04/05.12.1940 No. 99 Squadron Wellington IC T2501 LN-F F/O. Frank H. Vivian
Operation: Düsseldorf, Germany
Date: 4/5th December 1940 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 99 Squadron
Type: Wellington Mk.IC
Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk
Location: Luftwaffe airfield (KG 53) located at Vitry-en-Artois, France
Pilot: F/O. Frank Harvey Vivian 70699 RAF PoW No. 638 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (1)
2nd Pilot: P/O. Hardie Grosvenor de Forest 42486 RAF PoW No: 367 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Sgt. R.E. Bush 749722 RAFVR PoW No: 356 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Gage 745360 RAFVR PoW No. 430 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (2)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. C.H.C. Wright 905898 RAFVR PoW No: 394 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air/Gnr: P/O. J.R. Hoppe 70239 RAF PoW No: 371 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
REASON FOR LOSS:
Wellington Mk. IC coded LN-F (T2501) flown by F/O. Frank Vivian had been damaged by light anti-aircraft fire and the crew became dis-orientated. They noticed landing lights of an airfield and ended up going in to land, thinking that they were over England.
They had in fact landed at the airfield home to I./KG 53 in Vitry-en-Artois. KG 53 had by then already returned to their airfield and were headed to their quarters when they noticed an aircraft coming in, they assumed it was one of theirs and they turned on the landing lights.
No one suspected it was a British bomber and since it landed everyone assumed the aircraft was a German.
It wasn't until a guard saw the crew climbing back into the Wellington that the base was alerted and alarm sounded. F/O. Vivian didn't have time to take off or destroy the aircraft - the crew were taken prisoner for the remainder of the war.
Above and below: Wellington T2501 in Luftwaffe markings
The Following day the Wellington was the centre attraction for KG 53 and the Luftwaffe soldiers at the airfield. countless photos were taken a couple colour slides and a short time later it was removed to conceal it from the British aerial recon. The aircraft was later flown with the Test and Evaluation Centre at Rechlin using the 5+4 Luftwaffe markings.
(1) Retired from RAF in 1956 as W/Cdr. MBE. A week before this incident he had married Margaret Croft ‘Peggy’ Scriven the winner of the French Championship tennis title in 1933/34. In 1938 rated as England’s No. 1 tennis player - the last British woman to win the same Grand Slam singles tournament for two consecutive years (left handed). Margaret died on the 25th January 2001 (age 88).
Right: Margaret Croft ‘Peggy’ Scriven
(2) Sgt. John Gage was killed during the closing days of the war after RAF Typhoons mistakingly strafed a PoW column near the village of Gresse.
None - all crew survived. However at a later date:
(2) W/O. John Gage. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6B.11. Son of of Clement and Annie Gage, of Harnham, Salisbury, England.
Above: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - May 2015. Bill Chorley’s BC. Losses 1936-1940 2nd edition for additional information, with Wikipedia for photo and information on Margaret Scriven. Further sources as quoted below. With thanks to Pat Bouma for advising us of the incorrect aircraft squadron markings - March 2018.