14/15.07.1941 9 Squadron Wellington Ic T2619 WS:T Sgt. Jack C. Saich DFM
Date: 14/15th July 1941 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 9 Squadron
Base: RAF Honington, Suffolk, England.
Location: High Barn Farm, Somerton, Nr Caister, Norfolk.
Pilot: Sgt. Jack Cyril Saich DFM. 1253402 RAFVR Age 20. Survived (1)
Pilot 2: Sgt. ‘Bob’ Robert Douglas Telling 916899 RAFVR Age ? Wounded. Survived (2)
Obs: Sgt. Smitten DFM. RCAF Age ? Survived.
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Trott 1062958 RAFVR Age 20. Survived (3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hooper RCAF Age ? Survived (note)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. English RCAF Age ? Wounded. Survived
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 23.30 hrs from RAF Honington loaded with 7 x 500 lb GP bombs to attack the shipyards and the goods station at Bremen.
9 Squadron Wellingtons in formation (courtesy IWM)
They commenced their bombing run, coming out of the clouds, zoo, after dropping the first bomb at 01.40 hrs they were caught and held by the powerful searchlights - anti aircraft shells burst just behind them and then another inside the fuselage wounding Sgt. English in the shoulder and hand. This also cut the hydraulic controls to his rear turret.
The fabric of the fuselage caught fire. Sgt Saich took evasive action and Sgt Smitten went to assist the rear gunner, spraying the area with fire extinguishers. He managed to release Sgt. English who entered the aircraft. The aircraft was hit again, the port wing caught fire. The pilot switched off the fuel supply to the port engine and the fire stopped. He managed to restart the engine - the bomb doors however would not close due to the damage. The situation seemed to be hopeless as they turned to go home.
Above - area of loss - see below for detailed map.
At 05:35 hrs they managed to cross the Norfolk coast - fuel had registered zero for the last two hours. The pilot noticed a Barley field and decided to try a forced landing. He managed it, the aircraft broke in two as it came to rest - no serious injuries to the crew, Sgt. English though was taken to the local hospital for further treatment. All crews survived, to be back on operations in less than two weeks.
For their actions Sgt’s Saich and Smitten were awarded the DFM - citation reads:
‘Sergeants Saich and Smitten were captain and navigator of an aircraft engaged in an attack on a target at Bremen one night in July. When over Bremen the aircraft was caught and held by a large concentration of searchlights and immediately subjected to most intense and accurate fire from the ground defences. One shell burst wounded the rear gunner and cut the hydraulic controls of the turret, and a second set fire to the fabric of the fuselage. In a few seconds the fire spread backwards to the tail fin. Sergeant Smitten endeavoured to reach the rear gunner but being driven back by the fire he attacked it with an extinguisher and successfully subdued it. He then succeeded, with difficulty, in releasing the injured rear gunner who was trapped in his damaged turret. During this time another shell splinter ignited the forced landing flares in the port mainplane but these burnt through and fell away from the aircraft. Despite all these hazards, Sergeant Saich successfully extricated his aircraft from this area and set course for home. In spite of the damage sustained he succeeded, with the skilful navigation of Sergeant Smitten, in reaching the shores of this country where he made a forced landing without further injury to the crew. Both airmen displayed great courage, coolness and determination’.
(1) Sgt. Jack Cyril Saich was killed during an operation to Berlin later the same year. Flying a Wellington IC Z8845 with 9 Squadron when they were shot down by Luftwaffe ace Oblt. Helmut Lent (4) of 4./NJG1 near Terwispel, Netherlands at 04.59 hrs. (The second abshüsse for Lent on this night)
(2) Sgt. ‘Bob’ Robert Douglas Telling was killed the following year on 19th January 1942, piloting Wellington III X3370 WS-D with 9 Squadron. On a training flight when the starboard wing suffered a structural failure whilst flying at 250 ft. The aircraft crashed and caught fire at Holly Farm near Thetford, Norfolk. Despite valiant efforts from civilians on the ground who tried to free the trapped crew, all 7 lost their lives.
(3) Sgt. Eric Trott - also killed on the same aircraft as Sgt. Jack Saich.
(4) Oberst (Posth) Helmut Lent went on to claim 102 night fighter kills and a further 8 kills before on the 7th October 1944 he died after suffering injuries sustained during a crash landing on the 5th October 1944 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. 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: Possibly Sgt F. Hooper, who survived with all his crew after a forced landing during a transit flight to relocate to a base in Russia. Along with 3 other Lancasters from 9 Squadron.
None - all survived this operation. Some of the crew were lost on a later date - details:
Sgt. Jack Cyril Saich. Opsterland General Cemetery, Netherlands. Row A. Coll. Grave 3-6. Son of Francis George and Elizabeth E. Saich, of Great Easton, Essex, England. Born in Great Easton, Sussex, England.
Sgt. ‘Bob’ Robert Douglas Telling. Honington (All Saints) Churchyard, Suffolk. Row D. Grave 7. Further Information: Son of Major Walter Brougham Telling. MC. (died 27th April 1921) and Dorothy Eugene (née Cocks). Robert obtained his education as a pupil in Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham, West Sussex, from 1928 to 1935 - the widowed Mrs D.E. Telling came to live at 91 West Hill Avenue, Epsom, by 1939.
Left: Grave of Sgt. Telling at Honington Churchyard (full resolution available on request - visited by Aircrew Remembered in 2014)
Sgt. Eric Trott. Opsterland General Cemetery, Netherlands. Row A. Grave 2. Son of Bernard and Maud Trott, of Sheffield, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Cathy Mijatovic - Norfolk historian who wanted to find out more on this loss, thanks also to Brian Bouchard of the 'Epsom and Ewell Explorer website' for additional information on Sgt. 'Bob' Telling. Correction to aircraft serial number by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2020).