07/08.05.1941 No. 150 Squadron Wellington IC R1374 JN-G Fl/Lt. Freddie Savage
Operation: St. Nazaire - U Boat pens
Date: 07/08th May 1941 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 150 Squadron
Type: Wellington IC
Base: RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire
Location: Pont-St-Martin, Nantes, France
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Frederick Henry Savage MiD. 40263 RAF Age 28. Killed
Pilot 2: Sgt. John Michael Fulford 969220 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (1)
Obs: Sgt. Wray William Heywood R/52038 RCAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leonard Frank Harris 909974 RAFVR Age 23. Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Peter Verrall Read 1152158 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Lewis Hart 818222 RAF (Auxiliary) Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
A total of 5 aircraft from 103 Squadron and 10 aircraft from 150 Squadron, RAF Newton, Notts, took part in this raid on the U-boat pens at St Nazaire with R1374 carrying 6 x 500 lb bombs. R1374 took off at 23:30 hrs t was a clear night over the target area and the detonation of 80 x 500 lb bombs was seen.
Flak was moderate with slight searchlight activity. The only aircraft lost that night in the target area was R1374. The cause of the crash is speculation, but one can only assume that it was anti-aircraft fire on their return flight. The night fighters placed no claims for this loss - they did however make 3 Wellington aircraft claims over England.
From the Log Book of Sgt. Leonard Harris we learn that the crew, with Fl/Lt. Savage and Sgt. Fulford as pilots took part in April 1941 in raids on Rotterdam, Brest, Kiel and on 17 April on Berlin. In May the crew took part in raids on Cologne and Mannheim and the final raid being the fatal one on St Nazaire on 7/8 May 1941. Leonard’s Log Book shows that the crew logged 30:55 hours night flying in April and 12:25 hours in May. They were an experienced crew.
Crew photographs (courtesy Patricia Harris and Steven Page)
L-R: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Arthur Harris and Sgt. Leonard Frank Harris. Sgt. Leonard Frank Harris and Alice. Sgt. Hart and his wife, Monica on their wedding day (courtesy Patricia Harris)
(1) Sgt. John Fulford's brother. 22 year old F/O. David Fulford DFC 63787 RAFVR was killed on the 2nd November 1942 flying Spitfire IX BR622 with 611 squadron - attacked by Fw190's of JG26 and lost over the channel on a Rodeo to Le Touquet, France. Commemorated on panel 67 Runnymede memorial.
(2) Sgt. Leonard Harris's younger brother, Fl/Sgt. Frederick Arthur Harris 1399889 RAFVR (524 Squadron, Coastal Command) was also killed. In 1945 the Wellington he was the 2nd pilot when the aircraft crashed during take off from RAF Langham, Norfolk on 26th March. (Further information required) Buried in Romford cemetery. Grave 2924.
The last farewell: Above left and centre: Cecil and Alice at the cemetery Cecil and Charles Read (courtesy Patricia Harris)
Crew graves at Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery (courtesy Patricia Harris)
Fl/Lt. Frederick Henry Savage. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery Plot L. Row A. Grave 18. Further information: Fl/Lt Savage was born in Kensington on 21st June 1913, the only son of Frederick and Florence Savage. Attended Sloane Grammar School, which has since closed and where his name was on the Roll of Honour. Joined the Civil Flying School at White Waltham in August 1937, aged 24, he enlisted in the RAF on 24 October 1937. Sent for training to No. 5 Flying Training School at Sealand in Flintshire in November 1937 and from there to the School of Air Navigation in June 1938. In August 1938 he was promoted to Pilot Officer, posted to No. 63 (B) Squadron at RAF Upwood in Cambridgeshire. Record shows that he was on flying duties and at that time the Squadron had been newly equipped with the single engined Fairey Battles. September 1939 joined 98 Squadron at RAF Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, which was equipped with Fairey Battles. In September 1939 he married Gabrielle Hirsch in Huntingdon. There were no children.
23rd March 1940, promoted to Flying Officer and on 14th April 1940 he went with 98 Squadron as part of the British Air Forces in France, based in Nantes, though the squadron flew no combat missions. Evacuated back to England during the Battle of France the Squadron lost 90 of its personnel when the ship RMS Lancastria was bombed and sunk off Saint Nazaire on 17th June 1940. After re-forming at Gatwick in July 1940, the Squadron, still flying Fairey Battles, attached to Coastal Command and stationed at Kaldadame, Iceland for coastal patrol and anti-submarine duties. Fl/Lt Savage took part in these operations. Final posting was to 150 Squadron, RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire, flying Wellington bombers on the 29th October 1940 and on the 23 March 1941 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. Mentioned in Dispatches on 17th March 1941. Pilot of Wellington Ic R1374 Code JN-G and was killed along with the crew on the night 7/8 May 1941 when it crashed in Pont St Martin while on a raid to the U-boat pens. Son of Frederick and Florence Savage. Born in Kensington in 1913, he married Gabrielle Hirsch in 1939. There were no children.
Sgt. John Michael Fulford. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery Plot L. Row A. Comm. Grave 20-22. Further information: Born in Dinnington, Yorkshire, the eldest son of Horace and Edith Fulford. He was educated at King Edward VII School, Sheffield, where he was one of the best known athletes in the thirties. He played football for Corinthian Casuals and as an amateur for Sheffield United in the early days of the war. John Fulford’s father, Horace, was a former pilot in the R.F.C. John intended to be a doctor and was studying medicine at Sheffield University before he joined up in May 1940.
Sgt. Wray William Heywood. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery Plot L. Row A. Grave 17. Further information: Son of Mr and Mrs W. H. Heywood of 1112 Second Avenuee, Rouleau, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. He was married to Olive Gwyther who, did not remarry and died in 2008.
Above: Taken in late 1940 when he was on the Bombing and Gunnery School course at Stormy Down, Pyle, Bridgend - placed for other relatives who may recognise faces - available at a higher resolution if required.
Sgt. Leonard Frank Harris. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery Plot L. Row A. Grave 19. Further information: The son of Cecil Frank and Alice Harris, of Dagenham, Essex, England. Eldest of 4 brothers and went to school in his home town of Dagenham and, on leaving, joined the Government Department of Customs and Excise where he became a Manager. Leonard joined the RAF on 18 December 1939 and trained as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner at the No. 2 Signals School in Yatesbury. In November 1940 he joined the Bombing and Gunnery School at Stormy Down and at the end of the month qualified as a Sgt. Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. From there he went to the Conversion Training School at Harwell and he joined 150 Squadron RAF at Newton, Nottinghamshire on 28 March 1941.
Sgt. Peter Verrall Read. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery Plot L. Row A. Comm. Grave 20-22. Further information: The only child of Charles and Alice Mary Read, of Shirley, Southampton, England. Born in Dorking, Surrey and educated at Dorking County Grammar School.
Sgt. John Lewis Hart. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery Plot L. Row A. Comm. Grave 20-22. Further information: Sgt John (Jack) Hart was the only son of James and Frances Hart of Cardiff, Wales and the husband of Monica Hart of Gabalfa, Cardiff. They were married 8 months before he was killed and his wife remarried after the end of the war.
Researched by Colin Campbell and Patricia Harris (relative of Sgt. Leonard Harris), also to Jonathan Ives for his assistance to Patricia, finally (for now) to Steven Page for photograph of Freddie Savage - August 2016) for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew.
Read the intensely moving, heartbreaking poem written by Sgt. Heywood's mother