14/15.07.1941 No. 7 Squadron Stirling I N6022 MG-D F/O. Witt DFC DFM
Date: 14/15th July 1941 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 7 Squadron
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Oakington
Location: Shotesham Park, Newton Flotman, Norwich, Norfolk
Pilot: F/O. Dennis T. Witt DFM. DFC. (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Les D.A. Bolton (2)
Nav: Sgt. John T. Prentice - Injured (3)
Air/Bmr: P/O. Douglas Keith Deyell DFM. - Inured (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Arthur E. Burrows (5)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Les E.J. Davenport (6)
Air/Gnr: F/O. John L.A. Mills (7)
Loss extensively researched by the grandson of Sgt. Les Davenport, Mr. Ian Davenport
REASON FOR LOSS:
Bomb Load 5 x 1,000, 7 x 500, 420 x 4 Incendiaries. Stick seen to burst across large sheds producing very large fires and explosions. With two engines out, ran out of petrol and crashed at Newton Flotman.
Above 7 Squadron Stirling MG-D (courtesy Ian Davenport)
Crew baled out, 2 slightly injured. RAF. Form F540 states ‘finding that his petrol consumption had assumed alarming proportions, made hurried turnaround and ordered his crew to prepare for landing at sea. They reached the coast however, and baled out.
Sgt. Les Davenport (courtesy Ian Davenport)
From Ian Davenport on his Grandfather:
‘It was the night of the 14th / 15th July 1941 my Grandfather Leslie E.J Davenport was a Front Gunner on Short Stirling Bombers of Squadron 7 R.A.F. based at Oakington, Cambridgeshire. The target for that night was Hannover, Germany. The Flak was heavy over the Dutch coast and Dennis Witt, the pilot used a lot of fuel manoeuvring the plane away from danger. They managed to bomb the target, hitting factories in an industrial part of the city.
On the return it became apparent that they may not have enough fuel to get back to Oakington, pilot Dennis Witt, prepared the crew of seven including my Grandfather for ditching the plane at sea. My Grandfather always said they breathed a sigh of relief when they crossed the North Norfolk coast near Cromer, but with fuel dangerously low Witt gave the order to bail out, which they did at 12,000 feet. My research has led me to find out that the crash sight of the plane was at Newton Flotman along the A140 on part of the Shottesham Estate.
All the crew including my Grandfather bailed out successfully and survived. Two of the crew were injured, John Prentice broke his back in the jump. Now my Grandfather always said he bailed out somewhere between Newton Flotman and Swainsthorpe and him and another crew member Leslie Bolton were taken in by farmers to a farm cottage, I am not sure where.’
They said they sang "Roll out the barrels" very loud so locals would know they were not Germans!!
My Grandfather spent the night there and he said he fell asleep in front of the fire in an armchair! Leslie Bolton who I have spoken to recently said he left his Mae West flying jacket in the farm there when the RAF came to pick them up the next day.'
(1) F/O. Dennis T. Witt DFM. DFC. completed over 100 operational tours with bomber command. Died in the early 1960’s with stomach cancer.
(2) Sgt. Les Bolton lives in Scotland with his wife (February 2014).
(3) Sgt. John Prentice, broke his back during the bale out, but recovered. Living in New Zealand (February 2014).
(4) P/O. Douglas Deyell DFM. broke his ankle in the bale out, recovered and completed tour with 38 Squadron. Died in the 1990’s.
(5) Sgt. Arthur Burrows was killed shortly afterwards on an operation to Stettin Stirling I W7433 MG-U.
(6) Sgt. Les Davenport was shot down and taken P.o.W. on an operation to Berlin. Stirling I N6046. MG-Y. Died in 1988.
(7) F/O. John Mills was killed shortly afterwards on an operation to Bremen. Manchester I L7462 OF-Z.
Further information and photographs added in an additional page in the hope that some relatives may come forward who served with Les Davenport. (separate page) Either at 7 Squadron, during his training at the Electrical and Wireless School at RAF Yatesbury or the time spent in the various PoW camps until the end of the war.
None - all crew survived this incident.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Ian Davenport for detailed information, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission.