10/11.01.1942 83 Squadron Hampden I AE133 Sgt. Fletcher
Operation: Wilhelmshaven, Germany
Date: 10th/11th January 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 83 Squadron
Type: Hampden I
Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, England
Location: Near Campen, NW of Emden, Germany
Pilot: Sgt. Martin Cargill Fletcher 778412 RAFVR Age? Killed
Observer: Sgt. Leonard Armstrong Fox 1255582 RAFVR Age? Killed
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: Sgt. Harold R. Holme 926467 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 149 *
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: Sgt. Percy V. Sekine 1375192 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 144 * (1)
* Stalag 383, Hohen Fels, Bavaria
Handley Page Hampdens from 83 Sqn, at RAF Scampton (Credit: Imperial War Museum)
REASON FOR LOSS:
AE133 took off from RAF Scampton at around 17:00 hrs on a mission to bomb targets at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. It has been reported that this mission was the final one for the Hampdens of 83 Squadron.
The aircraft crashed at 21:18 hrs near Campen, north west of Emden in Germany. The villagers of Campen were afraid that the bomber would crash near the school but the bomber did a sharp turn and crashed in a field next to the place called Rüsthofen. (Reference: Aviation Safety Network)
(1) Sgt. Percy V. Sekine survived the crash and recalled the events:
"We took off from Scampton around 17:00 hrs on 10th January 1942, the target was Wilhelmshaven. Over Germany, approaching the target, either through flak or mechanical failure, the port engine packed up and with a full bomb load we started to lose height. The port engine also powered the generator so we could not drop the bombs which we had to do to stand a chance of getting back.
To ditch in the sea in January 1942 was certain death, and Martin Fletcher, our pilot, told me to try and release the bombs manually, but it was no good; we threw overboard everything of weight, guns, cylinders etc.
Then Martin turned the aircraft inland (we had been heading out to sea) and told us to bale out. I jumped out at under 3,000 ft. Harold followed. The last I heard before that was Leonard Fox (second pilot) asking and helping Martin to control the rudder pedals. Less than a minute after I jumped, they crashed, lighting up the sky with the explosion, as I was still on the way down. Leonard Fox and Martin Fletcher are buried at Sage, a cemetery on the way to Wilhelmshaven. I owe my life to Martin, a fine and brave Rhodesian.
I was captured about five hours later, the usual interrogation and then on to the first, Stalag VIIA Mooseburg near Munich, one of many to come. I escaped from there in July 1942 by climbing the wire between two sentry boxes, aided by pouring rain which deadened sound and caused the sentry to shelter as I went over. I was free for seven days but was caught outside Innsbruck. There were two more escape attempts, one by tunnel under the wire, the next on a working party."
Sgt. Martin Cargill Fletcher. Sage War Cemetery Plot 11 Row B Grave 2. No further details
Sgt. Leonard Armstrong Fox. Sage War Cemetery Plot 10 Row D Grave 1. No further details
Researched by Ralph Snape and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to John Jones for his contribution.