Operation: Night Fighter Test Flight
Date: 1st January 1945 (Monday)
Unit: No. 151 Squadron
Type: Mosquito XXX AI
Base: RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire
Location: Hunsdon, Hertfordshire
Pilot: Sqd/Ldr. Edward Richard Hedgecoe DFC + Bar 86574 RAFVR Age 34. Killed
Navigator: F/O. Norman Llewellyn Bamford DFC + Bar 149134 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
After a period of rest at FIU (1) they both joined 151 Squadron at Hunsdon. During landing at their base on their first flight with the new Squadron they were both killed. Reasons as yet to be identified.
Whilst with 85 Squadron on the 15th September 1943 F/O. Hedgecoe with navigator Sgt. J.R. Witham were flying a Mosquito XII HK123 attacked a Ju88 from KG6 and were hit by return fire. They both bailed out and landed with no injuries.
On the 24th March 1944 F/O. Hedgecoe and F/O. Bamford DFC were flying together also with 85 Squadron and whilst attacking a Ju88 near Hastings the Ju88 went down throwing debris into the path of the Mosquito NF XVII. F/O. Hedgecoe managed to land the aircraft when it burst into flames and the aircraft suffered Cat. B damage. Both the crew escaped injury. (See photo below)
Left: F/O. Norman Llewellyn Bamford DFC + Bar with Right: Sqd/Ldr. Edward Hedgecoe DFC + Bar. (courtesy Colin Bamford).
Recollections from "Bill", Norman's brother:
" He was always wanting to fly but could not be accepted for aircrew because he failed the 'holding up the mercury' test (a rather useless exercise in my view because it measured the strength of your cheek muscles rather than identifying anything about the lungs!). However, after a year or so in the ranks and probably plenty of exercise ('square bashing') he was pronounced as fit for aircrew and, because of his proficiency with the all important radar, found himself crewing as a Radio Observer on Beaufighters with Cunningham's squadron of night fighters even still as an aircrafts-man (probably LAC by then). It was then decided that this was unacceptable and he received promotion to Sergeant and then later was awarded his commission (definitely of the right material background and well deserved). The award was not granted until September 1943 so for a few months it looked as though I had beaten him to it since my own commission was 9 July 1943 - quite an achievement I thought (since I was three years his junior!) but it subsequently transpired that his was effective from 1st. July!!"
Left: F/O. Norman Llewellyn Bamford DFC + Bar
His cousin submitted the following information on F/O. Norman Bamford:
"Born: December 1919 Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire. Norman, eldest son of my Uncle George and Aunt Eva, was a navigator in various night fighter squadrons during the Second World War. Flying in De Havilland Mosquito night fighters, he and his pilot were credited with the destruction of several enemy aircraft. His last flight was on 1st January 1945 when Mosquito NF30 NT253 stalled on approach to Hunsdon Airfield, crashed and was destroyed by fire. Norman and his pilot, Squadron Leader Edward R. Hedgecoe, DFC and Bar, were both killed instantly.
Although as a boy I recall my father and mother and my uncle speaking of Norman I was too young to remember any details of his life. I do remember seeing an example of Normans’ architectural design work and his portrait hanging on the wall of Uncle George’s house in Sevenoaks in Kent and later in the bungalow at Llanfair in North Wales. It was here in the mid-fifties, where we used to holiday, that I would spend hours looking through photographs and remnants of Normans’ RAF service. Of these, I especially recall the aircraft recognition silhouettes. Unfortunately, though, I am sure, all of this material has now been lost.
One memento that was passed on to my father from Uncle George was Normans’ ‘Ross’ night vision binoculars. After my father passed away my mother gave them to me. These were issued to RAF night fighter navigators to aid in visual aircraft recognition while on patrol. One can only imagine what may have been seen through these lenses during the dark nights of 1943 and 1944. (see photo)
In the book Night Fighter (shown above) by C.F. Rawnsley and Robert Wright, Norman is mentioned several times giving an account of some of the actions he was involved in and the comrades he served with."
(1) FIU: the Fighter Interception Unit was initially set up to counter increasing night raids by the Luftwaffe, and thus to evaluate technological advances such as Airborne Interception (radar) equipment and other proposed operational innovations.
On 23 August 1944 the FIU became the 'Fighter Interception Development Squadron' (FIDS). By the latter war years the main element of the unit had become the 'Night Fighter Development Wing' (NFDW) - comprising the Bomber Support Development Unit (BSDU), the FIDS, and the 'Fighter Experimental Flight' (FEF), the latter specialising in day 'Ranger' operations by Mosquitos.
RAF Combat Record: Navigator F/O Norman Llewellyn Bamford, DFC and Bar and Pilot Sqd/Ldr. Edward Richard Hedgecoe DFC and Bar (except as noted)
2/3 July 1943 Pilot W/C R. Chisholm. Ju. 88 destroyed 45 miles S of Bognor, 01:25 hours.Believed to be, Ju 88 from 3(F)/122 that failed to return from night reconnaissance. (Air Commodore Roderick Chisholm's book "Cover of Darkness" is dedicated to the memory of Norman and F/O W.G.Ripley D.F.M, and F/Lt. F.C.Clarke who also flew with him).
2 November 1943 Fw190 destroyed near Gravesend, 19:25 hours.No further information.
6/7 November 1943 Pilot S/L J. Selway. Fw190 destroyed the vicinity of Hastings at 23:55 hours. Believed to be, Fw 190A- 5/U8 WKNr. 5823 ‘Yellow 9’ (lost) StG-77, 3/SKG-10 (Rosiers). Pilot Fw. Friedrich Pichler (Assault Op. Clasp) Born 2.12.19 Velden am Woerthsee/Tirol.
4/5 January 1944Ju. 88 destroyed off Dieppe 02:58 hours. Believed to be, Ju88S-1 Z6+KH crew of Uffz. Windelband all missing or possibly, Ju88S-1 Z6+FH 1/KG66 wn 140602 Ff Hpt. Paul Grunau, B Ofw. Josef Schmidt, Bf Fw. Erich Heinze all killed.
22/23 February 1944 Me.410 destroyed Grid Ref. W6079 00:32 hours. Believed to be Fw 190 G-3, WKNr. 160851 Red 6, Pilot Oblt. Plate or possibly, Fw 190 G-3, WKNr. 160459 Pilot Uffw. Max Seidel, both missing over UK. Note: No reports of a missing Me. 410 for this date and aircraft thought to be misidentified.
24/25 March 1944 Ju.188 destroyed Grid Ref. R5222 (Hastings) 23:23 hours.No further information.
26/27 July 1944 V1 destroyed. “Beacon “S” Diver seen engaged by AA. Dived from 7000 ft. fired a short burst from astern. The diver exploded on the ground. Position 5 miles W of Hawkhurst, 00:03 hours.
16/17 September 1944 Unidentified aircraft thought to be Me.110 destroyed Ardorf Airfield 01:07 hours. No further information.
4/5 December 1944 Ju.88 probably destroyed Detmuld Airfield at 20:54 hours. No further information.
6/7 December 1944(1) 1 Me.110 destroyed, 20-30 miles W. of Munster 19:35 hours. (2) 1 Me.110 damaged between Munster and Osnabruck 20:05 hours. (1) Believed to be, Bf 110 G-4 (W.Nr. 140078) “G9 + HZ of Pilot Hauptmann Hans-Heinz Augenstein (see below) a Ritterkreuz winner with 46 victories to his credit was killed along with the wireless operator, Feldwebel Günther Steins. The rear gunner, Unteroffizier Kurt Schmidt was wounded and baled out of the doomed aircraft.
Pilot Hauptmann Hans-Heinz Augenstein (courtesy Colin Bamford)
12/13 December 1944(1) 1 Me.110 destroyed 5107N 0735W 19:30 hours.(2) 1 Me.110 destroyed 5105N 0720E 20:02 hours.(1) Believed to be, Bf 110 G-4 (W.Nr. 440135) from 9./NJG 1 of Pilot Flg. Hans Apel, Night Fighter Operational Clasp. His gunner, Gefr. Klaas Visser was killed during the action. Flg. Apel and the Radio Operator Uffz. Walter Trenck survived but were both later killed in action on 21 February, 1945. Gefr. Visser is buried in the local cemetery at Marl-Brassert.(2) Believed to be, Bf 110 G-4 (W.Nr. Unknown) from 9./NJG 1 of Pilot Uffz. Rudolf Wilsch, EK2 Wound Badge, Night Fighter Operational Clasp. No further details.
Sq/Ldr. Edward Richard Hedgecoe DFC + Bar North Mymms (St. Mary) Churchyard Ext. Grave 261. Son of Richard Harold and Selina Hedgecoe; husband of Sheila Sandford Hedgecoe, of Brookmans Park. F.C.A.
F/O. Norman Llewellyn DFC + Bar Croydon (Mitcham Road) Crematorium. Panel 1. Son of George Francis and Eva Bamford, of Llanfair, Harlech, Merionethshire, Wales.
Researched for Colin Bamford and relatives of Sqd/Ldr. Hedgecoe. With thanks to The National Archives and The Kracker Luftwaffe Archives. With grateful assistance provided by Adriano Baumgartner. RAF Hunsdon was home to RNZAF, RAAF and RAF Squadrons. Mosquitos were tasked with a number of daring low level missions, including the famous raid on Amiens Prison, led by Group Captain Picard.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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