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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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35 Squadron Crest
13/14.07.1943 35 Squadron Halifax II HR819 TL-K Fl/Sgt. Saywell

Operation: Aachen

Date: 13/14th July 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 35 Squadron 8 (PPF) Group (motto: Uno animo agimus - 'We act with one accord')

Type: Halifax II

Serial: HR819

Code: TL-K

Base: RAF Graveley, Huntingdonshire

Location: North West Mönchengladbach, Germany (see map)

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Edward Wright Saywell NZ/415372 RNZAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Joseph Marsh 1080667 RAFVR Age 23. Missing - believed killed

Nav: Sgt. Ernest Raymond Moore 1379660 RAFVR Age 30. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Frank William Whittaker 1231515 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald W. Wissom 1267837 RAFVR PoW No: 450 Camp: Stalag Heydekrug

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Stuart Fred Hughes 1021591 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Frederick Ward 1321748 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Page researched with much assistance from Glenwyss Brooks - see credits below.below


Taking off at 23:34 hrs. along with 17 others from the Pathfinder squadron to bomb Aachen in Germany. 1 returning with post outer engine unserviceable. 357 aircraft taking part - 23 failed to return.

A strong tailwind brought the first waves of the Main Force into the target area before Zero Hour with the result that, when the first Pathfinder markers were released, an unusually large number of aircraft bombed in the first minutes of the raid. The visibility was good and large areas of Aachen appeared to burst into flame at once. In the words of the report from Aachen, 'Terrorangriff' (Terror attack) of the most severe scale was delivered.

Halifax HR819 was the only 35 squadron that was lost. Shot down by Hptm. Hans-Dieter Frank (1) of Stab 1./NJG1at 01:39 hrs - his second this night.

Statement made by the sole survivor of the crew following his release after the war:

'We were attacked by a night fighter in the Venlo area while on route to Aachen, the nightfighter was positively identified by our air-gunners as a ME110. Our starboard wing was hit and was completely in flames. The order was given to bail out and I escaped through the hatch under the nose. After my parachute opened I saw the aircraft in a ball of fire go through a layer of cloud which was about 8000 feet. Several minutes later there was a glow in the clouds as the aircraft exploded on hitting the ground
I was captured in the morning by a German farmer and taken to a farmhouse, Shortly afterwards a policeman arrived with a bicycle with my parachute strapped on the back. I was then taken to a Luftwaffe airfield which was within walking distance about 2 or 3 miles. I was locked in a cell in the guardroom and taken the next day to a railway station with several other aircrew who had been captured. We went to Frankfurt to the Dulag Interrogation Camp, and then eventually to Stalag Luft Heydekrug'.

On the 12/13th June 1943 this crew whilst with 102 Squadron on Halifax BB388 during a trip to Bochum when they were hit by flak. The pilot managed to return to RAF Pocklington and all the crew survived with no injuries.

Above L-R: Believed to be Sgt. Frank Ward, Fl/Sgt. Frank Whittaker, Sgt. Joseph Marsh, Fl/Sgt. Edward Saywell, Sgt. Stuart Hughes, believed to be Sgt. Ernest Moore and Sgt. Ronald Wissom (courtesy Glenwyss Brooks}

Ron Wisson wrote:

'I first met Ted Saywell in October 1942 at operational Training Unit, Harwell Berkshire. There were about 100 or so newly trained and promoted Sergeant aircrew milling around in a hangar, and we were instructed to form into crews!

Ted ended up with: Ernie Moore - Navigator, Frank Whittaker - Bomb Aimer, Frank Ward - Rear Gunner, and myself - Ron Wisson as Wireless Operator.

Left: As described (courtesy Glenwyss Brooks)

At Harwell, we trained together as a crew doing circuits and landings as well as cross country flights and ground school. Total flying time 82 hours and 45 minutes as a crew, although we all had initial flying training hours. In December 1942, we were posted to 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit at Pocklington near York, where we were introduced to the Halifax Mk2 which seemed a massive aircraft compared with the Wellington.

We also acquired another crew member, Joe Marsh, Flight Engineer.

On completion of the conversion to the Halifax, a fantastic 23 hours and 45 minutes training we were transferred to 102 Squadron on the same airfield and started operational flying. We did 14 operational flights over Germany.

We had some very narrow escapes from being shot down but were gaining in experience and confidence.

Most crews were shot down during their first 5 operational flights largely due to a lack of training and experience.

We were selected as an experienced crew to join the Pathfinder Group, and went to the PFF Training Unit at Upwood where we did a magnificent 7 hours and 50 minutes flying, learning new techniques and equipment.

Our next posting was to 35 Squadron PFF at Graveley Cambridge.

On the 13th of July our Target was Aachen, and we carried a normal bomb load of HE incendiary bombs, as we were designated as a main force aircraft on this, our first 35 Squadron operation. The marker aircraft used to drop coloured flares onto the ground to mark the aiming point for the main force, which followed. Back-up aircraft dropped more flares onto the target indicator flares and incendiary bombs to start fires, which were also used as aiming points.

On the fateful night, we took off after dark from Graveley and headed for Germany, the flight was uneventful with everyone keeping a good lookout. We saw one or two searchlights and AA fire in the distance; we did not see the ground as there was partial cloud cover. About 20 or 30 miles from the target the navigator gave Ted a small course alteration towards the target, which had not yet been illuminated by the marker aircraft. We were about 2 or 3 miles ahead of the main stream of the force which consisted of about 300 aircraft as far as I can remember.

The rear gunner called on the intercom, "enemy aircraft in sight, stand by to corkscrew", this was the basic evasion to fly in a corkscrew motion, and once started the German night fighter would normally sheer off and look for another target which he could attack before he was sighted. We had experienced this a couple of times before on previous ops.

Right: Hptm. Hans-Dieter Frank (courtesy Kracker Archive)

As we started to corkscrew, our gunners started firing and we were hit by the German firing, which according to the rear gunner was a Messerschmitt 110. None of our crew had been hit, but our starboard wing and the inner engine were hit and became a massive fire within seconds. The aircraft rapidly filled with smoke.

Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre

Ted gave the order to bail out; it was obvious that there was nothing the crew could do about the fire.

I moved forward to the navigator's position, where Ernie had the escape hatch open and was putting his parachute on. He shouted at me to get out, which I did, feet first through the hatch. I had to push myself away from the aircraft. Shortly afterward my parachute opened, though I do not remember pulling the release handle. I was swinging backward and forward but this stopped after a few minutes and I was able to look around. I could not see the burning aircraft from which I had jumped but then went into a cloud-bank, which reduced visibility completely.

I had expected to see the aircraft above me, as I am sure Ted would have held it straight and level while the crew got out. His chances would have been much less, as he would have been the last to leave the aircraft. I think that the aircraft must have gone into a spin or exploded killing all crew instantly.

The Me110, which attacked us, had better armament than RAF bombers, which had only .303 calibre machine guns in the rear and upper turrets. The German night fighters had 30mm cannons, which were twice as big and had twice the range. The bomber was an easy target from that kind of attack.

The area where we were shot down, was, I believe, 20 to 30 miles west of Munchen Gladbach and about 30 miles north of Aachen.

I seemed to be falling through cloud for quite a long time, and eventually came out and could see one or two glimmers of light on the ground, it was very dark. In the distance, probably several miles away there was a large fire burning. I feel sure this was our aircraft.

I hit the ground with a tremendous thump, as I could not see clearly enough to judge my height. My left ankle was twisted badly and it was painful to stand. I was in the middle of a cornfield and could hear dogs barking and people shouting in the distance. I pulled my parachute into a bundle and crawled with it to a ditch at the side of the field. I crawled along the ditch for some distance away from the area where the corn had been flattened by my movements.

I hid in the ditch as I could hear voices nearby. Shortly after daybreak, a farmer came along the outside of the cornfield standing up in a horse-drawn farm cart and armed with a pitchfork. I had obviously been spotted and could not run, so had to surrender as he jumped from the cart and was pointing the pitchfork at me in a very menacing manner.

I was handed over to the police and then to the Luftwaffe. I ended up in a prison camp in East Prussia, Stalag Luft Heydekrug.

The Luftwaffe told me that the burnt-out remains of a 35 Squadron Halifax had been found a few miles from where I was captured. They also told me that the unidentifiable remains of six bodies were in the aircraft.

I developed a deep sense of guilt, finding it hard to come to terms that I was the only survivor. That feeling is still partially with me today, 60 years later, though I have accepted the fact that they were all killed.

I wrote a letter to Ted's parents, which I sent through the RNZAF, I don't know whether they received it as there was no reply'.

Burial details:

According to German records at least 3 of the crew were buried at Mönchengladbach. Sadly however after the end of the Missing Research and Enquiry Unit could find no trace.

Fl/Sgt. Edward Wright Saywell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Born on the 12th July 1918 ar Manaia, the only son of Raymond and Margaret Maud Saywell (née Vickers), of New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand.

The family moved to Uruti and Wright Saywell grew up on the family farm on the Uruti Road and attended Musker's school. Prior to service worked as a farmhand on his father's farm.

Known as "Boy" to his family and Wright to his friends in Uruti, he was the first Uruti boy to join the Royal

New Zealand Air Force. After initial training in New Zealand, Ted, as his mates in the Air Force knew him, went on to Britain, and in December 1942, he was posted to Pocklington Yorkshire and introduced to Halifax bombers. 534 flying hors logged and having completed 17 operational sorties.

Sgt. Joseph Marsh. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 158. Son of Joseph William and Ellen Marsh, of Upholland, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Ernest Raymond Moore. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 159. Son of Ernest John and Dorothy Amy Moore and husband of Jessie Louisa Moore, of Enfield, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. Frank William Whittaker. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 139. Son of William and Mabel Elizabeth Whittaker, of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Stuart Fred Hughes. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 154. Sadly no further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Frank Frederick Ward. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 168. Son of Ernest C. and Bessie Ward, of Hornchurch, Essex, England.

(1) Hptm. Hans-Dieter Frank was killed in September 1943 when he collided with another Night Fighter at Heese, NW of Celle, trying to parachute to safety. At the time of his death, he had a confirmed 55 aircraft shot down (information courtesy Kracker Archive)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Glenwyss Brooks author of 'How Green Was Our Valley collected memories of Uruti''. Published by Aries Print Ltd, New Plymouth (1994) ISBN No: 9780473026851. 182 pages with maps and illustrations, a detailed record of this Taranaki district, with biographies.

Also to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Volplane Press (2008) Vol 3 - ISBN No: 9780473128289. 640 pages. Biographies of New Zealanders who died while serving with the RNZAF or Allied air services, with updates, to 2005, and appendices, including WW2 aircrews.

With assistance from the Puke Ariki Museum of New Zealand for their kind assistance with this page.

KTY 25.09.2019

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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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