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Thread: My grandfather: Sgt Kenneth Birch - help needed!

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    Default My grandfather: Sgt Kenneth Birch - help needed!

    Hi everyone,

    I am trying to find detailed information on the shooting down of my grandfathers ( Sgt Kenneth Birch) plane near RAF Watton in the early hours of 11th of February 1941.

    This is what I have so far:

    He was the rear gunner in a Bristol Blenheim ( Plane number: Z5877, Squadron: 21). They were shot down when returning from a bombing mission in Hannover (they set off around 10pm ish on the night of 10th of February).

    The other two (?) guys in the plane were killed (sgt Chatteway and Sharvell).

    I made an amazing discovery last night that they were shot down by Paul Semrau (Luftwaffe fighter ace flying a JU88) and I think it was over Feltwell.


    What i'm after are the activities of Z5877 previous to that night and specifically my grandfather. I know that he was with 21 squadron from about 1938 onwards.

    Would love any responses.

    Thomas Rogers (now Head of History at Culcheth High School!)

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    Hi Tom,

    welcome aboard!
    I would recommend you to visit TNA to check the Squadron ORB free of charge - or you can order them online for 3.50 GBP/month.

    AIR 27/263

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

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    Thanks so much Pavel!

    I have found the records and he is listed!! He is listed Dec 1940 - Feb 1941 flying multiple missions as rear gunner.

    Im still confused as to the period up to November 1940? Could he have been training? Is there any info on personnel lists for 21 squadron at different times?

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    Thomas,

    Contact me off thread and l will see what l can do.

    Do you have your Grandfathers service record?

    Regards,

    Nick
    KenFentonsWar.com

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    The other two casualties:-

    CHATTAWAY, ALBERT (Note different spelling)
    Rank: Sergeant
    Trade: Pilot
    Service No: 740638
    Date of Death: 11/02/1941
    Age: 30
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    21 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Left Hand Column. Cemetery: BIRMINGHAM (PERRY BAR) CREMATORIUM
    Additional Information: Son of John and Christine Chattaway, of Coventry; husband of Lucie Marguerite Chattaway, of Coventry.

    SHARVELL, GEORGE ELTHAM

    Rank: Pilot Officer
    Trade: Obs.
    Service No: 86422
    Date of Death: 11/02/1941
    Age: 29
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force
    21 Sqdn.
    Grave Reference: Cremation. Screen Wall Panel 3. Cemetery: PUTNEY VALE CEMETERY AND CREMATORIUM
    Additional Information: Son of George William Charles and Ada Agnes Sharvell, of New Malden, Surrey.

    Regards,

    Nick
    KenFentonsWar.com

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    Many thanks Nick - very very useful.

    I have asked CWGC for the records - 10 week waiting list apparently!

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    Guys,

    Sorry to cross link, but look at this from Peter.

    The service records are direct from MOD, not CWGC.

    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/1881...rds-the-rules/

    His service records will tell you so much.

    Regards,

    Nick
    KenFentonsWar.com

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    That was an old link, Nick, it's since been updated and all details as how to apply, with forms, are at
    https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-pers...sonnel-records .

    There is a 30 fee (it's been that for ages, wonder why there's been no increase) and a wait of between 20 and 25 weeks.

    As Nick says the documents contain a lot of information, but if you need advice on interpreting the acronyms this forum will be only to happy to help.

    Brian

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    Thanks for all your help so far everyone.

    Thanks to you all, I have downloaded the reports for Dec 1940, Jan 1941, Feb 1941. I have seen the report on what happened the day the plane got shot down.

    I'm still interested in a few bits:

    Did all pilots have a "combat book" that they filled in operation details on?

    Is there any way to establish when my grandfather actually joined 21 squadron? This isn't mentioned in the log book reports I have downloaded. He seems to appear from start of December 1940 onward along with his crew. I'm guessing he was training before that but worth knowing.

    Finally, im very interested in the pilot - Sgt Chattaway. He is mentioned in the book by Glen Warner (Blenheims) on page 199 if anyone has a copy??

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    Thomas

    Much of the information you are requesting (dates when he joined and left units) will be in his service record. Despite the delay you will find it very useful, and it will provide far more information than we can - one just requires a little patience..

    All aircrew (not just pilots) maintained log-books in which they recorded details of all their flights, some in more detail than others. If he survived the war, which I assume he did, it is possible his log-book is held by a family member.

    Brian

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