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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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53 Squadron Crest
26.06.1941 53 Squadron Blenheim IV V6087 PZ-O Plt.Off. Dennis T. Herrick GM

Operation: Anti-Shipping

Date: 26th June 1941 (Thursday)

Unit: 53 Squadron, 19 Group - Coastal Command

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: V6087

Code: PZ:O

Base: St. Eval, Cornwall

Location: Approx 55 miles SW of Lorient.

Pilot: Plt.Off. Dennis Trevelyan Herrick GM. 40974 RNZAF Age 29. Injured

Obs: Sgt. Gordon Francis Wilson Gahagan 957188 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. George Leonard Wells 946558 RAFVR Age 29. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 11:10hrs from St. Eval in Cornwall on anti-shipping sweep off Brest in France.

The details of the loss of V6087 and V6122 and their crews has been researched by Jeremy Greville-Heygate and posted on his website as "A Dash of Courage, A tribute to Plt.Off Charles Grevile-Heygate".

Both aircraft are confirmed as shot down during their low altitude attack on Kriegsmarine ships UJ126, UJ'D' and UJ'E', from 12 U-Jagdflotille, 3rd Sicherungsdivision, approx 55NM southwest of Lorient.

Detailed combat reports and a sketch of the action are held in the Bundesarchive at Freiburg. UJ'D' is now on display at the Deutches Schiffahrtsmuseum Bremerhaven, under its peacetime name RAU IX. Bletchley Park's 'Enigma' intercepts of radio messages from UJ126 are held in the UK National Archives at Kew.

Plt.Off. Herrick was rescued and captured and sent to the Marine Hospital at Lorient suffering severe injuries from which he succumbed on the 30th June.

One of three from the Squadron that failed to return on this day, the others being:

Blenheim IV V6309 PZ:E Flown by Plt.Off. Laurence Joseph Francis 87435 RAFVR - All three crew lost when shot down earlier in the day.
Blenheim IV V6122 PZ:Y Flown by Plt.Off. Charles Edward Greville-Heygate DFC. 87396 RAFVR - All three crew lost.

Burial details:

Plt.Off. Dennis Trevelyan Herrick GM. Lorient Communal Cemetery (Kerentrech) Plot 62. Row A. Grave 7. Born on the 6 October 1912 at Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, the son of Edward Jasper and Ethne Rose Herrick and husband of Mary Rowena Herrick, of Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.

Plt.Off. Herrick accumulated a total of 320 hours logged and had completed 13 operational sorties.
See below for further information concerning Plt.Off. Herrick's family and their sacrifice.

Sgt. Gordon Francis Wilson Gahagan. Runnymede Memorial. Pane 43. Son of Gerald Michael and Lena May Gahagan, of Colchester. Essex.

Sgt. George Leonard Wells. Runnymede Memorial. Pane 54. Son of Arthur and Florence May Wells of Cornwall, England.

Plt.Off. Herrick GM received his George Medal for actions taken to rescue the pilot (28 year old, Instructor Sqn.Ldr. John Hugh Kitson 34160 RAF) of crashed Oxford I NZ275 of EFTS at Taieri, Otago, New Zealand on the 21st June 1940.

The family of Plt.Off. Herrick suffered further losses. 6 sons served during the war, 3 were killed serving with the airforce. 2 others served with the Royal Navy and survived. Jasper, the eldest son joined the army but the New Zealand authorities refused permission to allow him to go overseas.

Above: Parents, Edward Jasper and Ethne Rose Herrick - courtesy Jenifer Lemaire

SqnLdr. Michael James Herrick DFC and Bar 33566 RNZAF Killed on the 16th June 1944 whilst serving with 305 (Polish) Squadron.

Fg.Off. Brian Henry Herrick 42003 RNZAF Missing - believe killed on the 24th November 1940 whilst serving with 272 Squadron.

Cdr. Laurence Edward Herrick DSC. MiD and Bar. Royal Navy - survived the war - passed on the 17th May 2010.

Cdr.Terence Desmond Herrick DSC and Bar Royal Navy - survived the war - passed on the 15th April 2009.

Jasper Herrick Army - survived the war.

Cousin: Plt.Off. Peter Gersholm Herrick 88246 RNZAF Killed on the 25th September 1941 whilst serving with 245 Squadron.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, further additional details supplied by Jenifer Lemaire - May 2019. Our sincere thanks to Jeremy Greville-Heygate for sharing his research with Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2020), other sources as quoted below:

RS 17.11.2020 - Added detail of aircraft loss

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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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