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Thread: 199 Squadron : The Hodson Crew

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    Default 199 Squadron : The Hodson Crew

    I am looking for information about the events which lead to the loss of the Hodson crew of 199 Squadron during operations to Hanover on the night of 27th. September 1943 in Stirling Mk. III EF118 : EX-O. The crew were as follows : -

    Sgt. Maurice Hodson (Pilot) from Sheffield
    Sgt. Robert Taylor (Bomb Aimer) from Yorkshire
    Sgt. Jack Taylor (Flight Engineer) from Hyde, Cheshire
    Sgt. Brian Higginson RNZAF (Navigator) from Auckland City, New Zealand
    Sgt. Dugald Wood (Wireless Operator) from Clarkston, Glasgow
    Sgt. John Quar (Mid Upper Gunner) from Fulham, London
    Sgt. Bill Boyden (Rear Gunner) from Ilford, Essex
    During their last operation, they had a second pilot with them, F/O Leonard Clay from Chadwell Heath in Essex.

    As a crew, this was their 13th. operation and during their operational career, they had two mining operations and bombing operations to Peenemunde, Berlin (twice), Nuremburg, Munchengladbach, Mannheim (twice), Montlucon, Modane and Hanover on 22-23 September 1943. Latterly, they had operated in Stirling EH909 : EX-Z (which apparently the nose art of a toilet roll and the words SEMPER IN EXCRETA) but the aircraft had suffered damage on their penultimate operation and they were using EF118 on their last operation. All personnel, with the exception of Robert Taylor, who became a prisoner of war in Heydekrug, were killed. The aircraft crashed at Ramlingen, which is about 10 miles North East of Hanover and the crew were initially interred in the church yard at Ramlingen and now lie side by side in Hanover War Cemetery.

    I know quite a bit about their operational career as I have my uncle’s letters home and a letter from Robert Taylor written to my grandparents after he returned to the United Kingdom at the end of the war. My grandparents also obtained my uncle Dugald’s log book at the end of the War and I have obtained further information from the 199 ORB and other sources as Bill Chorley’s Bomber Command War Losses.

    I was very fortunate to meet Robert Taylor in 1993 in what was an emotional meeting for both of us. He indicated that the last operation had been uneventful until the aircraft had started its bombing run when it was coned by searchlights. Maurice Hodson began to corkscrew the aircraft but the aircraft was held by the searchlights. It was thought that there were two fighters involved in the subsequent attack. There was a large explosion and the aircraft immediately went out of control. As Robert was lying on the front hatch in the bomb aimer’s position, he was able to escape from the aircraft.

    I am aware from reading a lot of requests for help in various forums that I am fortunate to have the above information. I would be very grateful, however, if anyone on the forum could give me any further information about the members of the Hodson crew and on the events leading to their loss.

    Best wishes

    Douglas

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    Hi Douglas, from great claim list of Tony Wood:

    Night: 27-28. September 1943
    R.A.F. Bomber Command: HANNOVER

    27.09.43 Oblt. Werner Baake 3./NJG 1 Lancaster  4 km. N. Quakenbrück: 4.000 m. 22.40 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.59
    27.09.43 Ofw. Werner Hillenbrux 3./NJG 1 Halifax  bei Neunkirchen: 4.400 m. 22.47 Film C. 2031/II VNE: ASM
    27.09.43 Oblt. Robert Plewa 2./JG 300 Stirling  Hannover: 3.000 m. 22.58 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr. -
    27.09.43 Ltn. Hans-Heinz Augenstein 9./NJG 1 Halifax  GS-7: 6.200 m. [Lübbecke] 23.00 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.8
    27.09.43 Ofw. Heitmann 2./NJG 3 Lancaster  1 km. E. Hannover: 5.500 m. 23.00 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.24
    27.09.43 Ltn. Kraft 9./NJG 1 Halifax  HU-9: 4.500 m. [S. Hildesheim] 23.00 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.7
    27.09.43 Fw. Herbert Herre 1./JG 302 4-mot. Flzg.  Gross-Piesen: 5.000 m. 23.03 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.7
    27.09.43 Ltn. Ernst-Erich Hirschfeld 5./JG 300 Lancaster  Hannover: 4.500 m. 23.04 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: ASM
    27.09.43 Fw. Herbert Herre 1./JG 302 v. Stirling  S. Hannover: 5.500 m. 23.06 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Uffz. Sallmütter 11./NJG 5 4-mot. Flzg.  Hannover: 5.000 m. 23.07 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.34
    27.09.43 Uffz. Andreas Hartl 6./JG 301 Liberator  W.S.W. Hannover: 5.000 m. 23.08 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: ASM
    27.09.43 Oblt. Knigge 2./NJG 6 Stirling  20 km. N.N.E. Hannover: 5.000 m. 23.08 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.3
    27.09.43 Hptm. Friedrich-Karl Müller Stab/JG 300 Lancaster  i. gegend Hildesheim: 5.200 m. 23.09 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.144
    27.09.43 Hptm. Hahn with 9./NJG 3 3./NJG 3 4-mot. Flzg.  10-15 km. N.W. Braunschweig: no height 23.10 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.27
    27.09.43 Ofw. Walter Mackens 1./JG 300 4-motor  W.S.W. Hannover: 5.000 m. 23.10 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Oblt. Gerhard Raht 4./NJG 3 4-motor  Hannover: 4.800 m. 23.10 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.11
    27.09.43 Uffz. Werthner [sic] 7./NJG 2 4-motor  N.W. stadt Hannover: 4.800 m. 23.12 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Ofw. Noack 9./NJG 3 4-mot. Flzg.  Raum Hannover-Braunschweig: 4.800 m. 23.14 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: ASM
    27.09.43 Ltn. Ernst-Erich Hirschfeld 5./JG 300 Stirling  westl. Hannover: no height 23.15 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: ASM
    27.09.43 Hptm. Karl Resseguier Stab I./JG 300 Fortress II  W. stadt Hannover: 5.500 m. 23.15 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: ASM
    27.09.43 Oblt. Riedlberger 5./NJG 2 Stirling  S.W. rand Hannover: 4.000 m. 23.17 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.49
    27.09.43 Ofw. Wegener 4./JG 300 Lancaster  N.W. Braunschweig: 6.500 m. 23.17 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: ASM
    27.09.43 Hptm. Werner Hoffmann Stab I./NJG 5 4-motor  50 km. S. Hannover: 4.500 m. 23.18 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.6
    27.09.43 Ltn. Willi Reisgies 1./NJG 2 Stirling  15 km. S.S.E. Hannover: 3.500 m. 23.19 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.5
    27.09.43 Ofw. Heinz Wöhlecke 3./JG 300 4-mot. Flzg.  W. Hannover: 6.300 m. 23.19 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.45
    27.09.43 Ofw. Sachs 3./JG 300 4-motor  N.E. Hannover: 6.000 m. 23.20 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.24
    27.09.43 Obfhr. Siegfried Koenig 9./NJG 3 Wellington  N.W. stadt Hannover: 4.000 m. 23.20 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.8
    27.09.43 Hptm. Manfred Meurer II./NJG 5 4-motor  S.W. stadt Hannover: 6.000 m. 23.20 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.7
    27.09.43 Uffz. Scharfmann 5./NJG 3 4-motor  S.W. stadt Hannover: 5.000 m. 23.20 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.22
    27.09.43 Oblt. Sauter II./JG 301 Lancaster  W.S.W. Hannover: 5.000 m. 23.23 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.17
    27.09.43 Uffz. Andreas Hartl 6./JG 301 Liberator  30 km. S.W. Hannover: 6.000 m. 23.24 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.19
    27.09.43 Major Günther Radusch Stab/NJG 5 4-motor  S.W. stadt Hannover: 3.600 m. 23.24 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.5
    27.09.43 Uffz. Ernst Reitmeyer 3./NJG 5 Stirling  24 km. S. Hannover: 1.000 m. 23.25 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.5
    27.09.43 Ofw. Willi Glitz 5./NJG 2 Stirling  5-8 km. S.W. Hannover: no height 23.25 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.103
    27.09.43 Oblt. Robert Plewa 2./JG 300 Stirling  Hannover: 4.500 m. 23.26 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Ltn. Josef Kraft II./NJG 5 Lancaster  10 km. S.W. Hannover: 6.000 m. 23.26 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Uffz. Schanther [sic] 7./NJG 5 Lancaster  7 km. N.N.E. Hannover: 5.750 m. 23.27 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.1
    27.09.43 Fw. Kurt Emler 7./JG 300 Lancaster  südl. Hannover: 5.200 m. 23.27 Film C. 2031/II VNE: ASM
    27.09.43 Hptm. August Geiger 7./NJG 1 Halifax  10 km. N.W. Bad Münster: no height 23.30 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Oblt. Martin Drewes 1./NJG 1 Halifax  N.E. Nordflingen: 4.400 m. 23.30 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Uffz. Emil Heinzelmann 8./NJG 1 Stirling  5 km. N.W. Hameln: 5.400 m. 23.30 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Oblt. Heinz Schnaufer 12./NJG 1 Halifax  W. Nordstemmen: 4.400 m. 23.31 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Oblt. Karl Habeball 3./NJG 6 Halifax  13 km. N.N.E. Minden: 5.200 m. 23.35 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-
    27.09.43 Hptm. Herbert Lütje 8./NJG 1 Halifax  FT-9: 5.100 m. [Neustadt] 23.49 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.-

    Supplemental Claims from Sources:
    27.09.43 Ofw. [Oblt. K-H. Seeler] 1./JG 302 Halifax  über Geidingen 23.07 Ref: Reschke JG 301/302 f.21

    27.09.43 Ltn. Reisgies: 1 1./NJG 2 Stirling  - 23.19 Reference: Bock NJG 2
    27.09.43 Fw. Herbert Herre 1./JG 302 4-mot. Flzg.  Groß-Piesen 23.03 Ref: Reschke JG 301/302 f.21
    27.09.43 Fw. Herbert Herre 1./JG 302 v. Stirling  südlich von Hannover 23.06 Ref: Reschke JG 301/302 f.21
    27.09.43 Uffz. Andreas Hartl 6./JG 301 4-mot. Flzg.  westlich Hannover: in der Tiefe 23.08 Ref: Reschke JG 301/302 f.21
    27.09.43 Uffz. Andreas Hartl 6./JG 301 4-mot. Flzg.  - 23.24 Ref: Reschke JG 301/302 f.21
    27.09.43 Oblt. Sauter Stab II./JG 301 Lancaster  - 23.23 Ref: Reschke JG 301/302 f.21


    From your description I will bet on:

    27.09.43 Oblt. Knigge 2./NJG 6 Stirling  20 km. N.N.E. Hannover: 5.000 m. 23.08 Film C. 2031/II Anerk: Nr.3

    But better will be if you will check the whole list one by one with all information you have as sometimes the claimed aircraft was not identified correctly.

    Good luck with your further research.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Default 199 Squadron : The Hodson Crew

    Hi Pavel

    Thank you for your reply and the list. I agree with you as the location 20 km. NNE of Hanover would be close to Celle, Burgdorf and Ramlingen. The list also shows the terrible losses inflicted on Bomber Command and its crews in just one raid.

    Best wishes

    Douglas

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    Douglas,

    From my trilogy 'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume Three: Biographies & Appendices)' :

    HIGGINSON, Flight Sergeant Brian Purdy.
    NZ415760; b Auckland 1 Aug 21; Otahuhu THS; clerk - Public Trust Office, Auckland. NZ Army/TF (1st Fd Regt NZA) 8 mths; RNZAF Levin/ITW as Airman Pilot u/t 19 Oct 41, 4EFTS 29 Nov 41, pilot trg terminated, Rongotai 30 Dec 41, ITW 25 Jan 42, remust as Air Observer u/t 26 Jan 42, emb for Canada 2 Mar 42, att RCAF 2 Apr 42, 5 M Depôt 3 Apr 42, 4AOS 12 Apr 42, remust as Air Navigator u/t 22 Jun 42, Air Observers Badge [in lieu Air Navigators Badge] & Sgt 14 Aug 42, 1 Y Depôt 26 Aug 42, att RAF & emb for UK 28 Oct 42 [originally to emb 23 Sep but ship 'condemned'], 3PRC 5 Nov 42, 9(O)AFU 13 Dec 42, 11PD&RC 28 Feb 43, 28OTU (Wellington) 16 Mar [9 Apr?] 43, 1657HCU (Stirling) 10 Jun 43, 199 Sqn (Stirling - 13 ops) 16 Jul 43, kao 27 Sep 43. Hannover War Cemetery - 6.F.6, Limmer, Hannover, Germany. Son of John Samuel & Elsie Mary Higginson (née Purdy), Otahuhu, Auckland. [phot. TWN 22.12.43].

    Errol

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    Default 199 Squadron : The Hodson Crew

    Errol

    Thank you for the detailed information regarding Brian Higginson's RNZAF career. I noted that he is recorded at 28OTU on 16 March 1943 and then there is a question mark against 9 April 1943. According to my uncle's log book, he and Maurice Hodson (and I assume Brian Higginson) began their training flights with 28OTU on 9 April 1943. They completed 47.15 hours day and 39.25 hours night by the end of May 1943 at OTU. They must have then been attached to 199 Squadron, who were in the process of moving to 3 Group, as they are recorded in the ORB as moving from 199 to 1657 HCU in June 1943.

    Best wishes

    Douglas

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    From The Bomber Command Campaign Diaries for 27/28 September 1943:-

    Hannover: 678 aircraft - 312 Lancasters, 231 Halifaxes, 111 Stirlings, 24 Wellingtons. 5 B-17s also took part. 38 Bomber Command aircraft - 17 Halifaxes, 10 Lancasters, 10 Stirlings, 1 Wellington - lost, 5.6 per cent of the force, and 1 B-17 also lost. The use by the Pathfinders of faulty forecast winds again saved the centre of Hannover. The bombing was very concentrated but fell on an area 5 miles north of the city centre. No details are available from Germany but RAF photographic evidence showed that most of the bombs fell in open country or villages north of the city.

    21 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitos of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid on Brunswick which was successful in drawing off some night fighters. 218 people were killed in Brunswick - 51 Germans and 167 foreigners. 1 Lancaster lost.

    9 Mosquitos on another diversion to Emden, 5 Mosquitos on Oboe tests to Aachen (3 were successful), 19 aircraft minelaying in the Kattegat and the Frisian Islands, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.

    As you say, a heavy price.
    For what it is worth, the crash was not too distant from Burgdorf. I was in the Hockley Essex RBL Pipe Band and one of our members was only the second servicemen granted permission to marry a German after the War, and she came from Burgdorf. The Band used to go out to meet their relatives and play during the local Schutzenfests.

    I had to chuckle at the nose art motto. Not only a lovely Latin tag but also a play on the Squadron Code EX !!!!

    He probably was known to the crew as John, but CWGC records him as:-
    Name: QUAR, ALFRED JOHN
    Initials: A J
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Sergeant (Air Gnr.)
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Unit Text: 199 Sqdn.
    Age: 21
    Date of Death: 27/09/1943
    Service No: 1392702
    Additional information: Son of Charles Alfred and Minnie Quar, of Fulham, London.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: 6. F. 5.
    Cemetery: HANOVER WAR CEMETERY

    As a further aside, the number of identifications seems to indicate good visibility that night, rather than just 4 mot. If that was the case, then it probably accounts for the high losses to some extent.

    Hope this is some help.

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    Default 199 Squadron : The Hodson Crew

    Kevin

    Thank you for the additional information. You are right that the crew knew him as John (or Johnnie) as Robert Taylor printed "In memoriam" cards on his return as a P.O.W. on which were printed the names of his crew. He told me he sent a card to the parents of each of his crew and I still have the card which was sent to my grandparents.

    Best wishes

    Douglas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theletterwriter View Post
    Errol

    Thank you for the detailed information regarding Brian Higginson's RNZAF career. I noted that he is recorded at 28OTU on 16 March 1943 and then there is a question mark against 9 April 1943. According to my uncle's log book, he and Maurice Hodson (and I assume Brian Higginson) began their training flights with 28OTU on 9 April 1943. They completed 47.15 hours day and 39.25 hours night by the end of May 1943 at OTU. They must have then been attached to 199 Squadron, who were in the process of moving to 3 Group, as they are recorded in the ORB as moving from 199 to 1657 HCU in June 1943.

    Best wishes

    Douglas
    Douglas,

    Many thanks for this information. It could be that Higginson (and the others?) were advised of their posting to 28 OTU on 16 March, arriving there sometime between then and 9 April, when they made their first flight with the unit.

    199 Sqn was changing over from Wellingtons to Stirlings in Jun-Jul 43. So it looks as though these Welllington-trained men must have been first posted from the OTU to 199 Sqn only to learn on arrival (if they did in fact actually arrive before being advised of the posting to the HCU) that as the sqn was converting to the four-engined type they were now required to undertake an HCU course before they could fly with the sqn.

    Errol

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    Quote Originally Posted by Errol Martyn View Post
    Douglas,

    Many thanks for this information. It could be that Higginson (and the others?) were advised of their posting to 28 OTU on 16 March, arriving there sometime between then and 9 April, when they made their first flight with the unit.

    199 Sqn was changing over from Wellingtons to Stirlings in Jun-Jul 43. So it looks as though these Welllington-trained men must have been first posted from the OTU to 199 Sqn only to learn on arrival (if they did in fact actually arrive before being advised of the posting to the HCU) that as the sqn was converting to the four-engined type they were now required to undertake an HCU course before they could fly with the sqn.

    Errol
    Errol

    Regarding Brian Higginson’s career, I have been looking at the record of my uncle’s service which I obtained from RAF Innsworth in 1999. My uncle was posted to 28 OTU from 1AGS on 16 March 1943 which is the same date you have recorded for Brian Higginson being posted to the OTU. My uncle’s records indicate he was posted to 1656 CU on 10 June 1943 and assuming they were crewed up, this may also apply to Brian Higginson. According to Bill Chorley’s Bomber Command Losses, 1656 CU was based at Lindholme and the aircraft used at the time were Halifaxes. On 17 June 1943, they were posted to 199 Squadron and in the monthly summary for June 1943 in the 199 ORB, it is recorded that Sgt. Hodson and crew were attached to 1657 CU on 17 June 1943.

    Although there is no date in my uncle’s service record when they joined 1657 CU, he wrote in his logbook they commenced at 1657 CU on 20 June 1943. It would suggest that if they did arrive at Lindholme from 28 OTU, they must have been turned round within a week and then sent to Stradishall and 1657 CU.

    Douglas

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    Douglas,

    Checking my Higginson file further, I see that the papers that survive on his service record include a scrappy postings and attachments sheet. This records the following:

    28 OTU 16/3/43 [recorded as a posting]
    1656 CU 10.6.43 [recorded as a posting]
    199 Sqn [no date or other info]
    Missing 27.9.43

    No mention of 1657 HCU.

    His log book on the other hand recorded 1657 HCU but apparently made no mention of 1656 HCU.

    The crew does not appear to have done any flying with 1656 HCU, so it may be that they were advised of a reposting to 199 Sqn in the interim without even reaching Lindholme?

    A minor mystery that seems unlikely to ever be resolved.

    Errol

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