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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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144 Squadron Crest
16/17.04.1941 No. 144 Squadron Hampden I AD761 Sgt. Henry Kirby

Operation: Gardening

Date: 16/17th April 1941 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 144 Squadron

Type: Hampden I

Serial: AD761

Code: PL-?

Base: RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire

Location: Waddingham, near base

Pilot: Sgt. Henry Kirby 745805 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. William Archibald Tyler 903308 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Victor Godfrey Elliott 743064 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Walsh RAFVR Age 19. Severely injured - survived. (1)


Taking off from RAF Hemswell during the early hours of the 17th April on a Gardening operation with eight other Hampdens from the squadron.

Left: sole survivor of AD761, Sgt. George Walsh (courtesy Kerry Walsh)

Shortly after take off (within some four minutes) they were attacked by a night intruder in a Ju88. The pilot, Fw. Hans Hahn (2) of 3./NJG2 was at this time the top fernnachtjäger (night fighter intruder)

the son recollects the story as told by his father, Sgt. Walsh who survived, severely injured but recovered.

“According to my father, who was manning the W/Op. rear gunner position in the upper cupola, the aircraft was raked from stem to stern with machine gun and cannon fire and set alight. All the crew members were either wounded or killed and my father had to attach a chute to the under-gunner, who was unresponsive, and roll him out of the side door and pull his rip cord before he could exit himself.

He hit the ground almost immediately after his own parachute opened and the stricken aircraft crashed in the next field.

George Walsh was wounded in the left hand and left knee. He was the sole survivor and was taken to the RAF hospital at Rauceby. It was his 30th Operational mission, he had recently turned 19 years old.”

(1) Sgt. George Walsh retired from the RAF in 1974 as a Squadron Leader.

(2) Lt. Hans Hahn born on the 9th February 1919 at Rheydt in Rheinland. Killed with his crew in Ju 88 C-4 (W.Nr. 0851) R4+NL on the 11/12th October 1941 after a collision with an Airspeed Oxford over Grantham - at that time he had a total of 13 abschüsse to his name.

Right: Fw. Hans Hahn of 3./NJG2 (courtesy Kracker Archive)

144 Squadron Hampdens over Hemswell, 1939.

144 Squadron taken between December 1940 - May 1941. Sgt. George Walsh is shown, centre row, 10th from left. (courtesy Kerry Walsh)

Burial details:

Sgt. Henry Kirby. Streatham Cemetery. Block 12. Grave 749. Son of Frederick and Florence Kirby, of Streatham, London, England. Note from the CWWG Commission: the grave of this casualty is currently unmarked, however the Commission is in the process of erecting a headstone. His name will be removed from the screen wall in the cemetery as and when the appropriate panel is next replaced.

Sgt. William Archibald Tyler. High Wycombe Cemetery. Sec. C.1. Grave 428. Son of Frederick Montague Tyler and Violet Edith Tyler, husband of May Tyler, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Victor Godfrey Elliott. Guildford Cemetery. Block F. Grave 385. Son of John and Dorothy Elliott, of Guildford, Surrey, England. Grave shown right.

For further details our thanks to Kerry Walsh - son of Sq/Ldr. George Walsh - further information from the sources shown below.

'Ginger' Walsh also features in the Wellington BK235 story.

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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