31/01.09.1943 No 158 Squadron Halifax II JN903 NP-C P/O. Ernest James
Date: 31/01st September 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 158 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Lissett, Yorkshire
Location: Criquiers, France
Pilot: P/O. Ernest James 148180 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George William Stokes 1164343 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. William John Poulin R/128171 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Robert Gemmell McInnes 133706 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Arthur William Davies 155854 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Peter William Cramb 1124348 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stanley William Evans 946822 RRAFVR Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF. Lissett, Yorkshire at 20.30 hrs. on an operation to Berlin. 622 aircraft - 331 Lancasters, 176 Halifaxes, 106 Stirlings, 9 Mosquitos.
This raid was not successful due to cloud in the target are, this, together with difficulties with H2S equipment and probably the ferocity of the German defences, all combined to cause the Pathfinder markers to be dropped well south of the centre of the target area and the main force bombing to be even further away.
The main bombing area eventually extended 30 miles back along the bombers' approach route.
After this raid, Gauleiter Goebbels ordered the evacuation from Berlin of all children and all adults not engaged in war work to country areas or to towns in Eastern Germany where air raids were not expected. 47 aircraft - 20 Halifaxes, 17 Stirlings, 10 Lancasters - lost, 1.6 per cent of the force
The loss of allied crews on this raid amounted to:
237 Aircrew killed, 102 made P.O.W's with 3 others evading capture.
It is understood that Halifax JN903 was hit by flak and crashed in Criquirs.
158 Squadron lost 4 aircraft on this trip, the others:
Halifax II HR738 NP-Z ('Zombie's Zephyr') Flown by Sgt. William Kidd, killed with 4 other crew members, 2 others made pow.
Halifax II HR937 NP-P Flown by Sq/Ldr. N.H. Elliot pow with 4 other crew members, 2 killed.
Halifax II JD246 NP-R Flown by P/O. Kenneth Ward killed with 2 crew members, 3 taken pow and 1 evading capture.
P/O. Ernest James. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard. Row D. Coll. Grave 21-29. Son of Archibald Henry and Lilian James, of Nottingham, England.
Sgt. George William Stokes. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard. Row D. Coll. Grave 21-29. Son of Harry and Beatrice Stokes, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England.
Fl/Sgt. William John Poulin. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard. Row D. Coll. Grave 21-29. From Dodsland, Saskatchewan, Canada. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
F/O. Robert Gemmell McInnes. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard. Row D. Coll. Grave 21-29. Son of Robert Gemmell McInnes and of Nettie Henderson McInnes (Nee Fisher), of Glasgow, Scotland.
P/O. Arthur William Davies. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard. Row D. Coll. Grave 21-29. Son of Thomas John and Alice Davies, of Ogmore Vale, Glamorgan, Wales.
Sgt. Peter William Cramb. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard. Row D. Coll. Grave 21-29. Son of William Grant Cramb and Elizabeth Ione Cramb, of Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland.
Sgt. Stanley William Evans. Poix-De-Picardie Churchyard. Row D. Coll. Grave 21-29. Son of Harry and Ann Elizebeth Evans, of Birmingham, England.
Researched for Edmund Docker, nephew of Sgt. Stanley William Evans and dedicated to all relatives of the crew. With thanks to Les Allison and Harry Hayward - "They Shall Grow Not Old", Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - "Bomber Command War Diaries - “2014 edition, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Commonwealth Graves Commission.