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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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420 Squadron Crest
30/01.05.1944 No 420 Squadron Halifax II LW476 PT-J Fl/Lt. Edward Northern DFC

Operation: Somain, France.

Date: 30/01st May 1944 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 420 (RCAF - Snowy Owl)

Type: Halifax II

Serial: LW476

Code: PT-J

Base: RAF Tholthorpe, North Yorkshire.

Location: English Channel, Nr. Somme Bay, France.

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Edward Northern DFC. J/14566 RCAF Age 26. Missing (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Lloyd Stuart Franklin R/156578 RCAF Age 26. Missing  (2)

Nav: F/O. Frederick William Morrison J/14802 RCAF Age 27. Killed 

Air/Bmr: P/O. Nick Venber J/85634 RCAF Age 24. Missing 

W/Op/AG: F/O. Alfred Henry Benbow Hall J/16011 RCAF Age 28. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. William Harold Young J/87328 RCAF Age 19. Missing 

Air/Gnr: P/O. Charles Henry Lines 175601 RAFVR Age 22. Missing 


Nine No.6 Group RCAF squadrons provided 114 Halifaxes which, together with a Pathfinder force consisting of 20 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitos, took off to bomb the rail yards at Somain, south-east of Lille. Inaccurate target marking by the Pathfinders and confusion over the commands from the Master Bomber resulted in a scattered attack with most bombs missing their target and falling in the surrounding countryside. 

Took off at 21:15 hrs from RAF Tholthorpe. The lone aircraft to be lost on the mission was the Snowy Owls Halifax LW476 flown by Fl/Lt. Edward Northern which crashed into the sea off of the French coast. This was to be Fl/Lt. Northern's last sortie to complete his tour and had just been awarded his DFC. (3)

For the family of Sgt. Franklin, from the small fishing village of Port Stanley on the north shore of Lake Erie, it was a double tragedy as their oldest son Harold had been lost on operations two years earlier. In memory of the brothers Franklin Lake was named after them. 28 year old Fl/Sgt. Harold Franklin R/68080 RCAF - missing whilst with 10 squadron flying on Halifax II W1044 ZA-D during an operation on the Tirpitz - 30/31st March 1942. Pilot, 26 year old F/O. Neil Ralph Blunden NZ/403419 RNZAF lost with all crew.

F/O. Alfred Hall had completed his second tour and volunteered to go on this mission to be with other members of his crew who had yet to complete their tour. F/O. Hall’s brother, 27 year old Clement William Hall R/74348 RCAF was killed two years earlier while on an operation over Essen. Flying with 12 OTU Wellington III BJ730 piloted by P/O. Francis J. Adams, killed with all 4 crew.

(3) DFC. Citation reads:

"Fl/Lt. Edward Northern - No.420 Squadron (deceased) - Award effective 30th April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 21st December 1945 and AFRO 155/45 dated 15th February 1946. Born 1917 in Sheffield, England; home in Toronto. Trained at No. 5 I.T.S., No. 22 E.F.T.S. and No. 5 S.F.T.S.  Commissioned September 1942. 

This officer has completed as pilot and deputy flight commander many successful operations against the enemy in the course of which he has invariably displayed high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty."

Burial Details:

Fl/Lt. Edward Northern. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 244. Son of John William and Theresa Northern, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Lloyd Stuart Franklin. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 255. Son of Stuart Foster Franklin and Jennie Leella Franklin, of Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada.

F/O. Frederick William Morrison. Cayeux-sur-Mer Communal Cemetery, Plot 2 Row A Grave 1. Son of Alexander and Maria Morrison, of Delia, Alberta, Canada.

P/O. Nick Venber. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 253. Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. No further details - can you assist?

F/O. Alfred Henry Benbow Hall St. Valery-sur-Somme Communal Cemetery, Grave 895A. Son of Clement Alfred and Effie Dean Hall, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, husband of Chrissie Hall, of Ottawa, Canada.

P/O. William Harold Young. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 253. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. No further details - can you assist?

P/O Charles Henry Lines. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 211. Son of Richard and Florence Amelia Lines, of Derby, England.

(1) Northern Lake in the Yukon is named after Fl/Lt. Northern.

(2) Franklin Lake in northern Ontario is named after Sgt. Franklin.

Researched by Colin Bamford for Aircrew Remembered - dedicated to the relatives of the crew.

Acknowledgements: With thanks to Ian Raven, Executive Director of The Elgin Military Museum, St. Thomas, Ontario for his assistance in the preparation of this article.

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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