10/11.03.1941 No 35 Squadron Halifax I L9489 TL-F Sq/Ldr. Peter A. Gilchrist
Operation: Le Havre
Date: 10/11th March 1941 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 35 Squadron
Type: Halifax I
Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse
Location: Merrist Wood Golf course, Worplesdon, Surrey
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Peter Alex Gilchrist RAFVR Survived, uninjured
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Reginald Lucas 741992 RAFVR Age 29. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Ron G. Aedy RAFVR Survived, injured
Air/Bmr: P/O. Edward Rolfe Arnold 77908 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stanley Broadhurst 550817 RAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Albert Edward Cooper 77963 RAFVR Age 34. Killed
Mr Peter Samuel and members of the of the Merrist Wood Golf Club would like to invite relatives of the crew to next years service (2015) at the crash site. Please contact us in the first instance.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The first operation using the RAF’s latest aircraft, the Halifax - taking off at 19.08 hrs Joining 8 Blenheims and 5 other Halifaxes to bomb Le Havre. What was considered a nursery run by the crews.
35 Squadron MkI Halifax
No aircraft were lost on the raid but L9489 was intercepted on its return by an RAF fighter that had been sent up to cover a raid on Portsmouth. L9489 became the victim of ‘friendly’ fire, the first Halifax lost of the war. (During WW2 it is estimated that 1,833 were lost)
The crew managed to push out Sgt Ron Eady who had suffered shrapnel wounds to his leg and pulling his ripcord as he left the aircraft. The pilot also managed to escape by parachute. No time left for the remainder of the crew to escape, the aircraft crashed at 22.40 hrs on farmland at Merrist Wood
On the 9th March 1997 a plaque was unveiled at the crash site located between the 14th and 15th fairways of the Merrist Wood Golf Club and every remembrance Sunday a small service is held with a wreath laid at the plaque. In 1996 the Croydon Aviation Archaeology group unearthed the port inner engines and some personal effects. Retired school teacher Mr. Dennis Hoppe wrote a booklet on the loss: A Rather Sad Beginning: Story of Halifax L9489 ISBN: 978-0953291403.
Sgt. Reginald Lucas Mansfield (Nottingham Road) Cemetery. Grave 1998. Son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Lucas, of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England.
Air/Bmr: P/O. Edward Rolfe Arnold. Leatherhead (SS. Mary and Nicholas) Churchyard. Grave near south boundary. Son of Edward and Nellie Martha Arnold, of Leatherhead, Surrey, England.
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stanley Broadhurst. Mansfield Woodhouse Cemetery. Sec. B. Grave 3193. No details available - can you assist?
Air/Gnr: F/O. Albert Edward Cooper. Coggeshall Burial Gound. Sec. C. Grave 243. Son of Ernest and Hephzibah Cooper, of Coggeshall, Essex, England. Husband of D. M. Cooper.
For further details our thanks to the following, Peter Samuel for bringing this loss and ceremony to our attention. 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.