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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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83 Squadron
06/07.04.1942 83 Squadron Manchester IA R5837 Sqn Ldr. David A.J. McClure

Operation: Essen, Germany

Date: 6th/7th April 1942 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit No: 83 Squadron, 5 Group

Type: Manchester IA

Serial: R5837

Code: OL:R

Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire

Location: RAF Coltishall, Norfolk

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. David Alston Johnstone McClure 41596 RAF Age 22. Returned/Wounded (1)

2nd Pilot: Flt Sgt. Arnold James Frederick Rayment DFM 400155 RAAF Age 21. Returned (2)

Observer: Sgt. Alan MacPherson Ogilvie 789537 RAFVR Age 21. Returned (3)

Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: Flt Sgt. Joseph ‘Joe’ Taylor 751639 RAFVR Age? Returned

Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: Sgt. Eric Stead 1310159 RAFVR Age? Returned

Air Gunner (Mid Upper): Sgt. Sidney Thomas Benjamin ‘Sid’ Hall 616377 RAFVR Age 22. PoW No. 24848 * (4)

Air Gunner (Rear): Sgt. James Albert ‘Jim’ Hurley 1825774 RAFVR Age 27. PoW No. 248544 *

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 6th April 1942 83 Squadron detailed three Manchesters to join a force of 157 bombers on a mission to Essen, Germany. Sqn Ldr. McClure in the lead taking off from RAF Scampton at 01:00 hrs on the 7th April. They soon ran into foul weather conditions, with severe storms and icing and few crews reached the target area.

R5837 was hit by Flak over the Ruhr in which Sqn Ldr. McClure was severely injured in the thigh from a shell splinter. He tried to remain at the controls with Flt Sgt. Rayment, the 2nd Pilot, assisting as best he could from his ‘jump seat’. The bomb load was jettisoned from 16,000 feet and in the immediate post-incident confusion, both gunners baled out and became PoWs.

Eventually Flt Sgt. Rayment had to take over the controls and made a safe landing at RAF Coltishall. Sqn Ldr. McClure was admitted to the Norwich and Norfolk hospital.

(1) On an earlier mission on the 28th/29th March 1942 to Lübeck, Germany flying Manchester IA R5830 OL:L two of his crew were wounded in a German night fighter attack.

A matter of a couple of days after returning to operational flying Sqn Ldr. McClure DFC was KiA on the 12th/13th March 1943 aboard Lancaster I W4928 OL:S.

(2) Flt Sgt. Rayment was awarded an immediate DFM. London Gazette 24th April 1942.

Citation: "Aus.400155 Flight Sergeant Arnold James Frederick RAYMENT, Royal Australian Air Force, No. 83 Squadron. This airman was the second pilot of an aircraft which recently attacked Essen. On nearing the target area the aircraft came under heavy fire and the captain was wounded in his right thigh, causing him to lose control of the aircraft. Flight Sergeant Rayment managed to extricate his wounded captain from the pilot's seat and, taking his place, succeeded in regaining control of the aircraft which had gone into a spiral dive. He finally flew the aircraft safely back to this country. By his skill and promptitude, this airman undoubtedly saved his aircraft from destruction".

Flt Sgt. Rayment was appointed to a commission and promoted to Plt Off. on the 30th April 1942. He completed his first tour of operations with 83 Squadron on the 25th October 1943 and was posted to 12 Operational Training Unit (OTU). Five days later he was promoted to Fg Off. and embarked for Australia.

After arriving in Brisbane on the 1st January 1944 he was eventually posted to 24 Squadron on the 1st July 1944 as a Flt Lt. flying B-24 Liberators out of Manbulloo, Northern Territory.

Flt Lt. Rayment was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD). London Gazette 5th March 1946.

Citation: “Flight Lieutenant Rayment was posted to No. 24 Squadron on the 1st July 1944. This pilot has now completed a second operational tour, and over 500 hours operational flying to his credit.

Whilst in No. 24 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Rayment was responsible for the destruction of three Japanese ships and assisted in destroying three more in Lombok Strait. He has carried out numerous attacks on enemy ground installations.

In the face of opposition, he has shown himself to be cool and fearless with an outstanding determination to destroy the enemy regardless of personal risk”.

After leaving the RAAF he pursued a successful career as a pilot with the then fledgling Australian airline Qantas.

Note: His brother, Pte Kenneth George Rayment VX25927 of the 2/2 Pioneer Battalion AIF was posted missing on the 7th March 1942 in Java. It is believed that during his transfer from a Thai PoW camp that he was drowned on or after the 12th September 1944.

(3) 798537 Sgt. Ogilvie was appointed to a commission and promoted to 120865 Plt Off. on the 21st April 1942. On the 11th/12th March 1943 on a mission to Stuttgart aboard 83 Sqn Lancaster I ED313 OL:B he was shot down over France. He was one of three Evaders, 2 of the crew became PoWs and two were KiA.

(4) Sgt. ‘Sid’ Hall takes up the story in his own words:

“The weather was very bad, with thick cloud, as we approached Essen. Searchlights and Flak burst were all around us and at that [time] the bombs were still aboard.

Suddenly there was a particularly violent burst of anti-aircraft fire, the aircraft went into a dive. A shout came over the intercom “we are hit – bale out”. I quickly left the turret, and after some difficulty in removing the rear hatch, baled out, followed by Jim Hurley, the other Air Gunner.

I floated down in pouring rain, through cloud, and when nearly on the ground heard bullets zipping around me and then searchlights were shone on me. I shouted an waved my arms and the firing stopped and the searchlights went out.

Suddenly I was down in the trees and unable to release my harness, I hung upside down from 03:30 to 05:30 hours, when I eventually cut my harness and dropped down to the ground. I heard the regular chimes of a church clock but had no idea where I was.

I then saw a man and two women coming from a farmhouse and I ran in the opposite direction into a forest where I hid until things seemed to quieten down.

After several hours I heard men approaching, and was then captured by a party of French foreign workers, some of whom had shotguns.

They took me to the farmhouse, near where I had landed, where a German woman gave me a glass of milk and offered me food. I was then handed over to a German officer and two soldiers who took me to the police station in Wesseling. From there I was taken train to Dulag Luft interrogation centre near Frankfurt. I was sent to a prison camp, where I later met up with Jim Hursley. His experience had been similar to mine except it was some 10 hours after he baled out before he was captured”.

His PoW questionnaire provides detail of his time at various PoW camps:

He was transported to Dulag Luft, Oberursel and remained there until the 12th April 1942 after which he was transferred to Stalag 8B, Lamsdorf arriving there on the 15th April 1942.

It is believed this is where he met up with Sgt. ‘Jim’ Hurley

In June 1943 both he and ‘Jim’ Hurley were transferred to Stalag Luft 3, Sagan which coincided with them both being promoted to Warrant Officer (WO). On the 28th January 1945 they joined some 1,000 POWs from the Stalag 8C and Stalag Luft 3 and taken to Stalag 3A Lückenwalde. In February 1945 prisoners from Stalag 3B Furstenberg were also evacuated to Stalag 3A, adding to the already overcrowded and unhygienic conditions. Finally, as the Russians approached the guards fled the camp leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on the 22nd April 1945.

Sgt. ‘Sid’ Hall was interviewed on the 21st May 1945.

Burial Details

None – The crew survived

Researched by Ralph Snape and dedicated to the relatives of this crew (Sep 2023). Additional information added for Sgt. Alan MacPherson Ogilvie (Sep 2023).

Other sources listed below:

RS 25.09.2023 - New information for Sgt. Duffield

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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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