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Thread: Mistery man - E H Turner

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    Default Mistery man - E H Turner

    In the night of June 25/26th 1942 a 13 Sqdn Blenheim Mk IV crashed near Aartselaar in Belgium. This was Blenheim T2254, OO-A, crewed by F/O P.H.Looker 45339 RAF, F/Sgt W.G.O'Neill 404496 RNZAF and Sgt G.W.Cox 1381469 RAFVR, all KIA. They had taken of from RAF Wattisham at 2350 hrs on 25.06.1942 for an intruder mission to the Nachtjagd base at Venlo. The airmen were buried at the Schoonselhof cemetery.

    In 1944 Sgt Cox's brother Geoffrey who was with the medical corps managed to visit his brother's grave and sent a letter home to his mother in which he mentioned that the Germans had actually recovered the remains of a fourth airmen named Turner!

    I found this most intriguing and started to look for evidence, first with the CWGC who were kind enough to advise that because of their workload it would take them quite some time to revert. Then I thought of asking the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva who kindly provided me with copies of all the German documents they had in their archive and that were related to my research.

    These confirmed that the Germans indeed identified messrs O'Neill and Cox, obviously by means of their ID tags, an E H Turner by means of a Mae West bearing his name and finally an unidentified airman. Turner and the unidentified man were buried in one grave. From eye-witness reports I learned that all of the remains were carried away from the crash in just two caskets.

    From info contained in the MR&ES casualty report I now know that the MR&ES people looked into the matter in 1947 and that it was confirmed that the "double grave" contained the remains of only one man which had to be F/O Looker. The same report also mentions German death cards stating that the aircraft crashed at 02:39 hrs on the 26th following FLAK damage.

    This has provided a fascinating sideline story to my ongoing research into the history of Blenheim T2254 and its unfortunate crew but I've often wondered who E H Turner may have been...

    I hear it was not uncommon for airmen to exchange items of flying kit for want of better fit or what have you and that this has led to misidentification of casualties in a number of cases.

    When I contacted the RAF Personnel Agency they could not help me any further and there's no E H Turner listed on the CWGC website either.

    I understand that airmen were allocated their items of flying kit upon arrival at their squadron and that in between flights this kit was kept at a "store". Would each squadron on a multi squadron station (13's home station at that time was RAF Odiham) have its own flying kit store or would this be a centralised affair?

    Any comments, tips or suggestions will be much appreciated.

    TIA

    Walter

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    Hi Walter,

    amazing story!
    I personally guess that the cause of this mystery was exchange of flying kit.
    There was a similar case at 311 Sq when killed airmen was wrongly identified by the label in his boots which belong to his comrade who kindly lend them to him...

    I do not think there will be a stowaway on such a flight.

    Have you already checked the ORB of 13 Sqn? There may be mentioned a chap named E H Turner somewhere around the time as a member of another crew...

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

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    Hi,
    The following may be of help in your search.
    CWGC has

    Sgt. Ernest Henry Turner RNZAF 411475
    W/Op A/G.
    28/10/1942.

    and also

    Sgt. Edward Hall Turner RAFVR 1685004
    31 Sqn
    15/8/1944
    Coll Grave Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery.

    Can it be found if either of the above served in 13 Sqn ?
    One of the above may have been the owner of the Mae West.

    Alex
    Last edited by Alex Smart; 18th November 2008 at 13:14.

  4. #4
    Eddie Fell Guest

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    Ernest Henry Turner RNZAF was with 1651 Heavy Conversion Unit and killed in the crash of Stirling BF314 on 28/10/42. He is buried at Cambridge City Cemetery

    Eddie

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    Thanks heaps for your input gentlemen! Now I have some service numbers to feed the RAF Personnel Agency with and whereas I will of course not obtain any service records they might be willing enough to disclose whether these two airmen ever served with 13 Sqdn.

    Pavel, I was most suspicious of the story when I heard it (no such thing as a fourth man on a Blenheim during ops) but have to admit it felt odd to hold those German document copies (telegrams and burial lists) confirming the story!

    As for the ORB, I have a copy of 13 Sqdn's ORB from the time they converted to Blenheims upto the last 1000 raid but sadly the NA do not have the forms 541 (which detail aircraft, crews & ops) for the time preceding May 30 1942. In the docs I have E H Turner is not mentioned.

    Anyway, will post some feedback if I find more info.
    Cheers,

    Walter

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