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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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22/23.06.1943 30 OTU Wellington X HE527 BT-? Sgt. James Hennessy

Operation: Nickel (Dropping leaflets) Paris

Date: 22/23 June 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: 30 OTU

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE527 

Code: BT-?

Base: RAF Hixon, Staffordshire

Location: Cherbourg, Manche, France 

Pilot: Sgt. James Hennessy Aus/415144 RAAF Age 27 - Killed (1)

Nav: P/O. Gerald Thomas Freemantle 141789 RAFVR Age 21 - PoW No. 1652. Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (2)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. John Anderson 1559088 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. R.J. Franklin 1331371 RAFVR PoW No. 135. Camp: Stalag Kopernikus - 357 (4)

Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. Rowland John Paul Chandler 1219494 RAFVR - Killed (5)

Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. W. Gilroy 1562708 PoW No. 145. Camp: Stalag Kopernikus - 357 (6)


We appeal to any friends or relatives of the crew with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via the helpdesk


REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off from RAF Hixon, Staffordshire detailed to drop leaflets over Paris. That night 26 aircraft from training groups were despatched to drop leaflets as follows: 11 at Paris, 2 at Orleans, 2 at Le Mans, 2 at Amiens, 5 at Lille, 2 at Rheims and 2 at Leval. The task was completed by 23 aircraft but 2 Paris sorties were abortive owing to technical defects and 1 Paris sortie (HE527) failed to return. Reports stated that a little light flak was experienced at Le Anelys and heavy flak was experienced at Rouen, Pt. Ailly, Dieppe, Caen, Ouistreham and Boulogne.

 Wellingtons of 30 OTU at RAF Hixon (part of 93 Training Group) being prepared for a leaflet raid Sept 1943.        (Courtesy IWM)

Wellington HE527 was hit by flak near Cherbourg, Mache, and crashed. The RAF Loss Card records the following details given by the navigator P/O. Freemantle.

'Hit by AA fire near Cherbourg. Aircraft burst into flames; immediately after, navigator left and presumably Hennessy, Chandler and Anderson could not get out and were found in the wreckage.'

P/O. Freemantle, Sgt. R.J. Franklin and Sgt. W. Gilroy parachuted to safety. Captured by the Germans they were sent to prisoner of war camps as recorded above. 

The three airmen killed in the crash were buried at Cherbourg Old Communal Cemetery (details below)

The Circumstantial Report letter of 26 June 1943 reports that:

 'W/T silence maintained. The pilot and crew of another aircraft "Q" saw what he believed to be three parachutes over Paris. These may have been flak bursts. No other information'

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS

(1) F/Sgt James Hennessy was born on 3 March 1916 at Templemore, County Tipperary, Ireland the son of Patrick and Mary Hennessy. In 1937 James Hennessy emigrated to Australia arriving at Fremantle on the SS Orama on 28th November. The passenger list records that he had embarked at London, he was a 21 year old Draper born in Ireland and he was to work at the department store of Aherns of Hay and Murray Streets in Perth, Western Australia. James enlisted at Perth on 21 July 1941 and is last known address was 2 St. Georges Terrace, Perth.  

Australian Archives (A705, 166/17/196) reveal that he was unofficially engaged to a Miss Ellie C. McKay of 111 Domain Road, South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria. At the time of his death his mother's address is recorded as Carmel Hotel, 47 Harrington Street, Dublin, Eire; she later moved to 5, Gresham Terrace, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, Eire. 

James Hennessy was promoted retrospectively to Flight Sergeant with effect from 10 January 1943.

(2) Fl/Lt. Gerald Thomas Freemantle was born in 1922 at Falmouth, Cornwall the son of William Freemantle and Edith Freemantle nee Strongman. He had one sister and three brothers. After joining the RAFVR as LAC 1601619 he was commissioned directly to Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) with effect from 6 April 1943 as announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 11 May 1943. Whilst a prisoner of war he was promoted to Flying Officer on probation, with effect from 6 October 1943 as announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 12 November 1943 and later promoted to Flight Lieutenant (war subs), with effect from 6 April 1945 as announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 27 April 1945. 

After the war Gerald Freemantle returned to Falmouth where he later became a Nurse Tutor. He died at Falmouth Hospital on Monday the 8th of March 2010 aged 87 years. His funeral service was held at King Charles the Martyr Parish Church, Falmouth on Monday the 22nd of March 2010 followed by a private cremation. Gerald requested that there should be no mourning wear at his funeral. At the time of his death his address was 27, Queen Anne Gardens, Falmouth, Cornwall.

(3) Sgt. John Anderson was born in 1923 at Falkirk, Scotland, the son of John Anderson and Janet Waugh Chalmers Anderson of Avonbridge, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Sgt. Anderson is commemorated on the Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

(4) Sgt. R.J. Franklin - nothing further known, can you help?

(5) Sgt. Rowland John Paul Chandler - nothing further known, can you help? 

(6) Sgt. W. Gilroy - nothing further known, can you help?

BURIAL DETAILS:

Fl/Sgt. James Hennessy was buried at Cherbourg Old Communal Cemetery - Grave No. 6.E.4. (1)

His epitaph reads:

We have loved him in life

Let us not forget him in death.

Sgt. John Anderson was buried at Cherbourg Old Communal Cemetery - Grave No. 6.E.6. (3)

His epitaph reads:

No morning dawns,

No night returns,

But we remember thee. 

Sgt. John Rowland Paul Chandler was buried at Cherbourg Old Communal Cemetery - Grave No. 6.E.5 (5)

He has no epitaph. 

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - October 2015.

With thanks to the sources quoted below.


RW 26.10.2015

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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