27/28.08.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II JD406 EY-P F/O. Richard H. Orr
Date: 27/28th August 1943 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Location: Osches, Souilly, France
Pilot: F/O. Richard Herbert Orr J/20704 RCAF Age 27. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Enoch Jones Williams 1130519 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: F/O. William Victor Gregson 131902 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Percival Jack Wenmoth 997249 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Irvine Illingworth 1079192 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. W.A. Dunleavy R/125230 RCAF PoW No: 53144 Camp: 9C - Bad Sulza
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hector McNeill Gill 613186 RAF Age 24. Killed
A memorial is in the process of planning for this loss in the Osches area by Celestin Jaunel who's father lived near the crash site and witnessed some of the events. They are keen to make contact with relatives of the crew.
Update: January 2017 - The nephew of the former navigator of this crew would very much appreciate further information and of course perhaps a photo of Sgt. Andrew John Kerr Steven 979723 RAFVR. He baled out of this aircraft thinking that they were hit, a few days previously (23/24th August) on an operation to Berlin. Sadly he was lost but the remainder of crew returned to base.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 20:54 hrs from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire - 674 aircraft – 349 Lancasters, 221 Halifaxes and 104 Stirlings. 11 of each type were lost on the raid : 4.9% of the force. The marking of this raid was based mainly on H2S.
47 of the Pathfinders H2S aircraft were ordered to check their equipment by dropping a 1000 lb bomb on Heilbronn while flying to Nuremburg. 28 Pathfinder aircraft were able to carry out this order. Heilbronn reports that several bombs did drop in the north of the town soon after midnight. The local officials assumed that the bombs were aimed at the industrial zone, several bombs did fall around the factory area and other bombs fell further away. No industrial buildings were hit, one house was destroyed but there were no casualties.
Air Bomber for Halifax JD406, Sgt. Percival Jack Wenmoth (courtesy Jean Ragheb - see credits)
Photo courtesy Sherif Lotfy
58 course of the 19 OTU with PJ Wenmoth showing in last row, 4th from right Courtesy Sherif Lotfy
Nuremburg was found to be free from cloud but it was very dark. The initial Pathfinder markers were accurate but a creepback quickly developed which could not be stopped because so many Pathfinder aircraft had difficulties with their H2S sets.
Right: Wireless Operator Sgt. Irvine Illingworth (see credits)
The Master Bomber (whose name is not recorded) could do little to persuade the Main Force to move their bombing forward, only a quarter of the crews could hear his broadcasts. Bomber Command estimated that most of the bombing fell in open country SSW of the city but the local reports say that bombs were scattered across the SE and eastern suburbs.
The only location mentioned by name is the Zoo, which was hit by several bombs. 65 people were killed.
The crew, with Sgt. Percival Jack Wenmoth fourth from left (courtesy Jean Ragheb) - see original image below.One of two aircraft from 78 Squadron lost on this operation, the other:
Halifax II JD414 EY-M, flown by 27 year old P/O. Samuel Norris 149219 RAFVR was killed with 6 other crew. The Wireless operator taken PoW. The crew killed rest also in Durnbach War Cemetery. To read the story of this loss click here
Halifax JD406 was intercepted and shot down by the Luftwaffe ace Offw. Reinhard Kollack, his 29th abschusse of the war. Flying with 8./NJG4 he brought the aircraft down at 01.42 hrs (mistakingly claiming it as a Lancaster at the time)
(1) Offw. Reinhard Kollack, pictured left, survived the war with a total of 49 kills.
After the war Reinhard found it difficult to adjust to civilian life before he rejoined the newly founded Bundeswehr in 1956. He later joined the Bundeswehr in 1956 and retired in 1967 as a Hauptfeldwebel. On 6 February 1980 he died at the age of 65.
PoW Camp - Bad Sulza. (courtesy Heinz Renkel)
F/O. Richard Herbert Orr. (left, below, courtesy Sherif Lotfy)Souilly Churchyard. Grave 3. Son of Arthur Joseph and Bertha Jane Orr, of Underwood, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Enoch Jones Williams. Souilly Churchyard. Grave 6. Son of Thomas and Rebecca Williams, of Blaenrhondda, Glamorgan, Wales.
F/O. William Victor Gregson. Souilly Churchyard. Grave 5. Son of William and Dorothy Gregson, husband of Sally Gregson, of Liverpool, England.
Sgt. Percival Jack Wenmoth. Souilly Churchyard. Grave 2. Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Wenmoth, of Whalley Range, Manchester, England. Grave marker shown right (courtesy Jean Ragheb)
Sgt. Irvine Illingworth. Souilly Churchyard. Grave 1. Aunt; Mrs. A.E. Tylor of 82 Towneley Street, Burnley, Lancashire, England. Worked at Gregory’s Engineering prior to enlisting and studied at Heasandford School.
Sgt. Hector McNeill Gill. Souilly Churchyard. Grave 4. Son of John McNeill Gill and Catherine McNeill Gill, of Campbelltown, Argyllshire, Scotland. Husband of Verbena Ruth Gill.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jean Ragheb, niece of Sgt. Wenmoth, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', 'Bomber Command Database'
, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', 'Paradie Canadian Archive'
, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'
. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. Burnley and District
in World War 2.
Left: Photo of crew as received, prior to work by our photo reconstruction specialist.