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AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron

AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: SteveO
Time Stamp:
11:38:19 Friday, August 1, 2003
Post:
I am conducting research about my Great Uncle, who was shot down whilst attacking shipping off the coast of Norway. The only information I have is from the RAAF report I managed to find in the Australian National Archives.

I am trying to locate as much information about the incident as possible such as the site of the incident, but I also keen to know his body may have been picked up and buried in the area (as we know other information except that he didn't serve as a POW).

He served with the RAAF Squadron 455 and was flying on his last operational flight before being stood down. I have located 2 photos on the Australian War Memorial http://www.awm.gov.au (one taken 3 days before he was shot down) and also located the RAAF Report into the crash on the National Australian Archives http://www.naa.gov.au. This is a great source of information particularly for anyone tracking the serial numbers of hampdens.

The information I have is as follows and is from the RAAF report....

The crew were;

Flying Officer William Austin (Pilot) AUS 402841 (my Great Uncle)

Flight Sgt J Mellor 655438 (Nav / Bmber)

Flight Sgt R S Esmay CAN R 114980 (W/OP / AG)

Sgt E W Smith 1111708 (W/OP / AG)

Austin reported for duty with the squadron on the 23/9/1942 and had flown 19 sorties as Captain. Mellor reported for duty on 22/1/1943 and had flown 22 sorties. Smith reported for duty on the 5/3/1943 and had completed 15 operational sorties. Esmay reported for duty on the 2/9/1943 and was on his first sortie.

On Tuesday 14th September 1943 the crew were to undertake an operational flight from R.A.F. Station Leuchars. Their duty was to fly to the Norwegian coast, make landfall at Lister, and to carry out a shipping rover between Lister and Christiansand....

At 16.10 a landfall was made at Lister and the aircraft turned South coastwise on a patrol at 200 feet. At 16.15 hours extensive heavy flak was experienced whilst inspecting a foundered ship from Lister. The patrol continued coastwise at 50 feet and at 16.25 hours four escort ships in close box formation 100 yards apart, approxiamtely of 800 tons, were sighted on a bearing of 080 degrees T, at a distance of 800 yards. The aircraft turned in to attack and were immediately subjected to intense and very accurate light flak from the ships, followed a few seconds later by heavy flak from shore batteries in position 58 5 N, 08 00 E. Aircraft Y/455 and S/455 immediately turned away to starboard and set course for base and the crews of both aircraft observed aircraft N/455 commencing to turn between the ships and the shore. A few seconds later they observed an orange-red flash from the vicinity of the flak ships which shot upward and then died down to a glow which was immediately lost in the fog. This lasted approximately 4 seconds and aircraft N/455 has not been heard of since......

Any information that you and anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated, particulary more information about the site of the incident or were I may be able to find more information would be hugely appreciated.

Reagrds and thanks in advance...


RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: Linzee
Time Stamp:
16:26:46 Friday, August 1, 2003
Post:
Hi Steven,

Congratulations on having found out as much as you have to date about the loss of your Great Uncle.

I looked up the crew names you listed in your posting on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site (they have an excellent search facility) http://www.cwgc.org/ all four of the airmen are listed as being commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England. This would indicate a very high probability that there were no bodies recovered from the aircraft I'm afraid.

I notice that you also made a similar posting on the Norway WW2 forum but you did not mention the names of the crew. It might be worth doing so just in case they ring any bells with the researchers that frequent that forum.

Best of luck with your continued researching, keep at it.

Kind Regards

Linzee



RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: SteveO
Time Stamp:
21:52:50 Friday, August 1, 2003
Post:
Linzee,

Thanks for the response. I originally got the reference to this forum from the warsailors forum and they also recommended the Norway WW2 site. I'll update the listing there with the information.

I added all of the information to also assist anyone else that might be researching similar events.

I have a contact in Norway now that is assisting me and I'll keep posting updates when I have anything interesting.

Regards

SteveO


RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
23:17:14 Friday, August 1, 2003
Post:
WO2 Esmay(age 20) was from Davidson, Saskatchewan.


Lake Esmay in Northern Saskatchewan is named after him.


AN158 was originally on strength with 7 AAU.



(Floyd)


RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: SteveO
Time Stamp:
00:09:37 Monday, September 1, 2003
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 09-Jan-03 AT 00:09 AM (GMT)[/font][p]Do you have any details of relatives as I found a rather touching letter from his wife to the C.O. of 455 squadron in the RAAF file at the National Archives of Australia.

I wonder if they would be interested ????


RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
04:59:28 Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Post:
It appears that there are only two Esmay families in all Canadian phone directories.


One is in Cranbrook, BC, and the other in Orleans, Ontario.



Is the letter in the files from your granduncle's wife? What is the essence of it? I can call the two that are listed to see if they are any relation.



(Floyd)


RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: SteveO
Time Stamp:
15:59:38 Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 10-Jan-03 AT 04:06 PM (GMT)[/font][p]Esmay is no relation, my Uncle was Austin the Pilot, however I stand corrected. I just looked at the letter again and it is from Smith's wife thanking the CO for his letter and requesting the he pass on her address to her husband's friend called "Ralph". Given the circumstances it is a touching letter.

By the way the details of Esmay on his enlistment card are:

Esmay Robert Segal Williams R.114980

Flt / Sgt WOP/AG Dur.

1.9.43 I.T.T.U. Turnberry

D of E 4/8/41 D.of.B. 22/11/21

Marital State: S Next Of Kin (Father)

W. R. T. Esmay

Davidson

Saskatchewan Canada

(The next of kin is a bit hard to read)

This would put his age at 22 years

I'll have another scan through the file and see if there is anything of interest relating to Esmay.


RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: SteveO
Time Stamp:
16:02:10 Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 10-Jan-03 AT 04:03 PM (GMT)[/font][p]Floyd,

What do you know about AN158. There is a web site that is tracking all of the ADF serial numbers, particularly for hampdens. I normally let them know when I find out any information about one.

My next tasks is to pull all of the serials numbers and infromation out of the RAAF reports on the National Archives.

Regards

SteveO


Serial nos
Author: Don Clark (Guest)
Time Stamp:
21:04:17 Monday, January 13, 2003
Post:
Some how AN157 has become AN158


RE: Serial nos
Author: SteveO (Guest)
Time Stamp:
21:58:10 Monday, January 13, 2003
Post:
What do you mean ???? AN157 has become AN158


RE: AN157 - Loss of Hampden - RAAF 455 Squadron
Author: SteveO
Time Stamp:
11:14:11 Monday, January 13, 2003
Post:
An update to any that are interested.

Through some contacts in Norway I have obtained some information from the KTB's and appear to have located some of the wreckage of this aircraft.

The first being a pegasus engine and propeller that turned up in some fishing tralwer nets (haven't confirmed when or where yet). The second being that some divers that have located a wing (unknown orign) and are hpoing to continue the search next month for the remainder of the wreckage.

Regards

SteveO