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Thread: Whitley N1385 of 102 Squadron, 'lost 17 August 1940'.

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    Default Whitley N1385 of 102 Squadron, 'lost 17 August 1940'.

    Hallo,
    .
    Recently I have been looking at several issues for 102 Squadron aircraft during August 1940. As usual I am looking for help from my fellow members !
    .
    The final fate of Whitley N1385 from 102 Squadron is given as "Missing (Augsburg) 17.8.40" in the Air-Britain 'L1000-N9999' serial register and 'THE WHITLEY FILE'. However it does not appear in William Chorley's 'RAF BOMBER COMMAND LOSSES, 1939-40'. I have checked through the 102 Squadron ORB (AIR 27/807) and Appendices (AIR 27/812) for all of 1940 to determine the fate of N1385. According to the well-kept F.541 N1385 was only flown on two operational missions during all of 1940 ! On May 14/15th and May 16/17th as 'DY-G'. It is noteworthy that 102 Squadron used three more 'G's between these dates and 15 August 1940, with N1377/'G' flying its first mission on 20/21st May 1940. N1385 was not recorded as being damaged on either sortie during May but this possibility cannot be discounted.
    Does anyone know its subsequent history ?
    .
    During the 16/17 August 1940 mission to Augsburg the squadron lost only one aircraft (N1382/'A'). As mentioned above N1385 did not fly that night nor on any other night during August 1940 with 102 Squadron, or even 77 Squadron which was also stationed at Driffield.
    Various publications dealing with the Driffield raid state 9 Whitleys were destroyed. An earlier work, 'BATTLE OVER BRITAIN' by Francis K. Mason, records that 10 Whitleys were destroyed and 6 more damaged. Here I wonder if N1385 could have been the 10th total loss due to the date being so close to August 17th mentioned above. From a careful study of the F541s of both 77 and 102 Squadrons it seems 77 Squadron 'only' suffered the 4 known total losses. However there is good reason to believe 102 Squadron did indeed have 6 damaged aircraft as well as the 5 (or 6 ?) total losses.
    All this makes me suspect that N1385 could have been the 6th total loss for 102 Squadron.
    .
    Can anyone please add to this ?
    .
    Regards,
    .
    Martin Gleeson.

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    Whitley N1385 102 Sq had been damaged 10th January 1940 during a heavy landing causing the u/c to collapse, but was recorded as repairable at the time.

    As you correctly say N1382 (Movement Serial Indicator DM. 184) was "posted as missing with all the crew." on the night of 16/17th August 1940 - Driffield Station HQ ORB, which lists the crew.

    The book by Geoff Simmons and Barry Abraham called "Strong Foundations" claim N1382 DY-A and other aircraft were detailed to the Dornier factory Augsburg and N1382 was shot down and crashed into the Walser Valley in Austria.

    The Whitley losses at Driffield (plus one operational loss) according to the book on the 15th August 1940 were:-
    P5044 KN-O and crew whilst on operations (my Grandfather was Air Observer and all the crew were killed)
    N1353 KN-M
    N1501 KN-H
    N1506 KN-C
    P5056 KN-Y

    102 Sqn
    DY-Z
    N1378
    N1420
    P4945
    P5005 [P5005 was claimed to be involved 15.6.1942 19 OTU crash]
    P5022

    The Bomber Command Southdown ORB states on the 16th August 1940 under "Aircraft Replacements" ... "Twelve Whitleys to Driffield." However, earlier on the 16th the ORB had said seven Whitleys and one Magister were destroyed at Driffield.

    There was another attack on the Driffield Station a few days later and under a list of various "operational losses" 19/20th August 1940 of differing Squadrons and aircraft types, that "two Whitleys were destroyed in a second enemy raid on Driffield."

    I have not cross checked the Whitley serial numbers / identification lettering given in the book against the actual records I have. However Geoff Simmons and Barry Abraham did a lot of research all over the place for their book.

    I will have a look at my photocopied Log Books to see whether my Grandfather's Captains Burbridge / MacGregor and from August 1940 Captain Stenhouse, flew in N1385?

    The day before Captain Stenhouse and crew were killed, one of the other aircraft crew had a strange turn and in a fit of rage assaulted my Grandfather's Flight Commander (see also Leonard Cheshire's book) and you will note in the 77 Squadron ORB that the CO was moved to a Staff job on the 14th August 1940 and Geoffrey T. Jarman took over.
    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 27th August 2012 at 18:53. Reason: removed reference to Cheshire & added to N1506 as KN-C

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    Hallo Mark,
    .
    Thanks for your reply. There is much of interest in it, not least your own family connection.
    .
    I appreciate the information on the 10 January 1940 accident to N1385 which was new to me.
    I can add a little to the Whitley losses at Driffield, based on the 77 and 102 Squadron ORBs and Appendices.
    77 Squadron;
    N1506 was 'KN-C'
    102 Squadron;
    N1378 was 'DY-Q'
    N1420 was 'DY-S'
    P4945 was 'DY-L'
    P5022 was 'DY-B'.
    I have to dispute however that 'DY-Z' was destroyed on August 15th and that it was Leonard Cheshire's aircraft. No 'DY-Z' flew operationally during August 1940. Leonard Cheshire only flew two missions during the first half of August (10/11th and 13/14th), both as pilot and both in N1378 'DY-Q'. All his nine missions during July were as 2nd Pilot and in a variety of aircraft. It might not be incorrect therefore to suggest 'DY-Q' was his aircraft.
    .
    Secondly, as mentioned in my original post, I believe P5005 'DY-N' was not a casualty of the August 15th raid. I had a PM last night from another member who kindly supplied information that reaffirms my belief that the photo of the shattered P5005 dated from the 21 December 1940 accident at Topcliffe.
    A fifth definite loss for 102 Squadron on August 15th was N1413 'DY-K'. It should be mentioned that another Whitley (N1381) began using 'DY-K' several days before the 15th. So N1413 may have been laid up awaiting repair ?
    .
    Some great details about the transfer of the 77 Squadron CO and from the lesser-known sources you mentioned, such as the possible loss of a Magister. The ORBs of the two squadrons indicate no losses on 19/20 August 1940. I await with interest to learn if your grandfather's aircraft captains ever flew in N1385.
    .
    My thanks once more,
    .
    Martin.

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    Hello Martin

    I looked at the Driffield Station ORB Appendix 7 page copy and Cheshire's op 13/14th August 1940 (before the 15th August raid) was made in N1370, a different aircraft serial to the one he had flown previously. You could check each aircraft letter given with each Captains name, on the Ops Orders.

    Whilst my Grandfather's aircraft was away for repair (letter KN-O) due to a forced landing on the 4th August 1940, they had simply painted KN-O on their new replacement P5044 (confirmed by Ops Orders and Pilot's Log Book), so aircraft lettering to a particular serial can sometimes be a difficult one, when people like us are sticklers for absolute accuracy!

    If you look at Chorley's OTU Losses for the June 1942 19 OTU crash regarding P5005, Bill confirms in the 1942 crash, your later 1940 events for P5005 regarding hitting an aircraft on landing and the incident.

    Of course I presume you will know that some Stations had an aircraft which was supposed to be airworthy, but no Captain would sign for! There was one Whitley that would cover the fabric control surfaces in oil, which could soften the fabric on a long flight and Pilots were worried that the control surface may rip or break up, so Captains refused to sign for the Whitley.

    There is a reference in the RR Engine/Merlin book about how one of their Engineer's was called to an RAF Station to pass two Whitleys with the oil problem, for flying. After long flights oil was running across and dripping off the rear control surfaces, on Whitleys with the problem.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 27th August 2012 at 19:13. Reason: updated information on Cheshire

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    Hallo Mark,

    I have not seen the Driffield ORB or Appendices but do have the ORBs and Appendices for both 77 and 102 Squadrons. I was able to match letters (in the Appendices) to the serials (in the ORB) for 77 Squadron. Happily the 102 Squadron F.541 has the serial/letter combinations up to the end of August 1940. The latter gives N1378 'DY-Q' for Cheshire's two missions in early August. I did not find N1370 anywhere in July or August 1940 but did not check for this serial before these two months.

    I was very interested in your comments about the oil problem,etc. Maybe N1370 or N1378 was such a 'hangar queen' !
    The notion of painting a letter from an aircraft under repair onto a replacement airframe makes perfect sense and helps explain some of the lettering problems.

    Reading the entries in the F.540 and F.541 concerning the forced landing of 'KN-O' (N1435) after the mission during the night of 3/4th August I was left with the impression that the Whitley was undamaged. I believe it landed in open country near Stanton, with P/O Stenhouse as aircraft captain. Do you have any details about the damage caused to N1435 'KN-O' ? I assume your grandfather was Sgt. Ronald Trevor Penny ?

    Just noticed that you have updated your most recent post. This reply was tailored to the original version !

    Regards and thanks again for this very helpful information.

    Martin.

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    Hello Martin

    On the night of the 3/4th August 1940 (4th August am) the 77 Squadron aircraft were diverted and KN-O landed near A.M. Experimental Station Staxton Wold.

    Force landing locations Stanton (ORB) and Stacton (MacGregor's Log Book) are deliberate errors.

    The crew were:-
    F/O Stenhouse
    P/O MacGregor
    Sgt Hood (my Grandfather)
    Sgt Burrows
    Sgt Davies

    Brownlie's Whitley ended up on Flamborough Head.

    Mark

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    Mark,

    The location Staxton Wold explains why I could not find Stanton. That ruse is still effective 72 years later !
    Were the crew able to fly off again when conditions allowed ? Did the Whitley definitely suffer some damage ?

    My apologies for getting your grandfather's name wrong. For some reason I was looking at the Montagu crew lost 24/25th August 1940.

    Regards,

    Martin.

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    Default Whitley N1435

    No they were not able to fly Whitley N1435 out of the field, where they came down just East of Staxton Wold.

    N1435 had to be collected and sent to Armstrong Whitworth's MU. The aircraft survived through the war getting about a bit and was finally struck off charge 19th December 1945. The crew should of stayed with her!

    However, Alan Stenhouse did fly Captain Brownlie's Whitley off Flamborough Head, but you will have to wait for my book. The chap tending the grass reminded me very much of Hodge's the ARP man on "Dad's Army" but if I tell you more of the account, my book will be ruined!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 30th August 2012 at 17:49.

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    Mark,

    Many thanks for the informative reply. I may have missed something but what is the book you are working on about ? I'm interested already !

    Regards,

    Martin.

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