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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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50 Squadron Crest
10/11.12.1940 No. 50 Squadron Hampden I X3117 F/O. Eric B.S. Liddell

Operation: Mannheim

Date: 10/11th December 1940 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 50 Squadron

Type: Hampden I

Serial: X3117

Code: VN-?

Base: RAF Lindholme, Yorkshire

Location: Trier, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Eric Beck Squibs Liddell 40234 RAF Age 24. Killed (1)

Pilot 2: P/O. Ronald George Ash 43278 RAF Age 25. Killed (2)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric McConnell 1755215 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Stanley Atkinson 652440 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Taking off from RAF Lindholme in southern Yorkshire at 22:40 hrs to bomb Mannheim - aircraft understood to have been hit by flak and crashed near Trier, Germany. All the crew were lost.

Above: Sgt. Atkinson and in the centre with his older brother Albert - understood to be the day after Albert's wedding (courtesy David Stone)

They had escaped an earlier incident just the previous month when on the 07/08th November on an operation to Essen the crew flying Hampden X2994 (including a Sgt. Leech but minus P/O. Ash who joined them later) were forced to abandon the aircraft when it ran out of fuel over East Anglia. The aircraft later crashed near West Raynham airfield

When the possessions of Stan Atkinson were returned - a brass model of his aircraft was found - sadly in time this went missing - David Stone managed to find a replica which he presented to Stan's brother.

The pilot, ’Squibs’ Liddell then a Sgt. also escaped an earlier heavy landing in Hampden P4309 at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland, England whilst with 14 Operational Training Unit. Whilst returning to base at 18:30 hrs he overshot the runway and crashed heavily - no injuries to the crew. Aircraft was written off.

(1) ’Squibs’ Liddell brother, Tord Alvar Quan Lidell MBE (11 September 1908 – 7 January 1981) was a BBC radio announcer and newsreader. During the Second World War his distinctive voice became synonymous with the reading of news. It was during the Second World War that the BBC named its previously anonymous announcers and newsreaders - to distinguish them from enemy propagandists. During the war, "Here is the news, and this is Alvar Lidell reading it" became an inadvertent catchphrase.

In 1943 he served with the RAF as an intelligence officer (some of the time at Bletchley Park, but returned to the BBC a year later. In 1946 he was appointed chief announcer on the new BBC Third Programme, where he remained for six years, maintaining the highest standards, particularly over pronunciation and phrasing. Recordings of Lidell's news bulletins have been included in many films set in Britain during the Second World War, such as 1968's the Battle of Britain.

(2) Further research continues into P/O. Ronald George Ash - Australian archives have him as being killed on the 01st June 1941 with 36160 F/O. Aubrey Glen Curtis? Any assistance offered for this are very welcome. The CWWG list him as we have described.

Above, the mother of Sgt. Atkinson during a visit sponsored by the wonderful Dutch people in 1963 (courtesy David Stone)

Burial details:

The crew were initially buried in Macken Cemetery and interned in the Rheinberg War Cemetery on the 04th June 1947.

F/O. Eric Beck Squibs Liddell. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9. D. 16-19. Son of Hazel Beck Liddell, husband of Olive Liddell, of Ketton, Rutland, England.

P/O. Ronald George Ash. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9. D. 16-19. Son of Fredrick William and Marion Eva Ash, of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Sgt. Eric McConnell. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9. D. 16-19. Born in Bury, Lancashire, England. Also commemorated in St. Annes Church, Belfield, Milnrow, Rochdale.

Sgt. Alfred Stanley Atkinson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Collective grave 9. D. 16-19. Son of Alfred Ernest and Ada Atkinson, of Walker, Newcastle-on-Tyne, England.

Researched by David Stone for Aircrew Remembered April 2016. With thanks to Ralph Davidson for information on Sgt. McConnell - February 2017. For further details our thanks to the following sources shown below.

KTY 19.04.2016

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), 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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