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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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78 Squadron Crest
29/30.07.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II JD252 EY-W Sgt. Peter F. Snape

Operation: Hamburg, Germany.

Date: 29/30th July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 78 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JD252

Code: EY-W

Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire

Location: North Sea

Pilot: Sgt. Peter Francis Snape 1434323 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Leonard James Dugard 920070 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: F/O. Kenneth Wilson 131566 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Charles Eric Burras 135685 RAFVR Age 20. Killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Muir Gibb 111494 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward George Nickels 1811748 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Cecil Raymond Langley 1603246 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 22.30 hrs from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire to bomb the port and city of Hamburg joining 776 other aircraft on the third raid on this target within the last five days. 340 Lancasters, 244 Halifaxes, 119 Stirlings, 70 Wellingtons and 4 Mosquitoes made up the force.

     

Above left:  Sgt. Peter Francis Snape, Right:  F/O. Kenneth Wilson

The idea was that the target be approached from the north to concentrate on the northern area of Hamburg which had not been bombed on previous occasions. The pathfinders dropped their markers too far east of the city. 707 aircraft got through to the target, dropping a total of 2,318 tons of bombs on residential areas - no figures are available as to the casualties on the ground for this raid although it is known that over 40,000 were killed during that week and over 16,000 residential buildings were destroyed. 

The worst incident was when bombs hit a large department store in Wandsbek - the building collapsed and blocked exits from a shelter that was in the basement - 370 people died from poisoning by the fumes from a coke store nearby. An amazing 1,200,000 people fled the city after these raids.

The allies lost 31 aircraft on this operation with 176 aircrew losing their lives and a further 17 being made pow. Most of the aircraft were shot down by the Luftwaffe night fighters, although 14 were shot down by searchlight assisted flak over the target area.

No details or claims have been made for this loss. Another 78 Squadron was also lost on this operation:

Halifax II JB798 EY-P Flown by Fl/Sgt. Peter A. Fraser RAAF who along with his 6 other crew members were all killed and buried in Hamburg.

(1) Some publications have the Bomb Aimer listed incorrectly as F/O. C.E. Burns.

     

Burial details:

All but one of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Sgt. George Gibb's body was picked up by an air sea rescue launch and after identification was buried in Driffield Cemetery on Wednesday 4th August 1943.

Sgt. Peter Francis Snape. Panel 165. Son of Frank and Harriett Evelyn Snape, of Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Sgt. Leonard James Dugard. Panel 148. From Brighton, Sussex, N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

F/O. Kenneth Wilson. Panel 130. Son of Zachariah Wilson, and of Winifred Wilson, of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England.

F/O. Charles Eric Burras. Panel 123. Son of Charles and Elizabeth Ann Burras, of Liverpool, England.

Sgt. George Muir Gibb. Driffield Cemetery. Grave 6227. Son of John Purvis Gibb and Margaret Muir Gibb, of Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.

Sgt. Edward George Nickels. Panel 160. Son of George Edward and Florence Caroline Nickels, of Wood Green, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Cecil Raymond Langley. Panel 156. Son of Mrs F. Langley from Hays End, Middlesex, England.

Page of Remembrance created for John Wilson (ex RAF) Brother of  F/O. Kenneth Wilson and dedicated to the crew of Halifax JD252. With thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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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