upper exit were opened before ditching.

The sea was calm with a very slight swell. The wind was 5 m.p.h. Conditions of visibility were good with warm sunshine and little cloud.

The starboard engines were throttled back and the aircraft was glided down into wind at about 110 m.p.h. with flaps up until close to the surface. The aircraft was then held off and the tail wheel touched with the nose only slightly up. The impact occurred in the neighbourhood of 85 m.p.h. The rate of descent was almost imperceptible. As the aircraft struck the water the nose dug in and all forward speed was immediately lost while a deluge of water surged over the aircraft. When this had subsided the water level in the fuselage was 2 ft. deep and seemed to be the same level as the water outside. A great deal of water entered the aircraft from the broken nose and the upper escape hatches. The front turret was dislodged. It was noted that the propeller tips were bent. In spite of his not being secured the captain was neither thrown forward nor received any injuries. The tail gunner was the only casualty; he sprained his foot, which he considers was due to not bracing it carefully enough.

Immediately the aircraft came to rest the engineer operated the manual releases. The captain escaped by his own upper exit and the remainder of the crew through the mid-upper exit. The dinghy (” J ” type, Mark III) released satisfactorily and the drill was carried out without a hitch ; it had been well practised previously.

The aircraft remained afloat for 40 minutes with the right wing and nose slightly down. The dinghy was punctured while clearing the aircraft but the leak was effectively stopped with the stoppers provided, so that topping up was only required every quarter of an hour.

Throughout the descent the two remaining aircraft in the ‘section kept in touch with base and finally communicated the position of the ditched aircraft, 50 miles south of Plymouth. One and a half hours after ditching, a Lysander appeared and remained circling overhead until visual contact had been established between the rescue boat and the dinghy. A motor launch, with two others in attendance, rescued the crew at 1600 hours.

BBC History Peoples War [Story by WH Mennell]

I served in the RAF from October 1940 to October 1946, as a wireless operator/air gunner in bomber command.

As a newly arrived WOP/AG at Linton-on-Ouse in No. 4 Group, 35 squadron, it was a rude awakening to find myself in the front turret of the C.O’s Mark ll Halifax doing intensive training at formation flying in preparation for a daylight attack on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau (the german pocket battleships in Brest docks). This was to be a joint effort with 18 Halifaxes from 10, 35 and 76 squadrons of 4 Group, 18 Stirlings from 3 Group. 11 Manchesters of 5 Group, with a fighter escort.

With W/Cdr ‘Robbie’ Robinson as skipper we took off from Linton when we joined up with 10 and 76 Squadrons to rendezvous with the other two groups off Lundy Island.

It was a clear sunny cloudless sky on the 18th December 1941 when we approached the French coast about midday. In the front turret of the leading Halifax I had a front row view as we changed from a vic formation to line astern. Although our escort kept the enemy fighters busy, we met very accurate flak, the first round exploding just ahead of us as we flew through its smoke. As one of our 2000 lbs bombs hung up at the first attack Robbie decided to make a further attack, this time from the land direction when the two port engines were damaged by flak, one of which could not be feathered causing considerable drag and we were forced to lose height to maintain flying speed. It struck me afterwards that although I was unable to swim I was in no way fearful of landing in the sea.

We ditched about 50 miles from Start point and took to the dinghy which inflated just as described in the manual but Robbie immediately clambered back on to the mainplane and back to the cockpit to retrieve his pipe which he had left in the cockpit. He always flew with his unlit pipe poking from the side of his oxygen mask.

F/Lt Rivaz our tail gunner who had broken a bone in his foot with the landing advised us not to open the brandy in the dinghy until we were picked up (He had previous ditching experience!)

Another aircraft in the formation circled us and transmitted our position, but had to leave us. Some time passed and we were beginning to get anxious when we saw the cross trees of a ship on the horizon which proved to be a naval torpedo boat which had been searching throughout the night for a Whitley that had ditched. Once on board we were very well looked after. Each crew member went to his bunk and shared with us his stored tots. We finally arrived in Dartmouth not a little drunk. to find ourselves being ushered into the naval guard room (a room in a pub!}. We were given beds in the Royal Naval college and the following day travelled back to York where we were met on the station by half the squadron singing “Winco’s in the drink”

Back on the squadron we were expecting to get survivor’s leave only to find being on standby for another visit to Brest.

Halifax R9372 (30/12/1941)

Halifax R9372 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Battle Cruisers (Scharnhorst and Gneisenau) in Brest harbour on the 30th December 1941 (daylight raid).

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • David Scott Shearman Wilkerson (Pilot)
  • Leslie John Nelmes (2nd Pilot)
  • Ian Hewitt (Observer)
  • David Lionel Perry (WOP / AG)
  • Stanley Frank Hazleton (WOP / AG)
  • [-] Sankey (Air Gunner)
  • Donald Harrington Craig (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft attacked primary at 14.00hrs from 16,000ft. No observation of results was possible as observation plate was hit by flak just after bombs were dropped. Two inner engines were put out of action. Holes in wings, tanks, bomb doors and flaps and tyre punctured; damage being done by flak and fighters. One ME109E seen to dive steeply away after attack with smoke coming from the engine. It was not seen to crash. R9372 landed safely at St. Eval”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The Movement Card shows that the aircraft was classified as FB (AC); it was allocated to Handley Page and returned to the squadron on 9th January 1942

Halifax L9607 (30/10/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9607 was being utilised for x on 30th October 1941.

Its crew comprised:

  • L Cheshire
  • Others?

The AM Form 1180 shows that whilst taking off, L9607 overtook other aircraft rapidly. Unable to break away to port as leading aircraft was forcing it towards boundary. Throttled back, could not maintain speed and bounced with undercarriage unlocked. On landing, undercarriage collapsed”.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The Movement Card shows that the aircraft was damaged on 30th October 1941. It was returned to the squadron on 15th April 1942

Aircraft Crash Log (Compiled by Nicholas Roberts)

Undercarriage collapsed on take off after bounce


 

Halifax L9603 (07/11/1941)

Halifax L9603 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Krupps Factory at Essen on the night of 7th / 8th November 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Gordon Whitaker (Pilot)
  • Richard Roye Drummond (2nd Pilot)
  • Maurice Osborne Stephens (Observer)
  • Arthur Roy Kilminster (WOP / AG)
  • Charles Witcher (WOP / AG)
  • Robert Ferguson Thompson (Air Gunner)
  • Eric Rees Thomas (Flight Engineer)

L9603 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Operation Completed signal sent at 22.25hrs. Aircraft Missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 8th November 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 November 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 Casualty Communique No. 134 (Flight 04/06/1942) reported ER Thomas, RF Thompson and G Whitaker “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”

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

  • 13/11/1941: Daily papers published a list of British prisoners of war which included the names of MO Stephens and RR Drummond. No mention was made of other members of the crew
  • 10/12/1941  “A telegram from the International Red Cross, quoting German information, states that 974372 Sgt RF Thompson (AG), 618140 ER Thomas (FE) and P/O G Whitaker 45055 (Captain) have been killed.

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

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

RR Drummond, MO Stephens, AR Kilminster and C Witcher 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:

  • AR Kilminster
    • Captured: Apeldoorn, Holland Nov-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VIII-B, Lamsdorf Nov-41 to May-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • RR Drummond (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VIII-B, Stalag Luft III, Stalag Luft I
    • Repatriated:
  • MO Stephens (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Stalag Luft III
    • Repatriated:
  • C Witcher (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VIII-B, Stalag Luft III
    • 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 Runnymede Memorial, which was unveiled in 1953.

CWGC records do not show where the remains of G Whitaker, RF Thompson and ER Thomas were located but show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at ROZENDAAL PRIVATE CEMETERY as follows:

  • THOMPSON, ROBERT FERGUSON, Sergeant, 974372, Grave 652.
  • WHITAKER, GORDON, Pilot Officer, 45055, Grave 653.
  • THOMAS, ERIC REES, Sergeant, 618140, Grave 654.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Dr Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd War Diaries)

Nightfighter Claim: Lt. Herbert Lütje, Stab 111./NJG1, 4 km east of Terlet N Arnhem (4C), 00.04

WR Chorley (RAF Bomber Command Losses)

Crashed in the Imbos Forest, near Rozendaal, Holland

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch File

AIR 81/10192 Sergeant R F Thompson, Pilot Officer G Whitaker, Sergeant E R Thomas: killed; Sergeant C Witcher (RCAF), Sergeant A R Kilminster (RCAF), Pilot Officer M O Stephens, Sergeant R R Drummond: prisoners of war, aircraft failed to return from an operational flight over Essen, Halifax L9603, 35 Squadron, 7 November 1941.

Halifax L9600 (11/12/1941)

Halifax L9600 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Cologne [Special Target “C”] on 11th / 12th December 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Gerald Leonard Grigg (Pilot)
  • Hubert Donald Buckley (2nd Pilot)
  • Ian Redmayne Bell (Observer)
  • Frank Wilson Crocker (WOP / AG)
  • Maurice Victor Wakeling (WOP / AG)
  • Laurence William Ketteringham (Air Gunner)
  • Robert William George Kent (Flight Engineer)

The route was: Base, Orfordness, Furnes (Veurne), Tournai, Cologne, Tournai,  Furnes (Veurne), Orfordness, Base.

L9600 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following: “Aircraft Missing; nothing heard since leaving base”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 12th December 1941, the squadron informed Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that the aircraft and crew were missing.

A telegram and follow up letters from the Commanding Officer were sent to the next of kin of each crew member advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations on 11th / 12th December 1941”.

IMG_0002(Edit)

Telegram that was sent to family of HD Buckley  [Courtesy of Sue McLachlan]

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

As there was no communication with L9600 during the operation, it is assumed that the authorities were not aware that the aircraft had crashed into the sea and did not initiate air-sea rescue procedures.

On 15th December 1941, the body of LW Ketteringham (Air Gunner) was washed up onto the shore at Bredene, Belgium, near the ‘Home Astrid’.  He was identified by police inspector Henri Verhelst and buried at the local cemetery the following day.

CWGC records show that his remains were buried at BREDENE CHURCHYARD as follows:

  • KETTERINGHAM, LAURENCE WILLIAM, Sergeant, ‘1153499’,  Row C. Grave 528.
ketteringham-grave

Note: It is known that the families were informed of this development as correspondence between them refers to this matter.

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 Communication No. 105 [Flight 29/01/1942] reported HD Buckley, IR Bell, FW Crocker, MV Wakeling, LW Ketteringham and RWG Kent as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communication No. 132 [Flight 28/05/1942] reported LW Ketteringham “previously reported missing”  as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communication No. 151 [Flight 10/09/1942] reported GL Grigg,  IR Bell, FW Crocker and MV Wakeling “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 the next of kin, along with any monies due.

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 Runnymede Memorial, which was unveiled in 1953.

The remains of the crew members (other than those of LW Ketteringham) were never recovered and, as such, their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial as follows:

  • BUCKLEY, HUBERT DONALD, Pilot Officer, 104512, Panel 31.
  • BELL, IAN REDMAYNE, Flight Sergean,t 581312, Panel 35.
  • CROCKER, FRANK WILSON, Sergeant, 911566, Panel 41.
  • GRIGG, GERALD LEONARD, Sergeant, 1165305, Panel 44.
  • KENT, ROBERT WILLIAM GEORGE, Sergeant, 559083, Panel 46.
  • WAKELING, MAURICE VICTOR, Sergeant, 115220′, Panel 54.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

P4 Casualty File

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/10871 Sergeant L W Ketteringham: killed; Sergeant G L Grigg, Pilot Officer H D Buckley, Flight Sergeant I R Bell, Sergeant F W Crocker, Sergeant M V Wakeling, Sergeant R W G Kent: missing believed killed; aircraft failed to return from operational flight, Halifax L9600, 35 Squadron, 11 December 1941.

wrecksite.eu

Shot down above the Vuurtorenwijk, Ostend and the burning aircraft crashed into the sea in front of the Ostend Lighthouse

Presumption of Death

In the absence of any information on the crew members, the Air Ministry initiated the process of “death presumed for official purposes” in August 1942.

In the case of HD Buckley, this process was hampered by the fact that the family had received the following cable in February 1942 (2 months after the loss), which led them to believe that he was still alive:

Telegram1 redacted.jpg
Letter.jpg

Despite extensive research it has not been possible to establish where the message was sent from or why it was dated 2 months after the loss

Crew Information

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

Halifax L9582 (30/11/1941)

Halifax L9582 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack a railway station at Hamburg on the night of the 30th November / 1st December 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • John Craig Hamilton (Pilot)
  • Clifford Grove Lythgoe (2nd Pilot)
  • Jeffrey Arnold Longford (Observer)
  • Albert Edward Connor (WOP / AG)
  • James Patrick Henderson (WOP / AG)
  • John Collins (Air Gunner)
  • Walter Roy Stapleford (Flight Engineer)

L9582 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Aircraft Missing. No news received since leaving base

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 1st December 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 30th November / 1st December 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 which is recorded in the squadron’s Operations Record Book:

  • 04/12/1941: A telegram from the International Red Cross Society, quoting Berlin information states that F/S Hamilton, P/O Lythgoe, Sgt Longford, Sgt Henderson, Sgt Connor and Sgt Stapleford, slightly injured are all prisoners of war. No mention was made of Sgt Collins.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

JC Hamilton, CG Lythgoe, JA Longford, AE Connor, JP Henderson and WR Stapleford 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:

  • AE Connor
    • Captured: Hamburg 30/11/1941
    • Interrogated Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Dec-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Moosburg Dec-41 to Aug-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 383, Hohenfels Aug-42 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VII, Bankau Jul-44 to Feb-45 (Evacuated)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag III-A, Luckenwalde Feb-45 to May-45 (Liberated)
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • JC Hamilton (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Stalag 383, Stalag Luft VII
    • Repatriated:
  • CG Lythgoe (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Stalag Luft III
    • Repatriated:
  • JA Longford (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag Luft IV
    • Repatriated:
  • JP Henderson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Stalag Luft I, Stalag Luft VI, Stalag Luft IV
    • Repatriated:
  • WR Stapleford (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Stalag 383, Stalag Luft VII
    • 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 J Collins were located at Uetersen New Cemetery.

His remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at HAMBURG CEMETERY on 12th November 1946 as follows:

  • COLLINS, JOHN, Flight Sergeant, ‘905359’,  Grave 5A. J. 9.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Lt Ludwig Meister,  5./NJG1, Lentfohrden 5 km S Bad Bramstedt (Hummael A) 4000m (Schleswig-Holstein, Germany), 22.21

Note: coned by searchlight batteries of 1. Marine Flak Rgt. and claimed by Marine Flak of 1. Marine Flak Rgt (Halifax near Lentfohrden); also claimed by 1./schw. Res Flak Abt. 267 (Halifax near Lentfohrden) 22.15hrs, (in co-operation with Nachtjagd). Flak claims confirmed by OKL on 29/04/1943, confirmation date claim Lt. Meister unknown

P4 Casualty File

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/10608 Sergeant J Collins; killed; Flight Sergeant J C Hamilton, Pilot Officer C G Lythgoe, Sergeant J A Longford, Sergeant A E Connor, Sergeant J P Henderson, Sergeant R Stapleford: prisoners of war; aircraft shot down and crashed at Lentfohrden, Germany, Halifax L9582, 35 Squadron, 30 November 1941.

gemeinde-lentfoehrden.de

Local Reporting: On Sunday 30/11/41 Mayor Boge reported a plane crash to the District Administrator in Bad Segeberg. The plane a British Halifax of No. 35 Squadron, was probably hit by flak, and it crashed about 400 metres from the station and burned. The crew were able to escape by parachute and were soon captured. The rear gunner was discovered dead in the aircraft the next morning.

Tim Longford, son of JA Longford (Observer)

Tim Longford, son of JA Longford (Observer) advised:  After take off the plane was lacking in air speed but the pilot Hamilton made the decision to go on. They arrived at the target Hamburg 30 minutes late after all other bombers had left. The sky was alive with fighters and T for Tommy was badly shot up. Stapleford was hit in the face and Collins killed. Three of the four engines were on fire and the fuselage was badly damaged. Pilot ordered bale out as plane fell to 16000 feet. My father J A Longford was observer so he jumped first, followed by the rest of the crew and they were captured by trainee youth soldiers.

Crew Information

JC Hamilton Crew circa August 1941 [Courtesy of Tim Langford]

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

– JC Hamilton

Halifax L9579 (12/10/1941)

Halifax L9579 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Siemens Factory at Nuremberg on the night of the 12th / 13th October 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Harry Aston Williams (Pilot)
  • (Possibly) Lionel Monck Mason (2nd Pilot)
  • Arthur Sykes (Observer)
  • Leonard Stewart Thorpe (WOP / AG)
  • Frank Wilson Crocker (WOP / AG)
  • George Barry Pennell (Air Gunner)
  • Edmund Ernest Stocker (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Squadron aircraft were diverted to stations within the Group as this aerodrome had gone out due to fog. L9579 failed to receive the diversion and whilst attempting to land at Linton ran out of petrol on the approach and crashed. The Captain had already baled out three of his crew and it was after he had baled out the third that he saw the flarepath and decided to attempt a landing. The four remaining members of the crew were fortunately uninjured”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft was classified as FB/E and struck off charge

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) shows: Uneconomical running caused high fuel consumption. Tried to return to base with small margin of petrol. All engines cut during approach; crashed with undercarriage down.


Halifax L9572 (24/08/1941)

Halifax L9572 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Marshalling Yards at Dusseldorf on the night of the 24th / 25th August 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Jack McGregor-Cheers (Pilot)
  • Thomas Percival McHale (2nd Pilot)
  • Alistair Alexander Stobie Heggie (Observer)
  • Jack Fuller (WOP / AG)
  • James Blain Anderson (WOP / AG)
  • Vivian Maxwell Markham (Air Gunner)
  • Walter Norman Collins (Flight Engineer)

L9572 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Aircraft was due to return to base at 02.35 hours. As this aircraft had not returned it was called up on R/T at 03.01 and 03.12 hours. Communication was made, but faded and nothing more was heard of it nor was it plotted by the Observer Corps. It is now officially reported Missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 25th August 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 August 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 Casualty Communique No. 87 (Flight 06/11/1941) reported J McGregor-Cheers, TP McHale, AAS Heggie, JB Anderson, J Fuller, VM Markham and WN Collins as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 127 (Flight 30/04/1942) reported J McGregor-Cheers, AAS Heggie, J Fuller and VM Markham “previously reported missing” as “now presumed  killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 137 (Flight 25/06/1942) reported TP McHale, JB Anderson and WN Collins “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 the next of kin, along with any monies due

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 the crew members were located but show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at CHIEVRES COMMUNAL CEMETERY as follows:

  • ANDERSON, JAMES BLAIN, Sergeant, ‘R/54021’, Joint grave 1-2.
  • COLLINS, WALTER NORMAN, Sergeant, ‘617140’, Joint grave 4-5.
  • FULLER, JACK, Sergeant, ‘987503’, Joint grave 1-2.
  • HEGGIE, ALISTAIR ALEXANDER STOBIE, Sergeant, ‘967663’, Joint grave 4-5.[
  • MARKHAM, VIVIAN MAXWELL, Pilot Officer, ‘100032’, Grave 3.
  • McGREGOR-CHEERS, JACK, Pilot Officer, ‘64889’, Grave 7.
  • McHALE, THOMAS PERCIVAL, Sergeant, ‘936804’, Grave 6.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Oblt. Heinrich Griese, 1./NJG1, Neuf Maison, 10km S Ath (Belgium), 01.16

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch Files (AIR 81/8547)

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives

AIR 81/8547 Sergeant J Fuller, Sergeant J B Anderson (RCAF), Pilot Officer V M Markham, Sergeant A A S Heggie, Sergeant W M Collins, Sergeant T P McHale, Pilot Officer J McGregor-Cheers: killed; aircraft failed to return from an operational flight over Dusseldorf, Germany, Halifax L9572, 35 Squadron, 25 August 1941.

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

Loss Location

No details regarding the location of the loss are available, but the POW questionnaires suggest the location was in France

Halifax L9560 (02/09/1941)

Halifax L9560 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Special Target “B” Berlin on the night of 2nd / 3rd September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Douglas Stewart Fraser (Pilot)
  • Robin Lyell Blin Beare (2nd Pilot)
  • John Peter Boston Cushion (Observer)
  • Arthur Henry Stroud (WOP / AG)
  • Denis Slater (WOP / AG)
  • Edward Wilkinson (Air Gunner)
  • Norman Willingham (Flight Engineer)

The route was Base, Flamborough, Meldorf, Neumunster, Target, Neumunster, Meldorf, Flamborough, Base

Halifax L9560 failed to return from the operation and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “The call sign on approach of the enemy coast on track for target was all that was afterwards heard of this aircraft. It is now officially reported missing” 

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 3rd 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 2nd / 3rd 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.

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. 85 (Flight 23/10/1941) reported DS Fraser,  JPB Cushion, D Slater, AH Stroud and N Willingham as “missing believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 121 (Flight 26/03/1942) reported DS Fraser,  JPB Cushion, D Slater, AH Stroud and N Willingham “previously reported as missing believed killed in action” 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

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

  • 05/10/1941: Telegram received from International Red Cross Society through Air Ministry states that PO Fraser and PO Cushion, Sgts Slater, Stroud and Willingham of his crew, missing on operations on 3rd September 1941 were killed and that his second pilot and rear gunner Sgts Beare and Wilkinson are prisoners of war but wounded.

The following letter was sent by No. 35 Squadron to the family of AH Stroud:

letter

Image from “The Empty Bed” Exhibit Booklet

In a further letter (dated 2nd February 1942), the families were informed that Sgt Beare had advised that “after he and Sgt Wilkinson had escaped by parachute, the aircraft was destroyed by an explosion”.

Crew who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

RLB Beare and E Wilkinson 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:

  • RLB Beare
    • Captured: Nr Berlin (Hit in head by Flak Splinter) Sep-41
    • Hospitalised: Hohemark Hospital, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt 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 Luft IV, Keifheide Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Imprisoned: Stalag XI-B, Fallingbostel Mar-45 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: Apr-45
  • E Wilkinson
    • Captured: Nr Berlin (Injured) Sep-41
    • Hospitalised: Berlin Sep-41
    • Hospitalised: Hohemark Hospital, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to Aug-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Sep-42 to Jul-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Jul-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Jul-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: May-45

Post War search for 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 missing crew members were located at the Doeberitz Standhortfriedhof

l9560-concentration

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

  • CUSHION, JOHN PETER BOSTON, Pilot Officer, ‘88456’,  Joint grave 4. B. 2-3.
  • FRASER, DOUGLAS STEWART, Pilot Officer, ‘88869,’ Joint grave 4. B. 2-3.
  • SLATER, DENIS, Sergeant, ‘755528’, Grave 4. B. 1.
  • STROUD, ARTHUR HENRY, Sergeant, ‘909968’, Grave 4. B. 4.
  • WILLINGHAM, NORMAN, Sergeant ‘922470’, Grave 4. B. 5.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Uffz. Karl Kupfer, 3./NGJ3, South of Kreuzbruch (Brandenburg, Germany) [Coned by searchlights and hit by flak of Flakgruppe Berlin-Nord]

POW March

The following map was drawn (in his POW Log) by E Wilkinson and shows the route(s) he took on the “March” when the German Authorities evacuated the prison of war camps in January 1945.

[Courtesy of Jamie Wilkinson]

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

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 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


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 possible 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

Personnel 

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

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.


Halifax L9524 (10/10/1941)

Halifax L9524 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Essen on the night of the 10th / 11th October 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Edmund Keith Creswell (Pilot)
  • Richard Roye Drummond (2nd Pilot)
  • Gerard John Peter Henry (Observer)
  • Stanley Turner (WOP / AG)
  • Walter Montague Gordon Wing (WOP / AG)
  • G Lowe (Air Gunner)
  • Dennis Sidney Hunt (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows: “Unable to close bomb doors after bombing owing to hydraulics being unserviceable. Forced landed at Long Stratton. Aircraft undamaged”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Extract from AM Form 1180

  • Bomb doors failed to close after the attack
  • Flight Engineer accidentally released port undercarriage
  • High boost and revs to maintain height.
  • Considerable static; wireless operator unable to read loops
  • ETA Dutch Coast of 1/2 hour was wrong, circling the coast for 1 hour before realising
  • Shortage of fuel

AM Form 78

The aircraft was classified as FB / AC and, having been repaired, was returned to the squadron on 21st January 1942

Extract from DS Hunt’s memoirs [Courtesy of Christopher Tasker]

Trouble started soon after take-off from Linton. The engines were set to rich mixture to give maximum power for take-off and in this condition the fuel consumption was very high. So as soon as maximum power was no longer required the engines were changed back to weak mixture for cruising, but on this occasion the mixture control on one engine would not function and the engine remained in rich mixture. In rich mixture the engine emitted long exhaust flames which could make the aircraft easily seen by German night fighters or possibly also by AckAck crews. We had no choice but to continue onto Germany in this state.

Anti aircraft fire was particularly heavy over the Ruhr that night and we took a lot of shrapnel damage. After our bombing run we found that we could not close the bomb doors and concluded that our hydraulic mechanism in the bomb bay had sustained some damage. My duties included checking all the instrumentation regularly, including fuel consumption and logging readings. I had noticed that the fuel in the tank serving the rich mixture engine seemed to be going down quickly but this was to be expected due to the rich mixture, but on the next engine check I found that the fuel in a second tank was also lower than expected and it was doubtful whether we would have enough fuel to get us home.

The captain ordered the navigator to set the most direct course for us to hit the English coast and the radio operator to send out a distress call as soon as we were approaching the coast. But we ran into thick overcast cloud and had no sight of ground for a long time and no means of checking our course and position as no stars were visible. Eventually we ran into an area of broken cloud and the captain said he could see a coast ahead but nobody could identify it so the pilot and navigator decided to fly south along the coast until they could find a landmark they could recognise. Soon the pilot said that although he was following the coast which was expected to run north and south he was now in fact flying around a large bay and was now headed first west and then north. The navigator decided this was the Wash and the pilot ordered the distress call to be sent. Almost immediately the runway lights of an airfield appeared below us. The pilot circled preparatory to landing and I moved back to release the undercarriage locks so that the wheels could be lowered when required. As I did so the wheels fell down unexpectedly and locked in the down position (due to lack of hydraulic power to hold them up). Whilst we were trying to cope with this surprise the second pilot spotted a bridge or causeway ahead crossing the bay, and the navigator, after consulting his maps, announced that we were not flying around the Wash but this was in fact the Zuyder Zee (sic) and the airfield we were approaching must be an enemy one. We were now in an awful dilemma; with bomb doors open and undercarriage down the aircraft was just wallowing along. We were already down to 3000 feet and could not climb away, furthermore we were so low on fuel that it was touch and go whether we could reach the English coast. As we set course for the nearest spot in England the airfield lights went out and we flew through a barrage of enemy gunfire. Miraculously we were not hit directly but we did take a lot of flak fragments.

And so we set off across the North Sea. Fuel was now the main issue together with our ability to maintain height. All the fuel gauges were showing low and in fact the one serving the rich engine was showing empty but the engine was still running so the gauges were obviously not accurate. Normally as soon as a gauge showed empty we would change to another tank but in present circumstances we knew we were going to have to squeeze every drop of fuel out of our four tanks. The captain and I decided we would run that engine on the seemingly empty tank until the engine started to cut and then I would change it to another tank. Provided I could do this quickly enough to prevent the engine stopping completely and getting air into the whole fuel system we could also do the same for the other tanks. There were other complications but the biggest difficulty for me was the fact that the fuel tank change levers were under the rest bench seat in mid fuselage and I had to lie on my stomach and reach under the seat to operate them. In this position it was impossible to reach an intercom point to communicate with the pilot. However I could tell from the engine notes when an engine started to cut and which engine it was so I lay on my tummy for a long time manipulating the tank controls whilst the rear gunner acted as communication link between me and the captain. Fortunately this all worked. Our progress across the North Sea was painfully slow. We were still losing height and attempting to drain all the tanks when we saw the English coast in the distance — it now being daylight and we all raised a cheer. We crossed the coast at less than 1000 feet and looked for somewhere to land. There was no airfield that we could see and it was a misty morning. The two pilots saw a likely looking park below but could not find a path between widely spaced trees that was long enough to take a Halifax landing but at this point another engine cut and with all gauges showing empty the Captain had no choice but to put down immediately.

With the exception of the two pilots we crew were ordered to adopt crash positions which meant sitting on the floor in the fuselage with our backs against some solid support and that was the last I saw of our approach and landing. We could feel the initial bump as the aircraft struck the ground but then we were flung about as it careered on over very uneven ground and we were all waiting for the final crash as we hit a tree or something— but it never came. After much banging and bumping the plane slowed and came to a stop. I opened the rear hatch and looked out and what did I see — cabbages.

We all piled out breathing sighs of relief and congratulating the pilot for getting us safely down, we took stock of our situation. We could see our tracks across the parkland and we had ploughed through two hedges, across two cultivated fields and were now stuck in a cabbage field. The plane appeared to have suffered no serious damage although the fuselage, wings, rudder and engine cowlings were peppered with shrapnel holes. Amazingly the undercarriage seemed ok and to have stood up well to the rough landing but a hydraulic pipe had been cut through by shrapnel causing the loss of hydraulic power.

There was no sign of life anywhere though we could see some farm buildings in the distance. But while we were inspecting the plane and thanking our lucky stars, a policeman arrived on his bicycle. He was relieved to find it was a British plane and not a German one as he had anticipated. He had imagined the plane had crashed and he had already called for an ambulance expecting casualties, this soon turned up. A small crowd of people gathered from nowhere together with some members of the Home Guard. Then a tractor came dashing along the track of our landing and proved to be the farmer— owner of the land. He had brought with him a bottle of brandy which we soon put away between us but he was not pleased about the amount of damage done to his fields, crops and hedges.

The captain decided that he and other members of the crew, except me, would use the ambulance to take them to the nearest RAF airfield which was 12 miles away. He would report to the Flight Commander (Cheshire) and arrange for transport back to Linton. I would be left behind together with the Home Guard to protect the aircraft against souvenir hunters and further damage. To this end I got the farmer to return to his farm to bring some ropes and posts that we could erect around the plane to hold back all the inquisitive people who had now arrived. He came back not only with ropes and posts but also with a big bag of sandwiches and two big thermos flasks of coffee for me and the Home Guard lads.

Cheshire’s 1941 Norfolk rescue: The untold story of Halifax bomber L9524

An unpublished manuscript, by Anne Wells, tells the story of the events surrounding the loss of this aircraft, which crashed at Tacolnestone, South Norfolk

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 L9508 (02/09/1941)

Halifax L9508 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 2nd / 3rd September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Ross James (Pilot)
  • Stewart Richard Arthur (2nd Pilot)
  • Harold Sidney Oldman (Observer)
  • John Kenneth Young (WOP / AG)
  • Rodney Gordon Mullally (WOP / AG)
  • Thomas Edwin Allanson (Air Gunner)
  • Albert Robert Parke Mills (Flight Engineer)

The route was Base, Flamborough, Meldorf, Neumunster, Target, Neumunster, Meldorf, Flamborough, Base

L9508 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Except for the call-sign received from eighty miles north of the target going in, this aircraft was not heard of again and is now officially reported Missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 3rd 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 2nd / 3rd 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.

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. 114 (Flight 05/03/1942) reported R James and JK Young “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

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

  • 06/10/1941: News received from International Red Cross Society through Air Ministry that all the members of FO James crew, missing on operations 3rd September 1941, are prisoners of war except Sgt Young who was killed. No mention was made of FO James.
  • 19/10/1941: News received through International Red Cross Society quoting German sources states that FO James, missing on operations 3rd September 1941, was killed near Berlin.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

SR Arthur, HS Oldman, RG Mullally, TE Allanson and ARP Mills 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:

  • SR Arthur
    • Captured: 17 miles NW Berlin (03/09/1941)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to May-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan May-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to Oct-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Oct-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Repatriated: Apr-45
  • HS Oldman
    • Captured: Berlin (03/09/1941)
    • 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, Fallingbostel Jul-44 to Apr-45
    • Repatriated: Apr-45
  • RG Mullally
    • Captured: Berlin Area (03/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt 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
  • TE Allanson
    • Captured: Berlin (02/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to Apr-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Apr-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to Oct-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Nov-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow Jul-44 to Feb-45
    • Repatriated: Apr-45
  • ARP Mills
    • Captured: Berlin (03/09/1941)
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Sep-41
    • Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Sep-41 to Jun-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Jun-42 to Oct-42
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft I, Barth Oct-42 to Oct-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Nov-43 to Jul-44
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow Jul-44 to Feb-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 James and JK Young were located at Bernau New Cemetery

l9508-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY on 23rd November 1946 as follows:

  • JAMES, ROSS, Flying Officer, ‘42062’,  Joint grave 4. J. 18-19.
  • YOUNG, JOHN KENNETH, Sergeant, ‘947403’, Joint grave 4. J. 18-19.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Dr Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Hit by Flakgruppe Berlin-Nord, Crashed between Basdorf and Zühlsdorf (Brandenburg, Germany), time unknown

From the memoirs of SR Arthur [Courtesy of Elaine James]

“We came out of Berlin on a course of about 320 degrees and the searchlights and anti-aircraft were absolutely continuous. They were accurate and about eight miles north-west of Berlin we were hit on the inner port engine which caught fire at about 18,000 feet. We did all necessary to try and starve the fuel to that engine, feathered it and it didn’t go out, so the Captain said: ‘Abandon aircraft’. The crew jumped through very heavy flak and one of them was killed by anti-aircraft fire. With the crew out, the Skipper and I sat up in the cockpit. He then threw the aeroplane into a steep-angled dive in an attempt to blow it out, the theory being that if the engine was being starved of fuel maybe we could put it out. We ended up at 3,000 feet and levelled off and it was still burning. He told me to jump and I declined. One doesn’t normally use the word that I did but it was obvious that he was going to try to get the aeroplane home and I had the same idea. But we were a flying bomb. We had the full fuel load and the engine on fire. We resumed course for home and I had the hood open, we’d opened the hatch. My Captain had his parachute on and I had mine on and it was obvious that the aeroplane was going to blow up. He promised he would jump with me. As I jumped the aircraft blew up and I was just below it and bits fell past. It really was a bit frightening. I landed in what turned out to be Goebbel’s estate, north-west of Berlin, in a large wood. I was unhurt, I had no idea where I was but pulled the parachute in and sort of settled down for the night. I’d hurt my ankle. But the Germans were pretty quick off the mark and they had motor cycles and sidecars – with guns in the sidecars – combing the woods to find us. I was caught the following morning trying to steal a bottle of milk: I headed for the nearest sound of a cock crowing and went to a farm but I was caught”

Crew Information

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

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 L9506 (15/06/1941)

Halifax L9506 was one of ten No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hanover on the night of the 15th / 16th June 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • James Whiteford Murray (Pilot)
  • David Scott Shearman Wilkerson (2nd Pilot)
  • Thomas Reginald Nixon (Observer)
  • Douglas James Mennie (WOP / AG)
  • Ernest William Constable (WOP / AG)
  • Luther Martin (Air Gunner)
  • J Colgan (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Aircraft was attacked by one or possibly two He113 and was badly damaged by cannon fire. The starboard outer engine was hit and stopped and the controls were shot through and partially jammed. The rear gunner (L Martin) sustained injuries as a result of the encounter but continued his fire and caused the enemy to break off its attacks. The aircraft returned to Bircham Newton where it made a crash landing”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 78

The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as FB/E and it was struck off charge on 16th June 1941

P.4 (Cas). Casualty Branch File

The following Casualty file is held at the National Archives:

AIR 81/6934 Sergeant L Martin: injured; Pilot Officer D S S Wilkerson, Sergeant T R Nixon, Sergeant J Constable, Sergeant D J Mennie, Sergeant J Colgan: uninjured; crash landing due to enemy action, Halifax L9506, 35 Squadron, 16 June 1941.

L Martin

L Martin returned to the squadron and was operational by 25th July 1941.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal [London Gazette Date: 15/07/1941]. The citation reads “One night in June, 1941 Flying Officer Murray and Sergeant Martin were the captain and rear gunner respectively of an aircraft detailed to carry out a bombing mission over Hanover. On the outward journey, the aircraft was suddenly engaged by an enemy fighter, which opened fire with cannon and machine guns causing severe damage to the aircraft and the rear gun turret. Nevertheless Sergeant Martin, who was wounded in the head and arm, continued to engage the enemy finally causing him to break off the attack. The aircraft was last observed diving steeply away. With great skill, Flying Officer Murray flew his severely damaged aircraft back to this country, after dropping his bombs on an enemy objective, making a successful landing at an aerodrome without injury to the crew. Flying Officer Murray displayed great airmanship, while Sergeant Martin showed great fortitude in very difficult circumstances”

Note: The citation also applies to the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to JW Murray

Photographs

Halifax L9506 at West Raynham on 6th June 1941 (IWM H10315)


Notes:

  1. It is likely that the He113 quoted in the ORB were identified based on German propaganda photographs, newspaper articles and aircraft profiles, as the aircraft did not actually exist. It is understood that the propaganda photographs actually showed a small number of He100 at various locations and with differing markings to suggest that the fictitious He113 (supposedly an improved version of the He100) was in full production. It is likely therefore that the aircraft that carried out the attack were Bf109

Halifax L9504 (31/10/1941)

Halifax L9504 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Altona Marshalling Yard at Hamburg on the night of the 31st October / 1st November 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Peter Bettley Robinson (Pilot)
  • Harry R Larson (2nd Pilot)
  • Alfred Abels (Observer)
  • David John Maylott Howard (WOP / AG)
  • Norman Henry Hood (WOP / AG)
  • Haakon Rivedal (Air Gunner)
  • John Norman Hindle (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “L9504 was attacked by probably two aircraft which appeared to be HE113 (Note 1) at position approximately 54N 7E at height of 14,000 feet. Bombs jettisoned in sea. Considerable damage to own aircraft. Tail Gunner Rivedal wounded in face and Observer Abels wounded in left shoulder. Remainder of crew safe. Landed safely at base”


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Oblt. Rudolf Schoenert 4./NJG1 Sea 30km north of Wangerooge (Jaguar) 3900m, 21.37

AM Form 78 / AM Form 1180

There are no details regarding the incident in the AM Form 78 and there appears to be no Form 1180. The Casualty Report shows “wing, rear and front fuselage slightly damaged by enemy action; burst port tyre on landing”. The aircraft was operational by 25th November 1941

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch File

AIR 81/9990 Pilot Officer A Abels, Sergeant H Rivedal: injured; enemy action at Linton-on-Ouse, Halifax L9504, 35 Squadron, 31 October 1941.

H Rivedal

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows that H Rivedal (shrapnel wounds in left cheek, chin, neck and nose), returned to the squadron and was operational by 3rd March 1942

A Abels

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows that A Abels (bullet wound in arm) returned to the squadron and was operational by 18th December 1941


Notes:

  1. It is likely that the He113 quoted in the ORB were identified based on German propaganda photographs, newspaper articles and aircraft profiles, as the aircraft did not actually exist. It is understood that the propaganda photographs actually showed a small number of He100 at various locations and with differing markings to suggest that the fictitious He113 (supposedly an improved version of the He100) was in full production. It is likely therefore that the aircraft that carried out the attack were Bf109

Halifax L9504 (12/05/1941 [Non Op])

AM Form 78

The movement card for Halifax L9504 shows that it was damaged on 12th May 1941; this may therefore be one of the aircraft damaged during the Luftwaffe bombing attack on RAF Linton-On-Ouse.

It was allocated to 43 Group for repair, but no date is shown for its return. It was operational again by 28th August 1941

AM Form 1180

AM Form 1180 not found for this aircraft on this date


 

Halifax L9504 (07/09/1941)

Halifax L9504 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 7th / 8th September 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • RA Norman (Pilot)
  • CER Parsons (2nd Pilot)
  • – Watt (Observer)
  • DH Izzard (WOP / Air Gunner)
  • RW Long (WOP / Air Gunner)
  • I Jackson (Air Gunner)
  • WT Palmer (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “On reaching enemy coast the Captain found time insufficient to reach primary target on schedule. Proceeded to Kiel but when within three to four miles the aircraft for some unknown reason went into a spin and out of control. Captain gave order to ‘standby to bale-out’, jettisoned bombs and succeeded in righting aircraft. Tail gunner Sgt Jackson found to have baled-out; apparently only heard “bale-out”, as the Flight Engineer did, although he could not do so before all well again”.


Post War search for the missing crew member

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).

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 I Jackson were located at Kiel Garrison Cemetery.

l9504-concentration

His remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at KIEL WAR CEMETERY on 27th May 1947 as follows:

  • JACKSON, IVAN, Sergeant, ‘1019202,’  Coll. grave 2. C. 15-18.

Jackson I (findagrave)

[Source: FindaGrave]


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180

Rear Gunner abandoned aircraft over enemy territory


 

Halifax L9503 (05/06/1941 [Non Op])

AM Form 78

The Movement Card for Halifax L9503 shows that it was damaged [Cat (AC)] on 5th June 1941.

It was allocated to 43 Group for repair but no date is shown for its return. It was operational again by 11th June 1941

AM Form 1180

AM Form 1180 can’t be found at the moment; further research required


 

 

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 L9501 (30/06/1941)

Halifax L9501 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Kiel on the 30th June 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)
  • Alexander Urquhart Simpson (Air Gunner)
  • J Lewins (Air Gunner)
  • James William Hays (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Encountered accurate heavy flak and in turning away from the target was attacked by three ME110’s one of which it is believed was subsequently shot down. Enemy fighters made five attacks disabling the starboard outer engine and the wireless set and causing numerous holes in fuselage and wings. The beam gunner Simpson was seriously wounded and although every possible aid was rendered to him by members of the crew he died during the journey. The second pilot and observer suffered slight shrapnel wounds. The Wireless Operator was remarked for commendable services in piecing together the wireless set and getting it to work again. Aircraft landed safely at base”.

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

  • SIMPSON, ALEXANDER URQUHART Sergeant ‘647593’ KIRRIEMUIR CEMETERY Sec. H. Grave 493

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch File

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7255 Sergeant AV Simpson: died of injuries; Flying Officer RF Owen, Sergeant LA Maynard, Sergeant EAF Gibb, Sergeant DR Hogg, Sergeant J Lewins, Sergeant JW Hays: uninjured; enemy action, aerial combat, Halifax L9501, 35 Squadron, 30 June 1941.

It provides the following information (which contains graphic detail regarding the loss of AU Simpson):

“The aircraft left Linton at 10.13 hours on the 30th June 1941, in a daylight formation attack on Kiel which it delivered at approximately 13.15 hours. After delivery of attack, as aircraft was taking up its place in the formation, it was attacked by three enemy fighters. Sgt Simpson was manning the beam guns and in the engagement was severely wounded by machine gun bullets in the right thigh. The crew gave him every possible assistance to stem the flow of blood but he died on the return journey due to loss of blood. The starboard outer engine was disabled and the main plane and fuselage were damaged by machine gun fire and cannon shell, but the aircraft was landed safely and is repairable at this unit”

Newspaper Article


Halifax L9501 (28/08/1941)

Halifax L9501 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack railway targets at Duisburg on the night of the 28th / 29th August 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Arthur Edward Charles Adkins (Pilot)
  • Charles James Pearson (2nd Pilot)
  • Harold Brelsford (Observer)
  • Alfred James Manning (WOP / AG)
  • Herbert Thompson (WOP / AG)
  • Alfred William Rose (Air Gunner)
  • Frederick William Hill (Flight Engineer)

L9501 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 29th August 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 28th / 29th August 1941”.

telegram 2
An example of the telegram that was sent

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. 84 (Flight 06/11/1941) reported EC Adkins, H Brelsford, FW Hill, AJ Manning, CJ Pearson, AW Rose and H Thompson as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Communique No. 115 (Flight 12/03/1942) reported EC Adkins, H Brelsford, FW Hill, AJ Manning, CJ Pearson, AW Rose and H Thompson, “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:

  • 04/10/1941: A telegram received through Air Ministry from the International Red Cross Society states that P/O Adkins and all members of his crew, missing on operations on 29th August, 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.

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 Schermbeck Civil Cemetery.

l9501-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY on 12th April 1947 as follows:

  • ADKINS, ARTHUR EDWARD CHARLES Pilot Officer ‘101039’  Grave 17. A. 12.
  • BRELSFORD, HAROLD Sergeant ‘1162052’ Grave 17. A. 10.
  • HILL, FREDERICK WILLIAM Sergeant ‘902598’ Grave 17. A. 15.
  • MANNING, ALFRED JAMES Sergeant ‘961238’ Grave 17. A. 13.
  • PEARSON, CHARLES JAMES Pilot Officer ‘64268’ Grave 17. A. 11.
  • ROSE, ALFRED WILLIAM Sergeant ‘746835’ Grave 17. A. 9.
  • THOMPSON, HERBERT Sergeant ‘1052413’ Grave 17. A. 14.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Hit by 1,-3./Res. Flak Abt. 465; crashed at Gahlen, time unknown

Eye Witness Report (Courtesy of Matthias Hundt)

An eye-witness recalled these events:

Anytime an air-raid alarm sounded we joined our neighbours in the cellars in their houses, as we did not have one of our own.

During alarms our neighbour would run into the cellar and jump on the large, soft bed of straw as if it would help him in some way. It was hard for me and my brother not to start laughing! A dispute arose about this because our neighbour was quite angry about our behaviour.

After air-raids we would go outside and we sometimes found metal chips of German anti-aircraft shells. This was very easy when the metal pieces burst through the large panes of glass in my father’s greenhouses.

We did not always go into the cellar when enemy aircraft appeared in the skies. Sometimes we had a chance to watch the anti-aircraft artillery in action and observed the explosions getting closer to the airplanes. Watching this from the ground we would ask ourselves why the aeroplanes did not come down. They must have been totally perforated!

After the anti-aircraft shells exploded in the air the small metal chips fell down to earth with different sounds. Sometimes we heard other sounds when parts of aircraft came down when they had been hit by anti-aircraft guns or during air combat.

A large and solid anti-aircraft battery with 8.8 cm guns had been installed in the village of Gahlen on Brommel Road. Later even bigger 10.5 cm canons were erected. This battery was temporarily based in Kirchhellen-Ekel (anti-aircraft battery Peveling, at 8223 Road between Kirchhellen and Dorsten).

My father was a fireman responsible for the whole area. We always knew when he had been called for a fire alarm as his boots were fitted with nails and when we heard him walking through the house we knew that something had happened somewhere.

When he came back he told us what was going on in the village, just like in the morning of 28th August 1941.

My father told us that the fire brigade had been called to extinguish a fire at the crash site of an airplane. A huge British bomber had crashed very close to the Lippe River.

It had come down on fire and crashed in a shallow angle on the grass. The aircraft’s fuselage had been torn apart. The nose section, including the flight deck, was lying about 7 to 8 metres away from the main body of the plane.

As the fire brigade arrived the aircraft’s ammunition was still exploding. Nevertheless firemen tried to put out the fire on the flight deck in order to help some of the crewmen. My father told me that the strong jet of water blew away half of one crew member’s head. After that they adjusted the jet of water and focused on extinguishing the fire only. None of the crewmen was recovered alive.

In the morning a girl from the neighbourhood and I took our bicycles and made our way to the crash site, located behind Jansen’s tavern. They also used to provide a ferry boat service over the river at that time. We were standing at the fence for quite a while, watching the wreckage. But we did not get close to it.

There was one crew member lying on the grass on the other side of the river. We were told his parachute had got caught up on the aeroplane. He was obviously catapulted to the other side of the river on impact. His body lay there, covered with his parachute.

More and more people gathered at the site. After a while I thought it might be more interesting to cross the river, so we took our bicycles again and rode up the road.

As we approached the bridge over the canal I looked back. I saw that people were being allowed to walk around the wreckage. Since I was not part of that group of people I angrily went straight home.

At that time it was risky for civilian people to take pictures of scenarios like this. In addition to official photographs taken by an anti-aircraft artillery soldier a couple of private pictures were taken. As people were afraid that these pictures would be discovered they remained undeveloped in the camera until the end of the war. Only then people dared to take the film out of the camera in order to develop the pictures.

Later on the wreckage was dismantled by soldiers of an anti-aircraft artillery unit and transported to Schermbeck railway station. Parts were taken away for recycling, but this is something I did not see for myself.

At my father’s nursery I used to hear all the village news, as it was something like a stock exchange for news. Many times I stood next to the adults and listened when they were talking about different things, just like the plane crash. My father told me about the huge aircraft of the German air force, like the Focke Wulf Condor, but for me these were not as real as the one that had crashed close to the village.

But let us come back to the crash now. The bodies of the crew of the British bomber were recovered and taken to the funeral parlour at Schermbeck hospital. For the funeral they were loaded onto the wagon of the distributor and coal dealer Geldermann and were carried to Schermbeck municipal cemetery, accompanied by a platoon from an anti-aircraft artillery unit.

Arriving at the cemetery we saw a large hole which had apparently been excavated by French foreign workers employed by the brick factory Ton-und Pfalz.

After the coffins had been lowered into the open grave an officer stepped forward to salute. The guard of honour then moved away. There was no benediction or speech at the grave.

When the soldiers had gone 10 to 12 young boys, including myself, grabbed some big chunks of clay from the excavation and threw it on our enemies. This was our pay back to them, as they had bombed us before.

Later on wooden crosses showing the soldiers’ names were placed on the grave. They were of high quality and coated with protective varnish.

Many years later, in 2001, I talked to the farmer Leowald about this crash, whose farm was about 500 metres away from the crash site. This is what he told me:

Startled by the impact me and my Polish farm labourer ran to the crash site. Upon arrival we heard the crying crewmen, but we were not able to help. A quick access was impossible due to exploding ammunition.

The Schermbeck fire brigade made an attempt to extinguish the burning wreckage with water from the Lippe River whilst the aircraft’s ammunition was still exploding. Fuel spilled from the plane which floated on the river, causing further difficulties for the firemen.

AAA staff cleared the crash site later on and the airplane´s debris was taken to Schermbeck Railway Station; its 7 dead crew members were buried at the Schermbeck Cemetery.

_mg_4078b

Crew Information

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

Halifax L9500 (14/08/1941)

Halifax L9500 was one of seven No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Magdeburg on the night of the 14th / 15th August 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Ronald Lisle (Pilot)
  • Michael Gerard Garner (2nd Pilot)
  • Kenneth Randolph Sewell (Observer)
  • John Alfred Arthur Cox (WOP / AG)
  • John Johnston Rogers (WOP / AG)
  • Wallace Llewellyn Berry (Air Gunner)
  • Howard Torrens McQuigg (Flight Engineer)

L9500 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft was not heard of again and did not return to base. It is officially reported Missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 15th August 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 14th / 15th August 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 Casualty Communique No. 82 (Flight 16/10/1941) shows MG Garner and WL Berry as “missing, believed killed in action”. It also shows JAA Cox, R Lisle, HT McQuigg, JJ Rogers and KR Sewell as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 122 (Flight 02/04/1942) shows MG Garner and WL Berry “previously reported missing, believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 139 (Flight 09/07/1942) shows JAA Cox, R Lisle, HT McQuigg, JJ Rogers and KR Sewell “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:

  • 16/09/1941: Information received from International Red Cross Society that Sgt Pilot Garner and Sgt Berry (Tail Gunner) missing on operations on 15th August 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.

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 Lingen New Cemetery, Germany

l9500-concentration

Note: Rogers and Sewell are on a separate page

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY on 29th and 30th May 1947 as follows:

  • BERRY, WALLACE LLEWELLYN Sergeant ‘R/59127’  Grave 14. D. 16.
  • COX, JOHN ALFRED ARTHUR Flight Sergeant ‘648868’ Coll. grave 15. B. 4-8.
  • GARNER, MICHAEL GERARD Sergeant ‘1168520’ Grave 14. D. 17.
  • LISLE, RONALD Pilot Officer ‘100618’ Coll. grave 15. B. 4-8.
  • McQUIGG, HOWARD TORRENS Sergeant ‘575079’ Coll. grave 15. B. 4-8.
  • ROGERS,  JJ Flight Sergeant ‘966861’ Coll. grave 15. B. 4-8.
  • SEWELL, KENNETH RANDOLPH Sergeant ‘751350’ Coll. grave 15. B. 4-8.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Lt. Heinz-Martin Hadeball, 7./NJG1, 800m S. Andervenne near Freren (5A), 01.10

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

Crashed at Andervenne, Germany


Halifax L9499 (30/06/1941)

Halifax L9499 was one of six No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Kiel on the 30th June 1941 (daylight raid)

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Thomas Douglas Inglis Robison (Pilot)
  • Laurence Hancock (2nd Pilot)
  • Ernest Joseph Harding (Observer)
  • Alexander James Davie (WOP / AG)
  • Richard Norman Hares (Air Gunner)
  • Robert Dunn (Air Gunner)
  • Percy Ingham (Flight Engineer)

L9499 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “It is reported that it delivered its attack from 18,000ft and on turning off the target was attacked by enemy fighters. It was seen to go down in a glide and had shot down one of the enemy but did not re-appear”

Wartime activity relating to the loss

On 30th June 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 30th June 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 Casualty Communique No. 76 (Flight 14/08/1941) reported TDI Robison, L Hancock, AJ Davie, RN Hares, R Dunn and P Ingham as “missing, believed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 113 (Flight 05/03/1942) reported TDI Robison, L Hancock, AJ Davie, RN Hares, R Dunn and P Ingham 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 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:

  • 11/07/1941: Signal received from Air Ministry forwarding notification by International Red Cross that all members of F/L Robisons’ crew, missing on the daylight raid on Kiel on 30th June 1941, had all been killed except Sgt Harding (Observer) who was slightly wounded and is a prisoner of war

Crew member(s) who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

EJ Harding 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 shows:

  • Captured: “Near Tonder” believed to be near Tonning  30/06/1941
  • 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 (Evacuated)
  • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 to Aug-44
  • Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 to Apr-45 (Evacuated)
  • Repatriated: May-45

German Capture Report [Source P4 Casualty File]

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 TDI Robison, L Hancock, AJ Davie, RN Hares, R Dunn and P Ingham were located, but the MRES Report shows Welt Cemetery, Eiderstedt (Row 42).

l9499-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at KIEL WAR CEMETERY on 20th August 1947 as follows:

  • DUNN, ROBERT Sergeant ‘1109715’ Grave 4. C. 14.
  • INGHAM, PERCY Sergeant ‘526092’ Grave 4. C. 15.
  • HARES, RICHARD NORMAN Sergeant ‘1113461’ Grave 4. C. 16
  • DAVIE, ALEXANDER JAMES Flight Sergeant ‘620056’  Grave 4. C. 17.
  • HANCOCK, LAURENCE Sergeant ‘977649’ Grave 4. C. 18.
  • ROBISON, THOMAS DOUGLAS INGLIS Flight Lieutenant ‘42768’ Grave 4. C. 19.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd War Diaries)

Nightfighter Claim: Oberleutnant Walter Fenske,  3./NJG1, 3km S Garding (Schleswig-Holsten, Germany), 13.20

P.4 (Cas) Casualty Branch File AIR 81/7283 Extracts

  1. The aircraft left Linton at 10.05hrs on 30th June 1941 in a daylight formation attack on Kiel. The sub-formation which this aircraft was leading attacked the target at approximately 13.15hrs, all aircraft taking avoiding action from AA fire. Halifax L9499 was then seen to dive away from the target and was immediately attacked by enemy fighters, one of which was seen to be shot down.
  2. According to Otto Andresen, former Customs Official, the aircraft, a Halifax, was intercepted and shot down by an ME111 whilst returning from a daylight raid on Kiel, approximately 13.25hrs on 30th June 1941. The aircraft burst into flames mid-air after being hit and continued to burn after crashing (at Welt, Garding, District of Eiderstedt). Otto Andresen conversed with the only surviving member, the navigator named Harding who told him that the aircraft was one of twelve engaged on a raid on Kiel that day. Harding had baled out through the bomb bays.

Halifax L9498 (12/06/1941)

Halifax L9498 was one of eight No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack the Huls Rubber Factory on the night of the 12th / 13th June 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Lionel William Bovington (Pilot)
  • John Andrew Trevor Meredith (2nd Pilot)
  • Arthur George Eperon (Observer)
  • Albert Edward Hammond (WOP / AG)
  • Reginald Thomas Rudlin (WOP / AG)
  • Noel Eric Henry Coleman (Air Gunner)
  • Norman Willingham (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “After leaving the English coast at Skegness the port outer engine cut out. Aircraft returned to Linton-On-Ouse with bomb load and although it succeeded in making a good landing the aircraft could not be stopped, but finally swung and crashed” (No injuries to the crew)


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 shows “Overshot landing with bomb load; undercarriage collapsed …. further text unreadable

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 shows that the aircraft was struck off charge on 17th June 1941


Halifax L9497 (12/08/1941)

Halifax L9497 was one of five No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Friedrichstrasse Station, Berlin on the night of the 12th / 13th August 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Jack McGregor-Cheers (Pilot)
  • Thomas Atkinson Burne (2nd Pilot)
  • Alistair Alexander Stobie Heggie (Observer)
  • Jack Fuller (WOP / AG)
  • James Blain Anderson (WOP / AG)
  • Vivian Maxwell Markham (Air Gunner)
  • Walter Norman Collins (Flight Engineer)

The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “L9497 encountered numerous concentrations of searchlights and intense and very accurate AA fire. The port outer engine was hit immediately after delivery of attack and the aircraft fell out of control to 6,000 feet when the Captain managed to right it off its back. The intensity of flak made it necessary to climb as quickly as possible, which was managed safely but not without excessive petrol consumption. Two enemy were then seen, one of which attacked with cannon fire but without inflicting damage or casualty. Before another attack could be delivered the damaged engine cut out completely and down went the aircraft again. It was righted as quickly as possible and passed out over the Dutch coast but then had to pass through icing and an electric storm. Both height and speed were maintained only with the greatest difficulty and then, before the English coast was reached, the petrol gauges registered zero. All was prepared for forced landing on the sea but the aircraft continued to fly, the coast was reached still on course for Bircham Newton but engines cut. The aircraft crash landed near a farm at Hindolveston, near Hackford, Norfolk, the pilot being shot out through the roof, but the only member of the crew injured was the second pilot who sustained a broken ankle”

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch File

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/8303 Sergeant T A Burne: injured; aircraft crashed at Hinlevestore [Hindolveston] Norfolk on return from operational flight, enemy action, Halifax L9497, 35 Squadron, 13 August 1941.

Injured Personnel

TA Burne (believed to be Canadian, Thomas Atkinson Burne) did not fly with the squadron after this incident

AM Form 1180

The AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) has no further details about the crash

AM Form 78

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows the aircraft was struck off charge of the squadron (although no date is shown).

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 

Halifax L9486 (20/10/1941 [Non Op])

The AM Form 78 (Movement Card) shows that the aircraft was classified as CAT AC on 20th October 1941; it was repaired and returned to the squadron on 12th November 1941.

No details are available, but it is understood that one of the engines caught fire whilst in the air; the fire was extinguished by the crew.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

AM Form 1180

There does not appear to be an AM Form 1180 (Accident Card) for this incident

Halifax L9487 (13/01/1941 [Non Op])

Halifax L9487 took off from Linton-On-Ouse to undertake a fuel consumption trial on 13th January 1941.

Its six-man crew comprised:

  • Michael Thomas Gibson Henry (Pilot)
  • Leslie Joseph McDonald (2nd Pilot)
  • John Napier Hall (Observer)
  • Anthony Charles Henry Reid Russell (WOP / AG)
  • William Charles Browne Jesse (WOP / AG)
  • Francis Leslie Plowman (Flight Engineer)

The Air Investigation Summary shows “Captain was instructed to climb to 12,000ft and to cruise at that height for an hour. The aircraft took off from Linton-On-Ouse at 11.15 hours and about half an hour after taking off, the aircraft was seen approaching Dishforth at a height of about 3,000ft with a plume of smoke or vapour behind the port plane and with the undercarriage lowered. The airscrew of one of the port engines was stationary. A long flame suddenly appeared on the port side and the aircraft fell into steep left hand spiral which continued to the ground. The aircraft was totally destroyed by fire and all the crew were killed” During the latter stages of the flight, fragments of a conversation were picked up on the R/T by two other aircraft. This indicated that the crew were aware that some part of the aircraft was on fire and that orders were given for the crew to “prepare to abandon aircraft” (After the accident it was found that all members of the crew had attached their parachutes to the harness)

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

  • HALL, JOHN NAPIER, Sergeant, ‘743002’, STOKE (ST. MICHAEL) CHURCHYARD, Block D. Row 2. Grave 29.
  • HENRY, MICHAEL THOMAS GIBSON, Flight Lieutenant, ‘39876’, ROECLIFFE (ST. MARY) CHURCHYARD, East of Church.
  • JESSE, WILLIAM CHARLES BROWNE, Sergeant, ‘633777’, DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 5.
  • McDONALD, LESLIE JOSEPH, Pilot Officer, ‘79513’, DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 8.
  • PLOWMAN, FRANCIS LESLIE, Sergeant, ‘567918’, DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 6.
  • RUSSELL, ANTHONY CHARLES HENRY REID, Sergeant, ‘904441,’ DISHFORTH CEMETERY, Grave 7.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Casualty Report

The following Casualty Report is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/4856 Flight Lieutenant M T G Henry, Pilot Officer L J McDonald, Sergeant A C H R Russell, Sergeant W C B Hall, Sergeant F L Plowman, Sergeant W C B Jesse: killed; aircraft accident near Baldersby St James, Halifax L9487, 35 Squadron, 13 January 1941.

It includes the following information:

L9487 crashed at approximately 11.50hrs on 13th January 1941 at Howefield Farm, Baldersby-St-James, Yorkshire. On a non operational flight, the aircraft was engaged on a measure climb and consumption test at 12000ft. The Halifax was airborne at 11.20hrs and at approximately 11.50hrs was seen by the Observer Corps flying at 8000ft with the port leg extended. Shortly afterwards the aircraft was seen at 2500ft with smoke coming from the inner port nacelle, smoke later turned to flame and the aircraft cartwheeled to the left, hit the ground at an acute angle and burst into full flame. All six crew members were killed”

AVIA Report

AVIA 5/19 Report Number W953 available at the National Archives

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

Aircraft crashed at Howefield House, Baldersby St. James, Yorks