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    Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong    <   page 27   

Texel & Den Helder

 

 

D

Leeuwarden Airfield

Schiermonikoog

Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar

Ameland

Vlieland

Terschelling

St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

Hindeloopen
12 Squadron Losses
Runnymede Memorial

Deanweb - the Forest of Dean Directory

Find and Destroy the Scharnhorst!

 

1941

 

Whitley N1521 from 58 Squadron took off from Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire on 15th January 1941 at 5.55pm. It was part of a 96 bomber force detailed to bomb the port of Wilhelmshaven. War diaries record it as a successful raid with damage to the head post office, main police station, an army barracks, main dock offices and two hospitals. Only one aircraft was reported lost, Whitley N1521 from 58 Squadron.

The crew were Pilot - P/O William Edgar Peers, 2nd Pilot - Sgt Howard Shipley, Tail

The aircraft had been detected by Lt. Jauk at the Salzhering radar station near Den Helder as it approached the Dutch coast and night-fighters were sent to intercept it. Oberleutnant Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld of 4./NJG.I at Bergen engaged the Whitley but was spotted by the tail-gunner Pilot Officer Melville Griffiths who began firing. His pilot was also taking evasive action but the night-fighter pilot's canons were focused on the bomber's fuel tanks and the aircraft was soon brought down in flames. It crashed at 10.45 pm into a small lake called Zwanenwater at a nature reserve near Callantstoog. All the crew were lost. Initially three bodies were recovered on the frozen lake and a few months later a fourth, the 2nd pilot, was recovered. The tail gunner, Pilot Officer Melville Griffiths, was never found.

 Gunner - P/O Melville Griffiths, W/Op./Gunner Sgt Robert Couser DFM, W/Op./Gunner Sgt Robert Duncan.

P/O Peers, Sgt Couser and Sgt Duncan are all buried in Amsterdam and Sgt. Shipley at Alkmaar Cemetery, Holland. P/O Griffith is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

 

 

The crash site.

From Willem's visit to Callantsoog at Easter 2016

 

Loading up a 58 Squadron Whitley at RAF Linton-on-Ouse

 

P/O William Edgar Peers was born in 1905, son Cecil William and Harriet Emma Peers, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. He was married to Christina Mary Peers, of York.

Sgt R J Couser (22) was the son of Adam and Alicia Couser, of Crowborough, Sussex. His Distinguished Flying Medal was gazetted on 11th February 1941, about a month after he had been killed. His citation reads 'He was an wireless operator with 58 Squadron, flying Whitley bombers out of Linton on Ouse, in Yorkshire."As Wireless Operator, this airman has completed 19 operational flights including attacks on Berlin, Mannheim, Cologne and other parts of Germany and German occupied territories. Sergeant Courser has not once failed in communicating with his base, and enemy opposition has no effect on his cheerful enthusiasm or his ability to carry out his duties. His courage and ability have been outstanding throughout.'

P/O Melville Percy Griffiths was born in 1905, son of John Wyndham Griffiths and Sarah Jane Griffiths and was married to Eileen Mary Ethel Griffiths, of Sheldon, Warwickshire. He was promoted from Leading aircraftman to Pilot Officer on 14 July 1940.

W/Op./Gunner Sgt Robert Fortune Jamieson Duncan (22) was the son of Arthur Grant Duncan and Elizabeth Jacqueline Duncan, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The second pilot, Sgt Howard Piper Shipley, was born in 1917, son of of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Shipley, and stepson of Kate E. Shipley, of Walsall, Staffordshire.

 

The recovery of parts  of Whitley N1521 in 1995. Now on display in the Air War Museum Fort at Veldhuis 

 

 

 

Whitley Z6462 GE-D of 58 Squadron was lost the next night. It took off from RAF Linton-on-Ouse at 5.45pm on 16th January 1941 on another Wilhelmshaven raid. Its last message was received by an RAF radio monitoring station near Lympne, Kent at 8.30pm when it was apparently OK.

 

A 58 Squadron crew on the bus to dispersal at RAF Linton-on-Ouse

 

It appears to have been damaged by anti-aircraft fire, believed from a local radar-guided Marine unit, MFlaA.808, based at Den Helder. The pilot made a successful crash-landing near the Veerweg and Amstelmeer lake, east of Anna Pauwlona village, at around 9.15pm and all of the crew survived. They were quickly made prisoners of war.

The crew were Sgt R E Barlow, F/O J H Frampton, Sgt R P London, Sgt C H Steven, and Sgt R M Wade.

 

 

Whitley Z6462 GE-D of 58 Squadron new off the production line

 

 

 

Hampdens AD824 and AE392 from 144 Squadron - February 1942

In early 1942 the RAF suspected that the German battleships moored at Brest, in France, would try to escape at any time. Because of this Hampdens were ordered to lay mines on the sea routes the German battleships (Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen) were likely to take.

On 7 Feb 1942 32 Hampdens were detailed to lay mines in the (German) Frisians. The German Luftwaffe 4./JG1, stationed at Leeuwarden, that morning received orders to transfer to Haamstede Airfield on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland in the southwest of Holland because of the planned escape of the German battleships.

It is believed that 144 Squadron Hampdens AD824 and AE392, who had taken off from RAF North Luffenham, were shot down soon after 3pm in the Terschelling area by Oberfeldwebel Detlev Lüth while attempting to lay their mines in the waterway 10 miles east of Wangerooge. All crew-members were killed.

 

Hampden AD824 had a crew of five aboard. Sgt R.F. Thompson, F/Sgt R.N. Thompson, Sgt Cyril Cubitt Duce, Sgt L P Bow, and Sgt R Rowell.

Hampden AE392's crew were  F/Lt Kingston, Sgt R. de Courcy, Sgt J. Tobin, Sgt A. Gibson and Sgt A. Fulton.

 

Sgt R.F.Thompson is buried in the Nes General Cemetery on Ameland, while crew-mate F/Sgt R.N.Thompson is in West Terschelling General Cemetery.

The body of Sgt Gibson was recovered and he was buried at Wangerooge on 10th June 1942. He was later exhumed and is now buried in the Sage War Cemetery. The other crew members have no known graves and are commemorated on the Rnnymede Memorial.

 

Oberfeldwebel Detlev Lüth, the German pilot who had shot down the aircraft was also to be killed later in the war. After surviving a number of accidents and continued front-line service, he had amassed a total of thirty-seven aerial victories by the end of 1943. On 6 March 1944, while attempting to intercept American bombers approaching Berlin, his aircraft was hit by defensive fire. He was unable to bail out before his fighter crashed at Eydelstadt.

 

 

 

A Hampden under attack'  by Bernhard Markowsky

Operation Fuller -  49 Squadron's disastrous loss of four Hampdens on 12th February 1942

 During 'Operation Fuller' Bomber Command sustained awful losses. By late evening it was acknowledged that sixteen aircraft were missing, with the Hampden force being hit the hardest with ten lost and one wrecked in a crash near Norwich which killed the pilot.  Eventually, it was found that from 16 missing aircraft, sixty-three airmen were dead and five were in captivity.

49 Squadron's participation was prompted by a signal from Group received at 10.00hrs requesting 20 aircraft to attack the 'Scharnhorst' and 'Gneisenau' at sea. The crews were briefed at about midday, their mission being to bomb the ships. One veteran recalled the aircraft being quickly taxied into a hangar to be loaded with bombs and then taxiing out for takeoff.

They took off from RAF Scampton between 1pm and 3.30pm in low cloud and poor visibility which hampered the ability of the aircraft to find their targets. In the event, only three of the squadron’s aircraft found and attacked the target and although two bomb bursts were seen near the ships, no hits were achieved. One aircraft from the squadron then attacked a merchant vessel and another, two steamers, but neither achieved hits on their targets. Four aircraft of 49 Squadron were lost in the attack in which all are thought to have crashed into the sea in that appalling visibility.

It is now believed that two of the aircraft were shot down by German fighters, AE132 piloted by F/Sgt Charles Pollitt and AE396 flown by Sgt Edward Phillips. We now know for certain that these two

 

A 49 Squadron Hampden being loaded with bombs at RAF Scampton

 

 crews plus that of Sgt Mervyn Holt (AE240) disappeared into the dark waters of the North Sea, probably near the coasts of Belgium and Holland, without trace. From the doomed four aircraft only three bodies,those from P5324 piloted by Sgt Downes,were recovered. The remaining thirteen are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

 

 

SS John Mahn's wreck site and Torpedo boat 'Jaguar'.

 

During Operation Fuller at least two Kriegsmarine boats were damaged, (the Torpedo-boats 'T13' and 'Jaguar'), and one boat was sunk, the Vorposten-boat 'V1302' (formerly the 1927 Hamburg built steam-trawler S.S. 'John Mahn'.) It was hit at 15.53 hrs - position 'Quadraht AN8755' ( 51° 28' North and 2° 41' East) in front of the Belgium coast (NW off Ostende).

 

German torpedo boat 'T13'

 

 

 Hampden AE396 (EA-W) was piloted by Sgt. Edward Walter Phillips (21) - son of Edward A. & Mary E. Phillips, of Conisbrough, in Yorkshire. The wireless operator was Sgt. Alexander Jackson (20) - son of Alexander William & Elsie Jackson, of New Wortley, Leeds, Yorkshire. The observer was Sgt. Kenneth William Heard (20) - son of John Edward & Emily Winifred Heard, of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Sgt. Leslie Cyril Toghill (23) - son of Frederick Henry & Grace Ellen Toghill, of Norwich, was the air-gunner.

Sgt Phillips is commemorated on the Conisborough Awr Memorial in Coronation Park, Sgt Heard on the memorial at Coventry War Memorial Park, and Sgt Toghill on Hellesdon War Memorial.

 

 

The observer on Hampden AE396 Sergeant Kenneth Heard, and crews at Scampton on their way to dispersal.

 

 

Hampden AE132 (EA-U) was piloted by F/Sgt David Charles Pollitt (20) son of Major Charles P. Pollitt and Ivy Pollitt, of Flixton, Lancashire. His wireless operator was Sergeant John Cridge (22) the son of Robert and Alice Cridge. The observer was Sgt Irving Greenstreet (20) the son of John George and Amy Caroline Greenstreet, of Hove, Sussex, and the air gunner was Sergeant William Smith (27) the son of John Caile Smith and Mary Anne Smith, of Sunnybrow, Co. Durham. Flight Sgt Pollitt is commemorated on the Lymn Grammar School memorial plaque and at Davy Hulme Wesleyan School in Flixton. Sgt William Smith is remembered on the 1939-1945 Memorial Plaque now at the Sunnybrow Community Church.

 

 

Irving Greenstreet and David Pollitt

 

Hampden AE240 (EA-P) was piloted by Sergeant Mervyn Harry Holt RAAF (22) son of Harry and Janet Elizabeth Edith Holt, of St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia. Sergeant Clifford Lawson Lee (24) son of Arthur John and Ethel Jane Lee, of Woking, Surrey was the observer. Pilot Officer Stanley William Alfred Way (21) son of William Walter and Winifred Louisa Way, of Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex the wireless operator/air gunner, and Sergeant Edwin G Green (32) husband of Beatrice Green, of Barnstaple, Devon, 2nd pilot.

 

Hampdens of 49 Squadron with AE240 (EA-P) on the left


Sgt Mervyn Holt (centre) with 49 Squadron groundcrew

 

Clifford Lawson Lee was born at Chertsey, Surrey on 10th September 1917, the son of artist Arthur John Lee and Ethel Jane Lee. He was educated at Lancing College and University College, Oxford. On the outbreak of war he joined the RAF where he was trained as a Navigator and posted to 83 Squadron. On 23rd January 1942 he joined 49 Squadron.  He flew with the crew of Hampden AT111 on 28th January and 31st January in attacks on the German warships at Brest. Whilst flying with Clifford Lee in AE240 on February 11th, he was in one of the four 49 Squadron aircraft that were lost. Clifford Lee is commemorated on the Lancing College War Memorial.

 

 

(1) RAAF Sgt Mervyn Holt (AE240) on the St. Kilda (Melbourne) War Memorial in Catani Gardens.  (2) Sgt Edwin Green (AE240) on the Barnstaple (Devon) War Memorial, in Rock Park.  (3) Sgt Clifford Lee - his name is in the Woking Book of Remembrance at Woking (Surrey) Library.

 

A Lancaster on a Memorial flight over Clifford Lee's old school - Lancing College

 

Hampden P5324 (EA-T) piloted by Sgt Thomas Downes also came down in the sea, though the cause cannot be determined. The lifeboat Mrb. 'Arthur' from the NZHRM-lifeboat-station Scheveningen was launched in the afternoon of 12 February 1942, to search for survivors of the crash but with no success. The bodies of three of the unfortunate crew were recovered from Dutch beaches in the days that followed.

The crew were Sgt T.Kenneth Downes (22) son of Henry Fawcett Downes and Mary Elizabeth Downes, of Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire, pilot. Sgt Douglas Guy Frank Poxon (28) son of Francis James Poxon and Ada Poxon, of Tottenham, Middlesex, the air gunner. Sgt Brian Hunter (27) son of Dr. William Hunter and Ethel Hunter and husband of Jane Margaret Hunter, of Middle Herrington, Co. Durham, wireless operator. and Sgt Thomas Henry Forest Wood (24) son of George Alexander Wood and Lily Carr Wood, 2nd pilot. Sgts Downes & Poxon are buried at the Hague (Westduin) General Cemetery and Sgt Hunter at the Hook of Holland General Cemetery.

 

 

 

Brian Hunter's Flying Boots - Eric Clarke's Story
I am a lucky survivor of Bomber operations in WW2. I served 14 months on 49 Squadron at RAF Scampton as a Wireless Operator/Air gunner Sgt. Later, I was a Flight Lieutenant senior signals leader and signals officer and Officers Mess Secretary at 23 and 24 OTU`s. 
I served as a wireless operator/air gunner with B flight 49 squadron at RAF Scampton from September 1941 to November 1942 on Hampdens, Manchesters and Lancasters.
About midday on 12th February 1942 we were ordered to an urgent briefing and take-off to lay mines in the path of the 3 German cruisers ( Scharnhorst, Prince Eugen and Gneisenau ) who were sailing up the channel from Brest to Bremen under cover of bad weather - the Channel Dash. As we scrambled in the flying clothing locker room getting kitted up, Flt.Sgt.Jack Gadsby DFM came in to tell me my detail was 'scrubbed' as our aircraft was unserviceable.
Sgt Brian Hunter, a fellow Wop/Ag, was doing some cursing as he had left his flying boots back at his billet - incidentally against orders - and now prevailed upon me to lend him mine as I would not be needing them. Brian Hunter and his crew did not return nor did 3 other 'B' Flight crews.
John Wards` excellent history of 49 SquadronBeware of the Dog at War- records on page 122 that Hampden P5324 pilot Sgt Downs came down in the sea but the cause not known. He was not found but the bodies of 3 crew, Sgts Poxon, Wood and Brian Hunter were recovered from a Dutch beach several days later.
My flying boots were clearly marked '1051928 Sgt W E Clarke' on the upper rim but obviously Brian would be identified by his `dog tags`. I reported the loss of my flying boots, and the circumstances,to my flight commander and the following day I was called in and given Brian Hunter's boots in time for my next operation on 16th February, laying mines off Heligoland. I wore Brian`s boots until the end of my flying duties and demob in November 1945.
I still mourn Brian - and the 955 bomber crewmen of 49 Squadron.  From BBC Peoples War

 

The Dutch graves of the crewmen from Hampden P5324

 

 

Den Haag (The Hague) Westduin Cemetery's Allied plot.

 

The Hampden Bomber (the Flying Suitcase)

49 Squadron received the first Hampdens in September 1938. By the end of 1938 both 49 and 83 Squadron at RAF Scampton had re-equipped. A total of 226 Hampdens were in service with ten squadrons by the start of the Second World War, with six of these squadrons forming the operational strength of 5 Group of Bomber Command based in Lincolnshire.

Despite its speed and agility, in operational use, the Hampden was no match for Luftwaffe fighters. Consequently, its career as a day bomber was brief, but Hampdens continued to operate at night on bombing raids over Germany, and mine-laying (code-named "gardening") in the North Sea and the French Atlantic ports.

The Hampden, known as the "Flying Suitcase" because of its cramped crew conditions, was still unsuited to the modern air war and, after operating mainly at night, it was retired from Bomber Command service in late 1942.

Almost half of the Hampdens built, 714, were lost on operations, taking with them 1,077 crew killed and another 739 missing. German flak accounted for 108; one became the victim of a German barrage balloon; 263 Hampdens crashed because of "a variety of causes," and 214 others were classed as "missing." Luftwaffe pilots claimed 128 Hampdens, shooting down 92 at night.

The Mk I had a crew of four: pilot, navigator/bomb aimer, radio operator and rear gunner. Conceived as a fast, manoeuvrable, "fighting bomber", the Hampden had a fixed .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine gun in the forward fuselage. To avoid the weight penalties of powered-turrets, the Hampden had a curved Perspex nose fitted with a manual .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K machine gun and two more single .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers K installations in the rear upper and lower positions.

The layout was similar to the all-guns-forward cockpits introduced about the same time in the Luftwaffe's own medium bombers, notably the Dornier Do 17. The guns were thoroughly inadequate for defence, consequently, by 1940, the single guns had been replaced by twin Vickers K guns.

The fuselage was quite cramped, wide enough only for a single person. The navigator sat behind the pilot, and access in the cockpit required folding down the seats.

Once in place, the crew had almost no room to move. "I did my first flight and first tour on Hampdens. A beautiful aeroplane to fly, terrible to fly in! Cramped, no heat, no facilities where you could relieve yourself. You got in there and you were stuck there. The aeroplane was like a fighter. It was only 3 feet wide on the outside of the fuselage and the pilot was a very busy person. There were 111 items for the pilot to take care of because on the original aircraft he had not only to find the instruments, the engine and all that, but also he had all the bomb switches to hold the bombs." - Wilfred John 'Mike' Lewis  (see more about Mike Lewis)

Text from Wikipedia

 

 

50 Squadron's Hampden AT177 (VN-) took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 2.40pm that day. Its crew were pilot - Flying Officer Derek Guy Carter (22) , Air Gunner/W/op. - Sergeant Frederick George Hancock (22), Air Gunner W/Op. - Sergeant Donald William Meeking (19)  and navigator/observer - Sergeant Donald McGregor Symes (19). It was part of a force of eight aircraft from 50 Squadron leaving Skellingthorpe between 2.38 - 3.12pm on 12th February 1942. The pilot and navigator had both survived earlier crashes.

This raid was unsuccessful due to extremely poor weather conditions over the target area and visibility down to 200-300 metres. AT177 was the only aircraft not to return. All its crew were lost and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Flying Officer Derek Guy Carter(22) was the son of Major Cyril Rodney Carter, D.S.O., and Celia Ellen Alexia Carter, of Penhalonga, Southern Rhodesia, Sergeant Frederick George Hancock (22) son of Doris Hancock, and stepson of Harry Noden and husband of Thelma Hancock, of Northwich, Cheshire, Sergeant Donald William Meeking (19)  son of William and Ellen Meeking, of Gestingthorpe, Essex, and Sergeant Donald McGregor Symes (19) son of Ernest Edmund and Ivy Symes, of Newton Abbott, Devon. Sgt Symes is remembered on the Newton Abbot War Memorial and Sgt Meeking on his village war memorial and with an engraved stone on his parents' grave at Gestingthorpe churchyard.

 

A Hampden bomber of 50 Squadron being loaded with bombs at RAF Skellingthorpe in February 1942.

 

22 year old Flying Officer Derek Carter was the son of Major Cyril Carter DSO from the gold-mining area of Panhalonga in Southern Rhodesia (today's Zimbabwe). An experienced pilot with 140 flying hours (36 at night) he had already one scary experience five months earlier when flying Hampden AE116 on a nine hour night-time mining operation to Copenhagen harbour. On their early morning return, and delayed while navigating through heavy fog, they were in serious trouble.

On arrival at Waddington at 5.15 am their starboard engine cut out and a one engine circuit of the airfield was made. The landing strip could not be seen and the aircraft had to make a forced landing in a ploughed field and going through a fence in the process. Fortunately none of the crew were injured. It was later found that the fuel gauges were inaccurate.

On this operation a flying time of 9.35 hours was logged by the crew.

This was an interesting night for 50 Squadron as, in addition, Hampden AE 157 crashed at the same airfield after returning from the Copenhagen mission.

 

A painting showing AE116 just before crashing

 

 The navigator/observer on Hampden AT177 was Sergeant Donald McGregor Symes (19) son of Ernest and Ivy Symes, of Newton Abbott, Devon. He was flying in 50 Squadron's Hampden P1152, with a recently formed crew and piloted by Rhodesian Sgt William John Young, which came down on 16th November 1941 over Westerdale Moor in Yorkshire while returning early from a mine laying operation flight to the Frisian Islands. It was one of five Hampdens that took off around 8.30pm. On the return journey this aircraft drifted off course. It is believed to have crossed the English coastline much further north than planned. There is a report that the navigator had literally just worked out their position moments before the crash but had no time to warn the pilot about the high ground they were flying towards. The aircraft flew into a hilltop at 2 am.

 

Air Gunner 27 year old Sgt  Ronald St.Clair Neale from Lambeth, London,was killed in the crash and is buried at Newark, Nottinghamshire. The other three suffered injuries. Of those, two were able to find their own way off the moor to summon help.

 

 

Hampden AE141 PL-J from 144 Squadron was part of a force of ten bombers taking off from RAF North Luffenham around 2pm on 12th February 1942. Piloted by 25 year old Sergeant Ernest Ivo Nightingale DFM, son of a Kenyan farmer, AE141 was one of five of the Hampdens carrying an extra crew-member, a beam-gunner, and one of the many hit by flak over the target area. On it's return whilst trying to make an emergency landing at Norwich it crashed in the area known as Long Valley at Mousehold Heath near Norwich.

The pilot was the only one of the crew who did not survive the crash and is buried at Norwich Cemetery. Sgt. Nightingale had earned his D.F.M for an earlier operation in 1941 which was announced in the London Gazette, March 13th 1942. 

The crew were pilot: Sgt. Ernest Ivo Nightingale D.F.M. Observer: Sgt. E (Ned) Sparks, W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. L Ward,  W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. R S Cole, and W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt L G Hewlett. (Sgt Cole was an addition to the usual four man crew)

Sergeant Nightingale's crew were no strangers to hazardous missions. Below are two of his debriefings from November 1941.

5th November 1941. Hampden AE 141. We set course for Over Flakkee to patrol the Dutch coast and Frisian Islands. While off the Dutch coast we received a message from base giving the position of a convoy of 12 to 15 ships off Terschelling Island. We made two low level attacks on a tanker. On the first attack three bombs were dropped and a cloud of smoke was seen by the rear gunner coming from the ship’s deck. On the second attack the bombs fell wide. Intensive light flak was fired from all the ships in the convoy. One aircraft observed shot down about a quarter of a mile to starboard. Own aircraft damaged by flak. Landed at Middleton St George.

9th November. Hampden AE 311. Set course for Hamburg by the route suggested. Arrived in target area south of track and set course for the target and dropped bombs on Hamburg town. Encountered intense very accurate heavy flak at 12-1400 feet. We remained in this flak for forty minutes, we were also held in three separate cones of searchlights in the target area. On return journey arrived at enemy coast south of track. Undercarriage of aircraft damaged, crashed on landing at base.

During World War I the Mousehold area was used as an aerodrome because the Norwich based Boulton & Paul Company were producing aircraft like the Sopwith Camel at its Riverside factory. In World War 2 the area was used as a dummy airfield complete with decoy aircraft to fool the Luftwaffe crews attacking the city of Norwich. Two aircraft, Beaufort DE121 and Hampden AE 141 crashed there. A memorial plaque to those killed was unveiled  on 22nd April 1990.

 Ernest Ivo Nightingale was the son of a pioneering British farmer,William Maxwell Nightingale, who moved to Nairobi, Kenya in 1906. When Max killed himself in 1962 after being diagnosed with cancer, his obituary was recorded in the Lawrence Daily Journal - World.

 

 

 

Hampden AT175 from 144 Squadron

Piloted by Wing Commander G F Simond an experienced flyer who had previously been 'Mentioned in Despatches' with a quickly assembled crew who had apparently never flown together before. His Observer was another experienced officer, Flying Officer Wathey DFM.  The aircraft appears to have been brought down either by flak or a German fighter. All the crew were lost and no bodies recovered. They are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The crew were Wing Commander Geoffrey Frederick Simond aged 35, the son of Charles Francois Simond, C.B.E., and of Lilian Edith Simond; and husband of Sybil Simond. He was commissioned March 1928. Flying Officer Herbert Wathey DFM aged 29, the son of Frank and Hilda Wathey; and husband of Louie Margaret Wathey, was an ex Halton RAF Apprentice. Sergeant John Haycroft Henniker Baness aged 24 the son of Percy Henniker Baness and of Elinor Christian Baness, of Englefield Green, Surrey; and husband of Helen Lily Mary Baness, also of Englefield Green, Surrey. Sergeant John Canavan  aged 28 the son of John and Kathleen Canavan; and husband of Margaret Canavan, of Moreton, Cheshire.   Sergeant William Victor Walters (CWG site has no other information about him)

 

Herbert Wathey had been part of Wing Commander Luxmoore's crew when 144 Squadron was at RAF Hemswell in May 1940. Arthur Luxmoore and his crew took off from RAF Hemswell at about 10.30pm on the 11th of May 1940 in Hampden MkB1, P1326.

The crew were : Wing Commander Arthur Noble Luxmoore (Pilot) Pilot Officer Robert Edward Allitt (2nd Pilot/Bomb Aimer) Sergeant Herbert Wathey, and Corporal Ronald Jolly.

At 12.30am they were at 6,000 feet and approaching the target area when they were hit by flak several times which caused severe damage to the starboard engine and to the rudder controls. Wing Commander Luxmoore managed to steer the stricken bomber in a westerly direction, slowly losing height. An hour after being hit he ordered his crew to bail out and all three landed safely on the Allied side of the Maginot Line. They returned to Hemswell two days later. Sadly Luxmoore did not escape from the aircraft and was killed when it crashed near Finnevaux (Namur),11 kilometres south, south east of Dinant in Belgium.

Both Jolly and Wathey were awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal May 1940 and Allitt was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; all these men were subsequently killed in action on the 13th of June 1940, the 12th of February 1942 and the 23rd of February 1944 respectively.

24 year old Sergeant John Haycroft Henniker Baness aged 24 the son of Percy Henniker Baness and of Elinor Christian Baness, of Englefield Green, Surrey; and husband of Helen Lily Mary Baness, also of Englefield Green, Surrey, lived only a short distance from where the Runnymede Memorial has been built on a hill overlooking the Thames at Runnymede and Windsor Castle. It is not clear whether his name is also on the local village memorial at Englefield Green.

Sergeant John Canavan, aged 28, the son of John and Kathleen Canavan; and husband of Margaret Canavan, of Moreton, Cheshire. His name is on the Moreton, Cheshire War Memorial in Pasture Road near the British Legion Hall and remembered at RAF Halton.

A Hampden from 408 Squadron - the one that got away! by Ted Hackett

I was reading through some old copies of Short bursts and came across the article by "Smokey" Robson, in the April 2002 issue, regarding the attack on the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

I have a friend in New Zealand, Sqdn Leader D.S.N.Constance RNZAF (ret'd) who was one of the first pilots to serve with 408 Squadron and who took part in the attack and actually engaged the target.

He said that he could tell where they were by the flak coming up through the cloud. He took his Hampden down out of the clouds at 200 feet and was subjected to such severe fire from the ships that serious damage was done to his aircraft including the loss of the port aileron.

Despite the damage to his aircraft, he could no longer take evasive action, he pressed home the attack, made a run over the ships and dropped his bombs from 800 feet. The Hampden was hit repeatedly, the cockpit wrecked, the instruments destroyed and the wireless equipment rendered unserviceable.

A shell came up though the fuselage and went right between the legs of the WAG and out through the roof. The chances of getting back to base seemed remote but through the skill and zeal of F/O R. Van den Bok, Wop/AG, and P/O R.J.Hardingham, Navigator, they managed to reach the UK.

I remember him telling me that he had to hold the control column hard right to keep flying level and he said, "when we finished the run I just let go of the wheel and she turned port and headed for home".

All members of the crew received the DFC. We first met "Tinny", as we knew him, when he arrived in Edmonton for the 1984, 408 Squadron reunion. He returned to Canada again for reunions in 1988 and 1992 and came to stay with us on both occasions. He resides now in Whangerei, NZ, on the north island and we correspond regularly. Canadian Ted Hackett

On 29 August, 1942, Flight Lieutenant Van den Bok and Flight Lieutenant Fisher were wireless operator/air gunner and navigator respectively of a Hampden AE 197 detailed to attack Saarbrucken. On the return flight the bomber was shot down by night-fighter "Ace" Wilhelm Herget, over Belgium. The pilot, Wing Commander Twigg, and one other crew member were killed. Flight Lieutenant Van den Bok, who was wounded in the leg by a piece of shrapnel, baled out and was brought back to England by the Belgian escape line "Comete". Acting Flight Lieutenant Gordon Fisher baled out and found his way to Marseilles, presumably with help, where he was taken over by the Pat Line and returned to England via "Operation Titania". Both displayed outstanding courage, determination and fortitude. Both have completed many sorties and have invariably displayed similar qualities. Our photo shows F/Lt Van den Bok receiving his 'wings'.

From "Flight" Magazine, 27 December 1945"   This officer has a distinguished record of operational flying. His enthusiasm for operational flying was not diminished by his experiences in evading capture after being shot down by anti-aircraft fire whilst over occupied Belgian during his first tour of duty. Since the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Squadron Leader Van Den Bok has flown on many sorties, against strongly defended targets in Germany, including Berlin. He is an excellent Captain of Aircraft and Flight Commander, who has at all times set an inspiring example by his enthusiasm,courage, and devotion to duty. "

 

The Runnymede Memorial     see page 30

 

The Wellingtons

 

Four Wellington bombers were lost on 'Operation Fuller'. One was Z1081 from 214 Squadron based at RAF Stradishall.  It is from the only survivor, Sergeant Robin Murray, who became a prisoner of war, that the harrowing story of what happened to that crew can now be pieced together. 
Captained by 214 Squadron's Commanding Officer, Wing Commander R D B MacFadden (DFC), their Wellington had been forced to ditch. One of the other aircraft reported seeing Z1081 at approximately position 52.10 degrees North, 03.30 degrees East, ( thus West of Leiden City, Province of Zuid-Holland, see map below) at 15.10 hours that day, with occasional puffs of black smoke coming from it's port engine while circling, and thought it was perhaps on search patrol. The crew themselves reported home by radio that they had  'engine problems' and damaged hydraulics. In the scramble that followed ditching, five managed to get into the dinghy before it was blown away from the sinking bomber. Aboard the dinghy was the CO, his co-pilot, Pilot Officer James Wood, Sergeants A P Everett and R Murray, and Squadron Leader M T Stephens (DFC). Over the next seventy-two hours they drifted in a bitterly cold North Sea, during which time four of the airmen became progressively weaker and died. 
Squadron Leader Stevens was the first to succumb, his death being noted on the 15th. The next day, both pilots passed away and then in the last few hours before rescue, Sergeant Everett gave up his brave hold on life. For Sergeant Murray, it must have been a most terrible experience to sit and watch his companions die in the bleak surrounds of a cruel sea.  The dinghy, with a near to death Sgt Murray, was towed ashore from the coast of Wacheren in Vlissingen. 

The drifting rubber dinghy had been spotted around 3.5 km west of Domburg village on Walcheren Island (Zeeland) by German soldiers on their Atlantic Wall location near the sand-dunes, and the local authorities were alerted. Either a Vorposten or a rescue boat was launched from Vlissingen harbour. The rescue team towed the dinghy back to port believing, in the beginning, that all the crew were dead, but by some miracle the navigator, Sgt Robin Murray, had survived nearly three days in those icy windswept seas.

The four crewmen were all buried at Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery. Their two crewmates, F/Lt Patrick Roderick Hughes and Sgt George Ingate Taylor, whose bodies probably sank with the aircraft, have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.  Our photo shows a German FLAK gun emplacement in the Zeeland dunes.

 

Vlissingen (Flushing) old city and harbour on Walcheren island (Zeeland) - just before the war

 

 

Sgt Robin Murray's story

It was a cold day on the 12th February 1942 - overcast, 10/10ths cloud - and from 9000 feet down to about 900 feet was solid cloud, snow cloud. We took off in our Wellington and flew out on course - but we didn't see a thing because of the cloud. Then we iced up very badly. The port engine packed up, and after about twenty minutes, part of the propeller broke away - came through the side of the aircraft and damaged the hydraulics. We eventually came down in the sea at about a quarter to five in the evening. When we hit, the perspex area behind the front turret broke and the wave took me right back up against the main spar. I came-to underwater, pulled myself along on the geodetics and came up by the pilot's controls. There were four of them already in the dinghy, which was still attached to the wing. I was the last one in. We'd lost Flt Lt Hughes and George Taylor. We paddled around with our hands looking for them, and Andy Everett swam round to the turret which was under water, because the plane had broken its back just behind the main spar - but it was no good. I had swallowed a lot of salt water and was very sick.

We were all sopping wet. We made ourselves as comfortable as we could. There were five of us in the dinghy - MacFadden, Stephens, Wood, Everett and myself.

For the first few hours there was nothing around - just the sea. It was quite choppy, and that was uncomfortable. Unfortunately, whoever had put the rations in the dinghy had forgotten the tin opener, so we couldn't open the tins. Then the knife fell overboard, so we hadn't that either. So all we had was Horlicks malted milk tablets. It was cold - the coldest winter for nearly a century.

We were hoping someone would come out and pick us up, because the wireless operator had sent out a Mayday signal - but what none of us realised was that Navigator had got his co-ordinates wrong. We had done a 180 degree turn and were heading out to sea again, so we landed off the Frisian Islands instead of, as we thought, 20 miles off Orford Ness. I had learned when a Boy Scout how you mustn't go into a deep sleep when you’re cold, because you can get hypothermia, and that’s it - you die. So I always had two people awake so we didn't all go right off into a deep sleep - and that's what we tried to do.

Everyone survived the first night. We thought that any moment somebody was going to pick us up. We saw quite a few aircraft flying very high - unrecognisable of course. There were flares on the dinghy, but we didn't see any aircraft that was low enough to have seen us. Once we thought we saw a ship - that was on the second day. We set off a flare, but nothing happened, so we tried to set off another - but it wouldn't work, it was damp. None of the flares worked at all after that. We saw quite a few aircraft that evening, just before dusk, flying very high. We came to the conclusion they were probably German. We hadn't got a paddle on board - we were just sitting there. It was very strange, because people just went into a coma. They just sort of lost themselves.

Stephens went first, on the second day at four o'clock. That second night was very cold. We just talked about various things. There was no despondency - we never thought that we weren't going to be picked up. At dawn that morning, Wing Commander MacFadden died. There were no visible signs of injury. He was firmly under the impression in his last hours that he was in his car, driving from the hangars back to the mess. He was the only one who got delirious in that way. People sort of went into a coma. They would talk quite normally - and then gradually drowse off. You would shake them to try to keep them awake, but they'd gone. You could feel they were going. But it was peaceful - there was no suffering at all. They weren't in pain - they just quietly died.

Pilot Officer Wood died about three hours after MacFadden. He was very quiet. Finally, Sgt Everett died at dawn. I was disappointed that he had gone so quickly. He went while he was talking - just drifted off. I kept them all on the dinghy, and I was able to keep my legs out of the water by resting them on the bodies. It sounds terrible, but by this time they were beyond help. The final morning was the worst time, because we drifted in towards land. The water was now as calm as a millpond, and the cliffs were about 150 yards away, with a gun emplacement on the top. It was about eleven o'clock, I suppose, by the time I drifted towards the shore. I got a tin lid and caught the sun - and somebody came out of the gun emplacement.

 

 

Then the tide started to go out, I was starting to drift out to sea. That was a bad moment. Then a German Marine Police boat with a Red Cross came out and they hauled me aboard. I was able to stand up, and they got me onto the deck. They tied the dinghy on the back with the bodies of my crew and came slowly back. They took me into Flushing dock. (Vlissingen, Holland ). I’ll never forget that moment - the deck of the boat was above the quay, and they put a ramp down, and as I walked down the ramp to the ambulance, there were five or six German sailors there, and they all came to attention and saluted me.

Robin was later told that his four crew members had been buried by the Luftwaffe in Holland and with full military honours. (The four are buried in the Northern Cemetery at Vlissingen. Flt Lt Hughes and Sgt .Taylor are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.)

Robin Murray was suffering from frostbite to his feet and hands but reported from Germany that he had received excellent treatment and every consideration from the German medical people and was now once again in good health. He wrote a letter from Stalag VIIIB on 16th March 1942 (We believe this was sent via the Red Cross) making a report on what happened and how he had been well treated. A copy of this letter is in the Squadron Operations book records at Kew. Robin finished the war as a Warrant Officer and was made a member of the Goldfish Club.

 

German Freya Radar installations near Vlissingen

 

Freya was first successfully used on December 18, 1939 when two stations detected an approaching daytime raid by 24 RAF Vickers Wellington bombers at a range of 113 km and guided fighter planes toward them via radio.Only half of the Wellingtons returned to Britain undamaged. This performance left the Luftwaffe so impressed that already by the Spring of 1940, eleven Freya stations were installed to guard Germany's western border. After the invasion of France in 1940, additional Freya stations were built along the Atlantic coast. When Britain started its bombing raids, Hermann Göring ordered colonel (later General) Josef Kammhuber to install an efficient air defense. This led to the so-called Kammhuber Line into which then more Freya stations were integrated. In the later course of the war, Freya devices turned out to be vulnerable against chaff, which meant they could still be used for early warning but no longer for guiding fighter planes. Wikipedia

 

 

Wellington Z8714 (PM-N) from 103 Squadron took off at 2.54pm on the 12th February from RAF Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire. The aircraft was brought down, probably by Flak, and ditched in the icy waters of the North Sea. The surviving four crew members managed to use their inflatable dinghy but it was not until 2.40 pm the next day that they were rescued by the Kriegsmarine near the Dutch coast. The V1301 'Uranus' transported them to Amsterdam in the following days from where they were sent to interrogation centres and on to various POW camps. The crew were Sqdn/Ldr Ian Cross DFC, Sgt R A Eshelby, F/Lt R M Phillips, Sgt W C D Gallop, F/Sgt D R G Holmes, and Sgt M James.

F/Sgt Donald Holmes the 21 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. S. R. Holmes, of Chailey, Sussex, and Sgt Melville James the 26 year old son of son of Charles and Ethel James and husband of Mary James, of Christchurch, Hampshire, both lost their lives and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Ian Cross was the younger son of Pembroke Henry Cokayne Cross (1884-1964), chartered surveyor, and Jeanie Boyd (1888-1944), of Hayling Island, Hampshire and brother of Air Chief Marshal Sir Kenneth B.B. Cross. He had joined the RAF on a short term commission in December 1936 and posted to No. 8 Flying School at RAF Montrose in Scotland for pilot training.

Between August 1937 he served with 38 Squadron at RAF Marham who were the first squadron to receive the new Wellington bomber in December 1938. After completing a full 'tour' in July 1940 he was awarded the DFC and then served a few months as an instructor at 22 OTU.

In August 1941 Ian was posted to RAF Elsham Wolds. In December he was promoted to Squadron Leader and became 'B' Flight's commander. It was while flying on a mission from there in February 1942 that he was forced to ditch his aircraft into the North Sea.

After two years as a POW he was to tragically lose his life in 1944 after taking part in the 'Great Escape' on the evening of March 24th.

When recaptured he was one of those 50 officers murdered by Gestapo agents Lux and Scharpwinkel on the 31st March and was cremated in Gorlitz near today's border of the Czech Republic and Poland. His ashes were later taken to Poznan in Poland and buried in the Old Garrison Cemetery in Citadel Park.

 

From 103 Squadron's Operations Records 12th February 1942 Five aircraft were detailed to cause damage in daylight to Battle Cruisers "Gneisenau" and "Scharnhorst" and Cruiser "Prinz Eugen" in the North Sea. Owing to varying petrol loads aircraft were bombed up with 6 or 7 500G.P.T.D .025 bombs.

Weather conditions in the North Sea were very poor, the cloud being held down to 300 feet in parts. Some icing was experienced in the cloud. The safety height for bombing was 2000  feet or over, and consequently if the ships had been sighted for a sufficient time for an attack to be made the aircraft would have suffered considerable damage.

Squadron Leader Cross was heard by Sealand requesting a fix at 16.57hrs. He was given a 2nd class fix at position ELAT1619 but no further signals were received from this aircraft which did not return. The crew have been posted as missing.

 

The Memorial to the 50 murdered officers.

 

F/Lt David Holford (Z8843) succeeded in locating the ships but was unable to see them for sufficient time to attack. He landed at base after being in the air for 5 hours 38 minutes, (2 hours later than the other returning aircraft).

Intense and accurate flak was encountered in the vicinity of the ships. F/Sgt Kitney (T2921) succeeded in locating the enemy ships and shadowed them for some time, obtaining some first class fixes while doing so. He was unable to attack owing to low cloud and landed at Langham with U/S petrol gauges. He brought his bombs back. Sgt Pugh (X9666) & Sgt Lewis (Z1141) after spending some time searching in the area were unable to locate their target and were forced to return with their bomb loads.

It appears that the weather made successful bombing of the enemy ships impossible. They were last observed steaming at high speed in the direction of the Heligoland Bight.

Watching events from the Elsham control tower was F/Lt Holford's future wife, Jean Munro, a WAAF intelligence officer.

'B' Flight's commander, Squadron Leader Cross in Z8714, and F/Lt Holford in Z8843, had taken off together and flew side by side until they could see the two battle cruisers. Wishing each other luck, they attacked separately. Holford's crew managed to land their bombs close to the German ships, but his aircraft was repeatedly hit by anti-aircraft fire. The Wellington flown by Ian Cross was more seriously damaged and forced to ditch into the North Sea.

David Holford was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his actions that day and promoted to squadron leader. He was just 21 years of age with two tours of operations behind him and the ribbons of a DSO and a DFC on his uniform.

He was later selected to train and lead the first operations by 103 Squadron with the new four-engined Halifax bomber with which the squadron operated briefly before converting to Lancasters.

By that time, Squadron Leader Holford was married and had left Elsham for RAF Lindholme, near Doncaster, where he was to spend the next year as a flight commander with the training unit based there, flying on operations to Berlin on at least one occasion.

In February 1943, just four days before his 22nd birthday, Holford was promoted to wing commander, the youngest man to hold this rank in Bomber Command and one of the youngest in the history of the RAF.

In November 1943 he was posted to Waltham to take command of 100 Squadron. On the morning of December 16th  the squadron was ordered to prepare for a raid on Berlin and Holford decided to put himself on the battle order as pilot of a crew, which had had a particularly tough time. It was a night that went down in RAF history as Black Thursday, with 25 aircraft being lost over Berlin and 33 in crashes back in England where airfields, including those in North Lincolnshire, were shrouded in fog.

His wireless operator, Sergeant Eric MacKay, later told his widow their aircraft was attacked and damaged by a night fighter on the way to Berlin. They fell behind the other bombers, but still pressed on to the target, before being attacked again on the way back to Waltham. When they arrived they found the airfield fogbound. Several aircraft were circling trying to find their way down and Holford decided to delay his own landing to let the less-experienced crews try to land. Eventually, running out of fuel, with a damaged aircraft and no visibility, he made an attempt to land, but hit rising ground near Kelstern with the tail and crashed. He and four of his crew were killed.

Wing Commander David William Holford the son of William and Henrietta Holford, and husband of Joan Audrey Holford of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, is buried at Cambridge City Cemetery.

 

 

The Two Wellingtons from RCAF 419 Squadron

419 Squadron was formed at Mildenhall, Suffolk, on 15th December 1941, as the third RCAF bomber squadron overseas. The first CO was Wing Commander John "Moose" Fulton, DSO, DFC, AFC, a native of Kamloops, British Columbia, and it was from him that the unit gained its nickname.The tradition of squadron commanders bearing the nickname "Moose" was instituted after Fulton's death during operations. Squadron personnel are affectionately known as "moosemen". This tradition continues to this day.

419 Squadron ORB for February 12th 1942 recorded - Three aircraft ordered for attack on German warships off Holland (Operation Fuller). The three Wellingtons took off at 17.00, Wellingtons Z1091 and Z1146 missing from this operation. Weather poor, 10/10ths cloud, and drizzle, visibility down to 1000yds, caused aircraft to perform individual attacks on ships. The "terrific" gunfire from ships probably caused loss of aircraft.

Wing Commander 'Moose' Fulton in the third aircraft, X9920, returned to base after flying around the target area for forty minutes and being hindered from finding the ships by very bad weather as low as 600 feet.

419 Squadron lost two Wellingtons on that night. Z1146(E) with P/O Laing's crew did not return.  P/O Armstrong's body was found in a dinghy off Callantsoog, he had probably died from exposure. The body of F/Sgt Poirier was washed ashore on 12-7-1942 at post 8, Noord-Holland. The two crewmen were originally buried in Huisduinen (Den Helder) and reburied after the war at Bergen op Zoom. Their crewmates have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. 

A number of aircraft in this battle were intercepted by Luftwaffe pilots. There are at least two claims from Luftwaffe unit 5./JG.1 - Fliegerhorst Haamstede (Zeeland) for this action which are sometimes linked with the Wellingtons. One is Oblt. Walter Diesselhorst, (his first 'kill') at 16.57 hours (our Wellingtons took off at 17.00 hrs) and Fw. Heinz Hartwig Kupper (his 13th at 16.47). Both were flying Messerschmitt Bf-109F-4 fighters. The two pilots claimed 'Wellington bombers' shot down in the Den Helder and Texel area.

** We need to investigate any difference with GMT and the time in Holland during that period.  Tom

 

The crew of Z1146 were -

P/O Richard Arthur Laing - Pilot, age 22, from Montreal, Quebec. He received his 'wings' at FTS Camp Borden in May 1941.

F/Sgt Godfrey Hyde Stewart Ross - 2nd Pilot, age 22, the son of James Alexander & Mary Ross from Edmonton Alberta. His parents were born and married in Ireland. Godfrey's father, James Alexander Ross, was a barrister based in Edmonton, Alberta.

P/O Walter Fredrick Bond - Navigator, age 23, the son of Edgar and Edith Bond, of Vancouver, British Columbia.

F/Sgt Joseph William Poirier - Wireless Operator, age 24, from New Carlisle, Quebec.

Sgt Harry Rowsell - Air Gunner, age 22, son of John & Emily Rowsell, of Pushthrough, Hermitage Bay, Newfoundland.

P/O Gordon Kenneth Armstrong - Air Gunner, age 22, son of James and Mary Armstrong, of Toronto, Ontario.

In a piece written later by members of Dick Laing's normal crew, who survived the war, it seems that on this operation, his own regular crew was stood down and he flew with a 'sprog' (new & inexperienced) crew. Records show that Pilot Officer W F Bond, who passed out from RCAF Fingal in June 1941, and Flight Sergeant Harry Rowsell, were on Course No.11 at 22 OTU in December 1941. They had flown on at least two missions with a different 419 Squadron skipper before this raid.

 

The graves at Bergen op Zoom

 

 

RAF ground crew push a 4,000lb blast bomb towards the bay of a Vickers Wellington bomber of  419 Squadron, at RAF Mildenhall in 1942. (IWM photo)

 

Wellington Z1091 VR-A took off at 17.00. A large number of aircraft and ships had been set aside for this operation by both sides. Two hundred Luftwaffe fighters were made available to provide air cover for the ships. Because of the intense fire power from the German Navy the group of Wellingtons were ordered to break formation and attack individually. Its crew were -

F/Sgt Joseph Fernand Paul Vezina - Pilot, age 20, of Shawinigan Falls, Quebec.  P/O Henry Gordon Anderson - 2nd Pilot, age 29 from Exeter, Ontario,  F/Sgt Thomas Joseph Thomas - Navigator, age 23 from Leamington, Ontario,  F/Sgt John Joseph Roche - Air Gunner, age 24 from Hamilton, Ontario, F/Sgt Max Alfred Reid - Wireless Op., age 20, of Hamilton, Ontario, F/Sgt Neil Williamson - Air Gunner- age 23  from St. Thomas Ontario. All the crew were lost and have no known graves.They are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

20 year old Flight Sergeant J F P Vezina was the 20 year old son of Alfred and Emma Vezina, of Shawinigan Falls, Quebec. Joe attended Course 17 at the RCAF Flying Training School at RCAF Summerside on Prince Edward Island, between January and April 1941. He was flying with 218 Squadron and had completed 19 op's before joining the newly formed 419 Squadron. On December 16/17th 1941, while still with 218 Squadron, he took off from RAF Marham to bomb the warships at Brest . On his return one of X9785's engines failed and while over Bridport in Dorset he had to order his crew to bail out. He stayed at the controls and crash-landed at Holm Farm, 4 miles N E of Bridport.  Only one of the crew, Sgt Crump, was injured. He broke his leg when landing badly after the parachute jump. His name is remembered on the Shawinigan Falls War Memorial situated on the riverside Promenade Du St. Maurice. (pictured above)

Flight Sergeant J J Roche, the 24 year old son of Peter & Joan Roche from Hamilton, Ontario, was a former pupil of the Cathedral High School at Hamilton and a talented football and baseball player. He was flying with 115 Squadron from RAF Marham before joining 419 Squadron. On 16th November 1941 while returning from a raid with that squadron on Kiel in Wellington Z8848 piloted by Pilot Officer Stock, the aircraft was forced to ditch into the sea 10 miles east of Whitby in Yorkshire. The crew were rescued, after spending five hours in the wintery sea, by a Norwegian destroyer.

Pilot Officer H G Anderson was the 29 year old son of James and Louise Anderson from Exeter, Ontario. He attended Exeter High School between 1925 and 1930, and Western Ontario University 1930-32. Before joining the RCAF he worked at Kerr-Addison Gold Mines Ltd at Rouyn. Henry enlisted in 1940 and was commissioned in July 1941. After training for bomber crew at 23 OTU in the UK he was posted to 419 Squadron on 1st January 1942. His name is remembered on the St. Mary's Town Hall Bronze Plaque. (see picture on right)

Flight Sergeant M A Reid was the son of Frederick & Miriam Reid of Hamilton, Ontario. His name is commemorated in the Memory Book, at the Memory Chamber of Peace Tower in Ottawa's Parliament Building, as are all his Ontario crewmates.

Flight Sergeant T J Thomas was the 23 year old son of Gwen Thomas and stepson of Gordon Wigfield, from Leamington, Ontario. This was only his 4th operational flight.

Flight Sergeant N Williamson was the 23 year old son of Robert & Frances Williamson from St. Thomas, Ontario. His name is also commemorated in the Memory Book, at the Memory Chamber of Peace Tower in Ottawa's Parliament Building.

 

 

In 1942 the Lord Mayor of London hands to Wing Commander John (Moose) Fulton DFC, AFC, Commanding Officer of 419 Squadron, a silver cigarette case, on behalf of the Mayor and citizens of his home town of Kamloops. By the time this picture was published in Wings Abroad he had already been posted 'missing in action'.

The son of John & Winifred Fulton of Kamloops, British Columbia, he and his crew lost their lives on 29th July 1942 while flying Wellington X3488 on a Hamburg raid. The aircraft piloted by Moose Fulton appears to have fallen victim to a night fighter in the vicinity of the Frisian Islands, as remarked by a last terse message back to base, "fighter wounded 500." The rest of 419 had returned safely. But "Moose's" fabled luck had finally succumbed to the grim statistical probabilities.

The effect on the squadron was devastating. As Jerrold Morris remembered: a rough fix had been obtained on the aircraft, that placed it off the Frisians, but a thorough search right up to the enemy coast the next morning failed to find any trace of the plane, and none of the crew was ever heard of again. I thought of Moose fighting out there with a damaged aircraft just above the water on a black night; if anyone could have brought her home he would.

So passed one of the finest men who ever served in the Air Force, and a pall of gloom descended on his squadron. There were even tears.

By the time Moose Fulton took over the new 419 Squadron, he already had as much experience as it was possible to have accumulated at that stage of the war. He had completed one tour of operations in 'heavies,' and had flown nearly every type of plane in the Air Force, and all the German aircraft that had fallen into our hands. He wore the D.F.C. and the A.F.C., the latter being awarded for flying Wellingtons through our balloon barrage to test the detonators installed on the leading edge of the wings to cut the cables, and for his testing of enemy aircraft.

He was twenty-six years old; a big man with carroty hair, a diffident manner and an engaging smile. Moose was seldom heard on the subject of discipline, but was held in such respect and affection by everyone, that he had only to issue an appeal to gain immediate response. Seldom does a man receive as much admiration as does Moose from his squadron. They admire his flying skill, - 'he's a wizard pilot' -they admire him as a man and it is no exaggeration to say they revere him.

Pilots, observers, wireless operators, gunners, ground crew, office clerks, all think the Moose the greatest man on earth. At a Sergeants' dance, the biggest crowd is around the Moose, at an Officers' dance, he is the centre of attraction. The Group Captain commanding the station calls him Moose openly; the Grimy Mechanic calls him "Sir," to his face and then tells his pals that he and Moose had a chat about the engines.

 

The Beauforts of RAF Coastal Command

A notable raid in this action was by twelve Beauforts, six from 86 Squadron, three from 217 Squadron and three from 22 Squadron. Wing Commander C. Flood of 86 Squadron led the attack in the only ASV-loaded aircraft. Locating the German ships in the darkness they attacked, but heavy AAA fire scattered the bombers and no successes were achieved. 

Beaufort AW273 BX-G of RAF Coastal Command's 86 Squadron, took off from RAF Thorney Island near Portsmouth at 4.10pm. It was part of a force of twelve Beauforts, six from 86 Squadron, three from 217 Squadron, and three from 22 Squadron Squadron. Wing Commander C. Flood of 86 Squadron led the attack in the only ASV-loaded aircraft. Locating the German ships in the darkness they attacked, but heavy AAA fire scattered the bombers and no successes were achieved.

AW273 was brought down by Marine FLAK at around 5.30pm, probably from VP-boats operating off Goeree Overflakke Island, Southwest of the Hook of Holland. All its four crew were lost. The pilot, 23 year old Squadron Leader Thomas Ivor Mathewson was washed ashore on Kijkduin beach at the Hague and buried at Den Haag's Westduin Cemetery on 25th of April 1942. The body of the observer, 23 year old Flying Officer William Henry Stephens from Gloucester, was at a later date also found on a beach and was buried on 3rd July 1942 at the Hook of Holland General Cemetery. Their crewmates, both gunners, Flight Sergeant Ronald Ernest Howett and 23 year old Sergeant Eric Young have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. All four crewmen are also remembered in the RAF St. Eval Book of Remembrance at the old and beautiful Parish Church of St. Eval where there is also a Memorial window.  (see YouTube film of St. Eval RAF Memorial)

Two other Beauforts were also lost in the action, AW278 (MW-) piloted by F/L. A.J.H. Finch, and L9877 (MW-)  piloted by F/L M White were from 217 Squadron.

 

 

 Squadron Leader Thomas Ivor Mathewson is named on the Harleston (Norfolk) War Memorial and a painting of the R38 airship which crashed into the Humber river near Hull in August 1921. His father, 34 year old RAF Flying Officer Thomas Frederick Mathewson, was one of the crew-members who lost their lives and is buried at Hull Western Cemetery. Of the 49 people on board, only five survived. (see website)

 

86 squadron had been reformed on 6 December 1940, initially flying Blenheim light bombers on convoy escort duties. In June 1941 the squadron was re-equipped with Beaufort torpedo bombers, and began minelaying sorties on 15 July. After flying reconnaissance and air-sea rescue missions for three months the squadron started anti-shipping strikes, with the first torpedo bomber operation taking place on 12 December.

The Beaufort was hurriedly designed in 1936 to meet Air Ministry requirements for a torpedo bomber and a maritime reconnaissance aircraft. It was derived from the earlier Blenheim light bomber with a longer and deeper fuselage, more powerful engines and an extra crewman. It first flew in 1938 and went into production in 1939, finally entering service early in 1940. The RAF's standard torpedo bomber up until this time was the Vickers Vildebeest, an old biplane.

 

 

A Beaufort attacking a German convoy in 1942

 

The Beaufort was a huge improvement on the Vildebeest with a top speed of 272 mph compared to the earlier aircraft's 143 mph. However this increase in speed caused an issue with the torpedo. The tactic used on the older plane was to dive toward the enemy and release the torpedo at the bottom of the dive before pulling away. The Beaufort's extra speed made the torpedo hit the water too fast and break up on impact. Fitting dive brakes to the Beaufort proved unsuccessful so the tactic had to be changed. The bomber had to be flown straight and level at a low speed and low altitude for a mile before the torpedo could be released. In many cases this made the plane and its crew a sitting duck for the German ship's anti-aircraft guns and fighter escorts.

(see German film of Beauforts attacking a convoy in 1942)

 

 

Beaufort AW278 of 217 Squadron took off from RAF Thorney Island at 1420 captained by Flt Lt A J H Finch, DFC, and was lost during an attack on the ships off the Dutch coast and went down near the the Dutch coast of Schouwen-Duiveland (Zeeland).  The crew were F/Lt Arthur John Heneage Finch, 27 year old Sgt David Yule Fyfe from Dundee, Scotland, Sgt Thomas McNeill, and New Zealander F/Sgt Albert Henry Leeds Jackson aged 32. All four were killed. Their bodies were never recovered and all are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

When news of the German Channel Dash reached Britain 217 Squadron had been split, with most of its aircraft at St. Eval, on the north-west coast of Cornwall, while a detachment was at Thorney Island near Portsmouth. The squadron's first sortie involved four aircraft from Thorney Island, and ended in farce - the ground controllers were operating on the wrong radio frequency and so the Beauforts were never informed of a key change of plan. Two of the four aircraft reached the French coast but didn't make contact with the German ships, while the second pair found one large German warship (believed to Prinz Eugen) off the coast of Belgium but both of their torpedoes missed. The first two aircraft then made a second sortie and both found the Scharnhorst, but once again their torpedoes missed. This left the main part of the squadron, from St. Eval. These aircraft moved to Thorney Island then made a late attempt to find the German fleet, but only managed to find four small minesweepers.

A pilot believed to be Flight Lieutenant A J H Finch, DFC, climbing into the cockpit of Bristol Beaufort N1027 MW-S' of  217 Squadron 14th January 1942 (IWM)

 

F/Lt Finch who was educated at the Prince of Wales School in Nairobi, Kenya and received his RAF commission in 1937, had earned his DFC in December 1941.  217 Squadron records relate - 15th December 1941. "Dull with intermittent slight rain until about 2pm. Three crews from Manston went out on a shipping strike at 3.42pm and found their target off the Dutch coast. F/Lt Finch went in first and scored direct hits and was badly shaken by the blast of his own bombs. As he was using 11 seconds delay it rather looks as though his bombs went into the boilers. P/O Lee followed but was shot down and crashed into the sea. P/O Aldridge having seen this went in at zero feet and while scoring more direct hits missed disaster by inches and good airmanship. His wing-tip fouled a stay on the ship and left bits and pieces behind."    F/Lt Finch and P/O Aldridge were awarded the DFC.  That was announced in the London Gazette 9th January 1942. "One day in December 1942, Flight Lieutenant Finch and Pilot Officer Aldridge participated in an attack on an enemy convoy of 8 ships escorted by 2 armed vessels off the Dutch coast. Skilfully approaching the largest ship, Flight Lieutenant Finch flew in to the attack at an extremely low level. Evading the ship's defensive fire, he machine-gunned the bridge and, flying across the vessel at mast height. released a stick of 4 bombs: it is estimated that 3 direct hits were obtained. Pilot Officer Aldridge followed his leader's example with great determination and, as the target vessel was obscured amidships by the smoke of his leader's bombs, he skilfully aimed his bombs nearer the bows of the ship and obtained several hits. In accomplishing this, Pilot Officer Aldridge flew so low that the wing tip of his aircraft was severed by the bracing wires of a mast.Throughout, both these officers showed great courage, combined with rare skill and judgment."    Both Sgt Yule and Sgt McNeill were members of Arthur Finch's 1941 crew.   See more about that battle - P/O Mark Lee and the casualties   

RNZAF personnel at Fingal Bombing and Gunnery School in Canada 1941. One of the group is LAC Albert Henry Leeds Jackson (later F/Sgt Albert Henry Leeds Jackson), and, pictured on the right, Beauforts of 217 Squadron in January 1942 near the coast of Cornwall.

F/Sgt Albert Jackson, who was only on his third operation, is remembered at the grave of his parents in Hillsborough, New Zealand. In loving memory of Millicent Lawrence dearly beloved wife of William Jackson died 20 Sept 1930 aged 48 yrs. Also her loved husband William Jackson died 7 Sept 1946 aged 73 yrs And their loved son Sgt/Observer Albert Henry Leeds Jackson killed in action Englilsh Channel 12 Feb 1942 aged 32 yrs"

27 year old Sgt David Yule Fyfe was the son of Charles and Helen Fyfe of Dundee. He is remembered on the City of Dundee Roll of Honour.

 

217 Squadron's Beaufort L9877 MW-Z took off from Thorney Island at 16.08 hours on February 12, 1942. Believed to have been brought down by Flak It was lost over the North Sea and last seen diving towards a ship in the convoy just off the coast of Holland.

The crew were originally from 22 Squadron who were also based at Thorney Island. 22 Squadron was not operational at that time as they were in the middle of preparations to move out to the Far East.

That squadron today flies Sea King search and rescue helicopters from RAF Valley in Anglesey and is famous for having had HRH Prince William as a co-pilot.

The crew were 21 year old F/Lt Matthew White - pilot, 25 year old F/Sgt Hedley Goldsmith - Observer/Bomb Aimer, F/Sgt John Arthur Wilson - Wireless Operator/Gunner aged 21, and 22 year old Sgt Basil Warwick Hammersley - Rear Gunner.

The bodies of F/Sgt Wilson and F/Sgt Goldsmith were washed ashore near Scheveningen the next day and they are buried at Westduin Cemetery, the Hague. F/Lt White is buried at the Hook of Holland General Cemetery and Sgt Hammersley, who has no known grave, is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Matthew White was the son of John & Isabelle White, and husband of Mary Victoria White of Marylebone, London.

Hedley Goldsmith was the son of Albert & Laura Goldsmith, husband of Adeline Bessie Goldsmith from Swaffham, Norfolk, and father to a 3 year old daughter,Verna.

Both F/Sgt Wilson and Sgt Hammersley came from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex but only F/Sgt Wilson is commemorated on the Southend-on-Sea War Memorial. John Arthur Wilson was the son of Henry & Annie Wilson of Leigh-on-Sea, and Basil Warwick Hammersley, the son of Warwick & Violet Hammersley of Leigh-on-Sea.

 

 

The Hudson Bombers from RCAF 407 (Demon) Squadron

 

Hudson AM712 (RR-W).  Between 13.05 and 13.35 on 12 February 1942, eight Hudsons from 407 Squadron of Coastal Command took off from RAF North Coates. Five of those aircraft successfully located the target area.

Canadian skipper, Squadron Leader W Anderson in 'W' leading one formation of three aircraft sighted the German convoy through a break in the clouds and the three Hudsons released their bombs from around 400-900 feet. His aircraft is then believed to have been brought down by flak and all the crew were lost.

Flying Officer Cowperthwaite in 'P', was in a second formation with F/Sgt Majeau in 'J' and an aircraft from 59 Squadron. They also located the target and bombed from around 1500 feet. His aircraft was also brought down and the crew lost.

 

Lockheed Hudson crew members return to their base at North Coates, Lincolnshire in 1941.
(Left to right) S/L W.A Anderson, Sgt. N.F. Jordan, Sgt. J.E. Duval, and Sgt. H.V. Spicer.

 

RAF Sergeant John Edward Duval, pictured above, lost his life 3 weeks earlier. He was the Wireless Operator/Gunner on Hudson AM602 (M) which crashed when attempting to land at the North Coates satellite airfield, RAF Donna Nook, on January 22nd 1942. The aircraft, piloted by Canadian Pilot Officer Roland Edison Dann, overshot the first approach and was climbing away for a second attempt when it crashed, hitting the Watch Office. The Hudson caught fire, causing its bomb load to explode. All five crew members were killed as well as thirteen RAF personnel on the ground.

 

 

RCAF S/Leader Anderson's crew were RAF F/Sgt Neville Frederick Jordan - 2nd pilot/Observer, RAF F/Sgt Stanley Walker - W/Op/Air Gunner, RCAF Sgt Harold Victor Spicer (posthumously promoted to Pilot Officer) - W/Op/Air Gunner, and RAF Sgt Alan Forster Muris. (Sgt Muris, the fifth crewman, was probably new to the Squadron. He is not recorded as a member of any crew during February 1942.)

Only Sgt Spicer's body was recovered, his crewmates were reported as 'missing' and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Our photo shows the 407 Squadron Memorial at the National Air Force Museum Canada where William Anderson & Harold Spicer are remembered.

 

Squadron Leader William Andrew Anderson DFC was born at Winnipeg in 1918, the son of David & Anne Anderson.  He worked for Eastman Photographic Supplies from the summer of 1936, and attended the University of Manitoba 1936-1939. He enlisted with No 112 Squadron, Winnipeg, on 9 September 1939 as a Pilot Officer. He was promoted to Flying Officer on 14 April 1940 after training at Camp Borden and Trenton and qualifying as a pilot. He was then promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 15 July 1941 and posted to 407 Squadron 23 August 1941 and made up to Acting Squadron Leader on 1 December 1941.

He was first recommended for the DFC by his CO at 407 Squadron in November 1941.

On 15 December 1942 the Commanding Officer of 407 Squadron forwarded a second recommendation to his superiors reading as follows - This officer was recommended by me for an award of the Distinguished Flying Cross on 11th November 1941 but it has not yet been awarded.

This recommendation is forwarded to add weight to the previous one, a copy of which is attached. Since the 11th November Flight Lieutenant Anderson has assumed command of a Flight in No 407 Squadron and has already proved himself a very capable Flight Commander. He has up to date carried out 17 operational sorties, some in very bad weather. In addition to these exploits which have already been detailed he has now attacked and hit at night a merchant vessel of 8000 tons leaving it enveloped in clouds of dense smoke and steam. He has a total of three ships hit and confirmed damaged or seriously damaged and one probably damaged. He has at all times shown great personal courage.

This was finally edited to the following for presentation to the Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee. This officer has always shown the greatest keenness and enthusiasm for operational flying. On one occasion he carried out a successful low level attack on a well defended convoy off Ameland obtaining a hit on the largest vessel of some 10 000 tons. He also attacked balloons flown over the convoy with machine gun fire. On other occasions he has attacked convoys at night always at a low level and in the face of intense anti aircraft fire obtaining direct hits on a 2 500 ton vessel from fifty feet and a probable hit on another vessel he also attacked the vessels with machine gun fire. On another sortie Flight Lieutenant Anderson was detailed to illuminate the position of a convoy to direct a bombing force to the attack. He skilfully accomplished his mission by dropping ten flares at five minute internals over the convoy in the face of fire from the ships. He assumed command of a flight in November and he has since carried out a further 17 sorties. During one of these flights he attacked a large merchant ship leaving it enveloped in dense smoke and steam. This officer has at all times shown great courage.

The DFC was presented to his widow, Joyce H Anderson at a ceremony in Canada on 21 March 1944.

William Andrew Anderson is remembered on the 407 Squadron Memorial and also there is a beautiful wildlife lake named in his honour near Yellowknife City and the Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories.

 

Sergeant Harold Victor Spicer was the 23 year old son of Hubert & Julia Spicer of Wharton, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia in Canada. His body was washed ashore 20 April 1943 on Walcheren beach near Westkapelle village. He was first buried on 22 April at Vlissingen as an unknown Canadian airman. He was exhumed in 1951 for an ID check and formally identified by an inspector of the CWGC on July 26th 1951. His promotion to Pilot Officer appears to be after his death. His name is remembered on the 407 Squadron Memorial and in the WW2 Memorial Book at the Peace Tower in Ottawa.

Flight Sergeant Stanley Walker. His name is on the list of RAF aircrew who flew in the Battle of Britain. Before joining 407 Squadron he was a member of Coastal Command's 236 Squadron and flying defensive patrols in Blenheim Mark IVs over the Thames Estuary and English Channel. Records show nothing about his home town or date of birth

F/Sgt Neville Frederick Jordan was the 22 year old son of Robert & Ellen Jordan of Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. His name is on the local Biggleswade War Memorial and on the Roll of Honour.

Sgt Alan Forster Muris. We believe that this was his first mission with 407 Squadron. His name appears on the Batley (Yorkshire) War Memorial.

London Gazette records show that before the war he worked as a clerk for the Ministry of Labour and it seems he became engaged to a co-worker, Betty Yvonne Hatton (born in 1920).

In 2012, a group of Canadian World War 2 veterans were visiting the Runnymede RAF Memorial where Alan Muris, having no known grave, is remembered.

One of them wrote - After getting to bed at 0330, we were off early the next morning to Runnymede (home of the Magna Carta) and the Royal Air Force Memorial to the 20,450 allied airmen who were killed in WW2, with no known grave. We held a very moving ceremony and spent time visiting the names inscribed on the walls. One moving tribute was an apparently annual birthday card to Sgt Alan Forster Muris, killed in February 1942, “with dearest love always from your fiance Miss Betty Y. Hatton.” True love never dies.

 

Yorkshire's Ilkley Gazette printed an obituary to Betty after she passed away at the age of ninety in July 2012. She had remained single and, it seems, every year sent a card on her fiance's birthday (June 16th) to the Runnymede Memorial.     Already described on this page, Runnymede was opened by the Queen in 1953.

The War Memorials at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire (left) and Batley in Yorkshire.

 

Hudson AM598  RR-P skippered by RCAF F/Lt Lonsdale (Dale) Cowperthwaite took off from North Coates at 3.30pm and at the time of the attack was in a second formation with F/Sgt Majeau in 'J' and an aircraft from 59 Squadron. They  located the target and bombed from around 1500 feet. His aircraft was also brought down and all the crew lost. His crewmates were RCAF P/O John Ernest Lister (Observer), RAF F/Sgt Norman John Jones (Wireless Op./AG), and RCAF Sgt William Beverley Lenover (Wireless Op./AG). They have no known graves and are all commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

This exceptional crew had been engaged on many day and night operations and always were amongst the first to volunteer for a difficult and dangerous mission. They made a special request to be on this operation. The aircraft was last seen by another pilot to be going down to attack one of the enemy warships. Flying Officer Cowperthwaite had previously attacked four merchant vessels, two of which were definitely damaged. After the battle the Air Ministry reported Dale Cowperthwaite's action as follows - "He was acting Flight Commander for the 407 Demon Squadron. He led the charge into a hail of anti-aircraft fire and the last that was seen of him he was straddling the ships with his load of bombs with nearly a dozen Nazi fighter planes after him."

RCAF Pilot OfficerJohn Ernest Lister was born of English parents, James & Annie Lister, at Toronto, Canada on the 23rd February 1917. His home address was 171 East Avenue,Hamilton, Ontario. Before enlisting at Hamilton in July 1940 he worked as a shipping clerk with the Burlington Steel Company. After completing his training at 1 BGS, Jarvis, Ontario, followed by promotion to Sergeant in January 1941. He was then sent to No.1 ANS, Rivers, where he graduated and was commissioned on February 25 1941. Posted overseas to the UK, he received observer training on Whitley bombers and then flew 19 missions with 612 Squadron from 17th August till the 2nd of January 1942. He was then posted to 407 Squadron. He met his death on his 7th mission with them and by that time had flown a total of 150 operational hours.

The memorials at Thunder Bay and Trinity College School and 20 year old 407 Squadron Pilot Officer Canadian Jimmy Codville from Duncan British Columbia, who was killed with all his crew in Hudson AE655 RR-R when shot down by Oblt Woltersdorf of 4/NJG1 near Terschelling on November 5th 1941. His body was washed ashore on Rottumeroog Island and he is buried at Oldebroek General Cemetery.

 

RCAF Sergeant William Beverley Lenover was born in Ontario on January 9th 1919 and was the son of Thaddeus & Edythe Lenover who lived at Northwood, Ontario. He was trained as a wireless operator/gunner and is commemorated on the 407 Squadron Memorial and the local War Memorial at his home town, Northwood, Thunder Bay.

The second wireless operator/gunner was 27 year old RAF Flight Sergeant Norman John Jones. A Welshman, he was the son of William & Lily Jones from Cardiff, South Wales. An experienced crewman, he was on his second tour of operational duty and had flown a total of 350 operational hours. While with this squadron he and his crew had attacked four merchant vessels of which two were definitely damaged.

RCAF Flying Officer Lonsdale (Dale) Cowperthwaite, born in London on 9th January 1914, was the son of Edward & Eva Cowperthwaite from Brantford, Ontario. He and his brother Edward (Ted) who was born in 1912, attended Trinity College School at Port Hope, Ontario. While there he commanded the Cadet Corps. Dale left in June 1932. In 1935 with his family he moved to London, UK.  He was back in Canada in 1936 and soon after the outbreak of war enlisted in the RCAF, and was one of the first graduates from Brantford Flying Training School. At the time of his death he was acting Flight Commander having just won promotion to Flight Lieutenant and was due to be married in two weeks. He had flown 30 operational flights, 20 of those at night.

After his death, Dale's mother, then living in London, received the following tribute - A brave and fearless officer and a gallant gentleman. By his conduct at the Station, he raised the prestige of Canadian pilot officers to a high point of regard and esteem.

A grand captain and skilled pilot: had distinctive successes against the enemy, and, on occasions, marvellously got his shot-up ship back to base.

The crews he had simply loved him.Whenever his squadron was ordered out to convoy attack, he was, by his cheeriness, always an inspiration to his co-pilots on leaving the Station; and this was most noted on his last trip, February 12th when, before taking off, the crews of the Squadron knew they were going into an inferno of enemy fire (the escaping German battleships, off the Dutch coast) and it was Dale's poise and happy parting wave and cheerio which gave encouragement to all in their duty ahead.

He was last observed, diving to the attack on a battleship as his target.'

 

His brother RAF Flying Officer Edward Morris (Ted) Cowperthwaite was born in London, UK in November 1912. He attended the same school as his brother. In September, 1930, he entered University College, Toronto, where he remained a year before joining his father in business. In 1936, he went to England in his own business and on the outbreak of war joined the Royal Air Force. He became an instructor at RAF Cranwell. While engaged in his important flying duties, he was anxious to continue his university training and had applied to the University of London for permission to take correspondence courses in Economics. In late 1939 he married Phyllis Dudrence in London.

It was while instructing one day in October 1941 that he lost his life when caught in a sleet storm and his controls had become jammed.

His mother received this tribute - He became, in his time, the key pilot-instructor at Cranwell College. An ideal instructor: highly efficient in every phase of aircraft operation : patient, yet strict with pupils : calm and fearless in emergencies. A splendid officer, always the gentleman. He trained many notable pilots, including a number of our most successful night fighters.  A remarkable tribute to the esteem and affection in which Ted was held at Cranwell College, was evidenced at his funeral, when, headed by the R.A.F. full Band, the O.C. and Staff Officers of the College, over five hundred pilots, pupils and ground staff marched from the College, one mile, to the R.A.F. cemetery, where he was interred with full military honours.

 

Dale & Ted Cowperthwaite

Dale & Ted Cowperthwaite

The cemetery at Cranwell

Aircrew and ground staff from RCAF 407 'Demon' Squadron enjoy a tea break next to their Hudson aircraft on 2nd November 1941.

 

Starting in 1941, over a period of 19 months, 407 Squadron sank an estimated 500,000 tons of enemy shipping, thus earning its nickname The Demons for the tenacity with which the squadron pressed home its attacks. From 1943 until the end of the war, 407 Squadron focused on anti-submarine warfare, sinking four German U-Boats and damaging another seven.

 

The Blenheims of Bomber Command

 

Blenheim Mk.IV (Z7433) of 110 Squadron took off at 14.40 on 12th February 1942 from RAF Wattisham. Its crew were : Pilot - Sergeant Peter Laurance Reynolds aged 20, the son of Laurance & Irene Reynolds, of Hendon, Middlesex. Navigator/Bomb Aimer - Pilot Officer Peter John Hill (18) the son of Albert and Elizabeth Hill, of Yardley, Birmingham. Wireless Operator/Air Gunner - Sergeant Hugh Patrick Anthony Guilfoyle (20)  the son of Mr. and Mrs A. J. Guilfoyle and husband of Joan Guilfoyle, of Whalley, Lancashire.

At 16:43 it was shot down by Oblt. Max Buchholz (5./JG 1) in an area off the Zeeland coast near the mouth of the Scheldt. He was flying a Messerschmitt Bf.-109F from a temporary base on 'Fliegerhorst' Haamstede on Schouwen-Duive island. This was the Battle of Britain veteran's 28th and last 'kill' of the war before being moved to Staff appointments at JG.102 and JG.106. He had survived a ditching in the Channel while taking part in a London raid on 15th September 1940 and this was the fifth Blenheim bomber he had brought down.

The crew of Blenheim Z7433, Sgt Laurance Peter Reynolds, Plt.Off. Peter John Hill and Sgt. Hugh Patrick Anthony Guilfoyle, have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Peter Hill is also remembered in the 'Memory Book 1939-1945' at in the Hall of Memory at Birmingham City Council and Hugh Guilfoyle on the Whalley War Memorial.

 

 

Our photos show Oblt. Max Buchholz, some Luftwaffe 'Manschaft' of unit 5.-JG.1 (orange-red 'Tatzelwurm') preparing for 'Operation Donnerkeil', the 'umbrella' for the Kriegsmarine fleet, and a Bf.-109-F fighter of unit 6.-JG.1 (yellow 'Tatzelwurm') at 'snowy' Fliegerhorst Haamstede (Zld.) -February 1942.  Centre photo shows from left -Ofhr. Ernst Terborg, Oblt. Walter Diesselhorst, Oblt. Max Buchholz , Fw. George Hutter, Uffz. Günther Kirchner and Ofw. ??? Dietrich.

 

Messerschmitt Bf.-109F-4 fighter - 'Black 1' of Oblt. Max Buchholz (unit 5.-JG.1 - Haamstede)

 

While preparing already for ' Operation Donnerkeil ' (Thunderbolt) one of the direct results was the forming and stationing of new luftwaffe-units on the Dutch coast-line, in S.W.- Holland and in Zeeland, along the Kriegsmarine route of those battleships returning to Germany(!) 

At 'Fliegerhorst' Valkenburg (Katwijk) was stationed - Stab II / JG.1, at Flgh. Vlissingen (Flushing) came - 4. / JG.1, also at Flgh. Valkenburg - 5. / JG.1 (which was moving to nearby Flgh. Haamstede, in Zeeland, later on) and at Flgh. Valkenburg came also - 6. / JG.1; thus 4 units in total, all since 15 January 1942, and under the 1st command of 'Gruppenkommandeur' Hptm. Hans von Hahn.

While some of the pilots in these new units had flown already the Focke-Wulf Fw.-190, they all received brand new Messerschmitt Bf.-109 fighters, about 30 of them, and of the latest type, the F- version ' Friedrich '. First training flights were over winters' Holland, thus with all kind of 'sea-climate-winter-weather-conditions', like snow, hail, frost, mist and rain (icing !). Good lessons for what was to come...... 12 February 1942; and later on, after protecting their 'Channel Dash - fleet',  they were stationed there for a longer period, to control and protect all the other shipping near the Dutch coast, because the RAF, in particular Coastal Command, was operating more and more in that area.

 

Blenheim Mk.IV (T1922) of 114 (Hongkong) Squadron took off at 14.10 hours on 12th February 1942 from RAF West Raynham in Norfolk. Its crew were: pilot - Pilot Officer Elmer Robert Drysdale RCAF, observer - Sgt. Arthur Stanley Maynard, and wireless operator/gunner - Sergeant John Standeford Pullen. It is not clear whether it was brought down by a Luftwaffe fighter or anti-aircraft fire but as with the other Blenheim from 110 Squadron it appears to have come down in an area off the Zeeland coast near the mouth of the Scheldt. All the crew were killed.

Canadian, P/O Drysdale's  body was recovered on July 15, 1942 at Wacheren island beach and after ID checks he was buried the same day at the Northern Cemetery. The remains of Sgt. Maynard were washed ashore near Hoek van Holland and he was buried at the Hook of Holland General Cemetery on July 17 1942. The body of West Australian Sgt Pullen was never found and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Pilot Officer Robert Elmer Drysdale who was born at Lanark, Ontario in August 1920, enlisted in the R.C.A.F. at Ottawa Sept. 13, 1940. He trained in various Commonwealth air training schools. Late in March he had a leave of a few days at his home and then trained at McLeod, Alberta; until June 20, 1941 when he received his wings. He then had ten days leave before moving to eastern Canada. He had the unique experience of going to England on a large liner and of returning to Canada after that liner was in collision with an iceberg a short distance from the Canadian coast. Late in July, he made the crossing safely. In England, in common with other airmen from the Dominion, he participated in further extensive training and was engaged in aerial duties with R.A.F Bomber Command.

The wireless operator/air gunner was 32 year old Sergeant John Standeford Pullen son of John Edward and Lilian May Pullen, of Mount Barker, Western Australia. His name is on the Mt. Barker War Memorial.

 

 

 

    The Mt. Barker War Memorial where John Standeford Pullen is remembered

 

The observer Sgt Arthur Stanley Maynard was from Weaste, a suburb of Salford in Lancashire. Records do not show his age or family.

 

The War Memorial window at St. Luke, Weaste, in Lancashire where Arthur Maynard is remembered

 

 

 

 

Excerpts from the ‘Battle-report’ of Vorposten-boat V2007 12 February 1942

Some excerpts now from the ‘Battle-report’ of the commander of the Vorposten-boat V2007 ‘Hannover’, about an RAF bomb attack on 12.02.1942 on his boat and another vessel in his fleet unit, between 16.00 and 16.30 hrs, when these Kriegsmarine boats were ordered to ‘hug the coastline’ near Vlissingen habour, in Zeeland / occupied Holland.This ' Battle - report ' was signed by Lt.z.See (Lieutenant at Sea) and Rottenführer Ammermann, commander of the V2007.

 

Drawing of a German Vorposten-boat in action and an anti-aircraft gun platform on a Vorposten-boat

 

" About 16.05 hrs we spotted an airplane, passing over our fleet unit, flying in an Easterly direction, at altitude ± 600 meters, before it disappeared into the clouds. Our vessels were operating about 1000 meters from each other. We were still hearing its engine sound. Then the aircraft was turning and coming back from behind, about 4° from our starboard side, and trying to attack our boat (V2007). In this manoeuvre the machine was recognisable as an RAF Hampden bomber and after the well-aimed anti-aircraft fire of our boat (V2007) the plane turned away.

About 16.25 hrs. that same aircraft was ready to drop his bombs from above the position of ‘Planquadrat 8736’ and this time against the nearby Vorposten-boat V2009 ‘Niedersachsen’.

After the bomb run the plane turned again but came under heavy and well-aimed return fire from V2009, into the same direction of our course, and at about 400 meters height and 200 meters away from our portside. The bomber also came into our own return fire, which was hitting it completely!

Suddenly the machine was lifting up steep and into the clouds and then it was soon falling down, burning heavily, about 500 meters from our starboard side, and disappeared into the waves. Meanwhile our fleet unit was going at full speed, up to Fort Vlissingen, with the badly wounded commander of V2009 being given first aid aboard his boat."      (my translation from German into English, as good as possible - Willem de Jong)

 

The 'Gneisenau' at full speed during 'Operation Cerberus' and the Dutch lifeboat Mrb. 'Arthur' who searched for survivors from P5324

 

 

 

RAF Bomber Command losses during and after the Kriegsmarine Channel Run - by Willem

 

What the German military named ‘Operation Cerberus’ (Kriegsmarine) and ‘Operation Donnerkeil’ (Luftwaffe) and what was known in Britain later as the ‘Prelude’ and the ‘Channel Dash’ - and called by the Allied military ‘Operation Fuller’, was in fact nothing more than a desperate break out by a small number of old-fashioned battleships, from the French port of Brest, where they were ‘imprisoned’ for a long period by the Royal Navy and the RAF.

Although each one was a great danger to every unarmed merchant boat or vessel of the Allies, against the (larger) Royal Navy and in a full scale sea battle these capital war ships of the ‘Jerries’ never could make a clenched fist!

The German Marine authorities and ‘Berlin’ realized that they had to use every trick and tactic to spare the vessels for other more useful operations later, the Arctic convoys to Murmansk for example, and bring them home safely, before they were bombed totally into iron scrap by Bomber Command.

So, the ‘Scharnhorst’, the ‘Gneisenau’ as well as the ‘Prinz Eugen’ were starting their risky Channel Run on the 11th of February 1942, in high secret of course, under winters’ bad weather conditions and in the dark, and with radio silence first and heavy jamming later.

They were under the protection of 6 destroyers, many FLAK - ships and ‘Vorpos- ten’ boats, and more than 200 fighters! Thus, the modern fast Luftwaffe was helping the slow sea giants from the past. It would be their most vital support in the great success of this whole operation, with many thanks later due to General Adolf Galland.

The British home defence, and the Royal Navy suspected such an attempt, but, probably in a few weeks, or the next month or some time later. But so quick, in this way and simply via the shortest route? The British Channel - as the name says - was and still is in fact their back yard, and the way to their own front door, thus it was therefore almost unbelievable when the message about the outbreak came in, and via the air force! Some Spitfire pilots had stopped attacking Luftwaffe airplanes and returned home as soon as possible, bringing the hot news.

But what was most alarming about this important discovery? The obvious weakness of their own naval airpower at that moment over that part of their own home waters! Although very heroic in their following battle against those capital warships of the enemy, those elderly torpedo-loaded Swordfish biplanes of the Fleet Air Arm from No. 825 Squadron, with open cockpits, could not operate successfully in this modern warfare.

Therefore it was a real shock for many! The Daily Mail reported later: ‘In planes which, against the German protecting aircraft, were as slow as a cart horse compared with a motorcar, 18 men (in 6 planes) of the Fleet Air Arm flew over the Channel. Crippled and ablaze before they got within range, they kept on, delivered their attacks, and died !’ (only 5 crews were rescued from those cold and deep waters). Brave men, of course, but alas no real threat any more to a Kriegsmarine battleship…

This should have been an excellent opportunity, maybe one of the most crucial moments in the war at sea, for the Royal Navy to stop that enemy surface fleet and to quickly bring their own heavy artillery in position and sink one or more of these Kriegsmarine giants. However, despite all the later MTB-attacks and other efforts of the British naval forces, and the full assistance and protection of the RAF, there came no success in this way at all.

For Sir Winston Churchill and the admirals a great disappointment, and for the surviving hard working and fighting sailors and airmen, a bitter defeat. With every hour the enemy was winning valuable time and with every mile the Kriegsmarine moved further into a more safe area.

The Allies were entering a new period in which only Bomber Command would seek and destroy those damned battleships, but not in nearby close-target Brest, but now alas much further away, to Germany itself and the ports of Wilhelmshaven, Kiel etc.

 

Me.Bf-110C nightfighters of NJG.1 (Flgh. Leeuwarden etc.) over the 'Scharnhorst' etc., N. of Terschelling during Operation 'Donnerkeil'

 

On 12 February 1942, mostly in the heat of battle and in daylight hours, it is now known that Bomber Command lost 14 planes!

The RAF bomber squadrons made a frantic effort to prepare planes for attacks, which were mounted in 3 waves. Other aircraft of Coastal and Fighter Commands and of the Fleet Air Arm were also involved. The first Bomber Command aircraft were airborne at 1.30 p.m. and 242 sorties were flown by the squadrons before dark.

Every type of aircraft available flew except the Whitleys which were stationed in the North of England. Bomber Command aircraft dispatched were: 92 Wellingtons, 64 Hampdens, 37 Blenheims, 15 Manchesters, 13 Halifaxes, I I Stirlings and 10 of the new American-built Boston bombers with which some of the 2 Group squadrons were being equipped, although they were not yet officially ready for operations. It was the largest Bomber Command daylight operation of the war to date. Most of the bombers were unable to find the German ships in the poor weather conditions and, of those aircraft which did bomb, no hits were scored on these fast-moving and heavily defended targets.

None of the attacks by other forces caused any serious damage to the German ships but the two largest, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, were both slowed down after striking mines laid by 5 Group Hampdens or Manchesters in the Frisian Islands during recent nights. Scharnhorst hit 2 mines and Gneisenau one. All the German ships reached the safety of ports in Germany before daybreak.    (The Bomber Command War Diaries)     * 2013 correction - the SS John Mahn was sunk northwest of Ostende.

More aircraft losses were to follow on their routes between the home bases in the UK and the Kriegsmarine targets in N.W. Germany, over the North Sea, the Frisian islands and the Northern part of Holland. About these losses not so much has been told as about those 825 Squadron losses of the Fleet Air Arm on the same date. Maybe less heroic? So this is perhaps a good place to offer some ‘compensation’ and a few more details. And by the way, that whole crazy German battle fleet was passing also the occupied Dutch coastline, the full length of it, from the South to the North and into the East, from Breskens in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (Dutch Flanders) to Den Helder city in Noord-Holland, and from Texel island to the island of Schiermonnikoog, and even nightfighters of ‘Fliegerhorst’ Leeuwarden were also involved in protecting that fleet.

 

Overview of Bomber Command losses on Thursday 12 February 1942

 

01.) 49 RAF Sqdn. - Hampden AE396 (EA-‘W’) - pilot Sgt E.W Philips - MIA

02.) 49 RAF Sqdn. - Hampden AE132 (EA-‘U‘) - pilot F/Sgt D.C Pollitt-MIA

03.) 49 RAF Sqdn. - Hampden P5324 (EA-‘T‘) -pilot Sgt T.K Downes -KIA

04.) 49 RAF Sqdn. - Hampden  AE240  (EA-'P') - pilot Sgt M.H  Holt - MIA

05.) 50 RAF Sqdn. - Hampden AT177 (VN-‘?’) - pilot F/O D.G Carter -MIA

06.) 103 RAF Sqdn. - Wellington Z8714 (PM-‘N’) - pilot S/L I.K.P Cross - POW

07.) 110 RAF Sqdn. - Blenheim Z7433 (VE-‘ ‘) - pilot Sgt P.L. Reynolds -MIA

08.) 144 RAF Sqdn. - Hampden AT175 (PL-‘ ‘) - pilot W/C G.F Simond - MIA

09.) 144 RAF Sqdn. - Hampden AE141 (PL-‘J’) - pilot Sgt. E.I Nightingale-KIA

10.) 214 FMS Sqdn. - Wellington Z1081 (BU-‘?’) -pilot W/C R.D.B MacFadden- KIA

11.) 419 RCAF Sqdn. - Wellington Z1146 (VR-‘E’) - pilot P/O R.A. Laing - MIA

12.) 419 RCAF Sqdn. - Wellington Z1091 (VR-‘A’) - pilot F/Sgt J.F.P Vezina-MIA

13.) 420 RCAF Sqdn. - Hampden P4400 (PT-‘J’) - pilot P/O J.R Topping - MIA

14.) 420 RCAF Sqdn. - Hampden AT134 (PT-‘K’) - pilot S/L G.L.B Harris - KIA

15.) 455 RAAF Sqdn. - Hampden P1156 (UB-‘F’) - pilot F/L W.E. Perrin - MIA

16.) 114  RAF  Sqdn. - Blenheim T1922( RT- ) - pilot P/O R.E Drysdale - KIA

 

Overview of Coastal Command losses on Thursday 12 February 1942

17.) 217 RAF Sqdn.  - Beaufort AW278 (MW-‘?’) -pilot F/L. A.J.H. Finch - MIA

18.) 217 RAF Sqdn.  - Beaufort L9877 (MW-‘?’) - pilot F/L M White - KIA

19.)  86  RAF Sqdn.  - Beaufort AW273 (BX-‘G’) - pilot S/L T.I Mathewson-KIA

19.) 407 RCAF Sqdn. -Hudson AM712 (RR- W) - pilot S/L W.A Anderson -MIA

20.) 407 RCAF Sqdn. -Hudson AM598 (RR-P) - pilot F/L L Cowperthwaite - MIA

 

 

Fighter Command lost 20 fighters, 14 pilots killed and three captured. Only eight of the RAF fighters were shot down by the Luftwaffe. A further eight were shot down by AAA fire, two collided and two were lost to unknown causes. Ten of the fighters were Spitfires, six were Hawker Hurricanes and four were Westland Whirlwinds. During the air battles, mutual overclaiming took place, though the Luftwaffe was significantly worse.

RAF Fighters claimed 16 Bf 109s destroyed and 13 damaged. Four Fw 190s were also claimed destroyed and six damaged. Actual German losses amounted to 17 fighters, along with five Do 217s. Human casualties amounted to 23 killed.

German fighter units claimed 60 RAF aircraft shot down, with JG 26 awarded seven kills and six probable victories. Actual British RAF losses were 40, a number of which were lost to AAA fire.

The Luftwaffe had flown 300 fighter and 40 bomber missions during 11—12 February. (Wikipedia)

 

Overview of Fighter Command losses on Thursday 12 February 1942

 

21.) 1 RAF Sqdn. - Hurricane BD949 (JX-‘J’) - pilot F/L. R. Marcinkus - POW *

22.) 1 RAF Sqdn. - Hurricane Z3774 (JX-‘ ‘) - pilot F/Sgt. E.F.G. Blair - MIA

23.) 19 RAF Sqdn. - Spitfire AD332 (QV-‘ ‘) - pilot Sgt. D.T.E. Reid - KIA

24.) 41 RAF Sqdn. - Spitfire W3565 (EB-‘ ‘) - pilot Sgt. B.P. Dunstan - MIA

25.) 118 RAF Sqdn. - Spitfire AD239 (NK-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. I.S. Stone - MIA

26.) 129 RAF Sqdn. - Spitfire AA921 (DV-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. G.J. Davis - MIA

27.) 129 RAF Sqdn. - Spitfire W3800 (DV-‘ ‘) - pilot Sgt. ? Wilson - KIA

28.) 137 RAF Sqdn. - Whirlwind P7107 (SF-‘ ‘) - pilot W/O. B.L. Robertson - MIA

29.) 137 RAF Sqdn. - Whirlwind P7093 (SF-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. R.O.G. Häggberg -MIA*

30.) 137 RAF Sqdn. - Whirlwind P7106 (SF-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. G.W. Martin - MIA

31.) 137 RAF Sqdn. - Whirlwind P7050 (SF-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. J.A.W. Sandy - MIA

32.) 234 RAF Sqdn. - Spitfire AA727 (AZ-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. D.E. Pike - MIA

33.) 234 RAF Sdqn. - Spitfire AA722 (AZ-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. D.N. McLeod - POW

34.) 401 RCAF Sqdn. - Spitfire W3131 (YO-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. J.A. Levesque - POW

35.) 403 RCAF Sqdn. - Spitfire BL337 (KH-‘K’) - pilot F/Sgt. ? McDonald - POW

36.) 403 RCAF Sqdn. - Spitfire AD273 (KH-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. J.N. Cawsey - MIA

37.) 607 RAF Sqdn. - Hurricane BE670 (AF-‘ ‘) - pilot P/O. E.J. Staerck - MIA

38.) 607 RAF Sqdn. - Hurricane BE476 (AF-‘ ‘) - pilot W/O. R.J. Ommanney - MIA

39.) 607 RAF Sqdn. - Hurricane BE222 (AF-‘ ‘) - pilot F/Sgt. N. McClean - MIA

40.) 607 RAF Sqdn. - Hurricane BE498 (AF-‘ ‘) - pilot F/Sgt. E.P. Walker - MIA

 

* F/Lt Romualdas ‘Romas’ Marcinkus came from the Polish/Lithuanian region and was already before the war an experienced and well known pilot and teacher (for para-jumping too). After the ‘Great Escape’ via tunnel ‘Harry’, from out of the POW-camp Stalag Luft III - Sagan (in todays Poland), he was recaptured by the Germans at Scheidemuhl village and then, like 49 other officers/‘escapees’, was murdered by the GeStaPo-agents on 29 March 1944. He was cremated at Dantzig/Gdansk and his ashes later taken to the Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery (in Citadel Park) and buried there in joint-grave 9.A

* P/O. Ralph Otto Gustaf Häggberg was born in Stockholm in Sweden and volunteered for the RAF like many people from his (neutral) country.


Fleet Air Arm

On 12 February 1942, 18 young men of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm flew 6 fabric-covered Fairey Swordfish Torpedo Bombers from RAF Manston in Kent at little more than 100mph to attack, in the Straits of Dover, the largest German Battle Fleet ever assembled. It resulted in the loss of the entire formation and only five crewmen surviving out of eighteen. Its leader, Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

 

 

The Three 77 Squadron  Whitley Bombers lost on 27th February 1942

 

Whitley Bomber Z6943 KN-A of 77 Squadron

On 27th of February 1942, Whitley Bomber Z6943 KN-A of 77 Squadron took off from RAF Leeming in Yorkshire to attack the Scharnhorst which was believed to be under repairs at Wilhelmshaven. The Whitley was one of 33 aircraft that took part and the raid was considered a failure due to heavy cloud. Only 3 bombs exploded in the harbour and no damage was caused.

Pilot: RAAF F/Lt. Donald Atherton Irving. Age 26. Son of Ernest and Dorothy Irving, of Innisfail, Queensland, Australia.

Flt/ Eng: RAF Sgt. Hubert Waddy Blackmore. Age 21. Son of Louis & May Blackmore of Bedminster, Somerset.

Observer: RAF Sgt. John Lewis Stanley Price. Age 20. Son of Ernest and Margaret Annie Price, of Croydon, Surrey.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: RAF Sgt. Donald Unsworth. No details.

Air/Gnr: RAF Sgt. Peter William Lindsey Strachan. Age 24. Son of William & Miriam Strachan of York, UK.

The Luftwaffe night fighters sprang into defending the area with the result that 3 Whitley's, all from 77 Squadron, were lost. Whitley Z6943 was shot down by Ofw. Ney at 22.37 hrs and the aircraft crashed into the North Sea some 10 Kms. north of the island of Langeoog.

 

 

26 year old Queenslander Donald Atherton Irving was a sugar chemist before enlisting.  
Ofw. Siegfried Ney. (1918-1943) poses next to the tail of his Messerschmidt Me110 night fighter R4 + AN Wnr 3376 5./NJG2. On his tail are 10 'kills'. His 13th victory attempt was fatal for him. The attacked RAF bomber, (138 Squadron Whitley T4166) exploded in mid-air and projected the ME110 with Feldwebel Ney and his wireless operator Uffz. Jozef Bühler to their deaths.
 

All the crew of Z6943 were killed. In 1948 it was reported that after extensive searches and interrogation of German authorities of the land in the area from Wilhemshaven to Emden, no trace of wreckage or crew could be found. The crew were recorded as lost at sea.Their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Ofw Siegfried Ney was already an ace at this time with 12 kills. He himself was killed a month later when a 138 Squadron Whitley (T4166) he had attacked exploded. It damaged his aircraft so severely that it crashed near Petten in Holland.

Whitley Z9148 KN-L from 77 Squadron

Whitley V, Z9148 KN 'L' was shot down on the same raid by night fighter Lt. Leopold Fellerer and the crew of Bf-110 from 5./NJG.2. The crew were :

Pilot Officer Morris D.D.McCarthy RNZAF, Pilot

Sergeant Arthur R. Harrington RAF, Second Pilot

Flight Sergeant John M.F.Shilan RAF, Wop/Ag

Flight Sergeant Bert G.Hibell RNZAF, Observer

Sergeant Roland W.Lancaster RAF, Air Gunner.

The aircraft crashed S.W of Holtgast. All were killed.  At Esens they did not receive a military funeral. Local authorities organised a basic service with the burials carried out by French POWs. They are now buried in the Sage War Cemetery.

 

Tragically the parents of Flying Officer Morris McCarthy (left), William and Clara McCarthy of Wanganui, New Zealand, also lost two other sons.
7 Squadron Stirling pilot, 30 year old Squadron Leader Ray McCarthy, (centre) was killed while bombing Stuttgart on 15th April 1943. Originally he was buried with his crew at Durnbach but after the War the family requested that his remains be placed with his brother at Sage.
26 year old Lance Corporal Robert Colin McCarthy of the 25th Battalion New Zealand Infantry (right) died in the Western Desert on 25th October 1942. He is buried at the El Alamein War Cemetery.

00

The graves at Sage and El Alamein

o

o

Leopold Fellerer was born in Vienna, Austria on 7 June 1919. In November 1940 he was posted as a bomber pilot, before being assigned as Technical Officer to II./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1). He claimed his first victory on 11 February 1941, a Handley Page Hampden of No. 49 Squadron north of Bergen-Alkmaar. He was transferred to 4./NJG 1 in June 1941.

In October 1942 Fellerer was made Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 3./NJG 1 before being posted to Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 (NJG 5) in December 1942. Promoted to Hauptmann, Fellerer became Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of II./NJG 5 in December 1943. During this period, Fellerer raised his score to 18 victories.

In January 1944 Fellerer claimed two United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) heavy bombers in daylight- a Consolidated B-24 Liberator on 4 January, and a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress on 11 January. On the night of 20/21 January 1944 he claimed five Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers. He was then awarded the German Cross in Gold in February 1944.

After 34 victories Hauptmann Fellerer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 8 April 1944. He then moved to command III./Nachtjagdgeschwader 6 (NJG 6) in May 1944.

During August-October 1944 Fellerer and III./NJG 6 also flew operations to counter supply operations from Italy to the Polish Home Army uprising in Warsaw. He claimed two Douglas DC-3's and two Liberators during this time, his final kill coming in October 1944.

In 450 missions Leopold Fellerer claimed 41 aerial victories, 39 of them at night. 32 were four engine heavy bombers. Wikipedia

 

0

Whitley Z9280 KN-K  27th February 1942

Due to mechanical problems, Whitley Z9280 at 7 pm was the last of the bombers to take off from RAF Leeming. Scheduled to bomb the port of Wihelmshaven, and hopefully the battle-cruiser Scharnhorst, the crew did not reach that destination. Due to their late start, plus the low cloud cover over enemy territory, they changed course and bombed a target nearer to home, Germany's Emden docks.

Because of technical difficulties, the solitary Whitley was ordered to return to RAF Marham in Norfolk. Unfortunately it flew into the recently commissioned search area of the radar station ‘Löewe’, situated near Marum-Trimunt (Groningen) where Würzburg Riese equipment had been installed.

Flying at an altitude of around 11.000 ft. (± 3.35 km) the bomber was easily intercepted at 10.58 pm over northern Driesum, north east of Leeuwarden in Holland, by a night-fighter crewed by Uffz. Heinz Vinke and his radio-operator Uffz. Karl Schrödel based at Leeuwarden airfield.  This was to be Vinke's first victory from an eventual total of 52 aircraft he was to shoot down during WW2.

In the attack the rear gunner was killed straight away, and the bomber's rudders seriously damaged. The Whitley then fell out of control, ‘screaming like a wounded animal’ and generating heavy G-forces that tragically prevented most of the crew from reaching the escape hatch. Only the observer was lucky - being positioned directly under it. He was able to parachute safely into the snow.

 

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Leslie Hugh William Parkin D.F.C. Age 30. Son of Colonel & Mrs Parkin of Buxton, Derbyshire.

Fl/ Eng: Sgt. Douglas John Sandlin Age 22.

Observer : F/Sgt Robert Charles Hancock Age 27. POW - Stalag Kopernikus (Camp 357)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Wilfred Whittam Age 28.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edmund Sidney Ayton Age 26.

 

 

The only survivor of the crash, Flight Sergeant Robert Hancock, baled out quite close to where the Whitley crashed. The aircraft had disintegrated on impact and burst into flames. He was unable to approach the wreckage, because of the severe heat and exploding ammunition, and quickly realised that all his crewmates had perished.

 

Uffz. Heinz Vinke (Left) and his radio operator Uffz. Karl Schrödel, sitting on the port wing near the wreckage of Whitley Z9280

On Monday 2 March 1942, the four crewmen were buried in a military funeral service led by the Germans, with a German preacher and three Wehrmacht soldiers in attendance. Unfortunately very few remains of Sergeant Whittam were found and that what was collected was buried in Leslie Parkin's grave. Bearers of the local funeral society placed the coffins into the new graves after laboriously cutting and digging the frozen earth of the Driezum Protestant churchyard. 

The pilot, 30 year old Squadron Leader Leslie Hugh William Parkin, was the only son of Colonel Parkin of Buxton in Derbyshire. He had earlier been awarded the DFC after completing a tour of 30 bombing missions. His military training began early. As a boy he was sent to be trained as a naval officer at the Thames Nautical Training College, HMS Worcester, which was moored off Greenhithe in Kent. From there the sixteen year old graduated in 1929 as 'best cadet', receiving the King's Gold Medal.

The Co-Pilot, 22 year old Sergeant Douglas John Sandlin was previously in the British Army in France and had joined the RAF after being part of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. He was the son of Frederick & Laura Sandlin of Vicar's Cross, Cheshire.

The Wireless Operator, Lancashire born 28 year old Sergeant Wilfred Whittam from Rhyl in North Wales, was married to a Welsh girl, Olwen. The couple had two children, Stuart and Anne. Their father's wedding ring was found at the crash site in 1986 and returned to Anne Whittam.

The Rear Gunner, 26 year old Sergeant Edmund Sidney Ayton, was the son of Edmund & Hilda Ayton of Warwick.

 

When the crew's Observer, Flight Sergeant Robert (Charles) Hancock, known to his crewmates as 'Hank', parachuted down at Driesum, he was helped by a local Dutch farmer at great risk to himself and hidden in the stable of Sieds Douma's farmhouse.

Sieds Douma was also a fugitive from the Germans. He had been in the Dutch army until 1940, when it was defeated by the Germans. He was briefly imprisoned, but escaped, and spent the rest of the war in hiding. Robert Hancock's daughter Pat today has a continuing friendship with the Douma family.

Flight Sergeant Hancock had to move on from the farm after being sheltered the first night. When walking along a frozen canal to the next village the airman was spotted, reported to the local police, and captured. He spent the rest of the war in POW camps doing what was called 'the Cook’s tour' when he was marched from camp to camp around Europe.

Remarkably his wife only discovered that Charles had survived the crash when listening to one of the traitorous Lord Haw Haw’s infamous ‘Germany Calling’ broadcasts announcing the airman's capture.

After returning to England he spoke very little about that crash and his life as a POW. His family were to find out most of the details later. Charles died in his sleep on 1st May 1985 after a serious stroke. He was seventy-one.

 

Armed Resistance men guard the graves in 1945 and the Douma farmhouse at Zwartkruis

 

The crash of Whitley Z9280 as subject in the yearly village festival parade at Driezum in 2012 and Driezum Church (by Baykedevries)

The Three Battleships at Brest

At 23:00 on 11 February 1942, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen left Brest. They entered the Channel an hour later; the three ships sped at 27 kn (50 km/h; 31 mph), hugging the French coast along the voyage. The British failed to detect their departure, as the submarine that had been tasked with observing the port had withdrawn to recharge its batteries. By 06:30, they had passed Cherbourg, at which point they were joined by a flotilla of torpedo boats. The torpedo boats were led by Kapitän Erich Bey, aboard the destroyer Z29.

General der Jagdflieger (General of Fighter Force) Adolf Galland directed Luftwaffe fighter and bomber forces (Operation Donnerkeil) during Cerberus. The fighters flew at masthead-height to avoid detection by the British radar network. Liaison officers were present on all three ships. German aircraft arrived later to jam British radar with chaff. By 13:00, the ships had cleared the Strait of Dover, though half an hour later, a flight of six Swordfish torpedo bombers, with Spitfire escort, attacked the Germans. The British failed to penetrate the Luftwaffe fighter shield, and all six Swordfish were destroyed.

Scharnhorst did not make the voyage unscathed, however; at 15:31 she struck an air-dropped magnetic mine in the mouth of the Scheldt, abreast of the forward superfiring turret. The blast damaged the ship's circuit breakers and knocked out her electrical system for 20 minutes. The explosive shock caused serious damage; turret Bruno was jammed, as were the twin and single 15 cm mounts on the port side.

 

 

The blast also damaged the fuel oil pumps and the bearings in the turbo-generators, which brought the ship to a halt. The power outage disabled the emergency shut-off switches to the boilers and turbines, which could not be turned off until power was restored. The explosion tore a large gash in the side of the hull and allowed 1,220 t (1,200 long tons; 1,340 short tons) of water into the ship, flooding 30 watertight spaces within five main watertight compartments. Scharnhorst took on a list of one degree and was down by the bows by a meter.

In early 1943, Scharnhorst joined the Bismarck-class battleship Tirpitz in Norway to intercept Allied convoys sailing to the Soviet Union.

 

 

 

The Scharnhorst

 

 

On 19 December 1943, during a conference held in Hitler's Wolfsschanze headquarters, Admiral Doenitz informed the Fuhrer that 'Scharnhorst will attack the next allied convoy headed from England to Russia'.

The Royal Navy knew where the Scharnhorst was heading, because members of the Norwegian Resistance had radioed that she had sailed. This was confirmed at Bletchley Park, which had cracked the German Navy 'Enigma' code, and was listening to German radio traffic. On 26th December, the British warships were signalled that the 'Admiralty appreciate Scharnhorst is probably at sea'.

That evening the Scharnhorst lay at the bottom of the Barents Sea. It was sunk off Norway in the Battle of North Cape.The battlecruiser had been destroyed at19.45 hrs after a total of 55 torpedoes and 2,195 shells had been directed at it.

In the fighting off the North Cape, the Kriegsmarine suffered the loss of Scharnhorst and 1,932 of its crew. Due to the threat of U-boats, British ships were only able to rescue 36 German sailors from the frigid water. British losses totaled 11 killed and 11 wounded. The Battle of the North Cape marked the last surface engagement between British and German capital ships during World War II. With Tirpitz damaged, the loss of Scharnhorst effectively eliminated surface threats to the Allies' Arctic convoys. The engagement also demonstrated the importance of radar-directed fire control in modern naval battles.

 

 

 

 

Kriegsmarine torpedo-boat-hunter 'Z29' (right) bumping & damaged and  (left) the LAZ 11 'Indus', later the BS 4 'Indus'

 

 

The halted 'Scharnhorst' seen from the passing 'Prinz Eugen', after the 1st sea mine explosion, and tug and salvage boat 'Holland II', possibly in action  as BS3.

      

Continued  - next page

 

Willem's Introduction

14

Ameland in war-time

25

Texel  & Den Helder 

1

Friesland War-time Crashes

14b

Ameland,166 & 75 Sqdn.

26

Hindeloopen

2

Friesland Cemeteries

14c

Ameland Graves

27

Destroy the Scharnhorst!

3

Leeuwarden area

15

Terschelling

28

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2

3a

Wirdum Remembers

15b

Terschelling 2

28a

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3

4

Schiermonnikoog

16

Sage War Cemetery

29

12 Squadron in World War 2

4b

Schiermonnikoog  part 2

16b

RAF Topcliffe & 424 Sqdn.

30

The Runnymede Memorial

5

Harlingen

17

Vlieland Cemetery

31

Vuren at war

6

Kallenkote Cemetery

18

Jacobiparochie

32

Makkum Cemetery

7

Wartime Harlingen

19

Hampden AE 428, & Koudum

33

A fatal collision?

8

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

20

Willem's War-time photos

34

Hudson & Ventura losses

9

Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group

21

Shipdham Airfield & the 44th

34a

Hudson & Ventura losses

10

408 Squadron's Leipzig raid

21b

68th Squadron's Casualties

35

101 Squadron

11

Friesland radar

22

Rottum Island

12

Lancasters DS776  & JA921

23

Bergen General Cemetery

 

 

back to 626 Squadron

 

 

 

 

 

 email-address:  w.jong1@upcmail.nl

 

 

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