22/23.04.1944 No, 76 Squadron Halifax III MZ578 MP-I Sq/Ldr. Stanley A. Somerscales DFC
Date: 22/23rd April 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 76 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire
Location: Gulpen, East of Maastricht, Netherlands
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Stanley Alan Somerscales DFC. 136222 RAFVR Age 26. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: F/O. Sid W. Stephen RAFVR PoW. No further details. (1)
Nav: F/O. Jim Lewis RAFVR Evaded capture (1)
Air/Bmr: F/O. S. Tom Wingham RAFVR Evaded capture (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Jack H. Reavill DFM. RAFVR Injured - repatriated on the Arundel Castle 06-02-1945 (1)
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Harry R. Poole 1576815 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. F. John Rowe RAFVR PoW. No further details.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22.36 hrs from RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor to join 595 aircraft to bomb Dusseldorf. 2,150 tons of bombs were dropped causing widespread destruction with over 1000 people on the ground killed and 56 very large industrial premises and over 2,000 homes destroyed.
Nearly 600 heavy bombers went to Dusseldorf on the 22nd and crews returned to speak of extremely heavy night fighter activity. Sq/Ldr. Somerscales recently arrived to take charge of B Flight, was shot down by a night fighter as he approached the Ruhr from the direction of Holland. Burning furiously, his bomber crashed at Gulpen, just a few Kilometres east of Maastricht.
The German night fighters had a huge impact on the total allied loss of 29 aircraft.
L - R: Top: Sq/Ldr Somerscales D.F.C., F/O. Stephen, F/O. Jim Lewis, Bottom: F/O. Wingham, F/O. Reavill D.F.M., Fl/Sgt. F. John Rowe.
Stanley’s crew at the end of their 10 Squadron tour, January 1943. Rear L-R, Bob Swoffer, Jim Lewis, Jock Hounam, Stanley Somerscales, Bill Bramwell, Jack Reavill and Sid Stephen. The Aircraft is Halifax B11 No W7675 Squadron no ZA-E in which they flew the majority of their missions. (courtesy IWM via John Horton)
Stanley’s crew boarding Halifax ZA-E for Turin 9th December 1942. Jock Hounam received a DFM for his photography of targets. (courtesy Jock Hounam via John Horton)
One of a series of photos on a mission to bomb the Fiat works Turin 9 December 1942. The lower figure is F/O. Jim Lewis, navigator handing a note to Stanley - his pilot. The partial figure in the foreground is F/O. Sid Stephen (FL/Eng) (courtesy IWM via John Horton)
Amazing photo showing Jim Lewis from row, 2nd left during his time with the resistance in Liege. (from the personal collection of David Mole)P/O. Stanley Alan Somerscales DFC Citation L/G 20th April 1943:
"It is characteristic of this officer's flying ability that he never flew on an operational sortie in the role of second pilot. On his first sortie the main hydraulic pipe-line burst shortly after taking off and one engine failed, but Pilot Officer Somerscales continued on his mission and bombed the target, returning with the bombs doors open. Returning from Bremen on another occasion this officer's aircraft was attacked for 15 minutes by six enemy fighters, and although the bomber was hit, he succeeded in flying it back to base. Later, in September 1942, his aircraft was hit and badly damaged by shells. At the same time a Messerschmitt 110 attacked from astern and inflicted further damage before being shot down into the sea after an encounter lasting ten minutes. Pilot Officer Somerscales is a courageous and skilful captain of aircraft."
Left: Offw. Rudolf Frank (archives)
The Luftwaffe night fighter ace claiming MZ578 (44 kills at this stage) by Offw. Rudolf Frank of 3.NJG3 at 02.11 hrs after a combat at 6.000 Mts. Offw. Frank was killed shortly after on 26/27th April 1944 in a crash at Heeze near Eindhoven after being hit by debris from 12 quadron Lancaster III ND873 PH-H flown by P/O. George Edwin Nicholls 172475 RAFVR from Heamor, Cornwall together with the crew of 7.
(1) All former 10 squadron aircrew who completed their first tour of operations together. F/O. Tom Wingham served his first tour with 102 Squadron, Fl/Sgt John Rowe served his first tour with 76 Squadron and Fl/Sgt. Harry Poole with Lancaster's.
Memorial to the crew lost of MZ578
Above: Graves of P/O. Somerscales and Fl/Sgt. Poole at Maastricht General Cemetery
Sq/Ldr. Stanley Alan Somerscales D.F.C. Maastricht General Cemetery Row 2. Grave 114. Son of John and C. E. Somerscales, of Keelby, Lincolnshire, England. Also commemorated on the Keelby Village War Memorial.
Fl/Sgt. Harry R. Poole. Maastricht General Cemetery Row 2. Grave 115. Son of Thomas Henry and Elsie Poole, of Stirchley, Birmingham, England.
Left: Halifax Down - Tom Wingham
(2) We recommend the superb publication by Tom Wingham of "Halifax Down" where the full details can be read of this loss and we appreciate the permission from Tom for using the crew photo's for this article together with David Mole for sending the information.
Researched by David Mole, Tom Wingham. With thanks to Tom Wingham "Halifax Down", For further details our thanks to the following, John Horton, Jock Hounam, 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 (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'