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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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426 Squadron Crest
26/27.03.1943 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron, RCAF Wellington III X3696 OW:T Sgt. Hall

Operation: Duisburg, Germany

Date: 26th/27th March 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: 426 (Thunderbird) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Wellington III

Serial: X3696

Code: OW:T

Base: RAF Dishforth, Yorkshire

Location: North Sea off Withernsea

Pilot: Sgt. Eric Hall 1216854 RAFVR Age 20. MiA

Obs: Sgt. John Joseph Reade 657755 RAFVR Age 24. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Simpson 1238939 RAFVR Age? MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Stevenson 1369435 RAFVR Age 22. MiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Clarence Darlington Reed 710081 RAFVR Age 28. MiA


X3696 took off at 19:22 hrs from RAF Dishforth in Yorkshire joining a total force of 455 aircraft in what has been described as a failure, with the bombing very widely scattered. This was mainly due to the very cloudy conditions and of the 9 Mosquitoes - 5 had to return with technical difficulties another was lost over the North Sea.

The force lost six aircraft, three Wellingtons, a PFF Mosquito, a Halifax and a Lancaster. At least three of these we shot down by flak over the Netherlands and 25 main force bombers returned with flak damage. 25 aircrew were killed, 6 captured and became PoWs, with 1 evading capture.

Detailed reports state that only 15 houses were destroyed with a further 70 damaged. 11 people on the ground were killed, 36 injured.

The last fix on X3696 was 60 miles east of Withernsea over North Sea (53 47N, 01 20E) at 02.05 hrs, 2 - 2½ hrs after other Sqn aircraft landed at diversion airfields due to weather. Most likely the crew bailed out due to possible damage, injury, navigational problems, bad weather and likely low/no fuel.

It was recorded that a search was made by a Beaufighter, possibly from No 2 (Coastal) OTU based at RAF Catfoss, which found no trace.

Above: Sgt. Eric Hall (Courtesy of Stephen Hall)

Above: Sgt. John Joseph Reade pictured with his brother, James (courtesy Kathryn Church)

Above: Story of the loss of Wellington III X3696 as retold by Stephen Hall

Burials Details:

Sgt. Eric Hall. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 152. Son of Edgar and Mary Louisa Hall of Hanley, Staffordshire, England.

Sgt Hall undertook his Pilot training in Alabama, USA

Sgt. John Joseph Reade. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 162. Son of James and Anastatia Reade of Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland. He was one of 8 children, 6 boys and two girls and his mother was greatly opposed to any of her children joining the service but John followed his brother, James into the RAF. He was unmarried at the time of his death.

Sgt. Frederick Simpson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 164. Son of Joseph and Esther Ann Simpson of Coventry, Warwickshire, England.

Sgt. William Stevenson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 165. Son of James and Margaret Stevenson of Thornlie Bank, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Clarence Darlington Reed. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 162. Son of Arthur Clarence and Olive May Reed of Marandellas, Southern Rhodesia.

Researched for Aircrew Remembered - May 2017 - Linda Ibrom. Thanks to Kathryn Church for the photograph of Sgt. Reade with his brother. Thanks to Stephen Hall for the updated narrative and for the photograph of Sgt. Hall (Jan 2022). Thanks to Chris Pozzi, grandson of James Reade, for the correction to the last known location of the aircraft (Feb 2024). Thanks to Stephen Hall for the video (Feb 2024).

Other sources listed below:

RS 16.02.2024 - Addition of Video

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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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