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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 Crest
10.08.1940 144 Squadron Hampden I P4368, Plt Off. William Frank Tudhope DFC

Operation: Homburg, Germany

Date: 10th August 1940 (Saturday)

Unit No: 144 Squadron

Type: Hampden I

Serial: P4368

Code: PL:?

Base: RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire, England

Location: IJsselmeer, Netherlands

Pilot: Plt Off. William Frank Tudhope DFC 41224 RAF Age 22. KiA (1)

Obs/Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Spencer Lewis Smith Belton DFM 581261 RAF Age 21. MiA (1)

W/Op/Air Gnr: Sgt. Duncan MacKay 551045 RAF Age 20. MiA

Air Gnr: Sgt. Arthur James Griffiths 581384 RAF Age 21. MiA

RAF Hemswell 144 Squadron Hampdens (Credit: Roger Griffiths)


Late on the night of the 1oth August 1940 Hampden B Mk.1 P4368 took off from RAF Hemswell on a bombing mission to Homberg, just south of the industrial Ruhr in Germany.

Records show that the aircraft failed to return from the mission. No German records have been found that claim the shooting down of the aircraft nor of any observations of the aircraft crashing. The cause of the loss remains unknown.

On the 23rd August 1940 the remains of Plt Off. Tudhope were recovered from the sea off the west coast of the island of Schokland in the Netherlands. Plt Off. Tudhope was buried with military honours by the German occupying forces on the 27th August 1940 at the Kampen General Cemetery in IJsselmuiden.

The location and recovery of Plt Off. Tudhope has lead to the possibility that P4368 may have crashed into the shallow waters of the IJsselmeer. The IJsselmeer became a lake in 1933 after a dyke was built at the northern end to close off what was then the Zuiderzee.

Above: Memorial to the crew (Credit: Jan van Weeterloo)

The location of the aircraft wreckage remains unknown.

(1) On the 7th July 1940 at 21:01 hours Hampden P4367 from ‘B’ Flight 144 Squadron, took off from RAF Hemswell on a ‘Gardening’ sortie. Plt Off. Tudhope and Sgt. Belton were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) respectively for their actions on this sortie. The citation reads:

"One night in July 1940, Pilot Officer Tudhope was captain of an aircraft which delivered an attack on enemy warships in Wilhelmshaven harbour from an altitude of only 50 feet. The aircraft was subjected to terrific anti-aircraft fire and was badly hit by a high explosive shell. In spite of this a second attack was attempted, but owing to the extreme density of the gunfire, one engine was badly damaged and the Navigator’s cabin was riddled with holes. In spite of this ordeal, Sergeant Belton, the Navigator and bomb aimer, with great coolness and courage continued his duties, and enabled Pilot Officer Tudhope to bring the damaged aircraft safely home. This officer and non-commissioned officer have shown conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on many previous occasions." London Gazette – 6th August 1940, Issue 34915.

L to R: Plt Off. Tudhope DFC (Credit: Laurin Espie), Sgt. Belton DFM, Sgt. MacKay (Credit: Roger Griffiths)

Top L to R: Sgt. Griffiths, aircrew training, ready to fly. Bottom: in the Squadron’s Avro Anson (Credit: Roger Griffiths)

No. 3 Air Observer & Navigation School, RAF Desford. No. 5 Observer Course - 1939, Sitting R to L: 1st, Sgt. Griffiths (Credit:: Roger Griffiths)

Sgt. Griffiths reported missing (Courtesy: Roger Griffiths)

Burial details:

The status of Sgt. Belton DFM, Sgt. MacKay and Sgt. Griffiths remain as Missing in Action.

Above: Grave marker Plt.Off. Tudhope, DFC. (Credit: TWGPP)

Plt Off. William Frank Tudhope DFC. Kampen General Cemetery, IJsselmuiden. Plot 7. Grave 11. Born on the 5th March 1919 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Son to Sqn Ldr. John Henry MC and Jessie Grahame Tudhope of Carleton, Ontario, Canada.

A Biography compiled by Hans Hollestelle for Plt Off. William Frank Tudhope DFC can be read here.

L to R: Sgt. Belton S.L.S. DFM, Sgt. MacKay D., Sgt. Griffiths A.R. (Credit: Andrea Ruddick)

Sgt. Spencer Lewis Smith Belton DFM. Runnymede Memorial Panel 12. Born during 1919 in Maldon, Essex. Son of Spencer and Florence Annie Belton, of Foulness, Essex, England

Sgt. Duncan MacKay. Runnymede Memorial Panel 17. Born during 1920. Son to Duncan and Jessie Jane MacKay

Sgt Arthur James Griffiths. Runnymede Memorial Panel 14. Born during 1919. Son of George Edward and Florence Griffiths, of Slough, Buckinghamshire, England

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Roger Griffiths the nephew of Sgt. Griffiths for his invaluable contributions. Thanks also to the War Graves Photograph Project. Thanks to Jan van Weeterloo for memorial photograph (Oct 2019).

Other sources listed below:

KTY & RS 07.10.2019 - Memorial photo added

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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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