29/30.09.1941 No. 7 Squadron Stirling I W7433 MG-U W/O. Alexander Fletcher
Date: 29/30th September 1941 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 7 Squadron
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire
Location: North Sea - off Norfolk coast.
Pilot: W/O. Alexander Fletcher 565697 RAF Age 25. Missing
Pilot 2: Sgt. Douglas Edward Coyle 1101054 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Tucker 636626 RAF Age 21. Killed
Nav: F/O. William Henry John Thompson 79575 RAFVR Age 27. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Herbert Henry Mansfield 751557 RAFVR Age 21. Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Edward Burrows 751057 RAFVR Age 21. Killed (1)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Hugh John Walker 611566 RAF Age 21. Missing
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 19:00 hrs from R.A.F. Oakington, Cambridgeshire to attack the German Baltic port of Stettin an important supply route for the German troops in Russia. This was the second attack at the limit of the range for RAF bombers at the time.
The target was bombed by 95 of the 139 aircraft that had left in good weather conditions with a slight haze. Many large fires were the result with two ships set on fire.
Stettin bomb damage at various stages of WW2 (courtesy I.W.M.) As well as a strategic German port it was also a major producer of arms.
The allies lost 8 aircraft during the operation with a further 5 crashing in England on return. Another Stirling from 7 Squadron was also lost on this operation:
Stirling I W7441 MG-Y: Flown by Sgt. C.J. Cobbold who, with 3 other crew were taken pow, 3 others lost their lives.
Stirling W7433 was last heard of during its return at 02:58 hrs somewhere 40 miles north east of Lowestoft, Suffolk. The bodies of two of the crew were washed up on the Dutch coast with that of Sgt. Burrows recovered from the sea. No claims from Night fighters for this loss so it may have been damaged by flak or that the aircraft had ran out of fuel.
(1) Sgt. Albert Burrows escaped a crash just a few weeks previously with Stirling I N6022 MG-D on return from a trip to Hannover - aircraft abandoned, crashing at Newton Flotman, near Norwich, Norfolk.
Left: Runnymede Memorial Panels (archives)
W/O. Alexander Fletcher. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 35. Born in October 1915. son of James Sinton and Elizabeth Fletcher, of Inverness, Scotland. He was brother to Elizabeth, James and Margaret. He was an Old Haltonian, 24th Entry. His name was added to his parents headstone in Scotland
Sgt. Douglas Edward Coyle. Hook of Holland General Cemetery. Row F. Grave 26. Born in January 1920. Son of William L. and Elizabeth Jane Coyle, of Gateshead, Durham. He had two brothers and one sister.
Sgt. James Tucker 636626. Noordwijk General Cemetery. Plot 1. Joint grave 4. Son of James and Eva Tucker, of Clay Cross, Derbyshire, England.
F/O. William Henry John Thompson. Hook of Holland General Cemetery. Row F. Grave 27. Son of James William and Sarah Thompson, of Newbury, Berkshire, England.
Sgt. Herbert Henry Mansfield. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 48. Son of Charles and Eliza Mansfield, of Cambridge, England.
Sgt. Albert Edward Burrows. Derby (Nottingham Road) Cemetery. Sec. F. Grave 592. Son of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Burrows, of Derby, England.
Sgt. Hugh John Walker. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 54. Born on the 18th November 1919. Son of William and Selena Walker, of Hyde, Cheshire. He had three brothers and four sisters.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Ian Davenport for detailed information, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. Thanks to Caroline Cook for the NoK details for Sgt. Coyle, Sgt. Walker and W/O Fletcher.