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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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431 Squadron Crest
10/11.04.1943 No. 431 Squadron Wellington X HE213 SE-F Sgt. W.E. Bidmead

Operation: Frankfurt

Date: 10/11th April 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No: 431 Squadron

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE213

Code: SE-F

Base: RAF Burn, Yorkshire

Location: North Sea, 5 km. South West Jersey

Pilot: Sgt. W.E. Bidmead 657234 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 978 Camp: Stalag Heydekrug (Memelland, now in Lithuania)

Obs: Sgt. Abraham Holden 591390 RAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. E.A. Odling 657064 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 1024 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (Torun, Poland)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bolke 1380047 RAFVR Survived PoW No: 42727 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (Torun, Poland)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Arnold Booth R/135580 RCAF Age 30. Missing


Took off on an operation to Frankfurt at 23:15 hrs from RAF Burn in Yorkshire and ditched roughly 3 miles south west of the Channel Island of Jersey after a call was made by Sgt. Odling for assistance.

Newspaper cutting describing the funeral service - very interesting as it also shows the stamp from thePoW Camp that it was sent from (courtesy Martin and Christine Jermey)

Fl/Sgt. George Booth shown in the centre of this photograph

The body of observer Sgt Holden was eventually washed up on St Queens Bay in Jersey on the 3rd June 1943.

On the 5th June his and the body of a Sgt. Denis Charles Butlin from 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit lay in state in the Hospital Chapel with hundreds of islanders visiting the coffins to pay their last respects, prior to a service on the morning of 6th June. The coffins were then draped with the Union Jack before being taken to the cemetery. Again, hundreds of people lined the route but the Luftwaffe prevented them entering the gates of the cemetery.

Series of photographs showing the funeral of Sgt. Holden and Sgt. Butlin (courtesy Martin and Christine Jermey)

The Germans provided a full military funeral for him, together with the crew member from Halifax DG408. Wreaths were laid by the German airforce, the bailiff of Jersey. There were so many other wreaths that two large lorries were laid on to carry them to the graveside. Later in the day thousands of islanders filed past the graves.

St. Helier War Cemetery, Howard Davis Park, Jersey (courtesy Richard Allenby)

Above: Sgt. Abraham Holden and grave at St. Helier War Cemetery (courtesy Richard Allenby and John Barry)

Burial details:

Sgt. Abraham Holden. St. Helier War Cemetery, Howard Davis Park, Jersey. Grave 2. Son of Shepherd and Florence Holden; husband of Elsie Holden, of Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, England.

Fl/Sgt. George Arnold Booth. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 181. Son of George Edward and Lillie May Booth, of 290 First Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Researched for relatives of Sgt Holden and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Martin and Christine Jermey, Richard Allenby, Clive Smith for updated information. Also to John Barry his wife was the granddaughter of Sgt. Holden. Other sources as quoted below.

Page updated 04.12.2016

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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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