03/04.09.1939 No. 107 Squadron Blenheim IV N6188 P/O. William J. Murphy
Operation: Wilhelmshaven Germany
Date: 03/04th September 1939 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 107 Squadron
Type: Blenheim Mk. IV
Base: RAF Wattisham, Suffolk, England
Location: Wilhelmshaven harbour
Pilot: P/O. William Joseph Murphy 39748 RAF Age 23. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Leslie Robert Ward 564477 RAF Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: A/C 2. Edward Pateman 548974 RAF Age 19. Killed “(1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
The outbreak of war and the first of many casualties suffered by Bomber Command!
Taking off from RAF Wattisham at 16:00 hrs to attack shipping in the harbour at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. 5 Blenheims failed to find the targets, the remaining 10 attacked at low level on the battleship Admiral Scheer and on the cruiser Emden.
They were met with very heavy anti-aircraft fire from the ships. Some 4 aircraft from 107 Squadron were lost, the others:
Blenheim IV N6184 Flown by 26 year old, Fl/Lt. William Frank Barton 34213 RAF from Ferring, Sussex, England. Killed with the other two crew members.
Blenheim IV N6189 Flown by 21 year old, F/O. Herbert Brian Lightoller 37884 RAFVR from Twickenham, Middlesex, England. Killed with the other two crew members.
Blenheim IV N6240 Flown by Sgt. Albert Stanley Prince 580195 580195 RAF from Canada. Killed, the remaining two crew taken PoW.
The Admiral Scheer was hit by at least 4 bombs - but they failed to explode, the Emden was damaged suffering some casualties when one Blenheim crashed on to it after it is thought, to have also been hit by flak.
(1) AC. Pateman had been ‘borrowed’ from 110 Squadron as 107 were awaiting further postings in of qualified W/Op/Air/Gnr’s. This position, during this period of the war, had been made up from ground tradesman who volunteered for extra flying duties. Later, as the war moved on, all aircrew generally received the minimum rank of Sergeant.
The pilot, during this period, was always the captain of the aircraft - irrespective of other ranks held within a crew. (Later within Polish Squadron’s it was generally the Navigator who held the position of Captain - again irrespective of rank held) Observers acted as the navigator and also had the position as bomb aimer.
P/O. William Joseph Murphy. Sage War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 4.C.1. Son of William Joseph and Katherine C. Murphy, of Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, Irish Republic.
Sgt. Leslie Robert Ward. Hamburg Cemetery, Germany. Grave Special Memorial. 6A.E.10. Buried at the time on Heligoland Island, but whose grave is now lost.
A/C 2. Edward Pateman. Sage War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 4.E.2. Son of Albert Arthur and Mary Pateman.
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - August 2016. Grave photos courtesy Dawn Tree, remainder Michel Beckers collection. Newspaper courtesy British Newspaper archives.