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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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51 squadron badge
25/26.07.1943 No. 51 Squadron Halifax II HR749 MH-J Fl/Sgt. Jones

Operation: Essen

Date: 25/26th July 1943 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: HR749

Code: MH-J

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire

Location: North Sea 15 km North West Borkum.

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Eric James Jones 1248002 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Joshua Crowther 1514591 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Sgt. William Charles Wallace 657762 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Walter Agar Leopold Huddy 1319885 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Reid 1367429 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Ritchie 1341377 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Bennett York AUS/420098 RAAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed


Taking off from RAF Snaith at 22:46 hrs on an operation to bomb Essen. Over 700 aircraft taking part in this operation overseen by the Commander of American Bomber Command Brig-Gen. Fred Anderson who flew as a passenger on an 83 Squadron Lancaster.

'Window' (2) was still very new and the allies wanted to make best use of this diversion. The raid was a success with damage to the mainly industrial areas of the city. In particular the Krupps works suffered its most damage during the complete war. Its founder, Dr Gustav Krupp suffered a stroke the following morning of the raid.

51 Industrial buildings were destroyed, 83 more suffering serious damage. Nearly 3,000 homes were destroyed. Casualties on the ground amounted to 165 civilian men, 118 women, 22 children, 22 German forces, 131 foreign workers and 42 prisoners of war. 1,208 others were injured with 12 people missing.

Rear L-R: Sgt. Reid, Fl/Sgt. Jones, Sgt. Huddy, Sgt. Crowther. Front: Fl/Sgt. York, Sgt. Ritchie and Sgt. Wallace. (courtesy Ann McCallum)

51 Squadron armourers about to load for an operation at a RAF Snaith (courtesy IWM)

Halifax HR749 was lost without trace and it is possible that it came down in the North Sea as it is listed as a 'possible' by Hptm. Rudolf Sigmund (1) of 10/./NJG1 - He claimed a Halifax shot down over the North Sea 15 km North West Borkum at 23:54 hrs.

51 Squadron lost another Halifax II this night, HR934 flown by 23year old F/O. John S. Cole from Wembley, Middlesex, killed with all 6 other crew members.

(1) Hptm. Rudolf Sigmund was shot down and killed on the 3/4th October 1943. Flying a Bf110G-4U7 with 2 other crew members South West of Guttingen, Germany. (Shown above and his grave)

Left: Window - Chaff

(2) Window or Chaff as it is known today is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, which either appears as a cluster of secondary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns.

Left: Runnymede Memorial, as photographed by Aircrew Remembered in May 2013

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Eric James Jones. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 137. Son of James and Dorothy L. Jones, of Lye, Worcestershire, England.

Sgt. Joshua Crowther. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 146. Son of Josbua and Margaret Crowther, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Sgt. William Charles Wallace. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 168. Next of kin details not currently available.

Sgt. Walter Agar Leopold Huddy. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 154. Son of George Henry and Alice Huddy, of Whimple, Devon, England.

Sgt. William Reid. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 163. Son of James and Ann Law Reid, of Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland.

Sgt. John Ritchie. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 163. Son of John Ritchie, and of Jessie Ritchie, of Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, Scotland.

Fl/Sgt. Leslie Bennett York. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 194. Born on the 12th October 1918 at Yass, NSW, the son of Leslie James York and Alice York, husband of Jean York, of Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Ann McCallum (relative of Sgt. William Reid), the great research historians at 51 Squadron, Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Other sources as described.

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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