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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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161 Squadron crest
19/20.03.1943 161 Squadron Halifax V DG244 MA-Y F/O. Herbert L. Wynne DFM

Operation: SSI Vega 3 

Date: 19/20th March 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 161 Squadron SOE (Special Operations Executive)

Type: Halifax V

Serial: DG244

Code: MA-Y

Base: RAF Tempsford, Bedfordshire

Location: 30 km. North West of Skagen in the Skagerrak

Pilot: F/O. Herbert Lloyd Wynne DFM. 129105 RAFVR Age 27. Missing (1)

Pilot 2: Fl/Sgt. Raymond Robert Seppings Rolfe 1180657 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Thomas Bell Colwell 577324 RAF Age 18. Missing

Nav: F/O. William Harry Franklin DFC. 125434 RAFVR Age 20. Missing

Air/Bmr: Sgt. James Cornelius Insole 1265045 RAFVR Age 21. Missing

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric William Foster 1583333 RAFVR Age 19. Missing (2)

Air/Gnr: P/O. Thomas William Challoner DFC. 50465 RAF Age 22. Missing (3)


Taking off from RAF Tempsford, Bedfordshire at 19.50 hrs. Thought to have been on a supply drop to Norway resistance movement in the area of Nottoden where there was a ‘heavy water’ plant and also believed to attempt to drop a special agent in the Larvik area. 

No word from the resistance movement after the loss so it is thought that it was intercepted before completing its lone operation.

Left to right rear: P/O. Thomas William Challoner DFC., F/O. Herbert Lloyd Wynne DFM., P/O. Cruwys, Front: Sgt Shearer, Sgt. Thomas Bell Colwell (courtesy Debbie Kennett - relative of P/O. Cruwys)


Air Bomber for Halifax DG244, Sgt. James Cornelius Insole (courtesy Judith Wagner)

The skilled and decorated crew were chosen as it required them to fly into the area, at low level, unescorted and relying on the expertise of the crew to carry out the hazardous operation.

Lost without trace but understood to have been shot down by Oblt. Werner Spiedel (4) of 10./NJG3 - shot down at 23.28 hrs on the 19th March 30 km. North West of Skagen in the Skagerrak.

(1) DFM awarded to the then Sgt. Wynn 1014448 whilst with 51 Squadron - gazetted on the 22nd May 1942. ‘Despite being wounded in the face, he showed courage and determination of the highest order in completing his sortie’.
(2) Posted to the squadron from 26 OTU on the 7th October 1942. The family of Sgt. Eric W. Foster also lost his twin brother, Fl/Sgt. Gilbert T. Foster 1583331 RAFVR - serving as an air gunner with 70 Squadron. Killed in Italy on the 27th January 1944. Buried at Bari War Cemetery, Puglia (Apulla) Italy.
(3) The DFC was awarded posthumously with effect from the 17th February 1943 - Award presented to his mother by King George VI. ‘In recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations’.
(4) This was the first abschüss for Oblt. Werner Spiedel - after total of 10 abshüsse he was killed ages 23 on the 31st January 1944 near Hesepe, Germany.

Burial details:

Left: F/O. Wynne DFM. Above and extreme left: Runnymede Memorial (Aircrew Remembered archive)

F/O. Herbert Lloyd Wynne DFM. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 130. Son of Arthur and Nellie Wynne, of Hyde, Cheshire, England.

Fl/Sgt. Raymond Robert Seppings Rolfe. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 139. Son of Seppings Rolfe, and of Alice Mary Rolfe, of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England.

Sgt. Thomas Bell Colwell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 145. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

F/O. William Harry Franklin DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 124. Son of Mary Franklin, of Cambridge, England. This was his 43rd operation.

Sgt. James Cornelius Insole. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 154. Son of Elijah and Kate Louisa Insole, husband of Emily Maude Insole, of Romford, Essex, England.

Sgt. Eric William Foster. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 149. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Watson Foster, of Castle Bromwich, Warwickshire, England.

P/O. Thomas William Challoner DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 131. Also commemorated on the Tywyn Church Memorial in Wales. Son of Thomas and Lucy Challoner, husband of Joyce Eveline Challoner, of Enderby, Leicestershire, England.

Researched for Judith Wagner (sister of Sgt. Insole) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Debbie Kennett - relative of P/O. Cruwys. 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', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. We do recommend that relatives of these 'special' squadrons also contact Bob Brady who runs the Tempsford Squadron website, but please, mention us!

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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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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