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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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455 Squadron Crest
07/08.11.1941 455 Squadron Hampden I P1201 UB-P P/O. James A.C. Gordon

Operation: Rover Patrol

Date: 07/08th November 1941 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 455 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Hampden I

Serial: P1201

Code: UB-P

Base: RAF Swinderby

Location: Onoz, near Namur, Belgium

Pilot: P/O. James Anthony Cathcart Gordon AUS/400367 RAAF PoW No: 672 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria (L3)

Obs: P/O. John D. Cordwell 621404 RAF PoW No: 668 Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Mowbray Norman Stokes 1168877 RAFVR PoW No: 90085 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug (L6)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Holt 1109174 RAFVR PoW No: 116 Camp: Stalag Hohen Fels (383)

The son of a very good friend of P/O. John Cordwell who served with him at the Camp, Stalag Luft 3 and remained in contact after the war - would very much like to make contact with his relatives.

Update: contact now made. We are still seeking information regarding Sgt. Edward Holt - perhaps you are able to assist and can contact us via our Helpdesk?


Taking off from RAF Swinderby at 18:40 hrs on a Rover Patrol with 3 others from the Squadron - in this case to attack at low level to bomb and machine gun the searchlight belt at Aachen - Maastricht area. Having completed the task the crew turned for home, again at low level. Weather reports provided to the crew were inaccurate due to some freak weather conditions and they were some miles south of their intended route.

This meant that they were in the foothills of the Ardennes and whilst flying at approximately 350 ft the aircraft collided with a chimney stack which hit the lower portion of the fuselage breaking the fuel lines. The engines subsequently cut out and the pilot was forced to crash land the Hampden.

P/O. Gordon, P/O. Cordwell and Sgt. Stokes escaped from the wrecked aircraft during the landing with slight burns, however Sgt. Holt was more seriously injured and taken to a hospital - recovering at a later date.

Two from the Squadron completed the task and returned to base, however a further Hampden was lost, AE243 UB-B flown by Sgt. Maurice Albert Jenkins 1255580 RAFVR from Plymouth, England. Also killed with him: Sgt. Donald Reginald Rawlings 1251662 RAFVR, Sgt. George Albert McGarvey 969452 RAFVR and Fl/Sgt. Keith Morris 553926 RAF. All the crew are buried at the Heverlee War Cemetery. (see below)

Above L-R: John D. Cordwell, F/O. Arthur John Garwell, Davidson, Hamilton, F/O. Ronald Frank Jessop, Fl/Lt. Van Toen, F/O. Ronald Robert Mitchell. Front: ?, ?, W/O. William Richard Samson, P/O. Arnold Stanley Meara DFC. (courtesy John Garwell) Further research continues into the other named chaps on this wonderful photograph.

The crew survived the war serving in various PoW camps.

Above: The photograph taken by Jean-Marie Defense depicts the Alexis family home located above the crash site, where the crew were given shelter following the crash.

Below: This emotive drawing of the crash site by Pilot Officer John Cordwell titled 'Black Friday 7 November 1941' was drawn circa 1942 when he was a POW in Stalag Luft 3, Poland. The accuracy of his recollections are a testimony to his keen architect’s eye for detail, taking into account he was at the location in the dark following the crash, suffering burns and shock and with the area only illuminated by the burning bomber. The next morning he and the crew were taken prisoner by the Germans.

In August 2017 members of the crew's families will visit the site of the crash in the Belgium village of Onoz. This will provide them with an opportunity to thank the villagers for the support and care that was given to the crew at great personal risk. Interested parties are invited to contact us for further information as and when it becomes available to us.

Burial Details:

None - all crew survived as PoW.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to John Garwell whose father served at Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria with P/O. John Cordwell who remained in contact for a period post war. Thanks also to Andrew Gordon, son of the pilot who has carried out extensive research into this loss and also for enabling John Garwell to contact the son of P/O John Cordwell. For further details our thanks to the following sources shown below.

RW / KTY 28.01.2017.

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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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