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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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51 Squadron Crest
09/10.07.1943 No. 51 Squadron Halifax HR843 MH-A Sgt. John V.F. Foulston DFM

Operation: Gelsenkirchen

Date: 9/10th July 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron.

Type: Halifax 

Serial: HR843

Code: MH-A

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire

Location: Sidney Farm, Staplefield, Crawley.

Pilot: Sgt. John Victor Francis Foulston DFM 1230421 RAFVR Survived.

Fl/Eng: Sgt. C.G. Street 576754 RAFVR PoW No: 440 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus

Nav: Sgt. J.G. McDonald R/124747 RCAF PoW No: 408 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus

Air/Bmr: Sgt. J.S. Moore RAFVR Survived.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. H. Spalding RAFVR Survived.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. N.A. Chappell RAFVR Survived.

Air/Gnr: Sgt. B.B. Collings RAFVR Survived.


Took off at 23.09 hrs from RAF Snaith, Yorkshire to bomb Gelsenkirchen.

418 Aircraft took part in this operation which was classed as "not successful". Oboe equipment (radar navigation aid) failed in 5 of the 6 Mosquitoes with the sixth dropping sky-markers 10 miles north of the target area in error.

The city suffered very light damage to 10 industrial buildings including the synthetic oil refinery - 41 people were killed in the area.

Halifax II HR843 Crew - Sgt Foulston centre and probably Sgt. McDonald standing right - can you place names to remainder? (courtesy family of Sgt. Foulston DFM via Neil Smith)

Bomber Command lost 15 aircraft on this operation. 39 aircrew killed, 29 taken Prisoner of War, 6 evading capture and 2 injured. Night fighter activity was very limited due to rain and low cloud over their bases. Three confirmed claims to Nachtjagd, but the majority of casualties were hit by flak, with one lost during take off.

Halifax HR843 was hit by flak on its return journey after successfully bombing the target. Hit again by flak whilst over Gelsenkirchen and then the aircraft hit an electrical storm. Instruments were left unserviceable and the aircraft went into a spin. Two of the crew, Sgt. Street and Sgt. McDonald baled out. 

The pilot regained control but was hit yet again by ground fire with damage to one of the engines. The pilot managed to reach England however due to lack of fuel, the aircraft crashed at 05.00 hrs. All the remaining crew escaping injury. Sgt. Foulston was awarded the DFM for his airmanship, great courage and resolution. 

Burial details:

None - all survived.

Researched by Neil Smith, 51 History Organisation along with Kelvin Youngs of Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to relatives of this crew. Sources: Neil Smith, 51 History, Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol. 4", Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - "Bomber Command War Diaries", Oliver Clutton-Brock "Footprints On The Sands Of Time".

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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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