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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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58 Squadron Crest
14/15.11.1940 No. 58 Squadron Whitley V T4170 GE-T F/O. 'Jack' Champness

Operation: Berlin

Date: 14/15th November 1940 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 58 Squadron

Type: Whitley V

Serial: T4170

Code: GE-T

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse

Location: Westerwede, Germany

Pilot: F/O. ‘Jack’ John Alec Champness 70124 RAF Age 30. Killed (1)

Pilot 2: Sgt. Raylton Barclay Lister 754795 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Thomas Hanlon 755457 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Clifton Stockman 906289 RAVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman Sidney Smith 905353 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Taking off at 18:12 hrs to bomb the heart of Germany, Berlin. Richard (see credits) advised us that it first took off at 17:15 hrs - returning some 20 minutes later, probably a malfunction. The records also state that the previous day on the 13th November the pilot had taken the same aircraft (different crew) on an operation to Wesseling but had to return early due to both engines dropping revolutions and the port exactor being 'spongy'.

Some 50 aircraft taking part, although only 50% reported that they reached the target. What has been described as the worst losses to Bomber Command since the start of the war with 10 aircraft failing to return.

Whitley T4170 was hit by flak from the 3./Flak Regiment 26 with the aircraft coming down at 21:45 hrs in Westerwede. The crew were initially buried at Worpswede before being moved to the Becklingen War Cemetery in March 1947.

3 aircraft were lost from the Squadron on this operation. The others:

Whitley V T4239 GE-M Flown by F/O. F.M. Kerr - taken PoW with all his crew.
Whitley V T4174 GE-X Flown by Sub.Lt. Eval Rhys Webb (on detachment from the Royal Navy - HMS Daedalus) killed with 2 other members of his crew, 1 taken PoW.

(1) F/O. John Champness had only just recovered from a previous escape. On the 20/21st October flying as co-pilot to P/O. A. Wilding on Whitley V P5089 GE-D on an operation to the Skoda works at Pizen, they managed to fly back to England but had to ditch off Blakeney Point in East Anglia having run out of fuel. All the crew were picked up safely:

October 21st. - Sheringham, Norfolk.

At 5.54 A.M. a message was received from the coastguard at Skeldon Hill that an aeroplane had come down in the sea off Blakeney Point. A light west breeze was blowing; the sea was smooth; there was a thick mist. At 6.20 A.M. the motor life-boat Foresters Centenary was launched and found five men in a rubber boat. They were the crew of a British bomber, and were uninjured, although very wet. They were taken on board the life-boat, and given brandy and chocolate. They were landed at 9.30 A.M. and were given baths and dry clothing by the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society. They were then given a meal and rested at the house of the local honorary secretary of the life-boat, station. Mr. H. R. Johnson, until a tender from their aerodrome at Lynton-on- Ouse called for them. - Rewards, £24 1s. 9d. Crew as follows: P/O. A. Wilding. F/O. J. A. Champness. Sgt. London. Sgt. Hogg. P/O. H. F. Welte.

Burial details:

F/O. John Alec Champness. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.C.14. Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Maurice Champness, of Purley, Surrey, England. (Chartered Accountant). Born on the 11th November 1910 - the CWGC have him listed incorrectly as 32. (documents supporting this seen)

Sgt. Raylton Barclay Lister. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.C.10. Son of Robert Barclay Lister and Emily Lister, of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Thomas Hanlon. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.C.13. Son of Patrick and Agnes Hanlon, husband of Joyce Vera Hanlon, of Thames Haven, Essex, England. (M.A)

Sgt. Clifton Stockman. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.C.11. Son of James Steele Stockman and Margaret Stockman, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England.

Sgt. Norman Sidney Smith. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave 27.C.12. Son of Walter James Byron Smith and Gertrude Sarah Smith, of Middleton-on-Sea, Sussex, England.

Researched for Richard who contacted us in November 2016 - his Grandmother was a close friend of the pilot. With thanks to Ron Phillips for photographs. For further details our thanks to the following sources shown below.

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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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