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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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21 Squadron Crest
21.04.1943 No. 21 Squadron Ventura I AE743 F/O. Geoffrey B. Chippendale

Operation: Abbeville France

Date: 21st April 1943 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 21 Squadron

Type: Ventura MkI

Serial: AE743

Code: YH-

Base: RAF Oulton, Norfolk, England

Location: Crashed into the English Channel

Pilot: F/O. Geoffrey Brian Chippendale 127842 (1051133) RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Harry Hudson 998980 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Arthur William Richmond 145332 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Neil Kelsall 1544208 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Update: May 2017 - the brother of the pilot made contact with us, we hope that further information follows.


On the 21st April, 11 aircraft from 21 Squadron were tasked to undertake a daylight attack on the railway marshalling yards at Abbéville in Northern France. This was always going to be a very difficult and heavily defended target as it was only a few miles from the main Luftwaffe airfield also at Abbévillle. Taking off at 10:57 hrs from RAF Oulton, located north west of Norwich, Norfolk.

Above Sgt. James Kelsall and right, 21 Squadron Ventura I.

Attacked over the target by FW190 fighters with three aircraft lost and twelve crew members killed.

The other aircraft from the squadron lost:

Ventura I AE692 Flown by Sgt. Ronald Herbert Wells 1331819 RAFVR - killed with all 3 other crew.
Ventura II AE913 Flown by 32 year old F/O. Gerald Lambert Hicks 104530 RAFVR from Epson, Surrey - killed with all 3 other crew. All bodies that were recovered were buried in the same cemetery.

Ventura AE743 was seen going down into the sea with it's tail section having been shot off. The aircraft was also seen on the surface of the sea, but without sign of any survivors.

Further information: "Neil" Kelsall was a native of Cheadle Hulme in Cheshire. Having joined the RAF in 1942 he had trained as an Air Gunner at 10 Air Observers School at RAF Dumfries in Scotland. He had been posted to 21 Squadron on the Lockheed Ventura Mk1, a rather outdated American light bomber aircraft. He and his fellow crew members apparently became very close. His pilot, F/O. Geoffrey Chippendale from Blackburn, Lancashire, had only been recently married and had invited his crew, Sgt. Neil Kelsall, Fl/Sgt Harry Hudson and P/O. Arthur Richmond to the wedding.

Above: Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. (Insert - original grave marker)

Burial details:

F/O. Geoffrey Brian Chippendale. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Son of Arthur and Winifred Ethel Chippendale, of Guarlford, Worcestershire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Harry Hudson. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Son of George Ernest and Ellen Hudson, of Clitheroe, Lancashire, England.

P/O. Arthur William Richmond. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Son of M. Richmond and Florence Richmond, husband of Violet Richmond, of York, England.

Sgt. James Neil Kelsall. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Picardie, France. Plot 6. Row A. Coll. grave 5-8. Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, England. No further information - are you able to assist?

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - November 2015. Photographs from Michel Beckers collection.

Below: Medals and telegram for Sgt. Kelsall.

KTY/MB - 08.11.2015

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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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