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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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21 squadron crest
05.04.1943 No. 21 Squadron Ventura I AE839 YH-A F/O. Gerald L. Hicks

Operation: Ramrod

Date: 5th April 1943

Unit: No. 21 Squadron

Type: Ventura I

Serial: AE839

Code: YH-A

Location: English Channel off Portreath, Cornwall

Pilot: F/O. Gerald Lambert Hicks 104530 RAFVR Age; 32. Survived (1)

Pilot 2: Fl/Sgt. Frederick James Bowles 1163245 RAFVR Age 26. Survived (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Rees RAFVR Survived

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Taylor 1017135 RAFVR Age 29. Survived (1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 16:40 hrs from RAF Portreath as part of a Ramrod to attack an oil tanker at Brest.

AE839 was hit and badly damaged by both flak and Luftwaffe Fw.190's. Managed to return to safe territory, but forced to ditch off Portreath, Cornwall. All crew were picked up safe within twenty minutes by fisherman.

Ventura I AE839 at Portreath, Cornwall (archives)

A further 3 Venturas from 21 Squadron were also shot down during this operation:
Ventura I AE715 YH-X Flown by 22 year old Canadian P/O. Melvyn A. McDonald, missing, with all 3 other crew members.
Ventura I AE726 YH-H Flown by 21 year old Sgt. Harold E. Blundell from Southgate, Middlesex, killed with all 3 other crew members.
Ventura I AE852 YH-S Flown by 28 year old Sgt. Eric J. Andrew from Dundee, Scotland, missing with all 3 other crew members.

(1) Survived this ditching but lost their lives in another operation just 2 weeks later on the 21st April on an operation to Abbeville.

Burial Details:

None - all survived - see Abbeville Operation

KTY 07.04.2016 Map added

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: 07 April 2016, 18:19

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