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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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76 Squadron Crest
03/04.04.1943 No. 76 Squadron Halifax II W7805 MP-M Sgt. John Howarth

Operation: Essen

Date: 03/04th April 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 76 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: W7805

Code: MP-M

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire

Location: Hervest, Near Dorsten, Germany

Pilot: Sgt. John Kershaw Howarth 655475 RAF Age 25. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Charles Pitt 1192387 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: Sgt. G.A. Egan RAFVR PoW No: 1010 Camp: L6 - Stalag Luft Heydekrug, Lithuania.

Air/Bmr: Sgt. J.W.S. Blakey RAFVR PoW No: 1000 Camp: 357 - Stalag Kopernikus, Poland.

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Percy William Digby 49686 RAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick George Williams 1304115 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. H.N. Richards RCAF PoW No: 1035 Camp: 357 - Stalag Kopernikus, Poland.


Taking off at 19:26 hrs from RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire to bomb Essen. 225 Lancasters with 113 Halifaxes led by 10 ‘Oboe’ Mosquitoes. Bombing took place between 21:44 - 22:22 hrs on a cloudless night in moderate visibility.

Above: 76 Squadron Halifax at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire (This one - L9530 MP-L)

Aerial photographs of Essen - 1943 and 1945 (courtesy IWM)

Reports state that the bombing was accurate with widespread damage to the city. 635 buildings were destroyed, a further 526 suffering serious damage. 118 people were killed, 88 civilians, 10 flak gunners, 2 railway workers, 2 policemen and 16 French workers with a further 458 people injured.

Bomber Command lost some 24 aircraft with 137 aircrew killed, 24 taken pow with 7 others injured either during the operation or on return.

It is thought probable that Halifax W7805 was hit by a flak unit with the aircraft coming down at Hervest, near Dorsten.

Left: Grave photo of Sgt. Freddie Williams (courtesy Christine Lockley)

Burial details:

Sgt. John Kershaw Howarth. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 17.C.5. Born in the June 1918 Qtr at West Ham. His younger sister, Edith, was born in 1921. He was the son of Fred, a draughtsman, and Edith (née Kenworthy) of 95 Handsworth Avenue, Higham's Park, London, England.

Sgt. William Charles Pitt. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 17.C.6. Next of kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

F/O. Percy William Digby. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 17.C.4. Son of Frank and Florence Rose Digby, and stepson of Alice Louisa Digby, of Croydon, Surrey, England. Grave inscription reads: "We Thank God For A Beautiful Memory".

Sgt. Frederick George Williams. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 17.C.7. Son of Frederick and Annie Williams, of Chadwell Heath, Essex, England. Grave inscription reads: "In Loving Memory. None Could Daunt His Wondrous Spirit. Mum, Dad, Les And Rosemary".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Christine Lockley for photograph of grave of Sgt. William a relative, also to Dave Champion who contacted us in July 2018 with additional crew details. Also Peter Cunliffe for correction - January 2019.

KTY - Updated 04.03.2018

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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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