04/05.05.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II Sq/Ldr. James Chapple
Date: 04/05th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire
Location: Ebe south of Gronau, Germany
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. James Hugh Dundas Chapple 37650 RAFVR PoW No: 1260 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Brian Legg 1287735 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: P/O. B.A.G. Campbell J/13808 RCAF PoW No: 1259 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan
Air/Bmr: P/O. Harry John King 109939 RAFVR PoW No: 1269 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. E.K. Blackweall 1027348 RAFVR PoW No: 1118 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Hilary 1272409 RAFVR PoW No: 1135 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr: F/O. E.W. Barnes 122904 RAFVR PoW No: 1252 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:05 hrs. from RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire to attack Dortmund - 596 aircraft taking part in the largest non 1000 bomber raid of the war to date. The marking from the Pathfinders had been described as accurate but a decoy fire site also attracted many of the bombers.
Severe damage was caused in central and northern parts of the city - 1,218 buildings were destroyed with a further 2141 seriously damaged. Industrial targets such as the Hosch works, the Dortmund steel factories as well as many other facilities in the dock area were hit. Reported that 693 people were killed on the ground which sadly included some 200 PoW’s. 1,075 others suffered injuries in what has been described as a new record of casualties in the allied bombing offensive.
The 200 searchlights units aided the claim of at least 7 of the bombers over Dortmund by anti-aircraft units.
The latest edition of the Nightfighter War Diaries (April 2018) describe that this Halifax JB915 was shot down at 00:34 hrs after it had released its bomb run and on their way home. The credit for this was placed to Hptm. Wolfgang Thimmig (3) and his Radio Operator Ofw. Steckemetz of Stab III./NJG1. They had taken off from the airfield at Twente in the Netherlands at 00:07 hrs to intercept the bombers in his Bf110.G-4 G9+BR. He visited the crash site the following day and took the details of the Halifax to place in his report, this his 14th claim.
(1) Sq/Ldr. James Hugh Dundas Chapple whilst a PoW at Stalag Luft Sagan was a member of the X escape committee for the well covered 'Great Escape' although not part of the escapers. Remained in the RAF post war, W/Cdr. on the 28th October 1947 then Group Captain on January 01st 1953.
(2) P/O. Harry John King when during service in the Middle East with 104 Squadron as a navigator was shot down on his 13th operational sortie. He evaded capture along with his crew and finally rescued by ground forces. Returned to England and as it was a different theatre of operations they permitted him to fly on operations again. (Normally when an aircrew member has evaded previously he is not permitted to fly again on operations in the same theatre due to security risks involving his evasion) Then, on this his 13th operation also shot down and taken PoW. He also was a member of the 'X' escape committee assisting with 'Great Escape', although not one of the escapees. He left the service in 1945 to become a teacher but rejoined the RAF four years late in 1949. Sadly on the 22nd May 1952 as Adjutant of 25 Squadron flying as a navigator he was killed along with 3 others when the 203 Squadron Lancaster MR3 RE200 caught fire in the air. During an attempted emergency landing at RAF West Malling - they crashed some 800 metres short of the runway. Fl/Lt. Harry John King was married with two daughters. Despite his prestigious RAF career he had never received any significant awards?
(3) Wolfgang Thimmig was a German Luftwaffe night fighter ace during World War II. At the end of the war he had achieved no less than 24 aerial victories, reached the rank of Oberstleutnant and was Geschwaderkommodore for NJG 2, having previously been the Kommodore for NJG 4. In 1956, Thimmig joined the newly formed Bundesluftwaffe and was the Military Attache of the Federal German Republic in Sweden between 1959 and 1963. In addition to this he was the Nigerian Air Force's Chief of the Air Staff from 1965 to 1966. He was the second Commander of the Nigerian Air Force, and assigned to the continuation of creating an Air Force for Nigeria by a 1963 agreement between Nigeria and Germany. Thimmig and the German Air Force Assistance Group withdrew from Nigeria in January 1966 when their task of creating an Air Force was completed. Born on the 04th October 1912 in Dresden, Germany. Died on the 06th November 1976 in Stockholm, Sweden (Information courtesy Kracker Archive on this site)
Sgt. Brian Legg. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 23.F.9. Son of Thomas Edwin and Gladys Kathleen Legg, of Eastcote, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads: "Till We Meet Again, My Dear. Mother".
Researched for Malcolm J. Farling relative of Sgt. Robert Hilary and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown.