21.04.1943 No. 21 Squadron Ventura I AE743 F/O. Geoffrey B. Chippendale
Operation: Abbeville France
Date: 21st April 1943 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 21 Squadron
Type: Ventura MkI
Base: RAF Oulton, Norfolk, England
Location: Crashed into the English Channel
Pilot: F/O. Geoffrey Brian Chippendale 127842 (1051133) RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Harry Hudson 998980 RAFVR Age 34. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Arthur William Richmond 145332 RAFVR Age 32. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Neil Kelsall 1544208 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Update: May 2017 - the brother of the pilot made contact with us, we hope that further information follows.
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the 21st April, 11 aircraft from 21 Squadron were tasked to undertake a daylight attack on the railway marshalling yards at Abbéville in Northern France. This was always going to be a very difficult and heavily defended target as it was only a few miles from the main Luftwaffe airfield also at Abbévillle. Taking off at 10:57 hrs from RAF Oulton, located north west of Norwich, Norfolk.
Above Sgt. James Kelsall and right, 21 Squadron Ventura I.
Attacked over the target by FW190 fighters with three aircraft lost and twelve crew members killed.
The other aircraft from the squadron lost:
Ventura I AE692 Flown by Sgt. Ronald Herbert Wells 1331819 RAFVR - killed with all 3 other crew.
Ventura II AE913 Flown by 32 year old F/O. Gerald Lambert Hicks 104530 RAFVR from Epson, Surrey - killed with all 3 other crew. All bodies that were recovered were buried in the same cemetery.
Ventura AE743 was seen going down into the sea with it's tail section having been shot off. The aircraft was also seen on the surface of the sea, but without sign of any survivors.
Further information: "Neil" Kelsall was a native of Cheadle Hulme in Cheshire. Having joined the RAF in 1942 he had trained as an Air Gunner at 10 Air Observers School at RAF Dumfries in Scotland. He had been posted to 21 Squadron on the Lockheed Ventura Mk1, a rather outdated American light bomber aircraft. He and his fellow crew members apparently became very close. His pilot, F/O. Geoffrey Chippendale from Blackburn, Lancashire, had only been recently married and had invited his crew, Sgt. Neil Kelsall, Fl/Sgt Harry Hudson and P/O. Arthur Richmond to the wedding.
Above: Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. (Insert - original grave marker)
F/O. Geoffrey Brian Chippendale. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Son of Arthur and Winifred Ethel Chippendale, of Guarlford, Worcestershire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Harry Hudson. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Son of George Ernest and Ellen Hudson, of Clitheroe, Lancashire, England.
P/O. Arthur William Richmond. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Son of M. Richmond and Florence Richmond, husband of Violet Richmond, of York, England.
Sgt. James Neil Kelsall. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, England. No further information - are you able to assist?
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - November 2015. Photographs from Michel Beckers collection.
Below: Medals and telegram for Sgt. Kelsall.