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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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44 Squadron Crest
23/24.05.1940 44 Squadron Hampden I L4171 Sqn Ldr. Charles E. Johnson

Operation: Railway Communications

Date: 23rd/24th May 1940 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit No: 44 Squadron

Type: Hampden Mk I

Serial: L4171

Code: KM:Z

Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire

Location: Broichweiden, Aachen, Germany

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Charles Edward Johnson 37290 Age? RAF KiA

Pilot/Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. David Conquest Barker 42043 RAF Age 19. KiA

Obs: Sgt. Harold George Collins 517528 RAF Age 26. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Cpl. William Crook 532528 RAF Age 23. KiA

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire tasked to bomb rail communication in tactical support of the British Expeditionary Force in France.

A further 72 other aircraft were sent to bomb roads and major junctions.

Hampden L4171 was hit by flak and crashed at Broichweiden near Aachen, Germany - all the crew were lost.

Burial details:

The crew were initially buried in the Aachen Ehrenfriedhof. Reinterred at the Rheinberg War Cemetery on the 17th April 1947,

Above the initial grave marker for Sgt. Collins (Courtesy of Thorsten Pflücke). Location believed to be at the Aachen Ehrenfriedhof Plot 26, Grave 153102

Sqn Ldr. Charles Edward Johnson. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg. Grave: 5.E.24. Grave inscription reads: ‘IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEAR BROTHER. RIP’Son of Charles Frederick and Catherine Mary Johnson.

Plt Off. David Conquest Barker. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg. Grave: 5.E.22. Grave inscription reads: ‘WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.’ Son of Alan Oscar Barker, and of Norah Stancomb Barker (née Conquest), of Selsey, Sussex, England.

Sgt. Harold George Collins. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg. Grave: 5.E.23. Grave inscription reads: ‘THERE’S SOME CORNER OF A FOREIGN LAND THAT IS FOREVER ENGLAND.’ Son of Joseph William and May Annie Collins, of Beckenham, Kent, England.

Cpl. William Crook. Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg. Grave: 5.E.25. Grave inscription reads: ‘THE MEMORY FADES AND LIFE DEPARTS. HE WILL LIVE FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS.’ Son of John Nally Crook and Alice Crook, of Wigan, Lancashire, England.

Researcher - Michel Beckers. With thanks to Des Philippet for grave photographs, others from the collection of Michel Beckers and Richard Johnson (Nov 2016). Thanks to John Jones for the aircraft code update and initial burials (Jun 2022). Thanks to Thorsten Pflücke for the image of the initial grave marker for Sgt Collins found amongst the estate of Thorsten’s father. (Dec 2022).

Further sources listed below:

RS 12.12.2022 - addition of initial grave marker for Sgt. Collins

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Acknowledgements
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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