Date: 12th/13th June 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Breighton
Location: Bosc-Mesnil, North East Rouen, France.
Pilot: Fg.Off. Henry Thomas Hills 151071 RAFVR Age 26. killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Robert Jackson Campbell MiD. 917815 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Nav: Fg.Off. Kenneth Charles Morris Hayman 153006 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Bomb Aimer: Fg.Off. Eric Albon 152969 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William McKay Biehl 622666 RAF Age 26. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Maurice Francis Dilkes 1584011 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Stanley George Rayner Barham 1307841 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22:13 hrs. from RAF Breighton to bomb the communication / rail facilities at Amiens. 671 aircraft took part in this and other raids during the night. Bombing of this target had been classed as reasonably accurate.
The losses from Bomber Command though were huge with 30 aircraft lost. A total of 140 aircrew were killed, 22 being made PoW, however, a further 31 managing to evade capture. 78 Squadron lost 3 aircraft during this raid, the other two:
Halifax III LV915 EY:H Flown by 28 year old, Fg.Off John Frederick Wyllie J25814 RCAF from Saskatchewan, Canada - Killed with all 7 crew.
Halifax III MZ631 EY-Y Flown by 29 year old, Flt.Sgt. Stanley Allan Rae 423420 RNZAF from Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand - Killed with all 7 crew.
This Halifax LV820 was intercepted at 2,000 mtrs and was thought to have been shot down at around 00:35 - 00:40 hrs by Ofw. Reinhard Kollak of 8./NJG4 (He shot down 2 Halifaxes between these times) The aircraft crashed between 5 - 35 kilometres north, north east of Rouen. (See map)
Claim by Uffz Johann Werthner 7/NJG2 - 20-30km West of Amiens: 800m at 00:21/22. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 3 - Theo Boiten). Crashed Bosc-Mesnil (Seine-Maritime) 4km ESE of St Saens.
According to Theo Boiten Kollak's claim at 00:22. was not identified.
Silk evasion maps recovered from the crash site.
Fg Off. Henry Thomas Hills. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard Row C. Joint Grave 18. Son of Thomas William and Gertrude Hills, of Richmond, Surrey, England.
Sgt. Robert Jackson Campbell MiD. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard Row C. Joint Grave 18. Son of Robert E. and Helen R. Campbell, of Feltham, Middlesex, England.
F/g.Off. Kenneth Charles Morris Hayman. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard Row D. Grave 32. Son of Frederick and Ada Nellie Hayman, husband of Edna Muriel Hayman, of Great Sutton, Cheshire, England.
His older brother, 29 year old, Engineer Officer Harold John Hayman Merchant Navy, was killed on the SS. Oronsay 09th October 1942 when the unescorted ship was torpedoed southwest of Freetown, Africa.
Fg.Off. Eric Albon. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 204. Son of Albert and Lily Albon, of Halifax, husband of Audrey Albon, of Halifax, England.
Sgt. William McKay Biehl. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard Row C. Grave 24. Understood to be a Canadian from Morden, Manitoba, Canada. Enlisted in July 1938 as ground crew. Remastered as Air gunner in 1942. Commended for his actions in rescuing people who were buried in rubble after an air raid in London. Biehl Lake northwest of Sprott Lake was named after Sgt. William McKay Biehl in 1995. This was his 29th operation. Next of kin details not available as yet - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Maurice Francis Dilkes. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard Row D. Grave 14. Son of Christopher and Gertrude Dilkes, of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England. Peter Inman was his best friend and his son, Bob, sent in additional details and photographs in January 2018:
05/11/42 – posted to Hereford for Armourer’s course - 26/11/42 – passed A.C.S. Board Medical - 4/1/43 – started 20mm Hispano cannon training- 14/1/43 – started in hangars (?) - 25/2/43 – started on carriers (?) - 4/3/43 – started on pyrotechnics - 15/4/43 – passed Armourer’s Track Test Board as Armourer - 21/4/43 – left Hereford - 30/7/43 – heard that Maurice was posted to ACRC (Air Crew) - 7/10/43 – posted to 11 Air Gunnery School of Training Command at RAF Andreas, I.O.M - 3/12/43 – passing out parade as Air Gunner at RAF Andreas.
Peter Inman continued supporting the war effort as a valued armourer with 95 squadron. It is sad that the ground crew who, after all, made all the air operations work are hardly recognised.
Without them, without the WAAF's who packed parachutes, others who packed the crew sandwiches for the long bomber flights - we would simply have not overcome the threat!
Sgt. Stanley George Rayner Barham. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard Row C. Grave 34. Son of John Robert and Matilda Alice Eva Barham of Shoreditch, London, England. Had worked with Liverpool Insurance and also played in a band.
Researched for Jan Spink, niece of Sgt. Stanley Barham (who has also supplied us with further information) Mr Alan Brier, relative of Fg.Off. Albon, Beverley Hooper relative of Sgt. Robert Jackson Campbell MiD. With thanks also to Miles Dilkes who contacted us in November 2016 and advised correct spelling of Sgt. Maurice Dilkes dedicated to all relatives / friends of the crew. Thanks to John Jones for the update to the German night-fighter claim (Mar 2021). Sources as quoted below.