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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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No. 9 Squadron Wellington
12.04.1940. No. 9 Squadron Wellington 1A P2520 WS-U Sgt. Bowen

Operation: Attack Battle Cruisers off the coast of Norway

Date: 12th April 1940 (Friday)

Unit: No. 9 Squadron

Type: Wellington 1A

Serial: P2520

Code: WS-U

Base: RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire, Scotland

Location: North Sea off the Norwegian Coast

Pilot: Sgt. Charles Ronald Bowen. 562025. RAF Age 27. Killed (1)

Nav: Sgt. James Dougal Aitchison. 563022. RAF Age 25. Killed (2)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. William Lockie Balmer. 564120. RAF Age 27. Killed (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: L.A.C. Ralph John (Spike) Lamb. 536874. RAF Age 27. Killed (4)

Air/Gnr: A.C.1. Percy Frank Ricketts. 540110. RAF Age 22. Killed (5)

Air/Gnr: L.A.C. John Lenton Wilkin. 534598. RAF Age 19. Killed (6)


Wellington 1A P2520 took off from RAF Lossiemouth at 09.20hrs on an operation to attack two enemy Battle cruisers and one Cruiser off the Norwegian Coast.

This was one of the largest bombing operation so far in the war. No. 9 Squadron, No. 38 Squadron, No. 149 Squadron, No. 44 Squadron and No. 50 Squadron a total of 83 aircraft were involved. The weather conditions were extremely poor with the cloud base down to 10/10 at 600 feet with rain, sleet and low cloud and horizontal visibility down to one mile.

The aircraft were met by heavy flak and intercepted by Luftwaffe fighters near the Norwegian coast. Some of the aircraft found it difficult to keep up with the main section due to the adverse weather conditions. Wellington 1A P2520 was one of these aircraft and was last seen at 13.05hrs a few miles from the Southern Coast of Norway by the crew of another aircraft that had also lost contact with the main group.

The aircraft may have been hit by flak or shot down by an enemy aircraft. Of the 9 Wellington aircraft of No. 9 Squadron that took part in this operation 8 returned to base. German radio admitted the loss of 5 of their fighters

No. 9 Squadron personnel arrived at RAF Lossiemouth from RAF Honington on the 2nd April 1940 flying in with 12 Wellingtons. The maintenance personnel arrived the following day having travelled by train. The Squadron was ready for operations on the 4th April 1940 and the Squadron's role was as a striking force against the enemy Naval forces in the North Sea area. It is noted that during the operations from the 4th April to 12th April that considerable assistance was given by personnel at Lossiemouth in both technical and domestic matters

RAF Lossiemouth 1940 (courtesy of Vickers Wellington taken in 1939 (courtesy of Kate Tame)

L.A.C. Lamb and his bride Kate Vera Parker on their wedding day 21st October 1939 (courtesy of Donna Bush)

All the crew are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey (archives)

Burial details:

Sgt. Charles Ronald Bowen. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 12. Son of Peter and Florence Louisa Bowen. Husband of Margery Bowen of Louth, Lincolnshire. (1) Charles and Margery married in 1937. On day two of the war 4th September 1939 Sgt Bowen had been F/Lt. Grants wingman on an operation to bomb enemy Battle ships near the Keil Canal flying in Wellington L4262. Sgt. Bowen was on his 12th operational flight

Left: Eyemouth War Memorial (courtesy of Adam Brown)

Sgt. James Dougal Aitchison. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 11. Son of David and Elizabeth Crombie Aitchison of Eyemouth, Berwickshire. (2) Sgt. Aitchison had been part of Sgt. Bowen's crew for 9 operational flights. Sgt. James Dougal Aitchison is remembered on the Eyemouth War Memorial

Sgt. William Lockie Balmer. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 11. Son of William Lockie Balmer and Ethel Balmer. Husband of Dorothy Enid Balmer. (3) On day two of the war 4th September 1939 Sgt. Balmer was part of Sgt. Bowen's crew flying in Wellington L4262 on an operational to bomb enemy Battle ships near the Keil Canal. Sgt. Balmer had been part of Sgt. Bowen's crew for 12 operational flights

L.A.C. Ralph John (Spike) Lamb. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 23. Son of Ralph and Margaret Annie Lamb. Husband of Kate Vera Lamb of Haverhill, Suffolk. (4) Ralph was born on the 8th January 1913 and was the eldest of five children. He married Kate Vera Parker at the Old Independent Church in Haverhill on the 21st October 1939. Sadly Ralph never got to meet his son who was born in the summer months of 1940. Ralph had already enlisted in the RAF before his marriage and joined No. 9 Squadron in 1939 as AC1 (Aircraftsman 1). On day two of the war 4th September 1939 AC1 Lamb was part of Sgt. Bowen's crew flying in Wellington L4262 on an operation to bomb enemy Battle ships near the Keil Canal. L.A.C. Lamb was on his 12th operational flight. L.A.C. Ralph John Lamb is remembered on the Haverhill War Memorial, Suffolk

A.C.1. Percy Frank Ricketts. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 25. Son of Henry Samuel and Beatrice May Ricketts of Belvedere, Kent. (5) Sgt. Ricketts had been part of Sgt. Bowen's crew for 9 operational flights

L.A.C. John Lenton Wilkin. Runnymede Memorial, Surrey. Panel 24. Son of Charles and Ada Wilkin of South Duffield, Yorkshire. (6) On day two of the war 4th September 1939 L.A.C. Wilkin was part of Sgt. Bowen's crew flying in Wellington L4262 on an operation to bomb enemy Battle ships near the Keil Canal. L.A.C. Wilkin had been part of Sgt. Bowen's crew for 12 operational flights

Researched by: Kate Tame, Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew

Acknowledgements: With special thanks to Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Donna Bush - granddaughter of L.A.C. Lamb, W R Chorley - Bomber Command Losses 1939-40 Including Prewar Losses July 1936-September 1939, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - Bomber Command War Diaries, Gordon Thorburn - Bombers First and Last, National Archives Air 27/125 and Air 27/131, Haverhill Family History Group, Imperial War Museum, Adam Brown - Eyemouth War Memorial.

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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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