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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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408 Squadron Crest
16/17.04.1943 No. 408 Squadron R.C.A.F. Halifax II JB925 EQ-R Fl/Lt. Clifford O. Hatle

Operation: Pilsen (Skoda works)

Date: 16/17th April 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 408 Squadron (Goose RCAF)

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JB925

Code: EQ-R

Base: RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire

Location: Between Bierfeld and Nonnweiler, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Clifford Oscar Hatle J/9407 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Pilot 2: F/O. Thomas Harold O'Connell C/20465 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William George Kapuscinski R/80897 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Nav: F/O. Laurence Henry Holmes 135023 RAFVR Age 30. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Sydney Frederick Osmond 1391764 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O II. Henry Richmond R/97633 RCAF Age 31. Killed

Air/Gnr: WO II. John William Gibson R/75614 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Albert Andrew Tschantre R/144193 RCAF Age 26. Killed


Taking off from RAF Leeming at 21.04 hrs., joining 327 aircraft and set out to attack the Skoda works at Plzen, Czechoslovakia. Most of the bombs fell in the area of Dobrany. 38 aircraft were lost. No damage was done to the Skoda works, apart from some sky-lights being broken due to falling shell fragments from the anti-aircraft guns at the works.

As a result of this operation, there were 52 p.o.w's and 13 evaders. 199 aircrew were killed in action.

Halifax I JB925 was shot down by Uffz. Peter Deppermann (1) of 10./NJG4 at 03.01 hrs and crashed a few minutes later at approximately 03.05 hrs. into a wood between Bierfeld and Nonnweiler some 28 km S.E. of Trier. In a statement given to Allied authorities early in 1947, the Chief of Police at Nonnweiler, Herr Jakob Mesenig, stated the destruction of the bomber was by a "fighter plane". He further indicated that seven bodies were found at the crash site while that of Sgt Kapuscinsky was discovered 24 hours later. The map reference for the crash was given as K50/L438123. 

It is also reported in a letter from W/Cdr. W.D.S. Ferris, the commanding officer of 408 Squadron, to the parents of Fl/Lt. Hatle that their son had recently been appointed a Deputy Flight Commander. 

408 Squadron also lost three other crews on this operation:

BB343 EQ-X W/O. Joseph J.A. Guay RCAF All 7 crew killed.
DT752 EQ-W F/O. Joseph R.L. Sergent RCAF All 7 crew killed.
JB854 EQ-D Fl/Sgt. George C. Heming RCAF All 7 crew killed.


Above left: Fl/Lt. Clifford Hatle (courtesy Cindy Orser) Sgt. William Kapuscinski (courtesy Peter Wilson Cunliffe)

A comprehensive book is in print by the writer of this page of remembrance entitled "A Shaky Do - The Skoda works raid 16/17th April 1943". 

The author, Peter Cunliffe, would like to hear from any relatives of the members of this crew. Or any other airmen or relatives thereof, who were involved in this raid. Please contact us in the first instance and we will forward the message. Please also contact us for details on how to receive a signed copy from the author.

Left: 'A Shaky Do' - The Skoda works raid 16/17th April 1943 - An updated publication on this subject has now been released. (January 2012)

(1) This was the second abschüsse of seven for Uffz. Peter Deppermann. He was killed on the 10th June 1944 near Pantelimon, Bucharest, Romania after being shot down by a P-38 Lightning from either 1 or 82 fighter group.

Burial details:

All were initially buried in a collective grave in Bierfeld Friedhot by French prisoners of war. Since 1947, the remains of the crew have been exhumed and taken to Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Fl/Lt. Clifford Oscar Hatle. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of Oscar and Angeline Hatle of Kenora, Ontario, Canada. Brother to Caia Stephenson (née Hatle.)

F/O. Thomas Harold O'Connell. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of Joseph Edmund O'Connell, and of Azilda O'Connell (nee Larose), of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Sgt. William George Kapuscinski. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of Thomas and Mary Kapuscinski, of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Laurence Henry Holmes. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of Henry Tims Holmes and Elsie Dora Holmes, of Broadstairs, Kent, England.

Sgt. Sydney Frederick Osmond. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of Garland Frederic and Kathleen Ann Osmond, of Camberwell, London, England.

W/O II. Henry Richmond. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of John and Hilda E. Richmond, of Oliver, British Columbia, Canada.

WO II. John William Gibson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of Ellen E. Gibson, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Albert Andrew Tschantre. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 8.L. 6-11. Son of Reynold R. Tschantre and Freda Szigetcocy Tschantre, of Thomasville, Georgia, USA.

Researched for relatives of the crew with thank for information supplied by the following: Cindy Orser (née Stephenson) relative of the pilot - Fl/Lt. Clifford Hatle. Peter Cunliffe ‘A Shaky Do’, 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',  Les Allison and Harry Hayward - ‘They Shall Grow Not Old’, the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

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: 16 September 2014, 20:06

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