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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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103 squadron crest
24/25.07.1941 No. 103 Squadron Wellington IC R1397 P/O. Lund

Operation: Emden

Date: 24/25th July 1941 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 103 Squadron

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: R1397

Code: PM-?

Base: RAF Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire.

Location: Bozum, Holland.

Pilot: P/O. Mervyn Sydney Lund 40979 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Arthur Edward Owen 1163347 RAFVR Age 25. Killed (see note)

Obs: Sgt. John James Cox 921698 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roy Penry Williams 1251179 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alfred John Le Poidevin 924197 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Gordon Walker 1019154 RAFVR Age 30. Killed


Update September 2015: CWGC and the RAF have accepted that the graves marked are that of the crew and will be renamed.


REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 23:40 hrs to attack Emden. 47 Aircraft took part in this raid made up of 31 Whitleys and 16 Wellingtons.

During this period there were also operations to Brest to attempt the sinking of the Scharnhorst (1), Cherbourg - as a diversion for the Brest raid (2) and a raid on La Pallice by 15 Halifaxes to bomb the Scharnhorst.(3)

Wellington R1397 was intercepted and shot down during the early hours of the 25th July at 03:54 hrs. by Oblt. Helmut Lent (4) of 4./NJG1 over Oosterwierum south, south west of Leeuwarden at 4,500 mtrs.

                      

This crew has 'no known grave' and despite pressure from researchers in Holland who have researched this loss and identified the grave marked as 'unknown airman' these graves are still classified as such. This research group want that to be changed and also to place a memorial to the crew. (This has happened with the work of the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation - SMAMF)

(1) This changed at the last minute as it had already left the port - the raid continued as the Gneisenau was still there. Reports of 6 hits but unconfirmed. Luftwaffe fighters were very active and despite the long range escort of 3 Spitfire Squadrons, 12 aircraft were lost.

(2) Escorted by Spitfires 36 Blenheims attacked the port. with good results, but the raid did not have the effect of the planned diversion and no combats with Luftwaffe reported. No aircraft lost.

(3) Unescorted the Halifaxes were attacked fiercely by the Luftwaffe and 5 aircraft were shot down by either them or flak. The raid was a success however with the Scharnhorst being badly damaged and forced to return to Brest for several months for further repairs.

(4) This was the 19 victory for Oblt. Lent who went on to claim 102 night fighter kills and a further 8 day kills before, on the 7th October 1944 he died after suffering injuries sustained during a crash landing on the 5th October 1944 during a crash landing in his Ju 88 G-6 at Paderborn Airfield following engine failure and subsequent collision with a high tension cable. His crew were rescued - injured from the crash. However, Walter Kubisch (radio operator) and Hermann Klöss (2nd radio operator) died the same day, Werner Kark (War correspondent and Air/Gnr) died the next morning.

                     

(note) Sgt. Arthur Edward Owen was a former pupil of Moseley Grammar school (Now secondary/grammar school). We are working very closely with the school's historians to remember all the ex pupils who died whilst serving with the RAF and recorded on the school memorial.

                      

News of the positive grave identification received by us from two separate contacts via our help desk in September 2015. With thanks to Mr. Tom van der Meer and Mr. Dirk Munk for sending details. 

Translation of the article:

"The crew of a British bomber that was shot down over Friesland in 1941, after 74 years still get a name on the grave. The Royal Netherlands Airforce and the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation (SMAMF) after years of research have overtaken the identity of the six occupants.
It now appears there were five Britons and a New Zealander on board. Tuesday the new tombstones are blessed at the Northern Cemetery in Leeuwarden. Some relatives of the airmen will be present.
Bombing
The SMAMF and the Air Force discovered based on British, German and Dutch archives earlier that the aircraft should have been the Wellington R1397. The unit was on the way back after a bombing at the ports of the northern German city of Emden. With this information, organizations switched to the British authorities, which ultimately could find the names of the crew.
The crew was buried anonymously after the crash at the cemetery in Leeuwarden. Previous attempts to trace their identity were unsuccessful."

Finally headstones for British Aircrew. 

Article from the 'Leeuwarder Courant' September 16th 2015 (Sent in with translation from Mr. Dirk Munk): Leeuwarden - For 74 years it was unknown which pilots were in the Wellington that crashed at Boazum. On Tuesday their names were placed on six (note) headstones at the Northern Cemetery at Leeuwarden. 

John Cox, Mervyn Lund, Arthur Owen, Alfred Le Poidevin, Gordon Walker and Roy Williams finally get the recognition they deserve according to their relatives. 

The six where in the burning Wellington that crashed on the early morning of 25 July 1941 at Boazum. Their remains were buried in a mutual grave. 

“We are very grateful to The Netherlands for this gesture,” Ray Wells (78), a nephew of one of the pilots said. (note: Actually there are two headstones for these men).

The following clips were kindly supplied by Dirk Munk in September 2015:

In 2011 the Dutch researchers of the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation (SMAMF) were convinced that the aircraft that crashed at Boazum in 1941 was in fact Wellington R1397. Seventy years after the crash, on July 25th 2011, a memorial was unveiled at the crash site. The ceremony was attended by the ambassador of New Zealand, the air force attaché of the British embassy in The Hague, officers of the British and Netherlands Royal Air Forces, the mayor of Littenseradiel, family members of the aircrew, school children, and others. Since at the time the British authorities had not yet officially confirmed the identities of the plane and the crew, the names of the aircrew were put in brackets. 

                                                                  

The next clip is from a TV program, Alexander Tuinhout of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation is explaining what happened in 1941, what they have done to find the names of the aircrew, and the importance of the ceremony the next day. They also explain that they investigated Dutch, British and German archives, and from those investigations they concluded that it is certain that Wellington R1397 crashed at Boazum. Together with the Royal Netherlands Air Force they wrote a report about their findings, and handed it to the British authorities. However these authorities took such a long time to investigate, that the SMAMF decided to deliver a letter at the gate of No. 10  Downing Street, asking if the procedure could be speeded up. That worked.

                                                                  

It was also mentioned that the families had been told that R1397 had been lost over the North Sea, so they were very surprised when the SMAMF contacted them and told them that there was a grave. At the time Clifford Cox, the brother of Sgt. John James Cox was still alive, but he was well into his nineties. He died shortly afterwards, but before he died he expressed the wish that his ashes should be spread at the cemetery in Leeuwarden, so that in death he could be united with his brother. 

The rededication ceremony was held at the Noorderbegraafplaats cemetery in Leeuwarden on September 15th 2015. The ceremony was organised by the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre from Innsworth.

The following people and organisations were present:

Relatives of pilot officer Mervyn Sydney Lund
Relatives of sergeant Frank Gordon Walker
Relatives of sergeant John James Cox
Relatives of sergeant Roy Penry Williams
Lieutenant Commander Graham Rankin for the British embassy in The Hague
Warrant Officer Chris Naylor for the New Zealand embassy in The Hague
Councillor David White, mayor of Bridgend
The mayor of the municipality of Littenseradiel
The mayor of the municipality of Leeuwarden
Representatives of the airbase of Leeuwarden (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
Representatives of the Stichting Friesland 1940-1945 foundation
Representatives of the May 4th committee of the province of Friesland (May 4th is the day that the Netherlands remember the dead of World War II)
Representatives of the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation.

The following two TV clips were made at the rededication ceremony:

                                                                      

                                                                      

Burial details:

(Formerly on the Runnymede Memorial)

P/O. Mervyn Sydney Lund. Leeuwarden Northern General Cemetery, (Noorderbegraafplaats) Row 1. collective grave 1. Son of Gustaf Emanuel and Mary Ann Lund, of Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. Sadly, Lund’s brother, Clarence Patrick Lund, died just over a year later, on 29 July 1942, while flying with 7 Squadron on an operation to Hamburg. He was injured during the crash and died in hospital a few hours later. Stirling I W7533 MG-G - the six crew killed were buried at Sage War Cemetery. One crew member survived as a Prisoner of War.

Sgt. Arthur Edward Owen. Leeuwarden Northern General Cemetery, (Noorderbegraafplaats) Row 1. collective grave 1. Son of Albert Joseph and Nellie Owen, of Birmingham, England.

Sgt. John James Cox. Leeuwarden Northern General Cemetery, (Noorderbegraafplaats) Row 1. collective grave 1. Son of William James Cox and Olive Marion Cox, of Knowle, Bristol, England.

Sgt. Roy Penry Williams. Leeuwarden Northern General Cemetery, (Noorderbegraafplaats) Row 1. collective grave 1. Son of Robert Penry Williams, and of Keturah Williams, of Bridgend, Glamorgan, Wales.

Sgt. Alfred John Le Poidevin. Leeuwarden Northern General Cemetery, (Noorderbegraafplaats) Row 1. collective grave 1. Son of John Le Poidevin and Alice May Le Poidevin (née Baskett).

Sgt. Frank Gordon Walker. Leeuwarden Northern General Cemetery, (Noorderbegraafplaats) Row 1. collective grave 1. Son of Frank and Annie Walker, of Clifton Street Hornsea, Yorkshire, England.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following, Keith Townsend historian of Moseley Secondary/Grammar school memorial records, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses', Theo Boiten - 'German Nightfighter War Diaries', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diarie', the CWGC

                                          

KTY 19.09.2015 Video's added

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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Last Modified: 08 October 2015, 16:05