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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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10 Squadron Crest
12/13.06.1943 No 10 Squadron Halifax II W7909 ZA-Z Sgt. George M. Innes

Operation: Bochum

Date: 12/13th June 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 10 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: W7909

Code: ZA-Z

Base: RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire

Location: Between Bardel and Gildehaus

Pilot: Sgt. George Matthew Innes 1503644 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Wilfred Sharp 1435229 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Kenneth Avon Jenkins 1380739 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. James Ernest Senger 1392938 RAFVR Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Charles Walter Michell 1386272 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Smith 1133208 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald George Lepetit 1397923 RAFVR Age 18. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire at 23:21 hrs to attack Bochum (1). 503 aircraft took part in the raid which although the city was cloud covered the use of Oboe and sky-marking made the bombing very accurate. Most of the bombing took place between 01:18 - 02:00 hrs

Photo reconnaissance reports state that 130 acres were destroyed. The city reported 449 buildings totally destroyed and 916 severely damaged with 312 people on the ground killed.

Bochum - bomb damage WW2

The allies lost 23 aircraft. A huge blow with the total number of killed being 123 aircrew with a further 44 being made PoW.

Nightfighter War Diaries reports state that Halifax W7909 was shot down by Lt. Hans-Heinz Augenstein (2) of 7./NJGI (a nightfighter ace with this his 8th claim of the war), with the aircraft crashing at 01:56 hrs in the area between Bardel and Gildehaus.

Left: Hptm. Hans-Heinz Augenstein (courtesy Kracker Archives)

All the other aircraft from the squadron returned safely by 04:35 hrs.

(1) Because the Ruhr region was an area of high residential density and a centre of weapons manufacturing, it was a major target of the war. Women with young children, school children and the homeless fled or were evacuated to safer areas, leaving cities largely deserted to the arms industry, coal mines and steel plants and those unable to leave.

Bomber Command estimated on this single raid some 134 tons of bombs fell on built up areas at the target with some 74 acres of the target visibly damaged. 6000 homes were rendered uninhabitable, 400 killed with the same number seriously injured.

Bochum was first bombed heavily in May and June 1943. On May 13, 1943, the city hall was hit, destroying the top floor, and leaving the next two floors in flames. In November 1944, in an attack involving 700 British bombers, the steel plant, Bochumer Verein, was hit. More than 10,000 high-explosive and 130,000 incendiary bombs were stored there, setting off a conflagration that destroyed the surrounding neighbourhoods. An aerial photo shows the devastation.

Downtown Bochum was a strategic target during the Oil Campaign. In 150 bomb attacks over Bochum, over 1,300 bombs were dropped on Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. By the end of the war, 38% of Bochum was decimated. 70,000 citizens were homeless and at least 4,095 dead. Of Bochum's more than 90,000 homes, only 25,000 remained for the 170,000 citizens who survived the war, many by fleeing to other areas. Most of the remaining buildings were damaged, many with only one usable room. Only 1,000 houses in Bochum remained undamaged after the war. Only two of 122 schools remained unscathed; others were totally destroyed. Hunger was rampant. A resident of neighbouring Essen was quoted on April 23, 1945 as saying, "Today, I used my last potato... it will be a difficult time till the new potatoes are ready to be picked – if they're not stolen.

(2) 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 DFC 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 and his navigator can be found on another page within our website. The navigator on that Mosquito 25 year old, F/O. Norman Bamford is a relative of one of our Canadian researchers. The Mosquito crew flying NF253 whilst with 151 Squadron were both killed on the 01st January 1945.

Burial details:

Crew initially buried at Lingen on the 15th June - moved to Reichswald Forest after war end.

Sgt. George Matthew Innes. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.F.4. Son of George and Ethel Inness, of Deckham, Gateshead, Co. Durham, England.

Sgt. Wilfred Sharp. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.D.18. Son of Fred and Florence May Sharp, of Woodford Bridge, Essex, England.

Sgt. Kenneth Avon Jenkins. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 15.D.16-17. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. James Ernest Senger. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 15.D.16-17. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Frederick Charles Walter Michell. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.F.2. Son of Mrs. L. A. L. Michell, of Highbury, London, England.

Sgt. Ernest Smith. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 15.F.3. Son of Ernest Smith and Martha Ann Smith, Oldham, Lancashire. Next of kin Mrs. Linda Kelly, Prestwich, Nr. Oldham, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Ronald George Lepetit. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 15.D.16-17. Son of William Alexander Lepetit and Minnie Lepetit, of Mitcham, Surrey, England.

Researched with a great deal of information sent in by Stuart Harlow, relative of Sgt. Ernest Smith and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown below. Many thanks also to our great friend and volunteer Mitch Buiting for taking these special photographs of the crew graves.

KTY - Grave photographs added with courtesy of Mitch Buiting.

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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