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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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158 Squadron Crest
21/22.06.1944 No. 158 Squadron Halifax II HR785 NP-G Sgt. Kenneth C. Smart

Operation: Krefeld

Date: 21/22nd June 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: 158 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: HR785

Code: NP-G

Base: RAF Lissett, Yorkshire

Location: Brant Road, Lincoln

Pilot: Sgt. Kenneth Charles Smart 1318312 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Kenneth Ernest Gordon White 961265 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Nav: Sgt. William Charles Thomas Dempsey 1392262 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Roger Nelson Freeman 134156 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roland Philip Hansford 1377043 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert William Reffles 1350043 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Joseph Hanrahan 1106835 RAFVR Age 20. Killed


Halifax II HR 785 took off from Lissett at 23:11 on an operation to Krefeld, Germany. 705 aircraft took part - 262 lancasters, 209 Halifaxes, 117 Stirlings, 105 Wellingtons and 12 Mosquitoes.

The night of the operation was clear with moderate to good visibility with a three quarters moon. The night fighters attacked all the way both inbound and on the homeward trip. It is ‘possible’ that this Halifax was returning with combat damage.

Krefeld was hit very badly with the loss of 1,056 people on the ground killed, 4,550 injured, 72,000 people lost their homes. 47% of the city was burnt out following the dropping of 2,306 bombs.

Not without huge losses to the RAF though with 44 aircraft lost, mostly due to German night fighters. 214 crew members were killed and a further 65 being made PoW.

Another crew were lost from the squadron:

Halifax II HR735 NP-N Flown by 25 year old, P/O. Colin Harben Robinson DFC NZ/415786 RNZAF from Canterbury, New Zealand - killed with 5 other crew, the 2 others posted as missing - believed killed.

The fairly new Halifax HR785 (76 hours flying logged) during its return from the operation was seen to dive suddenly from around 15,000 ft and crash at Brant Road, just south of Lincoln.

We understand that Sgt. Hanrahan had been on leave and that a Sgt. C.K. Rowe was placed as rear gunner - however, Sgt. Harrahan had returned and took his place with his crew for this operation.

Burial details:

Sgt. Kenneth Charles Smart. Kingston-Upon-Thames Cemetery. Class A. (Cons) Grave 1260. Son of Douglas Owen and Kate Maria Smart, of Kingston-upon-Thames, husband of Marjorie Patricia Smart, of Scarborough, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Kenneth Ernest Gordon White. Crayford Churchyard (St. Paulinus) Row 14. Grave 22. Husband of Mary Joan White, of Dartford, Kent, England.

Sgt. William Charles Thomas Dempsey. City Of London Cemetery and Crematorium, Manor Park. Screen Wall. Square 241. Coll. grave 108020. Son of William John and Caroline Lilian Dempsey, of East Ham, husband of Marjorie Dempsey, of Ilford, Essex, England.

F/O. Roger Nelson Freeman. Thurlby Churchyard (St. Germain) Grave B.4. Son of Frank and Jessie Kate Freeman, husband of Hilda Freeman, of South Ruislip, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Roland Philip Hansford. Thurlby Churchyard (St. Germain) Grave B.3. Son of Harry and Zillah Hansford - no further details.

Sgt. Albert William Reffles. Portsmouth Cemetery (Highland Road) Plot G. Row 12. Grave 2. Son of Albert Edward and Elizabeth Reffles, of Southsea, Hampshire, England.

Sgt. George Joseph Hanrahan. Huddersfield Cemetery (Edgerton) Cons. Sec. 14. Grave 39. Son of Timothy and Alice Hanrahan, of Birkby, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England.

Article placed for the relatives of Sgt. Harrahan - Elaine Huq who contacted us in January 2016 to advise the error of the crew list within our database. George Hanrahan had been her father's oldest brother. Sources as quoted below.

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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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