28/29.09.1940 No. 149 Squadron Wellington Ic R3164 OJ-B P/O. Bjelke-Petersen
Date: 28/29th September 1940 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 149 Squadron
Type: Wellington Ic
Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
Location: Target area ?
Pilot: P/O. Harold Ridley Bjelke-Petersen 73021 RAF Age 28. PoW No: 1263 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan
Pilot: Sgt. Walter Thomas Hallam 566919 RAF Age 23 Killed (1)
Obs: Sgt. K. Holden 751424 RAFVR PoW No: 297 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. A. Botten 624678 RAFVR PoW No: 321 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. C. McK. Laird NZ/39865 RNZAF PoW No: 300 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Barnett Witton NZ/39872 RNZAF Age 21. PoW No: 313 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan
REASON FOR LOSS:
Very few details on this loss. Taking off from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk at 20:05 hrs - 109 aircraft attacking various targets in Germany.
It is thought probable that they were hit by anti-aircraft fire in the target area. We welcome any further information on this.
The pilot, 2 year old P/O. Harold Bjelke-Petersen was from Australia and had joined the RAF in 1939 on a short service commission. He had an earlier lucky escape whilst with 11 Operational Training Unit. Flying Wellington I L4222 to carry out night circuit and landings practice. When landing at 00:30 hrs during an air raid alert the aircraft hit at least one Glim Lamp with the undercarriage then collapsing, none of the crew suffered injuries. He left the RAF as a Fl/Lt in 1946.
Right: The two New Zealand crew members.
Sgt. Walter Thomas Hallam. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 1.G.22. Son of Walter Foster Hallam and Caroline Elizabeth Hallam and husband of Kathleen Hallam, of Sheffield.
(1) His elder brother, 26 year old Sgt. Frank Foster Hallam, also died during service on the 07th January 1940 whilst with 233 Squadron. All 3 crew were lost as well as two civilian contractors attached to the RAF, when the Hudson I N7256 ZS-L on an air test strayed off course and crashed into Mynydd William Meyrick high above the Ogmore Valley. Buried at Oxley United Reformed Chapelyard. N.E. Sec. 2. Line C. Grave 76.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: