22.11.1942 144 Squadron Hampden I P2063 PL-O Sq/Ldr. John R.D. Hird
Operation: Nuisance bombing - Norway
Date: 22nd November 1942 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 144 Squadron (Coastal Command)
Type: Hampden I
Base: RAF Wick, Caithness, Scotland
Location: North Sea south of Kopervik, Norway
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. John Richard Darbyshire Hird 37852 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed
Obs: Sgt. Davidson William Hepplewhite 1189303 RAFVR Age 27. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert John Coles 1310109 RAFVR Age 26. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Raymond Henry Alvey 755235 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Mr David Venner who prepared this page, would very much like to be in contact with other relatives of the crew or anyone who are able to place names to the people shown in the photographs or who are in a position to provide further information. He is currently preparing a book for publication on the loss. Contact us in the first instance and your details will be forwarded.
Update: July 2017: Mr. Odd Jakob Haaland contacted us in July 2017 - his grandparents lived in the house shown on photo below and supplied further information and photographs.
REASON FOR LOSS:
These events of 22nd November 1942 have been pieced together by David Venner from Operations Record Books, recollections of one of Raymond’s colleagues and from correspondence between the Air Ministry and Raymond’s father between 1942 and 1946.
Raymond Alvey was at RAF Wick, waiting to join 144 Squadron, when a Hampden from that squadron arrived from RAF Leuchars for refuelling. One of the Wireless Operator/Air Gunners, Sgt Burrow, reported sick, Raymond was called in to join the crew, with Sq/Ldr. John Hird as pilot, Sgt Davidson Hepplewhite as Navigator/Bomb aimer and Sgt Robert Coles as the other W/O/AG. The mission was ‘nuisance bombing’ over SW Norway.
The Hampden with Raymond on board took off from the airfield at Wick, at about 18:00 hours. Three other Hampdens, on the same operation, left Wick between 17:30 and 18:00 Hrs, and returned safely between 22:15 and 23:05. They reported bad weather conditions, with rain, sleet and snow, and poor visibility. Only one was able to report a successful operation.
The four aircraft in the flight reached the Norwegian coast at around 19:30 – 20:00; located their targets, and then at least two encountered anti-aircraft fire from German ground positions. Raymond’s plane, having released one or more bombs on a target to the north of Haugesund, was passing southwards towards Karmøy island when it received a direct hit, exploded, and debris was scattered along the coastline and in the sea.
Eyewitness accounts suggest that the bodies of the three sergeants were recovered and (probably) buried at sea by the Germans, as no graves were discovered by the Missing Research and Enquiry Service or subsequently. As well as having their names recorded at Runnymede, the crew have been commemorated on a plaque erected at the site of the crash by the family of Sq/Ldr. Hird.
Mr. Odd Jakob Haaland grandparents lived in the house on the left of the photo (above) where the German Flak unit was based. The Germans also occupied part of the house. His father told him that the Hampden had already been hit from a flak unit based just south of Haugesund but the pilot managed to keep the aircraft in the air at a low altitude over the Karmsundet (Fjord) - when it passed over Kopervik the ant-aircraft unit there scored direct hits with the aircraft coming down just south of Kopervik. A piece from the aircraft was also discovered as shown. (photographs kindly supplied by Mr. Odd Jakob Haaland)
Sq/Ldr. John Richard Darbyshire Hird. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 65. Son of Richard and Gertrude Hird of Harrowsley, Horley, Surrey, England.
Right: memorial placed for the crew.
Sgt. Davidson William Hepplewhite. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 85. Son of William and Mabel Hepplewhite, husband of Myra Caroline Hepplewhite, of Portchester, Hampshire, England.
Sgt. Robert John Coles. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 80. Son of Robert James Coles and of Georgina Kate Coles (née Frances), husband of Ethel Ena Matilda Coles (née Carr), of St. Denys, Southampton, England. Born on the 22nd November 1916. The Croydon Roll of Honour adds the following information: ” Member, 44th Croydon Scouts, Footballer and walker. Draughtsman with Arens Controls Ltd, Croydon. Served with Coastal Command, Missing, believed Killed 22 Nov 42 (announced over German radio)”
Sgt. Raymond Henry Alvey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 77. Son of George Alfred Alvey, and of Marguerite E. A. Alvey, of of Chilwell, Notts, England. Born 20 February 1920. From family memories and research, the following information can be added: Pre-war, Raymond was employed as a telephone engineer with Ericssons of Beeston, Notts. A keen sportsman, playing ruby, cricket and hockey, and had been a keen swimmer and cyclist. (In July 1939 he cycled from Nottingham to Neuchatel in Switzerland and back.)
Researched by David Venner and submitted to Aircrew Remembered December 2015. David is the nephew of Sgt. Raymond Alvey. With many thanks also to Mr. Odd Jakob Haaland for photographs and further information.