11/12.06.1941 149 Squadron Wellington Ic W5439 OJ:X Sgt. Harrison MiD
Operation: Dusseldorf, Germany.
Date: 11th/12th June 1941
Unit: 149 Squadron
Type: Vickers Wellington 1c
Location: Het Broek, Holland.
Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk.
Pilot: Sgt.Wilfred Harrison MiD. 580035 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 18284 * (1)
2nd Pilot: Sgt. Clifford Morgan 944601 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 18279 *
Observer: Sgt. George Alexander Johnstone 929204 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 222428 **
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt Michael Thomas Kenny 629851 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 18294 *
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Vernon George Ingram Anderson 551296 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 18283 *
Air Gnr (Rear): WO. Tasman Errol Schofield 391387 RNZAF Age 20. PoW No: 18296 *
* Stalag 357, Thorn (Toruń) in Poland. Moved in September 1944 to Stalag 11b, Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, Germany
** Stalag 4b Mühlberg, Sachsen, Germany
REASON FOR LOSS:
This aircraft took off from its base at Mildenhall at 23:43 hrs en-route to Dusseldorf, joining 80 others.
W5439 was hit by 2./Res. Flak Abt. 642. The aircraft crashed at Deest near Nijmegen at 03:00 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1939 - 12 July 1941) The Early Years Part 1 - Theo Boiten)
On Sgt. Harrison's 48th sortie, his starboard engine caught fire on the return trip and he was compelled to execute a belly landing in a field in the Netherlands. Thanks to his skill, all his crew survived to become PoWs.
Above left: Sgt Cliff Morgan of 149 Squadron; Right: 149 squadron on a low level fly past at RAF Mildenhall (courtesy IWM)
(1) In the bitter winter months of early 1945 as the Stalag Luft 3 PoW's were marched westwards to prevent them from falling into the hands of the advancing Russian armies, Harrison and a number of colleagues managed to escape into the undergrowth and hid until the approach of Allied forces. After demobilisation as a WO he was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD), Promulgated in the London Gazette 31st January 1947, in recognition of his valuable services while a prisoner of war.
After the war Harrison became a civil airline pilot flying most of the world’s commercial routes and retraining as airliners progressed from piston engines through turboprops to turbojets. He retired from the BOAC as a senior captain in 1967 having flown more than 15,000 hours in civil aviation. He died aged 93 on 30th October 2010 leaving his second wife, Betty and by the son of his first wife, Peggy.
WO. Tasman Errol Schofield settled in England after the war and married Joyce Constance Rogers in 1947 - information courtesy Auckland Museum.
None, all survived
Researched by Aircrew Remembered and dedicated the crew and families. Thanks also to "The Times Obituaries" October 2010. Reviewed and updated by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2022).