28/29.04.1942 No. 408 Squadron Hampden I AE426 EQ-W Fl/Sgt. Gordon
Operation: Kiel Germany
Date: 28/29th April 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 408 Squadron
Type: Hampden MkI
Base: RAF Balderton, Nottinghamshire
Location: Edward Muller's furniture factory, Neumünster, Germany
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Richard Lawrence "Dick" Gordon R/83552 RCAF Age 20. Killed (1)
Obs: Fl/Sgt. James Arthur Easterbrooks Romas R/76127 RCAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Yarr Alderdice 1056825 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Hindle 1106167 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Balderton at 22:01 hrs to join 87 other aircraft to bomb the shipyards at Kiel. Some 54 aircraft reported good results probably due to the bright moonlight. Records show that damage was caused to all 3 shipyards as well as the hospital of the Naval Academy, University library and to civilian buildings. Some 15 people were killed on the ground with a further 74 injured.
The allies lost 5 Wellingtons and this Hampden - 28 crew killed with 5 others taken PoW.
Description of the night, supplied by Ivo Wilms:
“When the air raid sirens of Neumünster whaled during the night of 29 April, 1942, not one of the people who fled into the air raid shelters expected that in a couple hours a tragic event would take place at their beloved dance hall ‘Tivoli’. The sirens whaled around 2 a.m. in the morning and only a few minutes later one could hear the pounding of machine guns and the engine roar from airplanes. What was going on? Over Neumünster a formation of British bombers en route to Kiel was spotted by German night fighters.
The discovery of the bombers led to a fierce aerial combat, during which a Handley Page Hampden Mk. I of 408 squadron RAF, was badly crippled. The Hampden, carrying serial number AE426, stood ablaze and flew over the roofs of the houses on Warmsdorfstraße 1 and Ehndorferstraße 6. Only seconds later it crashed, causing an enormous explosion. The main parts of the bomber, such as the fuselage, wings with motors and the tail section, came down on the road which led to the Niebling nursery garden, in front of carpenter Eduard Müller. Leaking fuel caused Eduard Müller’s nursery garden, which was located next to ‘Tivoli’, to catch fire.
Only minutes after the crash, the Neumünster fire department arrived at the scene and started extinguishing the quickly spreading fire. The water pumps on the Schleusberg and at Hansaring were working on full power. Whilst extinguishing the fire, being afraid for new raids, the sky was observed carefully. The fire was providing an excellent target point for the bomber crews, but at approximately 03:30 the ‘all clear’ sign was given. The fire was eventually put down at 06:00. Only then aid could be provided to the victims. For the Hampden crew all help came too late. They were killed during the crash.
The crew existed of: Fl/Sgt. Romas, Sgt. Gordon, Sgt. Hindle and Sgt. Alderidge. The pilot landed on the gardner’s shed and was found still sitting behind the controls. A second crew member was found lying badly maimed in a bush in the garden of Max Müller, Schützenstraße 12. The rest of the crew was found during the recovery of wreckage in the days to follow. They were found burnt in a part of the fuselage that wasn’t completely destroyed by fire. A pale unburnt foot sticking out of the debris was a silent witness of the death of these men in their machine. During the clean-up work, debris from the wreckage was found on the roofs of the houses Warmsdorferstraße 1 and Ehndorferstraße 6, proving that the plane already started to fall apart whilst in air. At 14:10 on 29 April, 1942, the British bombload was reported to the police.
Leutnant der Schutzpolizei Lütjes, Hauptwachtmeister d. Sch. Fritsch and driver Rohjan drove to the site at Schützenstraße 14. On site they found some 30 incendiary bombs in a wooden box, still attached to a part of the container they were in. On impact the box was blown away and crashed into the garage of Schützenstraße 14, nearly completely destroying the parked car inside. On 30 April the crew was buried at the local cemetery of Neumünster. Besides the four British Hampden crew members another five British crew members were buried that day. They belonged to a Vickers Wellington of 460 squadron that was shot down over Bokhorst (west of Neumünster) during the same night. This crew existed of Fl/Sgt. Shephard, Sgt. Carpenter, P/O Bond, Sgt. McIiveen, Sgt. Perroux and Sgt Cosgrove. The serial number of the Wellington was Z1290 and it was coded UV-T. For the funeral, six soldiers from Sanitäter Ersatz Abteilung 10 were assigned to the cemetery staff by the local officer, Rittmeister Freiherr von Schröck.”
(1) The family of Fl/Sgt. Dick Gordon also lost another son on the 24th February 1944. 18 year old, LAC. Bruce Moore Gordon R/214844 RCAF during training at No. 9 SFTS out of Ontario, Canada. pilot in an Anson 7314 and involved in a mid-air collision at Overton, Ontario, Canada. The other pilot 18 year old, LAC. Donald Joseph Byrne R/260022 RCAF flying an Anson 7629 was also killed.
Fl/Sgt. Richard Lawrence "Dick" Gordon. Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany. Grave: 4A.G.8. Son of Simeon Moore Gordon and Jessie Irene Gordon (née Winchester), of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. James Arthur Easterbrooks Romas. Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany. Grave: 4A.G.11. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. William Yarr Alderdice. Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany. Joint grave: 4A.G.9-10. Son of George and Mary Alderdice, of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Grave inscription reads: ‘Ever Remembered By His Loving Father And Mother And Sisters Eileen And May.’
Sgt. Thomas Hindle. Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany. Joint grave: 4A.G.9-10. Son of William and Pollie Sanders Hindle, of Preston, Lancashire, England.
Researcher: Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - November 2016. With thanks to George Borrow for grave photographs, Steve Keates for crew photographs. Ivo Wilms for additional information. The remainder of photographs from the collection of Michel Beckers.