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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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214 squadron crest
15/16.04.1942 No. 214 Squadron Wellington IC Z8951 BU-X P/O. Lawrence Leech

Operation: Dortmund

Date: 15/16th April 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 214 Squadron

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: Z8951

Code: BU-X

Base: RAF Stradishall, Suffolk

Location: Between Deurne and Helmond, Holland.

Pilot: P/O. Lawrence Malcolm Leech J/5490 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Harry Arthur Shortt 100558 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Jack Ward 1064100 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Geoffrey Malcolm Charles Turner 1251531 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Percy Heppenstall 998624 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Vernon Ernest Egan 1092735 RAFVR Age 21. Killed


Took off from RAF Stradishall, Suffolk on a 152 aircraft operation to bomb Dortmund (the second night running the city was attacked). Only 88 aircraft reported to have bombed the target however later reports that the total tonnage of bombs dropped was the equivalent of 8 aircraft loads. 

Dortmund reported 1 house destroyed, with a further 13 seriously damaged. 2 people killed on the ground with 6 injured.

4 aircraft not returning, with the loss of all 26 aircrew, killed.


P/O. Harry Arthur Shortt and his friend Peter Sergeant (courtesy James Bateman and David Royle)


Above L-R: Observer for Z8951 Sgt Ward, 2nd from left in group photo, Sgt. Turner, The wireless operator / air gunner (courtesy Richard Schoutissen)



A and B course, C and D course at R.A.F. bombing and gunnery school, located in Millom, Cumbria, taken in May 1941. On lower photo (C and D course) Sgt. Ward - sitting on front row, 5th from right. We have these in higher definition should others wish to assist in identification of others. 

Z8951 was attacked and shot down shot down by Uffz. Walter Schienbein (1) of 2./NJG1 south west of Duerne at 03.30 hrs. A searchlight battery also claimed a Wellington which crashed on the road between Deurne and Helmond at the same time as Schiebein's claim. They claimed that the aircraft was 'blinded by their searchlight'.

(1) The second claim of 4 by Uffz. Walter Schienbein who survived the war. No further details available.


P/O. Harry Arthur Shortt grave and memorial (courtesy Richard Schoutissen)


Burial details:

P/O. Lawrence Malcolm Leech. Woensel General Cemetery, Eindhoven Plot JJ. Grave 51. Son of Sidney Charles and Clara Leech of McAdam Junction, New Brunswick, Canada.

P/O. Harry Arthur Shortt. Woensel General Cemetery, Eindhoven Plot JJ. Grave 52. Further information: Son of Henry Noel Harvey and Annie Elizabeth (nee Cranfield) Shortt of Little Baddow, Essex. Parents were married in Beamsville, Lincoln, Ontario, Canada where Harry’s father Henry first was a member of the 13th Hussars before joining the Toronto Railway Company and finally signing up for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 20th March 1916. They had three children Robert Charles (1914-1936), Norah K (1915-1992) and Harry in Canada before returning to England on the 5th of April 1919. Harry met his future wife, Sylvia Ada (nee Hart) Shortt, they married in 1940 in London. All of his family are buried together at Little Baddow. Also remembered on the War Memorial at Little Baddow Church, Essex and Chelmsford Cathedral, Essex.

Sgt. Jack Ward. Woensel General Cemetery, Eindhoven Plot JJ. Coll. Grave 54-56. Further information: Son of Percy Ward and Mary (nee Windle) of Halifax Road, Batley, West Yorkshire, England. Born in Sharp Street, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, the youngest of seven children, a dearly loved son and brother.  The family later moved to Batley where he attended Batley Boys Grammar School.  He worked as a builder and joiner with his father, also of the same profession, and hoped to become an architect but the war interfered with his plans. Jack trained with the RAF at Millom and was later stationed at Stradishall. The family received the sad news that he was missing on 17th April 1942 but had to wait five months for official confirmation of his death. Commemorated on the Batley Town War Memorial and also on the Roll of Honour of Batley Grammar School. His cousin, F/O Geoffrey Ward lost his life with 9 squadron on 1st/2nd January 1944

Sgt. Geoffrey Malcolm Charles Turner. Woensel General Cemetery, Eindhoven Plot JJ. Coll. Grave 53. Further information: Son of Mr and Mrs Clifford Turner of 13, Lavender Vale, Wallington, Surrey, England, husband of Beryl Barbara Turner of Riddlesden, Yorkshire. Attended Trinity School, Croydon where he was a member of the cricket team also the cadet corp. Worked for Imperial Airways before enlisting.

Sgt. Percy Heppenstall. Woensel General Cemetery, Eindhoven Plot JJ. Coll. Grave 54-56. Son of William and Beatrice Minnie Heppenstall of Doncaster, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Vernon Ernest Egan. Woensel General Cemetery, Eindhoven Plot JJ. Coll. Grave 54-56. From Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England. Born 22nd September 1921. N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Special thanks to James Bateman and David Royle, cousins of Pilot Officer Shortt for family information and photographs and also Richard Schoutissen, for the grave photographs and information on Pilot Officer Shortt. For information and photographs on Sgt Jack Ward courtesy of Judith Ward, niece. Also thanks to the following for supplying further details, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries'.

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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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