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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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61 Squadron Crest
16/17.10.1940 61 Squadron Hampden BI X2979 P/O. Clemerson

Operation: Merseburg, Germany (1)

Date: 16/17th October 1940 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 61 Squadron

Type: Hampden BI

Serial: X2979

Code: QR-?

Base: RAF Helmswell, Lincolnshire

Location: Sporle, Norfolk, England.

Pilot: P/O. William Herbert Clemerson 81027 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Pilot 2: F/O. Edwin Charles Gardner 72558 RAFVR Age 24. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Hutchinson Hewitt 822581 RAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dominick Flanagan 532927 RAF Age 26. Killed

We would like to invite any relatives of this crew to contact us with further information / photographs.


Taking off from RAF Helmswell at 18:09 hrs to bomb the industrial town of Merseburg, Germany. Other units attacked various targets at Bremen, Kiel and Bordeaux. The Merseburg Hampdens also dropped incendiary bombs on the Harz Forest.

The bomber force of 73 Hampdens and Wellingtons suffered lightly with the loss of 2 Hampdens and 1 Wellington over the targets.

The returning trip however cost the loss of a further 10 Hampdens and 4 Wellingtons due to fog covering their bases and other technical difficulties.

Hampden X2979 suffered the same fate, encountering adverse conditions, they called their base at 01:11 hrs for a fix, then again at 01:36. Finally it seems that whilst trying an emergency landing the aircraft crashed at Sporle, Norfolk at 02:45 hrs ‘probably due to low fuel’.

(1) During the war the town received 23 air raids with 6,200 homes completely or partly destroyed.

Burial details:

P/O. William Herbert Clemerson. Ilkeston (Park) Cemetery. Grave 8423. The son of Stanley and Amelia Clemerson of Bamford, Nottinghamshire. England.

F/O. Edwin Charles Gardner. Tacolneston Churchyard (All Saints). Son of the Revd. William Alan Gardner and Audrey Grace Gardner, of Norwich, Norfolk, England. Husband of Diana Gardner. Grave inscription reads: “Death is Swallowed up in Victory”.

Sgt. William Hutchinson Hewitt. Cornamagh Cemetery, County Westmeath, Republic of Ireland. Grave O.118. Son of Edward J. and Margaret E. Hewitt, of Athlone, County Westmeath, Republic of Ireland.

Sgt. Dominick Flanagan. Swaffham Cemetery, Norfolk. Grave Sec. A. K.I. Son of Dominic and Elizabeth Flanagan, of Edinburgh, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: “No Earthly Wealth Will Ever Replace His Loving Voice And Smiling Face”.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew following a meeting with a relative of F/O. Gardner by the webmaster in August 2014. Also a great many thanks to Mr. Clive Nuttall who contacted us with further details on P/O. Clemerson - October 2017.

Page revised 28.10.2017

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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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