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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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58 squadron
09.05.1943 58 Squadron Halifax GR.II HR743, Flt Sgt. James A. Hoather DFM

Operation: Anti-Submarine Patrol, Bay of Biscay

Date: 9th May 1943 (Sunday)

Unit No: 58 Squadron, 19 Group, Coastal Command

Type: Halifax GR.II

Serial No: HR743

Code: BY:N

Location: Bay of Biscay

Base: RAF St. Eval, Cornwall

Pilot: Flt Sgt. James Alfred ‘Jimmy’ Hoather DFM 1174105 RAFVR. Age 21. MiA (1)

2nd Pilot: Sgt. Terence Edward Hamley 1314853 RAFVR. Age 21. MiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. James Somerville 529867 RAF. Age 26. MiA

Navigator/Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Leonard Richard Ott 961278 RAFVR. Age 26. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Eric Rabjohn 1255721 RAFVR. Age 19. MiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Arthur Simpson 1100653 RAFVR. Age? MiA

RDF Mechanic: Sgt. Harold Stuart Butler R250048 RCAF. Age 22 KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Robert Young Herd 1340175 RAFVR. Age 31. MiA

Note: Sgt. Butler was aboard for this sortie as a Radio Direction Finder Mechanic.

Above: Flt Sgt. James Alfred Hoather DFM (Courtesy of Stephen Hunnisett)


Above left to right: Flt Sgt. Leonard Ott, Sgt. McKinley, Flt Sgt. Jimmy Hoather. Taken at RAF Wick in July 1942. (Courtesy of Stephen Hunnisett)

Note: Sgt. McKinley was previously on the crew of Flt Sgt. Jimmy Hoather- No further information has been found

On the 9th May 1943 at 06:11 hrs HR743 took off from RAF St. Eval in Cornwall on an Anti-Submarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay.

At the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) of 15:40 hrs as no signals had been received from the aircraft, and none of the signals sent had been acknowledged, overdue action was initiated but no trace of the aircraft or of any dinghy from it was found.

The site reported an action by U-boat U-666 on the 9th May 1943:

Aircraft attack, aircraft shot down:British Halifax bomber HR743 (58 Sqn RAF/N, pilot F/S J.A. Hoather, DFM)

10:28hrs, Bay of Biscay, outbound: the Halifax (misidentified as a Sunderland) only strafed the boat on its first attack and received several AA hits in one of the port engines during a second run. The pilot then apparently lost control when turning to come in again and the Halifax crashed into the sea about 500m (546 yds) from the boat, killing the crew of eight. (Source by Franks and Zimmerman)

(1) Flt Sgt. Hoather was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) whilst with 58 Squadron. Promulgated in the London Gazette 7th May 1943. Citation reads:

“In April, 1943, this airman captained an aircraft detailed to search for a German merchant vessel, escorted by 4 destroyers and a number of aircraft. He successfully located the convoy, reporting the position, and then, in spite of the formidable opposition, continued to shadow it. Although his aircraft was repeatedly attacked by the enemy fighters he refused to be beaten off until his task was accomplished. This airman displayed great courage and tenacity of purpose throughout”.

This action took place on the 10th April 1943 during a Reconnaissance Patrol aboard Halifax GR.II BB259 BY:O, flying out of RAF St. Eval taking off at 13:50 hrs.

Burial Details:

Above: The Runnymede Memorial

Flt Sgt. James Alfred ‘Jimmy’ Hoather DFM. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 137. Born on the 26th September 1921 in Camberwell, London, Son of Frederick Charles and of Rose Elizabeth (née Chadwick) Hoather of Clapham, London, England.

James Alfred Hoather was also a promising junior footballer for Dulwich Hamlet Football Club.

Sgt. Terence Edward Hamley. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 152. Born in 3rd Qtr of 1921 in Swindon, Wiltshire. Son of Albert Frank and Olive Beryl (née Thomas) Hamley. Husband of Nora M (née Shepherd) Hamley of Moredon, Wiltshire, England.

Flt Sgt. Leonard Richard Ott. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 138. Born on the 7th March 1917 in Islington, London. Son of Joseph Richard and Annie Ellen (née Hooker) Ott of Islington, London, England.

Sgt. James Somerville. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 165. Son of Charles and Mary Jane Somerville. Husband of Margaret Agnes Stevenson Somerville of Maida Hill, London, England.

Sgt. Eric Rabjohn. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 162. Born on the 23rd June 1923 in Birling, Kent. Son of Arthur and Isabella Jane (née Calder) Rabjohn of Aylesford, Kent. Husband of Joan Marguerite (née Woolhouse) Rabjohn of Southampton, Hampshire, England.

Joan Marguerite Woolhouse had been previously married to Sgt. Maurice William Buckley was KiA in North Africa on the 24th April 1942. When Eric died in 1943 she was pregnant with Erica. In 1947 she married again to William Nicholls.

Sgt. Arthur Simpson. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 164. It is believed that he hailed from Leeds. No further details.

Above: The Bilbao British Cemetery, Spain

Sgt. Harold Stuart Butler. Bilbao British Cemetery, Plot 1, Row B, Grave 11. Grave inscription: "FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH". Born on the 6th May 1921 in Harriston, Ontario. Son of Walter and Mary Ann (née Ovens) Butler of Harriston, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. Robert Young Herd. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 153. Born on the 11th May 1911 in Lochore, Fife. Son of David Herd of Lochore, Fife. Husband to Jane Martin (née Bauld) Herd of Lochore, Fife, Scotland.

Also remembered on the Roll of Honour at the Scottish National Memorial.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Stephen Hunnisett for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. (Feb 2024)

Other sources listed below:

RS 24.02.2024 - Initial Upload

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