04.07.1941 No. 107 Squadron Blenheim IV V6020 OM-W W/Cdr. Lawrence V.E. Petley
Date: 04th July 1941 (Friday)
Unit: No. 107 Squadron
Type: Blenheim IV
Base: RAF Great Massingham, Norfolk
Location: Target area, Bremen.
Pilot: W/Cdr. Lawrence Victor Elliott Petley 37418 RAF Age 26. Killed
Obs: Fl/Lt. Raymond Arthur Bailey DFC. 44598 RAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Wilfred Marshall Harris 551662 RAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 05:10 hrs on a daylight operation to Bremen together with 11 other Blenheims. The daylight raid has been described as determined low level raid without the benefit of cloud cover.
4 aircraft failed to return, 2 from 105 squadron - The other Blenheim lost from the squadron this day, V6193 OM-W - Flown by Fl/Lt. F. Wilburn 41639 RAF taken PoW (Number 716) and imprisoned at Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria. The remaining crew were killed. Observer 20 year old Sgt. David Arthur Dupree 959420 RAFVR of Hornchurch, Essex, England, W/Op/AirGnr. Sgt. Allan Ernest Routley 943478 RAFVR, W/O. Samuel Joseph Magee 370460 RAF - the station armament Officer, who flew with the crew for experience.
Understood that Blenheim V6020 was hit by the intense flak and crashed in the target area.
For his outstanding leadership on this operation 26 year old, W/Cdr. Hughie Idwal Edwards DFC received the VC:-
The King has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery:
London Gazette - 22nd July 1941 - Acting W/Cdr. Hughie Idwal Edwards, DFC 39005 RAF.
"W/Cdr. Edwards, although handicapped by a physical disability (1) resulting from a flying accident, has repeatedly displayed gallantry of the highest order in pressing home bombing attacks from very low heights against strongly defended objectives.
On 4th July, 1941, he led an important attack on the Port of Bremen, one of the most heavily defended towns in Germany. This attack had to be made in daylight and there were no clouds to afford concealment. During the approach to the German coast several enemy ships were sighted and Wing Commander Edwards knew that his aircraft would be reported and that the defences would be in a state of readiness. Undaunted by this misfortune he brought his formation 50 miles overland to the target, flying at a height of little more than 50 feet, passing under high-tension cables, carrying away telegraph wires and finally passing through a formidable balloon barrage. On reaching Bremen he was met with a hail of fire, all his aircraft being hit and four of them being destroyed. Nevertheless he made a most successful attack, and then with the greatest skill and coolness withdrew the surviving aircraft without further loss."
"Throughout the execution of this operation which he had planned personally with full knowledge of the risks entailed, Wing Commander Edwards displayed the highest possible standard of gallantry and determination."
(1) In August 1938, Edwards was piloting a Blenheim near the Scottish border when he flew into a storm at 2,300 metres. When the ailerons froze, the aircraft was forced down to 1,600 metres and Edwards ordered the navigator and rear gunner to bale out of the aircraft. Down to 230 metres, he made an effort to jump clear, but his parachute became entangled with the bomber's radio mast pylon. In the ensuing crash, he sustained head injuries and a badly broken leg, which was only saved after extensive surgery, which left that leg shorter than the other. After the accident, he was declared unfit for flying duties until April 1940, when he was posted to No. 139 Squadron for active service due to the outbreak of war. He was promoted to flight lieutenant on 21 May 1940. He was injured again after a forced landing in Blenheim IV T1796 whilst with 13 Operational Training Unit on the 25th September 1940.
W/Cdr. Lawrence Victor Elliott Petley. Becklingen War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 26.E.6-8. Thought to be from Edmonton, London, England. No further details - are you able to assist?
Fl/Sgt. Wilfred Marshall Harris. Becklingen War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 26.E.6-8. Son of John Marshall Harris and Lucy Harris, of Kew, Surrey, England.
Fl/Lt. Raymond Arthur Bailey DFC. Becklingen War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 26.E.6-8. Son of Herbert Johnson Bailey and Florence Jane Bailey, of Belstead, Suffolk, England.
Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Michel Beckers - March 2016 and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources indicated below but also to Steve Turner for Blenheim photo, J.M. Branded for grave photographs others from the collection of Michel Beckers.