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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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78 Squadron Crest
03/04.10.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II LW262 EY-Z F/O. Richard Selwyn Bussey

Operation: Kassel, Northern Hesse, Germany.

Date: 3/4 October 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 78 Squadron - Motto: "Nemo non paratus" ("Nobody unprepared")

Badge: A heraldic tiger rampant and double queued. The theme of the badge was based on the Squadron's aircraft at the time, the Whitley, which had Tiger engines and twin tails.

Type: Halifax II

Serial: LW262

Code: EY-Z

Base: RAF Breighton, East Riding of Yorkshire

Location: Melgershausen, Felsberg, Northern Hesse, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Richard Selwyn Bussey 88143 RAFVR Age 29 - Killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Francis (Jack) Baker 1665382 PoW No. 250705 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (2)

Nav: Sgt. Henry Edward Parsons 1319479 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (3)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. David Bannerman Polson 1390134 RAFVR Age 26 - Killed (4)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Charles Wadsworth 1387152 RAFVR Age 23 - Killed (5)

Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. Charles Clement Davison 1066331 RAFVR Age 22 - Killed (6)

Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. F.H. Trowell 1453942 PoW 250768 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (7)

We appeal to any friends or relatives of the crew with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via the Helpdesk


Took off at 18:07 hours to bomb Kassel.

This aircraft carried the following bomb load: 2 x 1000 MC, 48 x 30 Inc. 600 x 4 Inc. and 30 X 4 Inc.

The briefed route was as follow: East Coast - 5320N 0400E - North end of Texel Island - 5228N 0910E - 5147N 0840E - Kassel - 5112N 0939E - 5030N 0720E - 5018N 0132E - Beachy Head

Whilst 10 Mosquitoes launched a diversionary attack on Hanover a force made up of 223 Halifax, 204 Lancaster and 113 Stirling heavy bombers was despatched on a mission to bomb the city of Kassel in northern Hesse. A further 7 Oboe Mosquitoes were to act as route markers for the force.

All bases were described as fit when the bombers took off in the early evening of the 3 October but crossing the North Sea much layer cloud was encountered typically 9 to 10/10ths.

The several groups converged directly west of Texel Island before the whole force turned south east and crossed the north end of the island. At a point directly west of Hanover the 10 Mosquitoes making the diversionary attack continued east whilst the main force turned almost directly south towards Kassel. 50 miles inside enemy territory the cloud broke to nil with only a few local patches of layer cloud. But although it was cloudless over Kassel visibility was only moderate with some haze and no moon.

Zero hour was 21:15 hours and at Z-4 all 24 blind markers were to release T.I. (target indicator) yellow and strings of flares over the target blindly on H2S (see abbreviations), or visually if certain of identification. They were to be followed at Z -3 by 11 visual markers which were to drop 10 red T.I. and 1 green salvo on the aiming point if identified or if not identified they were to aim green T.I. to overshoot the estimated centre of yellow T.I. by 3 seconds.

Although the blind markers achieved a good concentration of yellow T.I. and white flares they overshot the aiming point by up to 3 miles with the majority of the markers falling in the Bettenhausen district in the south east of Kassel. The following visual markers, hampered by haze and glare were unable to identify the aiming point and subsequently brought back all their red T.I. The yellow T.I. was well supported by the T.I. green dropped by the visual markers and backers up with 2 main concentrations developing, one at Bettenhausen and the other round a solitary yellow T.I. dropped 2 miles north east of the aiming point.

The main force initially divided between the two concentrations which soon merged into one circular fire about 3 miles in diameter centred 1½ miles north east of the aiming point by Z + 7 about the time that the last yellow T.I. burnt out.

Bombing commenced at 21:11 hours and continued until 21:38 hours.

Flak and searchlights en route were light except for the north end of Texel Island but over the target area heavy barrage flak was encountered but although searchlights were numerous their accuracy was poor possibly due to the hazy ground conditions. Fighter controllers appear to have been unsure as to the intended main target and by the time that Kassel had been identified as such the attack was more than half over.

Of the 540 heavy bombers despatched to bomb Kassel, 483 reported bombing the primary area and 6 the alternative area: 34 aborted the mission mainly due to technical and manipulative defects and 24 were missing.

The fate of the missing aircraft was estimated as 9 due to flak, 7 due to fighters, 6 unknown and 2 collided over the target.

Photographic evidence on the night based on 447 photographs examined suggested that 360 aircraft had bombed within three miles of the aiming point. (See plot above)

Later day reconnaissance revealed that the greater part of the damage was outside the built up area of Kassel predominantly in the industrial area of Bettenhausen and in the villages to the north and north east of the city. Residential and business properties in Wolfsanger, Sandershausen and Ihringhausen to the north and east of Kessel were severely damaged. Locomotive and armaments factories of Henschell und Sohn to the north of Kessel were damaged or destroyed. But the chief industrial concerns lay in Bettenhausen and these suffered much damage. Spinnfaser A.G. producers of textile yarns, reputedly the largest in Europe, Salzmann & Co., cloth weavers and suppliers to the German army, the factory of Fieseler Flugzeugbau G.m.b.H. producers of components for Focke-Wulf Fw190s and other aircraft as well as several machine tool and chemical manufacturers were all damaged. Many military depots and barracks on the outskirts of Kassel and surrounding districts were severely damaged. The most spectacular damage was to an ammunition depot west of the village of Ihringhausen. One of the largest in Germany 84 of its 110 buildings were destroyed by fire and explosions leaving large craters the largest measuring 300 feet across.

Halifax LW262 bombed the target and was leaving the target area when it was first severely damaged by flak presumably in the nose section before being attacked by fighters. Rear gunner Sgt. Trowell said that

'On issuing out of the target area, we were badly hit and set alight, my Pilot then gave orders to b.o. As we left the target area we were attacked by enemy fighters. Skipper gave order to bale out when we were hit. I nipped out of my turret and Jack (F.E.) [Flight Engineer Jack Baker) passed me in the fuselage making for rear hatch which was open when he reached it. Therefore it was either opened by blast from flak or by MUG [mid upper gunner]. Jack went before me. As far as I know I was last to leave.

When I left the aircraft the front wing and nose were on fire. Apart from the engineer I saw no one else b.o. Parson was in the nose at the time'.

He also says that Sgt. Wadsworth, the Wireless Operator and Bomb Aimer Sgt. Polson were also in the nose section of the aircraft which was on fire. He makes no mention of the pilot but logically he was still in the nose section.

With regard to mid upper gunner Sgt. Davison he says:

'After the first attack had broken off Davison gave warning that the fighters were coming in again. It was while he was speaking that we were raked with cannon fire, he broke off in the middle of a sentence and I did not hear him again'.

Halifax LW262 exploded and crashed at Melgershausen some 20 miles south of Kassel.

The cramped conditions in the nose of the Handley Page Halifax were no place for anyone who suffered with claustrophobia. The left hand photograph looking forward shows the Pilot (on the left) and below him the Navigator at his station nearest the camera and the Bomb Aimer. The right hand photograph looking backwards shows the Pilot on the right whilst below him is the Wireless Operator and behind the Pilot is the Flight Engineer. The photographs clearly illustrate that in the event of a direct hit to the nose section the five crewmen stationed there stood very little chance of survival or escape. The Flight Engineer was in the best possible position to make good an escape to the rear and in the case of Halifax LW262 Sergeant Jack Baker managed to do so whilst the other four crewmen in the nose section were all killed. Photographs of crew positions courtesy IWM

Scale: 1" = 45 miles


(1) F/O. Richard Selwyn Bussey was born on 28 March 1914 at Croydon, South London, the son of William Herbert Bussey and Agnes Winifred Bussey nee Simmons. He had one sibling Kathleen Mary Bussey (1910-1934)

In 1939 he lived with his mother, whose occupation was stated to be 'Artist - Private Means', at 46 Rossmore Court, Regent's Park London. Richard Selwyn Bussey's occupation was stated to be a 'Designer & Painter Baby Carriage'.

On 1 Jan 1943 he married Geraldine Helen Brietzcke at Moncton, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada. They later lived at Regent's Park, London.

LAC 1267350 Richard Selwyn Bussey of the RAFVR Administration and Special Duties Branch was granted a commission for the duration of hostilities as a Pilot Officer (88143) on probation on 21 November 1940 (seniority 14 November 1940) and announced in the London Gazette of 20 December 1940. His appointment was confirmed 21 November 1941 and on 21 January 1942 he was promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) (seniority 14 January 1942) (London Gazette 17 February 1942)

On 18 December 1942 Flying Officer Bussey relinquished his rank at his own request and transferred to the RAFVR General Duties Branch in the rank of Pilot Officer (Supplement to the London Gazette 6 April 1943) and was promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) in that branch on 18 June 1943 (Supplement to the London Gazette 23 July 1943)

F/O. Bussey is commemorated on the Croydon War Memorial, Katharine Street, Croydon, Greater London.

(2) Sgt. John Francis Baker was born on 4 April 1924 at West Ham, London the son of Francis Arthur Baker (a Gas Fitter) and Elsie Kathleen Baker nee Godsafe. He had 2 siblings: Betty H. M. Baker born 1927 and Brian Baker born 1929.

In 1939 the family lived at 48 Montalt Road, Woodford Green, London at which time John Francis Baker was employed as a Shop assistant in the Wine Trade.

In 1968 he married Eunice May at Stafford and they had a son Richard.

He passed away in Stafford on 30 July 1989.

(3) Sgt. Henry Edward Parsons was born in 1922 at Dorchester, Dorsetshire, the son of Reginald Thomas George Parsons and Ethel Daisy Parsons nee White of Dorchester. He is commemorated on the Dorchester Cenotaph, junction of South Street and South Walk, Dorchester and on the war memorial at Dorset County Hall inscribed "In memory of those members of County Council staff who lost their lives whilst on active service during the war"

(4) Sgt. David Bannerman Polson was born in 1917 at Kildonan, Helmsdale, Sutherlandshire, Scotland the son of Barbara Polson. He joined the Metropolitan Police Force on 7 February 1938 as a Police Constable, warrant number 126668, Y Division (Highgate). He is commemorated on the Kildonan War Memorial, Helmsdale, Sutherlandshire, Scotland and the Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

(5) Sgt. Eric Charles Wadsworth was born on 15 September 1920 at St. George Hanover Square, London, the son of Henry Thomas Wadsworth (a Builder) and Mabel Blanche Wadsworth nee Warren. He had one sibling: Brian Russell Wadsworth born 1928 and three half siblings: Doris Nora Wadsworth born 1908, Elsie Ellen Wadsworth born 1910 and Henry William Reginald Wadsworth born 1912.

In 1939 the family lived at 100 Lillington Street Westminster. Eric Wadsworth was a Chartered Accountant

In 1943 he married Freda Primrose Brown at Westminster.

(6) Sgt. Charles Clement Davison was born in 1921 at Chester-Le-Street, County Durham, the son of James Davison (a Colliery Storeman - Below) and Eleanor Gertrude Louisa Davison nee Mason . He had two siblings: Dorothy M. Davison born 1919 and Olga Davison born and died 1925.

In 1939 the family lived at 7, Seventh Avenue, Chester-le-Street, County Durham.

He is commemorated in the Chester-Le-Street War Memorial Book of Remembrance at the parish church of St Mary and St Cuthbert.

(7) Sgt. F.H. Trowell

Possibly Francis Hebeth Trowell born on 17 June 1922 at West Ham, London the son of Ernest Edwin Trowell and Lucy Matilda Trowell nee Wyatt. He had four siblings: Norman E. Trowell born 1912, Arthur J. Trowell born 1915, Lucy E. M. Trowell born 1917 and Joan M. Trowell born 1928.

In 1939 the family lived at 281 Cann Hall Road, Leytonstone, East London. Prior to joining the air force Francis worked in the Scientific Instrument Industry.

In 1946 he married Emily Pearson in the district of Essex South Western. They are known to have had two children.

Francis Hebeth Trowell died at Brentwood, Essex in 2004.

National Archives Ref: Air 78 - Ministry and Ministry of Defence: Department of the Air Member for Personnel: Index to Airmen and Airwomen, records him as Henry Francis Trowell 1453942. If you have any further information about him please contact our helpdesk


The five crew members killed in the crash were initially buried at Melgershausen Civilian Cemetery, Felsberg, northern Hesse and reburied at the Hannover War Cemetery on 9 May 1947.

(1) F/O. Richard Selwyn Bussey - Hanover War Cemetery Communal Grave 5.K.12-16 designated No. 16

His epitaph:

Brave, kind, humorous,

He died for us,

And lives on in our hearts.

(3) Sgt. Henry Edward Parsons - Hanover War Cemetery Communal Grave 5.K.12-16 designated No. 12

His epitaph:

For ever young,

To live and laugh,

In God's eternal spring.

(4) Sgt. David Bannerman Polson - Hanover War Cemetery Communal Grave 5.K.12-16 designated No. 15

His epitaph:

There is a link

Death cannot sever

Love and remembrance

Last forever

(5) Sgt. Eric Charles Wadsworth - Hanover War Cemetery Communal Grave 5.K.12-16 designated No. 14

His epitaph:

Greater love

Hath no man than this,

That he lay down

His life for his friends.

(6) Sgt. Charles Clement Davison - Hanover War Cemetery Communal Grave 5.K.12-16 designated number 13

His epitaph:

A memory for ever

For honour, liberty and truth,

He sacrificed

His glorious youth.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - January 2016.

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 01.01.2016

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