05/06.09.1943 No. 623 Squadron Stirling III EH878 IC-I F/O. Humphreys MiD
Date: 5/6th September 1943 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 623 Squadron. 3 Group
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Downham Market, Norfolk
Location: Schönborn, Germany
Pilot: F/O. Noel Robert Shakespeare Humphreys MiD. 414630 RNZAF Age 20. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Inns 1074776 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Edward George Bull 1391064 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Donald Walon Robinson 1320192 RAFVR PoW. No: 222840 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe (IVb)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hedley Probert Delahay 1313004 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Green Read 1304578 RAFVR Age 33. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Frederick Ernest Somers 155189 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Downham Market, Norfolk at 19:48 hrs joining 604 aircraft to bomb the city of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen.
Above L-R: Noel and his brother James at what is believed to be Glasgow railway station (1) (courtesy Penny Humphreys)
Above, thought to be the crew from EH878, pictured earlier, with below showing their ground crew. Can you recognise anyone in order that we can place names to faces? Contact us, the family would like to hear rom you. We believe the chap sitting on the steps to be Sgt. George Inns as recognised by his family. (courtesy of the Robinson family)
This Stirlings target was Mannheim where although detailed reports were not made available regarding casualties or property damage the damage is thought to have been so severe that normal report gathering was not possible. The town described it as a "catastrophe!"
The allies did not come off lightly on this operation. 37 aircraft were lost, 170 aircrew killed, 64 taken P.o.W and 9 evading capture.
Stirling EH878 was intercepted and shot down by Lt. Karl-Heinz Augenstein (2) from 7./NJG1 at 00:45 hrs. Combat taking place at 5.500 metres with the aircraft coming down at Roeder, Schönborn.
(1) His brother, James Samuel Humphreys 41928 RAF, was badly wounded when his Hurricane I P2765 of No. 605 Squadron was shot down on 9th September 1940. He survived the war but sadly passed away on the 25th April 1986 age 68.
F/O. Noel Humphreys survived a torpedo attack whilst on the Waiwera en route to England on the 29th June 1942. Attacked and sunk by U-754 at 06:10 hrs some 400 miles north west of the Azores. The 97 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian ship Oregon Express which landed at New York (8 killed) on the 10th July 1942. The Oregon Express was also sunk later on the 23rd September 1943 (8 killed, 37 survived).
(2) This was the 10th abschusse for Lt. Hans-Heinz Augenstein. After a total of 46 air victories he was shot down and killed on the 6/7th December 1944 by Fl/Lt. Hedgecoe D.F.C. in a Mosquito. His radio operator, Feldwebel Günther Steins also died in the attack, however rear gunner Unteroffizier Kurt Schmidt, survived, wounded, baling out of the Bf110 G-4. Further information on Fl/Lt. Hedgecoe D.F.C. and his navigator can be found on another page within our website. Amazing that the navigator with Fl/Lt. Hedgecoe is a relative of one of our Canadian researchers.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND BURIAL DETAILS.
The six crew members who were killed were initially buried at Schönborn Cemetery, Rhineland Palatinate, Germany and re-interred at the Rheinberg War Cemetery, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on 2 April 1948.
F/O. Noel Robert Shakespeare Humphreys MiD. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 18.F.6-10. Born on the 28th December 1922 at Rangiora, the son of Richard Edward and Helen Gabriel Humphreys, of Wellington City, New Zealand. A storeman for G.R. ,McKay and Sons prior to service. A total of 508 flying hours logged and on his 20th operational sortie.
Sgt. George Inns. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 18.F.6-10. Son of George Samuel and Lily Inns, of Prescot, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription: 'Till We Meet At Jesus' Feet, Rest In Peace, Dear Son'.
Sgt. Edward George Bull. Rheinberg War Cemetery Grave 18.F.5. Son of Edward William and Elizabeth Bull, of Holloway, London, England. Grave inscription: 'Ted, Never Absent From Our Thoughts'.
Sgt. Hedley Probert Delahay. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 18.F.6-10. Son of William and Ethel Delahay, of Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, Wales. Grave inscription: 'His Presence Missed, His Memory Treasured. Mam And Dad, Brothers And Sisters'.
Sgt. George Green Read. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 18.F.6-10. He was born 22 September 1910 at Nottingham the son of George Green Read (a Master Decorator) and Mabel Louisa Read nee Redgate of West Bridgford, Nottingham. The family lived at 3 Bluecoat Street, Nottingham. George Read attended Nottingham High School from 15 January 1923 and left on 2 April 1925 at the age of 14. He is commemorated on the school war memorial. Grave inscription: 'Always Remembered'.
P/O. Frederick Ernest Somers. Rheinberg War Cemetery Collective Grave 18.F.6-10. No further details, are you able to assist?
Researched for the family of Donald Walton Robinson and dedicated to his and the crews memory. With thanks also to Penny Humphreys and family, Alison Simpkins family of Sgt. George Inns and Nottingham High School Archives for additional information re George Green Read. Thanks also to the great U-Boat website for Waiwera details.