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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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107 Squadron Crest
03/04.09.1939 No. 107 Squadron Blenheim IV N6188 P/O. William J. Murphy

Operation: Wilhelmshaven Germany

Date: 03/04th September 1939 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 107 Squadron

Type: Blenheim Mk. IV

Serial: N6188

Code: OM-?

Base: RAF Wattisham, Suffolk, England

Location: Wilhelmshaven harbour

Pilot: P/O. William Joseph Murphy 39748 RAF Age 23. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Leslie Robert Ward 564477 RAF Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: A/C 2. Edward Pateman 548974 RAF Age 19. Killed “(1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

The outbreak of war and the first of many casualties suffered by Bomber Command!

Taking off from RAF Wattisham at 16:00 hrs to attack shipping in the harbour at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. 5 Blenheims failed to find the targets, the remaining 10 attacked at low level on the battleship Admiral Scheer and on the cruiser Emden.

They were met with very heavy anti-aircraft fire from the ships. Some 4 aircraft from 107 Squadron were lost, the others:

Blenheim IV N6184 Flown by 26 year old, Fl/Lt. William Frank Barton 34213 RAF from Ferring, Sussex, England. Killed with the other two crew members.
Blenheim IV N6189 Flown by 21 year old, F/O. Herbert Brian Lightoller 37884 RAFVR from Twickenham, Middlesex, England. Killed with the other two crew members.
Blenheim IV N6240 Flown by Sgt. Albert Stanley Prince 580195 580195 RAF from Canada. Killed, the remaining two crew taken PoW.

The Admiral Scheer was hit by at least 4 bombs - but they failed to explode, the Emden was damaged suffering some casualties when one Blenheim crashed on to it after it is thought, to have also been hit by flak.

(1) AC. Pateman had been ‘borrowed’ from 110 Squadron as 107 were awaiting further postings in of qualified W/Op/Air/Gnr’s. This position, during this period of the war, had been made up from ground tradesman who volunteered for extra flying duties. Later, as the war moved on, all aircrew generally received the minimum rank of Sergeant.

The pilot, during this period, was always the captain of the aircraft - irrespective of other ranks held within a crew. (Later within Polish Squadron’s it was generally the Navigator who held the position of Captain - again irrespective of rank held) Observers acted as the navigator and also had the position as bomb aimer.

Burial details:

P/O. William Joseph Murphy. Sage War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 4.C.1. Son of William Joseph and Katherine C. Murphy, of Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, Irish Republic.

Sgt. Leslie Robert Ward. Hamburg Cemetery, Germany. Grave Special Memorial. 6A.E.10. Buried at the time on Heligoland Island, but whose grave is now lost.

A/C 2. Edward Pateman. Sage War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 4.E.2. Son of Albert Arthur and Mary Pateman.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - August 2016. Grave photos courtesy Dawn Tree, remainder Michel Beckers collection. Newspaper courtesy British Newspaper archives.

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', 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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