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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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144 squadron badge
29.09.1939 No. 144 Squadron Hampden I L4121 F/O. Sadler

Operation: Heligoland

Date: 29th September 1939 (Friday)

Unit: No. 144 Squadron

Type: Hampden I

Serial: L4121

Code: PL-?

Base: Hemswell, Lincolnshire

Location: Sea - Between Heligoland and Wangerooge

Pilot: F/O. John Tulloch Burrill Sadler 40061 RAF Age 24. Killed

Obs: Sgt. R.L. Galloway 580200 RAF PoW No: 5760 Stalag Luft Heydekrug (L6)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: A.C.1. James White Cummings 523342 RAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Henry Stephens 580680 RAF Age 20. Killed


Took off at 06:40 hrs. Hemswell, Lincolnshire to bomb German warships in the Heligoland area. 11 Hampdens were sent in two formations - the first 6 attacked 2 destroyers but missed the target, the second wave of 5 were intercepted and every one was shot down by Luftwaffe Me. 109's that were now in place and waiting. 16 aircrew were lost and another 4 made Prisoners of War.

Oblt. Gunther Specht of 1./ZG26 is thought to have shot down this Hampden and also L4126.

A disastrous day for 144 Squadron. Others lost on this raid:

144 Squadron Hampden L4126 Flown by: F/O. Baughan (3 killed 1 P.O.W.) - 144 Squadron Hampden L4127 Flown by: F/O. Beck (All 4 crew killed) - 144 Squadron Hampden L4132 Flown by: P/O. Coste (3 killed 1 PoW) - 144 Squadron Hampden L4134 Flown by: W/Cmdr. Cunningham (3 killed, 1 PoW)

Above left: Runnymede Memorial (courtesy Geoff Swallow Right: Oblt. Gunther Specht and crew (courtesy Kracker Luftwaffe Archive)

Burial details:

F/O. John Tulloch Burrill Sadler. Runnymede Memorial Panel 1. Son of Bertie Tulloch Sadler and Emily Sadler, of East Devonport, Tasmania, Australia.

A.C.1. James White Cummings. Runnymede Memorial Panel 2. Son of James White Cumming and Lily Cumming, of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Sgt. William Henry Stephens. Runnymede Memorial Panel 2. Son of William Henry and Ellen Stephens.

Researched by Geoff Swallow / Bob Wilton / Kelvin T. Youngs for relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses', the CWGC


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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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