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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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10 Squadron Crest
22/23.10.1943 No. 10 Squadron Halifax II JB974 ZA-T Fl/Lt. Herbert H.V. Wilkinson

Operation: Kassel

Date: 22/23rd October 1943

Unit: 10 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JB974

Code: ZA-T

Base: RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire

Location: Helfe, Hagen, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Herbert Henry Vincent Wilkinson 110542 RAFVR Age 31. Killed.

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Harold Kearsley 1589516 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Nav: F/O. Robert Lionel Harman Ball 130156 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Frank Hewitt 133098 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Lomas 1077211 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Richard Thomas Burman 1077981 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Lascelles Jenkins 1321940 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 17:27 hrs from RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, one of 322 Lancasters and 247 Halifaxes for a combined force of 569 aircraft, targeting the town of Kassel. As well as being a provincial capital it was also an important armament and industrial centre containing among others the Fieseler works where Me109 and Fw190 aircraft were assembled and the Henschel factory building tanks and locomotives.

The subject of numerous attacks by Bomber Command, the raid on the night of 22nd October was particularly horrific in that as a result of the firestorm created by 460,000 magnesium incendiaries dropped on the town an estimated 10,000 lives were lost. The town burned for seven days almost totally destroying the town centre making 150,000 inhabitants homeless.

A diversionary raid on Frankfurt and the introduction of Operation Corona where German speaking RAF personnel impersonating German Air Defence Controllers confused Luftwaffe pilots by providing false radio communications, caught the defences off guard. In addition, the poor weather encountered by the bomber force on the outbound leg, cleared as they neared the target aiding the crew’s ability to pin point St. Martins Church in the town centre.

The allies lost 43 aircraft on this operation - the majority of these losses attributed to the huge air battles that took place - so intense were these that many claims remain unidentified. This applies to Halifax JB974 - no claim could be established from either the night fighters or the anti-aircraft batteries.

10 Squadron were to lose 3 crews this night, the other 2:

Halifax II JD315 ZA-E Flown by 33 year old, P/O. John William Heppell 149945 RAFVR from Northumberland, England - killed with all 7 other crew.

Halifax II HX174 ZA-H Flown by 23 year old, P/O. Henry Edward Morgan Plant AUS/413249 RAAF from Queensland, Australia - killed with 5 other crew, his air bomber, F/O. Pyne taken PoW.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Herbert Henry Vincent Wilkinson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.4. Son of Herbert H. and Leah Wilkinson, husband of Marjorie Margaret Wilkinson, of Undercliffe, Bradford, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Harold Kearsley. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.6. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Kearsley, husband of Lilian Kearsley, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England.

F/O. Robert Lionel Harman Ball. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.8. Son of Lionel Percy and Ivy Clara Ball, of Duffield, Derbyshire, England.

F/O. Frank Hewitt. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.10. Son of James and Mary Hewitt, husband of Anne Hewitt.

Fl/Sgt. Kenneth Lomas. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.5. Son of John and Sarah Lomas, of Rochdale. Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Richard Thomas Burman. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.9. Son of Richard Edward and Kate Burman, of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Lascelles Jenkins. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 3.G.7. Son of Joseph Henry George and Edith Ann Jenkins, of Southall, Middlesex, England.

Researched for relatives of the crew. Sources as quoted below. Also to Des Philippet for the grave photographs. We understand that others are trying to trace the relatives of Fl/Sgt. Ronald Lascelles Jenkins in order that they are able to return the photograph as shown above - the reason we have placed this page.

KTY 21.01.2016

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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