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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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58 Squadron Crest
10/11.09.1940 58 Squadron Whitley V T4134 GE:T Plt Off. James E. Thompson

Operation: Bremen, Germany

Date: 10th/11th September 1940 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 58 Squadron, 4 Group, Bomber Command

Type: Whitley V

Serial: T4134

Code: GE:T

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, England

Location: Schönhagen beach, Germany

Pilot: Plt Off. James Edwin Thompson 78536 RAF Age? PoW * (1)

2nd Pilot: Plt Off. Trevor Harold Hadley 79512 RAFVR Age 20 PoW No. 245 * (2)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth Douglas Hall 759194 RAF Age 21. PoW No 274 ** (3)

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William Hughes 633463 RAF Age? PoW No. 278 *** (4)

Air Gnr: Sgt. William John Bull 701084 RAF Age 21. PoW No. 265 **(5)

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland.

** Stalag 357, Kopernikus at Thorn (Toruń) in Poland.

*** Stalag Luft 6, Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilutė in Lithuania)


Taking off from RAF Linton-on-Ouse at 23:25 hrs to bomb the inland port at Bremen.

It is thought that the aircraft suffered damage from Flak and came down near Lübeck. The following series of photographs show the aircraft after the forced landing and its recovery by the Germans. No apparent Flak damage can be seen in any of the photographs.

(1) Plt Off. Thompson’s; first main PoW camp was Stalag 357. He was promoted to Fg Off. on the 17th April 1941 as a Flt Lt. he was transferred to Stalag Luft 3.

He was recommended for a 'Notation on his Records" for his continuous and valuable work which he rendered in the Intelligence organisation (for the Great Escape) at Stalag Luft 3.

He was awarded the MBE (M) on the 10th December 1946: The citation reads as follows:

“Flight Lieutenant Thompson was a member of the crew of an aircraft which failed to return from an operational sortie over Germany on the 11th September, 1940. He was captured by the Germans when he landed on the shores of the Baltic near Lubeck. A few weeks after capture, Flight Lieutenant Thompson escaped from a tram at Stralsund station, while being transferred from Oberursel to Barth. He climbed out of the window, while the guard's attention was distracted, and crawled along the railway track. His absence was discovered however and he was recaptured after a very short time. In January, 1942, whilst at Stalag Luft I at Barth, thus officer made his second attempt to escape, after studying the movements of the guards and the general layout of the camp for a period of months. He gained admission to the non-commissioned officers' compound to take part in a football match and remained in hiding in the barracks when the other officers left. Later that night lie crawled under the double gate leading to the football field and climbed over the perimeter fence. The whole operation took nine hours, and, when he was eventually free, he made has way towards Stralsund. There he was recaptured three days later while waiting for a boat to Sweden. Subsequently, Flight Lieutenant Thompson took an active part in several tunnel digging operations, but all of these were discovered before completion. He was eventually repatriated in September, 1944. Throughout his captivity, this officer showed great determination in has efforts to escape and his enthusiasm was never shaken by his failure”s.

Note - we are unable to find details as to why he had been repatriated, normally through serious injury or illness”.

He retired from the RAF as a Sqn Ldr. retaining the rank of Flt Lt. on the 7th December 1949.

(2) Plt Off. Hadley was flying as a co-pilot on Whitley V P5002 GE:T from RAF Lintin-on-Ouse on an operation to Berlin on the 30/31st August 1940 . During their return when very low on fuel the crew abandoned the aircraft over Hornsea. The pilot, Flt Lt. Clements survived, as did Plt Off. Trevor Harold Hadley, Sgt. Zamek and Sgt. R.F. Williams. Sgt. Matthew Hill 567598 RAFVR from Whitby, Yorkshire, England, baled out with all the crew but sadly his parachute drifted over the sea and it is assumed he drowned as his body was never recovered.

Flt Lt. Neville Oxynham Clements 42194 RAFVR, then with 24 Squadron, was killed flying Dakota III FL588 NQ:Z on the 5th December 1944whilst transporting some of the most experienced glider pilots to the Far East. 18 people lost their live, 5 others survived when it is understood that the aircraft hit a mountain in France. The family were from Durban, Natal, South Africa.

Sgt. Ian Alexander Zamek 749523 RAFVR was killed with all crew on the 3rd October with 58 Squadron also on a Whitley. N1434 GE:E on an operation to Frankfurt. His family suffered the loss of his brother on the 16th July 1942. 20 year old, Sgt. Norman Henry Zamek 1196372 RAFVR flying a Hurricane with 135 Squadron over India. The family were from Bournemouth, Hampshire, England.

His brother 20 year old, Plt Off. Ronald Arnold Hadley 79511 was killed the following month. See Whitley V T4137 GE-K 08/09th October 1940 for full story.

The rear of their photo is written: New Zealanders at Oflag 9A - Plt Off. Hadley is shown far right kneeling. Others not named - are you able to assist?

German officers and other PoW's watching the boxing.

Boxing within the PoW camp Plt Off. Hadley is shown in front row extreme right. Others not named - are you able to assist?

Trevor Hadley on right - chap on the left unknown - can you assist?

Pre-war days - Trevor Hadley shown front in black blazer, his brother, Ronald Hadley at rear 2nd left. Others not named - are you able to assist? Understood to be the Taranaki New Plymouth Aero Club

His journey prior to arriving at Stalag Luft 3 on the 11th April 1943 is listed below:

20th February.1941 - Oflag IX-A/H - Spangenberg Castle, Hesse, Germany;
4th March 1941 - Stalag 21A - Thorn Podgorz, Poland;
7th June 1941 - Oflag IX-A/H - Spangenberg Castle, Hesse, Germany;
8th October 1941 - Oblag VIB Dössel, Germany;
4th September 1942 - Oflag XXIB, Szubin, Pomorze, Poland

At Stalag Luft 3 on the night of the 27th January 1945, with Soviet troops only 26 km (16 mls) away, orders were received to evacuate the PoWs to Spremberg which is to the West in Germany. The PoW’s were informed of the evacuation, which was on foot, at about 22:00 hrs the same night and were given 30 mins to pack and prepare everything for the March. The weather conditions were very difficult, with freezing temperatures, and it was snowing accompanied by strong winds. There was 15 cm (6 in) of snow and 2000 PoWs were assigned to clear the road ahead of the main groups.

After a 55 km (34 mls) march, the PoWs arrived in Bad Muskau where they rested for 30 hours. The PoWs were then marched the remaining 26 km (16 mls) to Spremberg where they were housed in empty garages, storerooms and in military barracks. There they were provided with warm soup and bread.

He was amongst the column of men that were force marched to the Marlag-Milag Nord PoW camp arriving there on the 4th/5th February 1945.

Malag = Marinelager (naval prisoner of war camp) and Milag = Marine-Internierten-Lager (naval internment camp), Nord (North). Located at a former Luftwaffe (German Air Force) barracks near Westertimke NE of Bremen in Germany.

On the 2nd April 1945 the camp commandant ordered that the PoWs were to leave the camp with most of the guards. However, that afternoon a detachment of more than 100 SS-Feldgendarmerie entered the camp and gathered some 3000 of the PoWs and marched them out heading east.

The column was attacked RAF aircraft resulting in the deaths of two PoWs and injuries to several others. The Senior British Naval Officer (SBNO), Capt. J. Thornton was one of the two who were killed.

Records show that he was part of this column. The column finally arrived at Lübeck, on the Baltic coast, on the 28th April 1945. They were liberated by a Spearhead of the 11th Armoured Division around noon of the 1st May 1945.

At the Marlag-Milag Nord camp the guards fled on 9th April 1945 and were replaced by elderly civilian guards. Those remaining at the camp were liberated by the British Guards Armoured Division on the 27th April 1945.

(3) Sgt. Hall was captured near was captured north of Kiel on the 11th September 1940 and transferred to Dulag Luft, Oberursel near Frankfurt.

He arrived at Stalag Luft 1 on the 16th September 1940 and remained there until April 1942 when he was transferred Stalag Luft 3. He remained here until June 1943 when he was transferred to transfer to Stalag Luft 6.

This was probably as a result of his promotion to Warrant Officer (WO)

He remained at Stalag Luft 6 until June 1944 when in the face of Russian advances the camp was evacuated. This was the "northern route" of the force-marches. He was in the column that headed to Stalag 357 at Thorn (Toruń).

On the 1st September 1944 the PoWs were force-marched from Thorn (Toruń) in Poland to the site of the former Stalag 11D, with construction being carried out by the Italian PoW from XI-B. The camp was commonly known as Stalag 357, Fallingbostal but officially the designation was Stalag 357, Oerbke.

Fallingbostel (Oerbke) was liberated on the 16th April 1945 by British troops from B Squadron 11th Hussars and the Reconnaissance Troop of the 8th Hussars. They were met at the main gate of Stalag 357 by a guard of Airborne troops, impeccably attired and led by RSM Lord. He was interviewed on the 20th April 1945.

Kenneth Douglas Hall was born on the 19th August 1919 in West Ham, Essex. He was employed as a Audit Clerk in Southall in Middlesex prior to enlisting in the RAF on the 22nd August 1939.

(4) Sgt. Hughes was initially at Stalag Luft 4 and was then transferred to Stalag 9B. Then transferred to Stalag Luft 6 probably on promotion to Warrant Officer (WO).

(5) Sgt. Bull was captured north of Kiel on the 11th September 1940 and transferred to Dulag Luft, Oberursel near Frankfurt.

On the train journey to Stalag Luft 1 from Frankfurt he and Plt Off. Thompson attempted to escape but were recaptured almost immediately.

From here on his PoW story is the same as that of Sgt Hall as described above at Ser 3.

William John Bull was born on the 6th August 1918. He was a Radio Engineer in Harrow, Middlesex prior o enlisting in the RAF on the 16th July 1938.

Burial details:

None - all crew PoW and thought to have survived the war.

Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered August 2016. Further research by Webmaster. Photographs of the aircraft from the Michel Beckers collection. The photographs of Plt Off. Trevor Harold Hadley sent to us and used with permission from Julia Hadley, New Zealand (Aug 2016). Thanks to Julia Hadley, for the correction to the position of Plt Off Hadley in the Oflag 9A photograph. (Mar 2024). Reviewed and updated by Aircrew Remembered with PoW questionnaire information and update to crew details. (Mar 2024)

Other sources listed below:

RS 11.03.2024 - Corrections and updates

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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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