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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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52 squadron badge
16/17.04.1943 No. 51 Squadron Halifax II DT561 MH-K Sgt. Cox

Operation: Plzen (Skoda Works)

Date: 16/17th April 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: DT561

Code: MH-K

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire.

Location: Hadamar, Germany

Pilot: Sgt. Ernest Walter Cox 1334812 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Sydney John Briffett 1402515 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Raymond Charles Burt 1336282 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: W/O. II Frederick Grant McCardle R/115429 RCAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Augustus Rogers 1377421 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Robert Bray 1159492 RAFVR Age 38. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Allan McLaren 1343837 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Leaving RAF Snaith at 20:46 hrs, joining 327 aircraft and set out to attack the Skoda works at Plzen, Czechoslovakia. Most of the bombs fell in the area of Dobrany. 38 aircraft were lost. No damage was done to the Skoda works, apart from some sky-lights being broken due to falling shell fragments from the anti-aircraft guns at the works.

As a result of this operation, there were 52 PoW's and 13 evaders. 199 aircrew were killed in action.

5 aircraft from 51 Squadron were lost on this operation out of the 17 sent:

Halifax II DT670 MH-H Flown by 20 yr old Sgt. Douglas Inch from Ilford, Essex, killed with 4 crew,1 evading capture and another made PoW.

Halifax II DT690 MH-A Flown by Sgt. McCrea who with 2 others evaded capture with 4 taken PoW.

Halifax II HR729 MH-R Flown by 22 yr. old W/O Joseph Edwards from Taunton, Somerset, England, killed 6 other crew and 1 made PoW.

Halifax II HR784 MH-? Flown by 21 yr. old P/O. Ronald Stewart from Ontario, Canada, killed with 5 other crew, 1 taken PoW.

This Halifax DT561 was intercepted and shot down by Lt. Otto Blohm (1) of 10./NJG4 at 03:12 hrs. over Hadamar.

A comprehensive book is available (see left) entitled 'A Shaky Do - The Skoda works raid 16/17th April 1943'. The author, Peter Cunliffe, would like to hear from any relatives of the members of this crew. Or any other airmen or relatives thereof, who were involved in this raid. Please contact us in the first instance and we will forward the message. Please also contact us for details on how to receive a signed copy from the author.

(1) This was the first and final victory for Lt. Otto Blohm. He was killed on the 6/7th September 1943 in an aircraft explosion south east of Mainz-Finthen airfield.

High quality graves photographs kindly taken especially for Aircrew Remembered by David Franklin. Any relative who would like copies of individual graves please dont hesitate to contact us.

Burial details:

Sgt. Ernest Walter Cox. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.H.26. Son of George Ernest and Frances May Cox, of Canterbury, England.

Sgt. Sydney John Briffett. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.H.23. Son of Sydney John and Lily Briffett, of Taff's Well, Glamorgan, Wales.

Sgt. Raymond Charles Burt. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.H.24. Son of Charles Henry James Burt and Gladys Elsie Burt, of Harrow, Middlesex, England.

W/O. II Frederick Grant McCardle. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.H.28. Son of Frederick Charles and Edith McCardle, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Augustus Rogers. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.H.25. No further details available as yet.

Sgt. Leslie Robert Bray. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.H.22. Son of Ernest and Agnes Bray and husband of Florence Bray.

Sgt. Robert Allan McLaren. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave 6.H.27. Son of Robert Arthur and Ruby Mary McLaren, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Researched for relatives of the crew with thanks to Peter Wilson Cunliffe 'A Shaky Do', David Franklin, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol. 4', 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 Graves Commission.

KTY Updated 15.11.2019

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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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