29/30.07.1943 No. 51 Squadron Halifax II JD309 Fl/Sgt. Arthur Fletcher
Date: 29/30th July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 51 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire.
Location: North Sea (See map for very approx. area)
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Fletcher 1527064 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Stanley Victor Sherrington 908776 RAFVR Age 25. Killed (1)
Nav: Sgt. Cuthbert Watkin 1530030 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Denis James Audley 1337107 RAFVR Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Raymond Worrall 1214527 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dennis Barker 1233899 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Stanley Smith 1483072 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22.51 hrs from R.A.F. Snaith, Yorkshire to bomb the port and city of Hamburg joining 776 other aircraft on the third raid on this target within the last five days. 340 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings, 70 Wellingtons and 4 Mosquitoes made up the force.
The idea was that the target be approached from the north and to concentrate on the northern area of Hamburg which had not been bombed on previous occasions. The pathfinders dropped their markers too far east of the city. 707 aircraft got through to the target and dropped a total of 2,318 tons of bombs on residential areas - no figures are available as to the casualties on the ground for this raid although it is known that over 40,000 were killed during that week and over 16,000 residential buildings were destroyed. The worst incident was when bombs hit a large department store in Wandsbek - the building collapsed and blocked exits from a shelter that was in the basement - 370 people died from poisoning by the fumes from a coke store nearby. 1,200,000 people fled the city after these raids.
The allies lost 31 aircraft on this operation with 176 aircrew losing their lives and a further 17 being made pow.
Most of the aircraft were shot down by the Luftwaffe night fighters, although 14 were shot down by searchlight assisted flak over the target area. It is thought ‘probable’ that JD309 was shot down by Uffz. Hans Krepp (2) about 30 kmts west of St. Peter Ording with combat taking place at 00.24 hrs at 6,000 mtrs.
All but one of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Sgt. Raymond Worrall's body was washed ashore on the 7th August near Katingsiel and was initially buried at Tönning prior to re-internment in Hamburg Cemetery.
(1) A double tragedy for the family. His younger brother, W/O. Roy Claude Sherrington went ‘missing’ on the 28th April 1943 whilst serving with 23 Squadron, at the time based in Malta. His pilot, F/O. William H. Hopkins was also lost. W/O. received the DFM on 23rd June 1942 after completing 40 operations.
(2) This was the first victory for Uffz. Hans Krepp. He went on to claim one more, he survived the war - no further details available.
Fl/Sgt. Arthur Fletcher. Runnymede Memorial Panel 136. Son of Arthur and Jane Fletcher, of Liverpool, husband of D. M. Fletcher, of Liverpool, England.
Sgt. Stanley Victor Sherrington. Runnymede Memorial Panel 164. Son of William Joseph and Annie Maud Sherrington (née Bloomfield), husband of Eileen Emily (née Fisher), father to Michael Stanley of 18 Marconi Road, Chelmsford, Essex, England.
Sgt. Cuthbert Watkin. Runnymede Memorial Panel 168. Son of Matthew Henry and Margery Watkin, of Murton Colliery, Co. Durham, England.
Sgt. Denis James Audley. Runnymede Memorial Panel 141. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Raymond Worrall. Hamburg Cemetery Coll. Grave 4A.H.1-7. Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Worrall, of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, England. Husband of Marjory Worrall.
Sgt. Dennis Barker. Runnymede Memorial Panel 141. Son of Joseph and Ethel Barker, of Staveley, Derbyshire, England.
Sgt. Ronald Stanley Smith. Runnymede Memorial Panel 165. Son of Arthur Stanley Smith and Ada Gladys Smith, of Ravenstonedale, Westmorland, England.
Researched for Sandra Bowden and dedicated to the relatives and friends of this crew. With thanks to the following: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. With additional details from Aircrew Remembered own archives.