05/06.06.1940 No. 9 Squadron Wellington IA P9232 WS-M Sqr/Ldr George Ernest Peacock
Operation: Duisburg, Germany
Date: 5/6th June 1940 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 9 Squadron
Type: Vickers Wellington 1A
Base: RAF Honington, Suffolk
Location: Simonshaven, Holland
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. George Ernest Peacock DFC. 33067 RAF Age 26. Killed (1)
2nd Pilot: P/O. Bertram Arthur (Jimmy) James MC. MiD. 42232 RAF Age 24 PoW No. 2263. Camps: L3 - Sagan and Belaria, 2A - Prenzlau, L1 - Barth, 21B - Fallingbostel. (2)
Nav/Obs: Sgt. Ronald (Ronnie) Charles Hargrave DFM. 580775 RAF Age 25. Killed (3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. A.K. Griffiths 543756 RAF Age 24. PoW No. 500. Camp 357 - Kopernikus.
Air/Gnr: P/O. Sedgwick Whiteley Webster 77955 RAF Age? PoW No. 2253. Camps 12A - Limburg, 2A- Prenzlau, L1 - Barth, L3 - Sagan and Belaria. (4)
Air/Gnr: LAC. C. Murton MiD. 509661 RAF Age ? PoW No. 52562. Camp 357 - Kopernikus. (5)
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Update July 2015 - the son of Sgt. Griffiths (Dave Griffiths) has since contacted us and is planning to visit the crews graves.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Wellington P9232 took off from RAF Honington at 21:25hrs for a bombing operation on Duisburg railways in the Ruhr. 92 aircraft took off that night to attack railways in Germany and communications in the Somme area. 12 Wellingtons from No 9 Squadron took part in this operation with the loss of 1 aircraft and a total loss from this operation of 2 aircraft.
It was a very dark night and all aircraft had to use parachute flares to locate and attack their targets and all encountered intense search light activity and very heavy flak which prevented accurate bombing . Two aircraft were hit by shrapnel with little damage. Wellington P9232 was hit by flak just after crossing the coast of Holland and crashed near Simonshaven, 16km SW of Rotterdam, Holland
Wellington IA Aircraft (courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)
(2) P/O. Bertram Arthur (Jimmy) James. MC. MiD. Born in India on the 17th April 1915. Bertram Arthur James service with the RAF began on the 24th June 1939 when he was granted a short service commission for 4 years as Acting Pilot Officer and confirmed as Pilot Officer on probation as of the 9th December 1939. He was confirmed on his appointment on the 1st May 1940 and promoted to the rank of Flying Office as of 9th December 1940. F/O James was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant (war subs) on the 9th December 1941 and confirmed in appointment 1st May 1943. Bertram Arthur (Jimmy) James was a prolific escaper and was involved in the Great Escape (being allocated place number 39) in 1944. Awarded the Military Cross - 17th May 1946 as per Supplement to the London Gazette "On the night of the 5th June 1940 Flight Lieutenant James was the 2nd Pilot of a Wellington aircraft which was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and had to be abandoned whilst over Holland. He made a successful parachute descent some 25 miles south of Rotterdam, disposed of his equipment, and evaded some people who were approaching, but subsequently was captured by the Germans. He was held at Oberussel for four days for interrogation. Later he was sent to Stalag Luft 1 at Barth from which camp he made an attempt to escape during an air raid on 21st October 1941.
His attempt, which was made after a tunnel had been constructed, was unsuccessful and as a punishment he received 14 days solitary confinement. In November 1941 he was discovered whilst engaged in the construction of a second tunnel, and was sentenced to another 14 days solitary confinement. While at Stalag Luft 1 he worked on the construction of at least five other tunnels, all without success. His next attempt was made at Stalag Luft III (Sagan) in July 1942 when he with another prisoner managed to slip away from a sick parade and hid in a cow shed. Here they began to consrtuct another tunnel, but were discovered when it was 21 feet long. For this Flight Lieutenant James served a sentence of 14 days in the cells. In April 1943, he, with others commenced the construct another tunnel which resulted in the escape of 76 officers, but unfortunately 50 RAF officers were shot by the Germans whilst endeavouring to get away.
The family of Wim Begthel have tendered the grave of this crew for the past 20 years and every year on the anniversary of 4th May they place flowers at the grave. If relatives of the crew would like to contact us we would be proud to place them in contact with them. Any photographs that relatives may have will be placed at the graves.
Flight Lieutenant James however managed to leave with civilian clothes and forged documents and, together with eleven others, entrained for Boberohrsdorf, arriving there the next morning. Hear the party decided to split up into pairs. Flight Lieutenant James and his companion walked across country towards Hirschberg, but were apprehended by German Police. Flight Lieutenant James was eventually sent to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp where, with others, in May 1944 he commenced the construction of a tunnel some hundred feet in length, and 10 feet below the surface. On 23rd September 1944 he and four others escaped through this tunnel.
Flight Lieutenant James and a companion made their way towards Rostock, but were arrested by members of the German Home Guard who returned them to the Concentration Camp where they were put in cells. Flight Lieutenant James remained in the cells from the 6th October 1944 until 15th February 1945. He was ultimately liberated by Allied forces on the 6th May 1945" Mentioned in Despatches Acting Squadron Leader James as per Supplement to the London Gazette 7th January 1947. Squadron Leader James extended service for four years on active service 8th May 1947. Transferred to the Secretarial Branch 23 July 1949. Squadron Leader Bertram Arthur (Jimmy) James. MC. MiD. retired on the 11th June 1958 and died aged 92 on the 18th January 2008 in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
(4) P/O. Sedgwick Whiteley Webster. Born on the 28th October 1904. His service with the RAF started on the 9th March 1940 Sedgwick Whiteley Webster was granted a commission as acting Pilot Officer on probation for the duration of hostilities and on the 22nd April 1940 Sedgwick was confirmed as a Pilot Officer. P/O. Webster was posted to No. 9 Squadron from No 214 Squadron on the 12th May 1940. Confirmed as Pilot Officer and promoted to Flying Officer 22nd April 1941. Flying Officer Sedgwick Whiteley Webster was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant on the 22nd April 1942. Pilot Officer Sedgwick Whiteley Webster was held as a Prisoner of War in L12A - Limburg. 2A - Prenzau, L1 - Barth, L3 - Sagan and Belaria for nearly 5 years. He resigned his Commission on the 20th December 1945. Sedgwick Whiteley Webster died on the 6th March 1980 in Danbury, Connecticut aged 75
(5) Warrant Officer C. Murton 509661 RAF was Mentioned in Despatches as per London Gazette 31st January 1947
Left: Prisoner of War Camp Barth and Sagan (courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)
Sqr/Ldr. George Ernest Peacock. DFC. Geervliet (Simonshaven) Protestant Churchyard. Netherlands. Grave Ref: Row N. Joint Grave 9. Son of Stephen Ernest and Elizabeth Bagnell Peacock of Spennymoor, Co. Durham. (1) 1933 - 15th July George Ernest Peacock was granted a permanent commission in the RAF as a Pilot Officer having successfully passed through RAF Cranwell and in 1935 was promoted to Flying Officer. 1937 - 15th January F/O. Peacock was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and on the 18th October was posted to No 99 (B) Squadron, Mildenhall, Suffolk. 1939 - 1st August F/Lt Peacock was promoted to Squadron Leader and was posted from No 75 Squadron to No 9 Squadron on the 6th February 1940. Squadron Leader Peacock was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on the 19th April 1940 as per London Gazette - "When leading a formation of aircraft on a raid on enemy warships at Bergen, this officer displayed remarkable courage and determination. After the original attack by his formation he returned alone and repeated his run over the target in the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire. When on the return flight to his base he again turned back to attack a hostile flying boat which was shot down into the sea"
Note: We have since been advised that the aircraft shot down was a Do.18 and the front gunner had been Sgt. A. K. Griffiths - verified by his log book.
Sgt. Ronald (Ronnie) Charles Hargrave. DFM. Geervliet (Simonshaven) Protestant Churchyard. Netherlands. Grave Ref: Row N. Joint Grave 9. Son of Samuel and Edith Hargrave of Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire. (3) 31st May 1940 Sgt Ronald (Ronnie) Charles Hargrave was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for "Gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations" as per London Gazette 31 May 1940
Researched by: Kate Tame for aircrewremembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. Acknowledgements: With special thanks to sources as quoted below.