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Thread: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

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    Default A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    A query for Wellington enthusiasts: In early 1943, 215 Squadron was operating the Wellington Ic in India.

    The ORB records operations by HF857 'J' on 16 April and 22/23 April 1943. Then in July 1943, HF851 'J' operates on 21, 22, 23 and 31 July.

    Now I assume the latter serial, '851, is a typo for '857, as Mk Ic HF851 was lost on 15 July 1942 operating with 104 Squadron.

    However, is HF857 correct? It was a Mk VIII not a Mk Ic and according to Air Britain it served with 1443 Flight / 211 (not a Wellington squadron at any time) / 38 (Wellingtons in UK and ME).

    Any suggestions to solve this gratefully received,

    Geoff

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Further info:

    Looks like it was 221 Squadron, not 211.

    HF857 is mentioned in 'History of the Mediterranean Air War' as attacking a U-boat whilst on A/S patrol, 21 August 1942.

    Geoff

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Quote Originally Posted by Smith 565 View Post
    Further info:

    Looks like it was 221 Squadron, not 211.

    HF857 is mentioned in 'History of the Mediterranean Air War' as attacking a U-boat whilst on A/S patrol, 21 August 1942.

    Geoff
    Hello,

    I believe the U-boat attacked by Sgt Clark on 21/22 August 1943, was U-565:

    In the Aegean on 22 August (1942), Kaptlt Wilhelm Franken's U-565 was also hit by aircraft and severely damaged only eight days into his cruise. In response to his radioed appeals for assistance the Admiral Aegean requested and was granted air cover to be provided by units of X Fliegerkorps. The boat entered La Spezia harbour three days later.

    See:
    U-Boats in the Mediterranean 1941-1944.
    Paterson,Lawrence.
    London:Chatham Publishing,2007.
    p.84.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 15th October 2021 at 05:09.

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Thanks Col,

    I wondered about the U-boats identity and what had happened to it. So this seems to back up the Air Britain entry, presumably taken from the Aircraft Movement Card.

    All this is a little frustrating, as I have a pilot's logbook to a man who flew this aircraft on at least two of its operations in India. He neatly wrote 'J' in his log book, with space underneath to enter the serial number, but never did so.

    Geoff

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    A quick glance at the Movement Cards, reveals the following as the only relevant HF8xx entries:

    HF841 - to India 12.1942
    HF851 - to M.E. 5.1942, to India 6.42, but then to 104 Sqn M.E. (date not given)
    HF869 - to India 2.1943
    HF890 - to India 1.1943

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Thanks Rod,

    Excuse my ignorance, but are the Movement Cards available online anywhere? I assumed you had to access them via the RAF Museum.

    Of the serial numbers you list, HF890 certainly went to 215 Squadron. No sign of HF841 or HF869 in the Squadron ORB, and I don't think HF851 can ever have reached India if it was lost in July 1942.

    Geoff

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Quote Originally Posted by Smith 565 View Post
    Thanks Rod,

    Excuse my ignorance, but are the Movement Cards available online anywhere? I assumed you had to access them via the RAF Museum.

    Of the serial numbers you list, HF890 certainly went to 215 Squadron. No sign of HF841 or HF869 in the Squadron ORB, and I don't think HF851 can ever have reached India if it was lost in July 1942.

    Geoff
    Hi Geoff,

    yes, Chris linked to the website with scans of the Movement Cards...

    HF851 is a conundrum, since the Movement Card records:

    Taken on charge of: M.E. 19.5.1942
    Taken on charge of: India, 14.6.1942
    Taken on charge of: 104 Sqdn M.E., not dated
    Taken on charge of: Missing Cat E FB, not dated

    The only 104 Squadron loss on 14-15 July 1942 classified as missing was Wellington Z8643/C, P/O G. Richards, piloting. AIR 27 & 81 also shows Wellington Z8658/H, P/O R.C. Horton piloting, made a crash-landing during the same raid, killing most of the crew. On 15-16 July 1942, Wellington Z6492 apparently made a crash-landing in the early hours of the 16th.

    Thus, I suspect the movement card is in error, unless the transfer to 104 Sqdn occurred very late in the war. Also, post-war references to HF851 being lost with 104 Sqdn on 15 July 1942 are clearly in error.

    Cheers

    Rod
    Last edited by RodM; 16th October 2021 at 09:04.

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Quote Originally Posted by RodM View Post
    The only 104 Squadron loss on 14-15 July 1942 classified as missing was Wellington Z8643/C, P/O G. Richards, piloting.
    I appreciate we're drifting off-track, but I thought Z8643 was lost with 12 Sqn on the night of 30/31 May 1942? I note that TNA have this serial for both losses:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...php?uniq=Z8643
    The Movement Card confirms 12 Sqn.
    So what was the 104 Sqn loss?

    PS Z6492 is a Whitley serial

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Marden View Post
    I appreciate we're drifting off-track, but I thought Z8643 was lost with 12 Sqn on the night of 30/31 May 1942? I note that TNA have this serial for both losses:
    http://www.rafcommands.com/database/...php?uniq=Z8643
    The Movement Card confirms 12 Sqn.
    So what was the 104 Sqn loss?

    PS Z6492 is a Whitley serial

    Hi Andy,

    thanks for the detail on 'Z6492' - my mistake in reading the scanned ORB - it was reads Z8492 ("O"). Anyway, I again misread the ORB, aircraft "E" (Sgt Newman) "Crash landed (Crew O.K.). Aircraft "E" appears to be Z.8653 or Z.8654 (depends which ORB entry one reads ...).

    In looking at the 104 Sqn ORB, the Form 540 records aircraft letter codes, while the Form 541 records aircraft serials.

    The Form 540 states P/O Richards piloted "C" and P/O Horton piloted "H" on 14-15 July 1942. The Form 541 omits Richards' flight details completely, and records the serial "R. _ _ _ _" against Hortons details.

    Going through the ORB for July 1942, the Form 541 records the following serials in relation to:

    Aircraft "H": Z.8568 (1/7), Z.8658 (2/7), Z.8658 (3/7), Z.8658 (7/7), Z.8658 (8/7), Z.8658 (10/7), Z.8648 (13/7)

    Aircraft "C": C. _ _ _ _ (1/7), Z.8649 (2/7), Z.864? (3/7), Z.8649 (7/7), Z.8649 (13/7)

    Thus, the missing 104 Sqn Wellington on 14-15 July 1942 appears to be Z.8649/C (and not Z.8643 as recorded in AIR 81). The Z.8649 movement Card records 104 Sqdn M.E. 29/5/1942 and then Missing Cat E FB, 14/15/7.

    The main point is that HF851 was not lost with 104 Sqn on 15 July 1942.

    Cheers

    Rod
    Last edited by RodM; 16th October 2021 at 14:15.

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    Default Re: A Wellington conundrum - HF857 / HF851 on 215 Squadron

    Thanks for the additional replies.

    Spurred by Andy Wis' findings of earlier entries for HF851 from December 1942, I looked even further back and found references mentioning HF851 as early as September 1942. These tilt the balance strongly in favour of the serial being HF851 rather than HF857, which is mentioned only two times and now seems to be the typo, rather than the other way round.

    Regarding the issue of Z8643...

    A search of the Archives of Australia website for William Bruce Shearer of 12 Sqn clearly shows the aircraft in which he was lost was Z8643. (Report on Operations Casualty Night 30/31st May 1942 - page 45 of 65 at Encl 21A).

    I carried out a similar search for John Manuel Squire, lost with 104 Squadron. The file header also refers to Z8643, lost Tobruk 15 July 1942. However a cypher message dated 20 July 1942 refers to 'Z8643 or 8649?' and it seems that the latter is the true serial number of the 104 Sqn loss. (See Squire's file, pg 45 of 45, Encl 1A.)

    Hope this helps with the 'off track' query!

    Geoff

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