29/30.06.1941 No 7 Squadron Stirling I N6001 MG-? Sqn/Ldr. William Terrance Chambers Seale
Date: 29/30 June 1941 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 7 Squadron - Motto: "Per diem per noctem" ("By day and by night")
Badge: On a hurt (a roundel azure) seven mullets (stars) of six points forming a representation of the constellation Ursa Major. The constellation Ursa Major has formed part of a device used by the squadron since 1926. The introduction of stars in the form of a constellation in which seven of these appear is appropriate to the squadron bearing this number.
Type: Short Stirling I
Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire
Location: Stemmermühlen bei Beverstedt, near Bremmerhaven, Germany
Pilot: Sqn/Ldr. William Terrance Chambers Seale 37694 RAF - Killed (1)
2nd Pilot: Sgt. Richard Lyndon Barrett Aus/407071 RAAF Age 23 - Killed (2)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Maurice George Brown 567245 RAF Age 22 - Killed (3)
Obs: F/Sgt. Bernard William Grocock 581015 RAF Age 22 - Killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roland Ernest Walls 551317 RAF Age 21 - Killed (5)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Laurence Whittle 628887 RAF Age 21 - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harold Thorpe Archer 747939 RAFVR - Killed (7)
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REASON FOR LOSS:
28 aircraft comprising 13 Stirlings, 7 Wellingtons 6 Manchesters and 2 Halifaxes were despatched to bomb Hamburg. 4 Stirlings and 2 Wellingtons failed to return.
Reports from Hamburg were that much damage had been inflicted killing 8 people and injuring 115. 465 persons were reported to have been 'bombed out' whilst a store containing 650 tons of rice and 200 tons of animal feed was destroyed by fire possible started as a result of a crashing bomber.
A Stirling Mark I, N3641 MG-D of No. 7 Squadron running up its engines at RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire. 7 squadron was the first unit to be equipped with the type, which it received in August 1940. (Courtesy IWM)
Stirling N6001 took off at 22:57 hours on the evening of Sunday 29 June 1941. At 02:10 hours the aircraft crashed at Stemmermühlen bei Beverstedt (25 miles north of Bremen) in the fields of farmer Herr Heinrich Rosebrock who also witnessed the crash. According to the witness, the aircraft was flying very low, apparently hedge hopping to avoid flak and the engines appeared to be running perfectly. The aircraft then sank, hit the ground and exploded violently.
Scale: 1" = 10 miles
The following information is taken from the Missing Research and Enquiry Unit report and subsequent related correspondence.
The first official on the scene was German policeman Kunow, Meister der Gendarmerie at Basdahl. He reported that five bodies were found but they were so badly shattered that though there may have been more than five in the aircraft: they estimated this number as comprising the crew and divided the remains as best as possible into five.
The remains were despatched to the Navy Hospital at Wesermünde. The policeman, Kunow, collected what he termed 'secret documents' and Log books from the crash site and handed them over to the airfield commander at Wesermünde. The RAF investigator had been unable to trace the airfield commander or the supposed documents. The cemetery keeper at Wesermunde and the keeper of the Navel Burial Records however informed the investigator that they had gathered from the documents that there were six in the crew.
The only body identified at the time of the crash was that of H.T. Archer and he was buried separately from the others at Geestemünde Cemetery, Wesermünde.
Exhumation of the bodies from Stirling N6001 was carried out on 3 September 1946 and after further examination of the remains those of Sqn/Ldr. Seale were identified. Unfortunately, whilst being transported in the same lorry to the Becklingen War Cemetery at Soltau the five unidentified crew members of N6001 became mixed up with those of four other unidentified bodies recovered from Wellington T2806. This aircraft had crashed on a moor, east of Desdesdorf* on 29 June 1941 with none of the six man crew being identifiable. Subsequently, all the remains of the 11 unidentifiable crew members had to be buried in the same communal grave.
* This was the village of Dedesdorf, now part of Loxstedt about 10 miles south of Bremerhaven.
There was some confusion as to whether a member of the crew of Wellington T2806 had in fact been identified but it was ultimately determined that none of that crew were able to be identified and they are buried with remains of the five members of the crew of Stirling N6001 who were unidentifiable in one collective grave.
Courtesy National Archives of Australia
(Above) The communal grave of the eleven crew members at Becklingen War Cemetery. Taken in 1951 the photograph show the temporary grave marker for the five men from N6001. Although the marker gives the impression that it had been possible to separate the remains of the two crews this was not the case; two markers having been placed merely to distinguish between the two crews buried there.
It was later determined that Stirling N6001 had in fact been shot down by night fighter pilot Oberleutnant (later Oberst) Helmut Lent and his gunner Uffz. Walter Kubisch. of 6./NG1. Helmut Lent timed the attack at 01:40 (see biography No. 8 below).
No. 7 squadron lost another aircraft that night. Stirling N3664 MG-Z piloted by 26 year old Flying Officer Valentine Ronald Hartwright D.F.M. was also shot down by Oberleutnent Lent and crashed at Zeven near Bremen. All seven crew members were killed.
Stirlings N3664 and N6001 were victories numbers 11 and 12 respectively of a career total of 110 scored by the German night fighter ace.
Left: Oberst. Helmut Lent pictured in 1943
(1) Sqn/Ldr. William Terrance Chambers Seale was granted a short service commission as an Acting Pilot Officer in the RAF with effect from and seniority of 23 March 1936 (Flight Global 16 April 1936) and posted to No.38 (B) Squadron at RAF Mildenhall with effect from 11 October 1936 (Flight Global 5 November 1936). He was promoted to Flying Officer with effect from 27 October 1938 as announced in the London Gazette of 1 November 1938 and to Flight Lieutenant with effect from 3 September 1940 as announced in the London Gazette of 5 November 1940. In the London Gazette of 1 January 1941 it was announced that Acting Flight Lieutenant W.T.C. Seale whilst serving with 15 OTU had been Mentioned in Dispatches. He was posted to No. 7 Squadron on 30 March 1941.
A pupil of Portadown College Squadron Leader W. Terry Seale was a member of the 1st XV 1934/35 whilst his brother Theophilus John (a Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Fusiliers KIA 1 June 1944) was captain of the 1st XV in 1937/38. In the college three house system, Seale House is named after the two brothers.
They are both commemorated on the Portadown War Memorial and St. Mark's Church War Memorial, Portadown, County Armagh.
(2) Sgt. Richard Lyndon Barrett was born at 138 Fisher Street, Malvern, Adelaide, South Australia on 7 October 1917 the son of Darrell Pearson Barrett and Alice Maud Barrett. He worked as a Bank Clerk prior to enlisting in the RAAF at Adelaide. His father was recorded as his next of kin of Liberal Club Building, North Terrace, Adelaide, Australia.
(3) Sgt. Maurice George Brown was born in 1918 at Ripon, North Riding of Yorkshire the son of Robert George Brown and Jeannie S. Brown nee Hubbert.
(4) F/Sgt. Bernard William Grocock was born in 1918 at Basford Nottinghamshire the son of William Henry Grocock (a Poultry Farmer) and Ursula Grocock nee Holmes: husband of Barbara Helen Grocock nee Reader of Bushey, Hertfordshire. Entered Nottingham High School age 11 in 1930 and left in 1935. He is commemorated on Nottingham High School War Memorial. (Details courtesy of Nottingham High School Archives).
(5) Sgt. Roland Ernest Walls was probably born at Hull in 1920 the son of Albert Ernest Walls and Elsie Ellen Walls nee Kelf.
(6) Sgt. Laurence Whittle was born on 17 October 1919 at Craghead, County Durham the son of John Whittle and Florence Edith Whittle nee Plummer. He had one sibling: Irene Whittle born 18 September 1923.
John Whittle was a Coal Mine Overman (Underground Official) and during the second world war served as a Special Constable. The family lived at Shaftoe Terrace and later at 1 Railway Street, Craghead
Laurence attended the nearby Alderman Wood Grammar School at Tanfield County Durham where he met May Colledge who he would later marry.
Shortly after his 18th birthday he enlisted in the Royal Air Force and was posted to No. 2 School of Recruits at RAF Cardington, Bedfordshire where he became a member of 94 Sqd. In 1939 after completing his training at Cardington he was posted to RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire where he completed his training as a wireless operator.
The exact date of his posting to 9 Squadron at RAF Honington in Suffolk is not known but is thought to have been in January/February 1940. The first mention of Laurence in the Operations Record Book (ORB) of 9 Squadron is on 24 February 1940 when he was a member of the crew of F/O. Turner (probably F/O. R.W. Turner) flying Wellington N2942 on a Special Sweep. Henceforth he is recorded as flying operations with the same crew on a regular basis until 31 May when individual names of crew members cease to be mentioned in the Squadron ORB. The date of his posting to No. 7 Squadron is not known but it is believed to have been shortly after his marriage to childhood sweetheart May Colledge in April 1941. (Details provided by Ethan Siou)
(7) Sgt. Harold Thorpe Archer joined the RAFVR in May 1939 as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner under training. He was called up on 1 September 1939. After completing his training he joined 23 Squadron at RAF Ford in Sussex on 1 October 1940.
He is commemorated on the Battle of Britain Monument in London.
(8) Oberst Helmut Johannes Siegfried Lent was born 13 June 1918 at Pyrehne near Landsberg, Brandenburg, Germany the son of a Lutheran minister. He came from a devoutly religious family and against his father's wishes he joined the Luftwaffe in 1936. During his career he shot down a total of 110 aircraft, 102 of them at night. He was the first night fighter pilot to claim 100 night victories which earned him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 31 July 1944. On 5 October 1944, he flew a Junkers Ju 88 on a routine transit flight from Stade to Nordborchen, 5km south of Paderborn. On approaching Paderborn Airfield his aircraft suffered engine failure and collided with power lines. All four members of the crew were mortally injured. Three of the crew died shortly after the crash and Helmut Lent succumbed to his injuries two days later on 7 October 1944.
(1) Sqn/Ldr. William Terrance Chambers Seale - Buried Becklingen War Cemetery - Grave No. XII.D.1
(2) Sgt. Richard Lyndon Barrett - Buried Becklingen War Cemetery - Coll. Grave No. XII.D.5-11
Of Darrell and Maud
Of Adelaide S.A.
In God's care
(3) Sgt. Maurice George Brown - Buried Becklingen War Cemetery - Coll. Grave No. XII.D.5-11
(4) F/Sgt. Bernard William Grocock - Buried Becklingen War Cemetery - Coll. Grave No. XII.D.5-11
Son and brother
Macte nova virtute (Go forth with new strength)
Sic itur ad astra (Thus you shall go to the stars)
(5) Sgt. Roland Ernest Walls - Buried Becklingen War Cemetery- Coll. Grave No. XII.D.5-11
(6) Sgt. Laurence Whittle - Buried Becklingen War Cemetery - Coll. Grave No. XII.D.5-11
"In heavenly love abiding"
He died that we might live
(7) Sgt. Harold Thorpe Archer - Buried Becklingen War Cemetery - Coll. Grave No. XII.D.5-11
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Nottingham High School and all relatives and friends of the members of this crew - January 2016