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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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61 Squadron Crest
16/17.10.1940 61 Squadron Hampden BI X2979 P/O. William H. Clemenson

Operation: Merseburg, Germany (1)

Date: 16/17th October 1940 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 61 Squadron

Type: Hampden BI

Serial: X2979

Code: QR-?

Base: RAF Helmswell, Lincolnshire

Location: Sporle, Norfolk, England.

Pilot: P/O. William Herbert Clemenson 81027 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Pilot 2: F/O. Edwin Charles Gardner 72558 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Hutchinson Hewitt 822581 RAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dominick Flanagan 532927 RAF Age 26. Killed

We would like to invite any relatives of this crew to contact us with further information / photographs.


Taking off from RAF Helmswell at 18.09 hrs to bomb the industrial town of Merseburg, Germany. Other units attacked various targets at Bremen, Kiel and Bordeaux. The Merseburg Hampdens also dropped incendiary bombs on the Harz Forest.

The bomber force of 73 Hampdens and Wellingtons suffered lightly with the loss of 2 Hampdens and 1 Wellington over the targets.

The returning trip however cost the loss of a further 10 Hampdens and 4 Wellingtons due to fog covering their bases and other technical difficulties.

Hampden X2979 suffered the same fate, encountering adverse conditions, they called their base at 01.11 hrs for a fix, then again at 01.36. Finally it seems that whilst trying an emergency landing the aircraft crashed at Sporle, Norfolk at 02.45 hrs ‘probably due to low fuel’.

(1) During the war the town received 23 air raids with 6,200 homes completely or partly destroyed.

Burial details:

P/O. William Herbert Clemenson. Ilkeston (Park) Cemetery. Grave 8423. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

F/O. Edwin Charles Gardner. Son of the Revd. William Alan Gardner and Audrey Grace Grace Gardner, of Norwich, Norfolk, England. Hsband of Diana Gardner.

Sgt. William Hutchinson Hewitt. Cornamagh Cemetery, County Westmeath, Republic of Ireland. Grave O.118. Son of Edward J. and Margaret E. Hewitt, of Athlone, Republic of Ireland.

Sgt. Dominick Flanagan. Swaffham Cemetery, Norfolk. Grave Sec. A. K.I. Son of Dominic and Elizabeth Flanagan, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew following a meeting with a relative of F/O. Gardner by the webmaster in August 2014. With thanks to Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database.’ Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries’ (Updated 2014 version) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 27 August 2014, 18:32