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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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51 Squadron Crest
19/20.03.1940 No. 51 Squadron Whitley V N1405 Fl/Lt. Baskerville crew loss

Operation: Hörnum Seaplane base, Germany

Date: 19/20th March 1940 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron

Type: Whitley V

Serial: N1405

Code: MH-?

Base: RAF Dishforth, North Yorkshire

Location: Sylt

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Edward Baskerville 37537 RAF Age 25. Killed (1)

Pilot 2: P/O. Emery Orville Fennell 40293 RAF Age 23. Killed (2)

Obs: Sgt. Bertram David Shepperson 561926 RAF Age 27. Missing believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. Leslie Close 548536 RAF Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. William George Newton 551758 RAF Age 19. Killed


Took off at 20:35 hrs from RAF Dishforth in the first attack of the war on the German mainland and the largest raid of the war so far. It was a reprisal raid ordered by the British Government for their raid on the Orkney Islands when German aircraft attacked British ships in Scapa Flow but some dropped bombs on land and killed 1 civilian and wounded 7 more civilians in a village.

30 Whitleys and 20 Hampdens took part and reports were made that the bombing was accurate. 20 tons of high explosive was dropped together with 1,200 incendiary bombs.

This Whitley N1405 was the only aircraft lost and was shot down by anti aircraft fire and crashed into the sea just off the northern tip of Sylt. All crew were killed.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. John Edward Baskerville. Kiel War Cemetery 4.F.16. Son of William Francis and Minnie Maude Baskerville, of 254 Lansdowne Avenue, Winnipeg, Canada, husband of Jane Beatty Baskerville, of 453 Nairn Avenue, Winnipeg, Canada.

P/O. Emery Orville Fennell. Kiel War Cemetery. Grave 3.E.3. Son of William James Fennell and Sophie (née Osberg) Fennell of Canora, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Sgt. Bertram David Shepperson. Runnymede Memorial Panel 19. The son of Bertram Egerton and Florence Amy (née Rumsey) Shepperson of Crickhowell, Breconshire, Wales.

LAC. Leslie Close. Kiel War Cemetery 3.B.20. Son of Henry Seymour Close and Barbara Close, of Burnhope, Co. Durham, England.

LAC. William George Newton. Kirkeby Churchyard Grave 261. Son of George Isaac Newton and Lilian Newton, of Liverpool; nephew of Mrs. E. Newton, of Walton, Liverpool, England.

Researched by: Colin Bamford. Further continued research by Neil Smith, 51 Squadron History Society. For further details and photographs our thanks to Dave Champion - March 2019.

(1) Baskerville Island in Sharpe Lake, Manitoba is named after Fl/Lt. John Baskerville

(2) Fennell Lake in Saskatchewan is named after P/O. Emery Fennell

CHB 14.07.2010

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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