10/11.04.1943 No. 431 Squadron Wellington X HE213 SE-F Sgt. W.E. Bidmead
Date: 10/11th April 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No: 431 Squadron
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Burn, Yorkshire
Location: North Sea, 5 km. South West Jersey
Pilot: Sgt. W.E. Bidmead 657234 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 978 Camp: Stalag Heydekrug (Memelland, now in Lithuania)
Obs: Sgt. Abraham Holden 591390 RAF Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. E.A. Odling 657064 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 1024 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (Torun, Poland)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bolke 1380047 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 42727 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (Torun, Poland)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Arnold Booth R/135580 RCAF Age 30. Missing
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off on an operation to Frankfurt at 23:15 hrs from RAF Burn in Yorkshire and ditched roughly 3 miles south west of the Channel Island of Jersey after a call was made by Sgt. Odling for assistance.
Newspaper cutting describing the funeral service - very interesting as it also shows the stamp from thePoW Camp that it was sent from (courtesy Martin and Christine Jermey)
Fl/Sgt. George Booth shown in the centre of this photograph
The body of observer Sgt Holden was eventually washed up on St Queens Bay in Jersey on the 3rd June 1943.
On the 5th June his and the body of a Sgt. Denis Charles Butlin from 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit lay in state in the Hospital Chapel with hundreds of islanders visiting the coffins to pay their last respects, prior to a service on the morning of 6th June. The coffins were then draped with the Union Jack before being taken to the cemetery. Again, hundreds of people lined the route but the Luftwaffe prevented them entering the gates of the cemetery.
Series of photographs showing the funeral of Sgt. Holden and Sgt. Butlin (courtesy Martin and Christine Jermey)
The Germans provided a full military funeral for him, together with the crew member from Halifax DG408. Wreaths were laid by the German airforce, the bailiff of Jersey. There were so many other wreaths that two large lorries were laid on to carry them to the graveside. Later in the day thousands of islanders filed past the graves.
St. Helier War Cemetery, Howard Davis Park, Jersey (courtesy Richard Allenby)
Above: Sgt. Abraham Holden and grave at St. Helier War Cemetery (courtesy Richard Allenby and John Barry)
Sgt. Abraham Holden. St. Helier War Cemetery, Howard Davis Park, Jersey. Grave 2. Son of Shepherd and Florence Holden; husband of Elsie Holden, of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England.
Fl/Sgt. George Arnold Booth. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 181. Son of George Edward and Lillie May Booth, of 290 First Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Researched for relatives of Sgt Holden and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Martin and Christine Jermey, Richard Allenby, Clive Smith for updated information. Also to John Barry his wife was the granddaughter of Sgt. Holden. Other sources as quoted below.