01/02.03.1941 No. 61 Squadron Hampden I X3147 QR-B Sgt. Clarke
Operation: Cologne (Köln)
Date: 1/2nd March 1941 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 61 Squadron
Type: Hampden I
Base: Hemswell, Lincolnshire.
Location: Syderstone, Norfolk.
Pilot 1: Sgt. Richard William Tudor Clarke 745499 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Pilot 2: Sgt. Alfred Douglas Cox 754176 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Percy Thomas 967631 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry George Loates 617644 RAF Age 25. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 20:14 hrs from RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire to attack Cologne (Köln) joining 131 aircraft on what was considered a very successful raid with the docks being hit on the Rhine near the city centre. Further damage including a military store and 13 warehouses burnt out. 21 people were killed on the ground with another 35 injured.
The Allies suffered huge losses though, reporting that 11 aircraft were lost (On Cologne Operation) some as a result of combat but the majority through severe fog conditions over England. (See below)
After running out of fuel searching for a place to land during the severe fog conditions QR-B Hampden I crash landed at Syderstone, Norfolk at 04:14 hrs and the aircraft burst into flames killing all the crew.
Sgt. Richard Clarke (who had carried out 17 operations over Europe including attacks on the Tirpitz and Berlin) and Sgt. Henry Loates were buried in a joint funeral with full military honours on the 7th March 1941. Sgt. Clarke's parents, sister and other relatives were present at the funeral.
61 Squadron Hampdens
Details of losses this night for Bomber Command:
9 Squadron Wellington IC R1288 - All six crew killed
10 Squadron Whitley V T4265 - All five crew killed
50 Squadron Hampden I X2984 - One crew member killed, three surviving
51 Squadron losing 2 Whitley V's - N1481 - All five crew killed. P5108 - Three killed and two made Prisoner of War
61 Squadron losing 3 Hampden I's - P1253 - One killed, three injured - X3147 - All four crew killed - AD723 - All four crew killed
77 Squadron losing 1 Whitley V - Z6463 - 1 killed
78 Squadron losing 1 Whitley V - N1525 - All five crew killed
102 Squadron losing 1 Whitley V - One killed - four rescued by Cromer lifeboat.
Sgt. Clarke's parents, sister and other relatives at the funeral.
Joint funeral for Sgt. Clarke and Sgt. Loates
Great Bircham (St. Mary) Churchyard, Norfolk - Summer 1946 and now
Sgt. Richard William Tudor Clarke. Great Bircham (St. Mary) Churchyard, Norfolk. Plot 1. Row 2. Grave 19. Fulham Cross, London, England.
Sgt. Alfred Douglas Cox. Birmingham (Brandwood End) Cemetery. Sec B.3. F.C. Grave 869. Son of Alfred and Lily Cox, of Billesley, Birmingham, England.
Sgt. Percy Thomas Llanpumpsaint (Bethel) Calvinistic Methodist Chapelyard. N.W. part. Son of Rees and Lizzie Thomas of Gwarcwm, Llanpumpsaint, Wales.
Sgt. Henry George Loates. Great Bircham (St. Mary) Churchyard, Norfolk. Plot 1. Row 1. Grave 19. Son of Herbert George Loates, and of Elizabeth Loates, of Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada.
Aircrew Remembered would like to thank Brian Hillman for his extended research in this loss and for his valuable contribution with the funeral photographs. This article prepared for the niece of Sgt Clarke and the other relatives of the crew. Aircrew Remembered visited both the church and the Bircham Newton Museum researching this accident.