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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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31/01.08.1942 No. 25 O.T.U. Wellington IC DV439 PP-D Fl/Lt. P.P.L.E. Welch

Operation: Düsseldorf, Germany

Date: 31/01st August 1942 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 25 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: DV439

Coded: PP-D

Base: RAF Finningly, Yorkshire

Location: SW of Loon op Zand Holland

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Patrick Pallis Lome Elphinstone Welch RAF PoW No: 610 Camp: Oflag Saalhaus-Colditz

Fl/Eng: Fl/Lt. John Hamilton RAF PoW No: 597 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Beleria (1)

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Saunders Valensky RCAF PoW No: 25682 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dennis James Veasey RCAF PoW No: 25142 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Francis Penney R/107561 RCAF Age 19. Killed (2)


Took off from Finningley, Yorkshire at 23.41hrs to bomb the German city of Düsseldorf. 630 aircraft took part in the operation, a total of 900 tons of explosives were dropped. 15,000 buildings were damaged, a further 453 were destroyed. Very heavy losses by the attacking force with 29 aircraft lost.

Above left: Fl/Lt. Patrick Pallis Lome Elphinstone Welch Right: Also seen here on the left, after being recaptured wearing Luftwaffe uniforms following the Delousing break in 1943. (courtesy Terry Hardbowr via Michel Beckers)

Wellington DV439 was attacked by German night fighters and crash landed. The claim for this loss was made by Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer who by the end of the war had a score of 121 kills. He shot the Wellington down 1 km South West of Loon Op Zand at a height of 3,000m at 02.47hrs.

German troops inspecting Wellington DV439 (courtesy Peter Snord and Michel Beckers) 

Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer and his crew take up the combat report:

"Our fighter controller transmitted a number of changes of heading and once again I managed to spot the Tommy as he loomed up off to the right ahead of us. We dove down and underneath him so that he stood out against the sky. Pulling up the nose slightly we thought we recognised a twin-engine Hampden, noted for its so called swallow nests - its feared gun turrets and their powerful defences. Having manoeuvred into an excellent firing position, Schnaufer had quickly revised his original intention to attack from directly astern foregoing the usual tactic. Raising the nose he let the enemy machine have it from all barrels. Fire took hold so quickly that the bomber crew barely had time to think about defending themselves. Unfortunately our long burst of fire and the resulting dazzling tracer trails were enough for us to briefly lose our night vision and the bomber disappeared from view. We searched in vain for it again. Perhaps he had already gone down? He had certainly been hit with a decent enough salvo. We headed back in a sombre mood. We had no time to be annoyed as the ground station had soon vectored us onto another contact.

It was a few days later that we were informed that we would be credited for this aircraft as we had misidentified it, eye witness statements confirm the kills as did the crew themselves."  

Left to right: Lt. Rumpelhardt, Hptm. Schnaufer and Ofw. Gänzier (Kracker archives)

(1) Fl/Lt. Hamilton was seriously injured during the attack but survived. Fl/Lt Welch made a valiant attempt to escape from captivity along with another officer, Fl/Lt. Walter McD Morison (3) of 103 Squadron and both were then sent to Colditz. There the two of them became involved with the design and building of the famous Colditz glider.

(2) Penney Lake in Saskatchewan is named after Sgt. Penney

Notes: Also lost from 25 OTU on this operation:

Wellington T2909 PP-E - Flown by 29 year old Sgt. Peter Prime R/79255 RCAF, from Wisconsin USA, killed with all 4 other crew.
Wellington DV560 PP-X - Flown by Sgt. Leroy V. Simonsson R/85420 RCAF, from Neidpath, Saskatchewan, Canada, killed with all 4 other crew. Tragically, the aircraft crashed into a house in Wemeldinge. The mother, two brothers (David and Jan), two sisters (Maria Pieternella and Licia) and two boarding granddaughters, children of her son Jacobus residing in Leeuwarden, died in the flames.
Wellington DV829 PP-L - Flown by P/O. C.J.Frith taken PoW, his 4 other crew were killed.

The Operation training units (OTU) suffered terrible losses on this operation with 4 Hampdens from 14 OTU lost, 16 OTU lost 2 x Wellingtons, 21 OTU 1 x Wellington, 23 OTU x 1 Wellington, 24 OTU 2 x Wellingtons, 25 OTU x 4 Wellingtons and 27 OTU x 2 Wellingtons.

Above L-R: Sgt. Saunders Valensky, Sgt. William Penney (courtesy Robert Elazar and Ed Barsi via Michel Beckers)

Left: Grave of Sgt. Penney (courtesy Ed Barsi via Michel Beckers)

Burial Details:

Sgt. William Francis Penney. Bergen-Op-Zoom Cemetery. Grave. 5.H.9. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Penney of Inchkeith, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Michel Beckers for additional information and photographs. Ed Barsi for photos and details of Sgt. Jimmy Penney, Terry Hardbowr for photo of Fl/Lt. Welch, Robert Elazar for photo of P/O. Valency. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', David Chamberlain - Colditz information. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  

(3) With thanks to Mary Benedict who contacted us via our help desk, for pointing out some errors in the report and also bringing to our attention the book written by Fl/Lt. Walter McD Morison, 'Flak and Ferrets'. Available on Amazon and other book shops.


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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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