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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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420 Squadron Crest
30/01.05.1944 420 Squadron Halifax II LW476 PT:J Flt.Lt. Edward Northern DFC

Operation: Somain, France.

Date: 30 April /1st May 1944 (Sunday/Monday)

Unit: 420 (Snowy Owl) Squadron RCAF

Type: Halifax II

Serial: LW476

Code: PT:J “Jumpin Jupiter”

Base: RAF Tholthorpe, North Yorkshire.

Location: English Channel, Nr. Somme Bay, France.

Pilot: Flt.Lt. Edward Northern DFC. J14566 RCAF Age 26. Missing (1)

Flt.Eng: Sgt. Lloyd Stuart Franklin R156578 RCAF Age 26. Missing (2)

Nav: Fg.Off. Frederick William Morrison J14802 RCAF Age 27. Killed

Air Bmr: WO1. Nick Venber J/85634 RCAF Age 24. Missing

WOp/Air Gnr: Fg.Off. Alfred Henry Benbow Hall J/16011 RCAF Age 28. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. William 'Billy' Harold Young J/87328 RCAF Age 19. Missing

Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Charles Henry Lines 175601 RAFVR Age 22. Missing


Nine No.6 Group RCAF squadrons provided 114 Halifaxes which, together with a Pathfinder force consisting of 20 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitos, took off to bomb the rail yards at Somain, south-east of Lille. Inaccurate target marking by the Pathfinders and confusion over the commands from the Master Bomber resulted in a scattered attack with most of the 1,196,000 lbs of bombs missing their target and falling in the surrounding countryside.

Took off at 21:15 hrs from RAF Tholthorpe. The lone aircraft to be lost on the mission was the Snowy Owls Halifax LW476 flown by Flt.Lt. Edward Northern which crashed into the sea off of the French coast. This was to be Flt.Lt. Northern's last sortie to complete his tour and had just been awarded his DFC.

For the family of Sgt. Franklin, from the small fishing village of Port Stanley on the north shore of Lake Erie, it was a double tragedy as their oldest son Harold had been lost on operations two years earlier. In memory of the brothers Franklin Lake was named after them. 28 year old Flt.Sgt. Harold Franklin R68080 RCAF - missing whilst with 10 squadron flying on Halifax II W1044 ZA:D during an operation on the Tirpitz - 30/31st March 1942. Pilot, 26 year old Fg.Off. Neil Ralph Blunden 403419 RNZAF lost with all crew.

Fg.Off. Alfred Hall had completed his second tour and volunteered to go on this mission to be with other members of his crew who had yet to complete their tour. Fg.Off. Hall’s brother, 27 year old Clement William Hall R74348 RCAF was killed two years earlier while on an operation over Essen. Flying with 12 OTU Wellington III BJ730 piloted by Plt.Off. Francis J. Adams, killed with all 4 crew.

The following is an extract from a report by Flt.Lt. Laronde from 5 Section No1 MREU dated 2nd July 1947 (Courtesy John Jones)

No RAF casualty is buried in coastal cemeteries in the Pas de Calais under the name of Plt.Off. C H Lines and it must be presumed he is buried as unknown.
Our report Ops.8/XF1907/Air dated 20th March 1947 reports the exhumation of two airmen washed ashore and buried the 8th May 1944 in Berck Cemetery. Found in the new extension to the Military Plot in grave 5 from the right was a Sgt WOp. It is possible that owing to the to scattered state of the clothing a hole in the sleeve for a Flt.Sgt. crown could have been missed. It would appear likely that this grave is that of Plt.Off. Lines. Found in grave 4 was a Sgt Air Gunner. A check of physical features may well reveal that this is the grave of R253881 Sgt. W H Young.
Our Ops.8/XF1939/Air dated 25th March 1947 refers to an airman wearing an Officer’s shirt washed ashore on 8th June 1944 and was buried in Merlimont Cemetery. A German unknown list state this was a Flt.Sgt.
Our Ops.8/XF1858/Air dated 15th March 1947 likewise refers to an airman possibly washed ashore on 5th May 1944 and buried at Le Touquet. The RCAF may wish to check the tooth chart against other missing members of the crew.

Burial Details:

(Left) Flt.Lt. Edward Northern. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 244. Son of John William and Theresa Northern, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Flt Lt. Northern's DFC citation reads:

"Flt.Lt. Edward Northern - No.420 Squadron (deceased) - Award effective 30th April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 21st December 1945 and AFRO 155/45 dated 15th February 1946. Born 1917 in Sheffield, England; home in Toronto. Trained at No. 5 I.T.S., No. 22 E.F.T.S. and No. 5 S.F.T.S. Commissioned September 1942.

This officer has completed as pilot and deputy flight commander many successful operations against the enemy in the course of which he has invariably displayed high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty."

Sgt. Lloyd Stuart Franklin. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 255. Son of Stuart Foster Franklin and Jennie Leella Franklin, of Port Stanley, Ontario, Canada.

Fg.Off. Frederick William Morrison. Cayeux-sur-Mer Communal Cemetery, Plot 2 Row A Grave 1. Son of Alexander and Maria Morrison, of Delia, Alberta, Canada.

The body of Fg.Off. Morrison was washed ashore on 1 June 1944 at Cayeux and buried on 2 June 1944.

Plt.Off. Nick Venber. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 253. Son of Nicholas and Vera Venber of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Of Polish/ Russian descent Nick had an older sister Seena. Upon graduating from John Shaw High School he worked as a clerk for MacKenzie, White & Dunsmuir Ltd. Nick was very active in sports playing lacrosse, softball and basketball.
Promotions: Aircraftman II 21 August 1941; Leading Aircraftman 29 December 1941; Sergeant 9 May 1942; Flight Sergeant 9 November 1942; Warrant Officer II 9 May 1943; Warrant Officer I 9 November 1943; Pilot Officer 16 December 1943.
No.3 Manning Depot Edmonton, Alberta 21 August 1941
No.15 Service Flying Training School, Claresholme, Alberta 26 September 1941
No.4 Initial Training School, Edmonton 27 October 1941
No.2 Air Observers School, Edmonton 21 December 1941
No.8 Bombing and Gunnery School, Lethbridge, Alberta 29 March 1942,
No.1 Air Navigation School, Rivers, Manitoba 10 May 1942
No.1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia 22 June 1942
Embarked for the UK 20 July 1942
Disembarked UK 30 July 1942
No.3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth 30 July 1942
No.10 Observers Advanced Flying Unit, RAF Dumfries, Scotland 7 August 1942
No.22 Operational Training Unit, RAF Wellesbourne Mountford 1 September 1942
No. 420 Squadron RAF Tholthorpe 24 January 1943
No.427 Squadron RAF Croft 17 April 1943
No.434 Squadron RAF Tholthorpe 15 June 1943
No.420 Squadron RAF Tholthorpe 20 December 1943

Fg.Off. Alfred Henry Benbow Hall St. Valery-sur-Somme Communal Cemetery, Grave 895A. Son of Clement Alfred and Effie Dean Hall, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, husband of Chrissie Hall, of Ottawa, Canada.

Fg.Off. Hall’s body was washed ashore near Le Hourdell

Left: P/O. William 'Billy' Harold Young (credit: Kathryn Young)

Plt.Off. William 'Billy' Harold Young. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 253. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. William came from a large family of six brothers and three sisters. He enlisted in the RCAF ten days after turning his nineteenth birthday. He was working on the assembly line at Northern Electric at the time after previously working as a delivery boy and a repairman since leaving St. Ann's School in Montreal. Awarded Air Gunners badge 15 October 1943.
Promotions: Aircraftman II 26 May 1943; Leading Aircraftman 4 September 1943; Sergeant 15 October 1943; Pilot Officer 29 April 1944.
No.2 Manning Depot Brandon, Manitoba 26 May 1943
No.4 Wireless School, Guelph, Ontario 28 June 1943
No.1 Air Gunners Ground Training School, Quebec City, Quebec 23 July 1943
No.9 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mt. Joli, Quebec 4 September 1943
No.1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia 29 October 1943
Embarked for the UK 1 November 1943
Disembarked UK 9 November 1943
No.3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth 10 November 1943
No.1659 Conversion Unit RAF Topcliffe 9 December 1943
No. 420 Squadron RAF Tholthorpe 9 January 1944

Plt.Off Charles Henry Lines. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 211. Son of Richard and Florence Amelia (nee Coy) Lines, of Derby, England. Charles was working as an apprentice carriage and wagon fitter in 1939. Both his mother and father predeceased him. No further details.

(1) Northern Lake in the Yukon is named after Flt.Lt. Northern.

(2) Franklin Lake in Kenora, northern Ontario is named after Sgt. Franklin.

Researched by Colin Bamford for Aircrew Remembered - dedicated to the relatives of the crew.

Acknowledgements: With thanks to Ian Raven, Executive Director of The Elgin Military Museum, St. Thomas, Ontario for his assistance in the preparation of this article. Thanks to Kathryn Young, the niece of Plt.Off. Young for his obituary notice. Thanks to John Jones for the MREU report information. Data source: Service Files of the Second World War―War Dead, 1939–1947. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

CHB 03.08.2011
RS 29.07.2020 - Addition of MREU report

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