04.09.1941 No. 18 Squadron Blenheim IV Z7296 WV-P Sgt. Denis Gordon Adams
Operation: Circus 93
Date: 4 September 1941 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 18 Squadron - Motto: Animo et fide - 'With courage and faith'
Badge: Pegasus rampant - approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936. The Pegasus commemorated the unit's co-operation with the Cavalry Corps on the Somme during World War I.
Type: Bristol Blenheim IV
Base: RAF Horsham St. Faith, Norfolk
Location: Near St. Omer, Pas-de-Calais, France
Pilot: Sgt. Denis Gordon Adams Aus/402335 RAAF Age 21 - PoW No. 9621 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (1)
Obs: Sgt. Frank Woodcock 1003989 RAFVR Age 19 - Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Michael Koransky 920227 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (3)
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After the Battle of Britain offensive operations by German fighter aircraft against England gradually diminished and by the early summer of 1941 had virtually ceased. In an attempt to draw out the enemy fighters the RAF began a series of attacks on continental Europe using small numbers of bombers heavily escorted by fighters. These operations, codenamed Circus began on 10 January 1941 with a raid on Forêt de Guînes, France. Circus 93 was such an operation to bomb the power station at Mazingarbe in the department of Pas de Calais of North France about 40 miles south of Dunkirk.
The raid was to be carried out by 12 Blenheim bombers of No. 18 Squadron. Close escort was to be provided by North Weald Wing: cover by Biggin Hill Wing: target support by Kenley and Hornchurch Wings: forward support by Northolt Wing and rear support by Tangmere Wing.
REASON FOR LOSS
Piloted by Denis Adams and carrying a bomb load of 4 x 250lb NDT bombs Blenheim Z7296 WV-P took off from RAF Horsham St. Faith at 15.01.
One by one the twelve bombers of No. 18 Squadron detailed for Circus No. 93 climbed to 10000 feet and having formed up in two boxes of six, set course due south for the rendezvous point at RAF Manston in Kent.
Once assembled the force headed south west over the English coast and across a cloud covered Channel towards France. The main force crossed the enemy coast at Mardyck some 5 miles West of Dunkirk encountering both flak and formations of Messerschmitt fighters with whom the pilots of the close escort soon busied themselves in protecting the bombers.
Whilst crossing the coast however Blenheim Z7296 was hit by flak killing the navigator Frank Woodcock and wounding pilot Denis Adams. Yet despite the shrapnel in his upper arm, cuts to his face and hands and suffering from concussion Denis Adams managed to retain control of the Blenheim as the force turned south towards Mazingarbe.
But East North East of St Omer at 17.19 the bomber came under attack from a Messerschmitt Me109 of JG26 and when his aircraft was hit again Denis knew the game was up. He repeatedly ordered the air gunner to bale out but receiving no response and beginning to lose consciousness he baled out himself recalling later that he believed the aircraft exploded in the air soon after he left.
He landed near St. Omer where he was captured by the Todt Corps who about half an hour later also capture fighter pilot Sgt. W.B. Rudd of 222 Squadron who had been forced to bale out of his stricken Spitfire W3124 also shot down by an Me109.
It was later determined that Blenheim Z7296 had become the 82nd victory of the most famous and dashing of the Luftwaffe aces and the commanding officer of Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26), Major Adolf Galland (4)
Denis Adams was initially treated at St. Omer hospital and then at Dulag Luft. He was taken to Stalag VIIIB (later renamed Stalag 344) Lamsdorf in Silesia on 21 September where he received further hospital treatment for his wounds. He found the rations, accommodation, sanitary, washing and recreational facilities in the camp to be very bad and must have been relieved to be transferred to Stalag Luft III Sagan and Belaria, Lower Silesia on 15 May 1942 where he found all conditions apart from washing and sanitary to be very much better. He was to spend the next twelve months at Stalag Luft III before being moved again in August 1943 to Stalag Luft VI located near the town of Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilute in Lithuania) where although rations and accommodation were bad Denis considered the other facilities to be reasonable. The camp was the northernmost POW camp within the confines of the German Reich.
He was to remain here for more than a year until in August 1944 he was moved yet again, this time to Stalag 357/XI-D Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony which was liberated on 16 April 1945 by British troops from B Squadron 11th Hussars and the Reconnaissance Troop of the 8th Hussars. However, according to his Liberation Report he was liberated near Ratzenburg on May 10 1945 by the Royal Dragoons
According to his service record, by 10 May 1945 Denis was back in the UK at No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre at Brighton. He finally arrived back in Sydney, Australia on 9 September 1945 and following a spell at No. 2 Medical Rehabilitation Unit at RAAF Jervis Bay NSW was finally discharged from the RAAF on 26 October 1945.
(1) W/O. Denis Gordon Adams was born on 11 January 1920 at Dover Kent the son of Herbert Adams and Mignon Alberta Adams nee Sterry. In 1926 Herbert Adams secured a position with Advertising Agency T.B. Browne Ltd in Sydney, Australia and the family duly sailed 1st Class from London on the RMS Orsova disembarking at Sydney on 12 January 1927. They lived at Douglas Street, St Ives, Sydney.
Denis attended KPS Prep School Sydney (1927-1932) and Scots College Sydney (briefly in 1933). He spent some time during 1933/34 travelling in England and on his return to Sydney attended Knox Grammar School (1935-1937) where he was a member of the School Cadet Force and played for the Second XV 1936-37. He gained all his Royal Life Saving Certificates up to Award of Merit and participated in Boxing and Wrestling.
He undertook further education at the Metropolitan Coaching College, Sydney in 1938 to gain his Leaving Certificate and for Shorthand Tuition. In 1939 he studied German at the Berlitz School of Languages, Sydney. After leaving school he was employed as a Cadet by Sun Newspapers Ltd., Sydney.
When he enlisted at Sydney on 19 August 1940 he was 6'2" tall weighing 11 stones 10 lbs with a medium complexion, green eyes and brown hair.
After training at No. 2 Initial Training School, RAAF Bradfield Park, Sydney, and No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School at RAAF Narrandera, NSW, he was promoted to Leading Aircraftsman. On 28 December 1940 he embarked at Sydney for further pilot training in Canada which he undertook at No. 7 Flying Training School at RCAF McCleod in Alberta. He received his Pilot's Badge and was promoted to Sergeant on 15 April 1941.
On 5 May 1941 he embarked for the UK and after a week at No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, RAF Bournemouth he was posted to No. 13 Operational Training Unit at RAF Bicester, Oxfordshire where Blenheim crews were trained for daylight operations. He was posted to No. 18 Squadron at RAF Horsham St. Faith, Norfolk for operational flying on 27 August 1941.
He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1 May 1943 and to Warrant Officer on 1 May 1944
(2) Sgt. Frank Woodcock was born in 1921 at Goole, West Riding of Yorkshire the son of Fred Woodcock (a Commission Agent) and Florence Annie Woodcock nee Dowson. He had three siblings: Harold Woodcock born 1912, George Woodcock born 1915 and Lucy Woodcock born 1919 and the family lived at 10, Third Avenue, Goole and later at 49, Adeline Street, Goole.
Frank Woodcock is commemorated on the Goole War Memorial
(3) Sgt. Michael Koransky was born in 1918 at Marylebone, London the son of Russian born father Harry Koransky (a Fur Dealer) and Russian born Polish mother, Sarah Koransky nee Gold later of Kingsway, Hove, Sussex. His brother Ian Koransky was born in 1919 and his sister Sybil J. Koransky in 1921. The family later lived at 33, Camelford Street, Brighton Sussex
(4) Generalleutnant Adolf Joseph Ferdinand Galland was born on 19 March 1912 at Westerholt, Province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia. He served in the Luftwaffe from 1934 and throughout the war until 1945. He flew 705 combat missions, and fought on the Western Front and in the Defence of the Reich. On four occasions, he survived being shot down, and he was credited with 104 aerial victories, all of them against the Western Allies. He died on 9 February 1996 (aged 83) at Oberwinter, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany (Details courtesy Wikipedia)
A comprehensive account of his life can be seen at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Galland
BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS
Sgt. Frank Woodcock was buried at Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France - Grave reference: Plot 2 Row 2 Grave 26
His epitaph reads:
And Florence Annie Woodcock
Of Goole, Yorkshire, England
Sgt. Michael Koransky was buried at Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France - Grave reference: Plot 2 Row 2 Grave 25
His epitaph reads:
Only son and brother
Always in our thoughts, dear.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - August 2017
With thanks to Fighter Commands Air War 1941 RAF Circus Operations and Fighter Sweeps by Norman Franks and further sources quoted below.