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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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150 squadron badge
05/06.05.1942 No. 150 Squadron Wellington III X3407 JN-A Fl/Sgt. Bell

Operation: Stuttgart

ate: 5/6th May 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 150 Squadron

Type: Wellington III

Serial: X3407

Code: JN-A

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire

Location: North Sea off Holland

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Sample Bell 1056285 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Stanley Harry Heslop 1375238 RAFVR Age 26. Killed (1)

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Erlyn Everard Kirby R/76971 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Robert Watson Stewart 1060247 RAFVR Age 26. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Percy Walter Wrighting 1313271 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Gordon Kennerley 1060557 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 22:25 hrs from RAF Snaith in Yorkshire to bomb the city of Stuttgart and the Bosch works. 77 Aircraft took part and the raid was not classed as successful as most of the bombs were dropped on the town of Lauffen as the Germans had set up this as a decoy with the railway station laid out the same as Stuttgart!

As a consequence this town suffered 37 Air raids during the war - Stuttgart people were not at all popular). Stuttgart was a very difficult target as it lies between a series of deep valleys. It was classed as the most important target in Germany at the time, because of the Robert Bosch Factory which produced dynamos, injection pumps and magnetos.

No cloud during this raid but the ground was haze covered. Very little night fighter activity and only 2 are claimed to have been shot down out of the 7 aircraft lost. The remainder were probably brought down by flak, 3 of these managed to reach England but crashed due to flak damage. Stuttgart had been attacked heavily the previous night and was attacked again the night of the 6/7th May.

Above left: Sgt. Stanley Harry Heslop during his fighter Command days and right with Bomber Command (courtesy Peter Heslop)

150 Squadron lost another 2 aircraft on this raid.:
Wellington III X3451 Flown by Fl/Sgt. R.B. Davenport. Crashed near Doncaster - all crew survived.
Wellington III X3673 Flown by Sgt. Robert Baxter. Crashed at R.A.F. Blyton following damage caused by flak - all crew survived. (Sadly, the 24 year old Australian Robert W. Baxter was killed later on the 7th August 1942 - after taking off on an operation to Duisberg the Wellington X3698, crashed shortly after take off - all crew killed)

Fl/Sgt. Erlyn Everard Kirby sister, Kay Kirby Pullen in the centre, her daughter Carol Dacyk left and her daughter-in-law Davorka Pullen speak at the dedication ceremony at the renamed Kirby Lake in Canada. (Courtesy of Duane Eberly - nephew of Arnold Roseland)

Above left the Fl/Sgt. Erlyn Kirby memorial at the renamed Kirby Lake, Alberta, Canada. Right: Fl/Sgt. Erlyn Kirby (courtesy Mike Harrison)

Right: Copy of the article regarding this Lake renaming - large copy available on request (courtesy of Duane Eberly)

Kirby Lake has been renamed after Fl/Sgt. Erlyn Kirby.


Above: Bergen General Cemetery with insert grave of Sgt. Heslop (courtesy Peter Heslop)

(1) Sgt. Stanley Heslop actually trained as a fighter piot. In 1941 during a patrol over the Thames Estuary when he encountered enemy fighters - during the following combat he had tho crash land - suffered injuries, after recovering - joined Bomber Command and trained as a pilot on heavy bombers. His brother, Cyril, also served in the R.A.F. as an airframe fitter

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Sample Bell. Texel (Den Burg) Cemetery. Plot. K. Row. 6 Grave 121. Son of Thomas Sample Bell and Lily Bell, of High Spen, Co. Durham, England.

Sgt. Stanley Harry Heslop. Bergen General Cemetery. Plot 1. Row B. Grave 5. Son of Thomas Henry Heslop and Winifred Heslop, North London, England.

Fl/Sgt. Erlyn Everard Kirby. Runnymede Memorial Panel. 105. Son of Arch Kirby and Millicent Kirby of Waskatenan, Alberta, Canada.

Sgt. Robert Watson Stewart. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 94. No further details known as yet.

Sgt. Percy Walter Wrighting. Runnymede Memorial Panel. 97. No further details known as yet.

Sgt. William Gordon Kennerley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 87. Son of Walter and Annie Kennerley, of Moulton, Cheshire, England.

Researched for relatives including Peter Heslop - nephew of the 2nd Pilot, Sgt. Stanley Heslop. With thanks to Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 3, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Left: the very touching last letter home from stan - sent on the very day he left on his final operation. We have re-produced it for the page to make it more legible. (courtesy Peter Heslop)

Peter Heslop submitted an article in the BBC 'Peoples War' and he has graciously granted permission for Aircrew Remembered to publish that on our website:

'On the night of Tuesday 5th May 1942, RAF Wellington bomber no. X3407 JN-A took off from Snaith Airfield in Yorkshire on a bombing mission to Stuttgart, Germany. The co-pilot of the aircraft was Sgt. Stanley Harry Heslop no. 1375238, 150 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Forty eight hours earlier, he had been sitting in the Golden Fleece, Edmonton High Road, North London, with his younger brother, Sgt. Cyril Frederick Heslop, no. 957081, discussing family matters and their thoughts and fears. Cyril vividly remembers his brother expressing concern that his plane was being regularly used for long-range bombing sorties into the heart of Germany and the Wellington was not designed for this sort of operation.

Stanley told him that the only way to get to and from their target was to fly in formation in a direct line, with no leeway to deviate from the route in order to avoid the predatory German fighters which invariably awaited them. The common tactic of the Luftwaffe at this time was to concentrate on the bombers flying on the edge of the formation, thus giving those in the middle a relatively safe journey home. Stanley mused on the fact that his life was therefore very much dependent upon where his aircraft happened to be placed within the bomber formation.

His brother Cyril had volunteered for the RAF in 1940 and was an Airframe Fitter, responsible for the repair and maintenance of fighter aircraft, especially Hurricanes. By the end of the conflict, he had served in Kenya, Egypt and the Sudan, and had experienced the full horrors of war. He lost many friends and acquaintances but little did he think that his greatest loss was to come just two days later on that fateful bombing mission.

Stanley had volunteered for the RAF that sane year and had trained as a fighter pilot. In 1941, he was flying his Hurricane on a dawn patrol over the Thames Estuary when he encountered enemy fighters on a reconnaissance and - in the ensuing dogfight - he crash-landed. His injuries necessitated a spell in hospital but, once fully recovered, he began training as a bomber pilot. This brought him to that fateful night and the bombing mission to Stuttgart.

On 7th May 1942, a letter was sent from the Royal Air Force Office to Mr T H Heslop informing him that his son, Sgt. Stanley Harry Heslop was missing, his aircraft having failed to return to its base after an operational flight. Further updates followed until a telegram was received by his father, confirming that Stanley’s body had been washed ashore on the Dutch coast on 12th July, 1942. He was subsequently buried in Bergen General Cemetery in Holland and his grave - to this day - is meticulously tended by the War Graves Commission.

His younger brother Cyril survived the war and now lives in Hingham’s Park. He is 84 years of age, but he remembers that last drink with his older brother as if it were yesterday.

He has in his possession a copy of a letter from his brother to their parents and that letter is dated 5th May, 1942, written just hours before he died. Stanley says in one part of the letter:-

'I’ve been properly browned off since yesterday morning. Really fed up and far from home. The funny part is that the rest of my crew are cheesed right off; much more than they usually are. Last evening, they were talking about chucking it in and all sorts of wild things, but I expect they’ll get over it'.

They never had the chance to get over it. But was this, perhaps a premonition?'

KTY - Updated 04.02.2018

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 05 February 2018, 01:05

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