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Thread: Attack on the Hotel Metropole 23 May 1943

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    Default Attack on the Hotel Metropole 23 May 1943

    I have read several accounts of this "tip and run" raid by Luftwaffe fighters on Bournemouth in which 21 airmen were killed, many of them while in the Hotel Metropole. Does anyone have any details of what happened that day from an ORB or other military report? I understand that it was also a personnel centre for the RAAF and RCAF.

    My interest in this is the death of Sgt. Ross Clifton Woods, RCAF, R/93015, buried in Bournemouth North Cemetery.

    The author of an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, Maurice Shnider, cited many sources, including the Bournemouth Echo of the time, and has researched the raid but there seems to be scant detail of an operational kind or detailing which airmen were killed where.

    "On May 23, 1943, the peacefulness of a beautiful Sunday morning was abruptly shattered when 22 German aircraft, led by Lieutenant Leopold Wenger, conducted their most audacious raid on Bournemouth. The Kingsway Hotel, the Congressional Church and Beales Department Store sustained significant bomb damage, but at the Landsdowne Circle the Metropole Hotel was virtually destroyed when it took a direct hit.
    Casualties were high. Among the 128 killed that day were 51 service men. Members of the RCAF are recorded in Les Allisonís Memorial book They Shall Grow Not Old."

    Another forum discusses the attack in detail from the German side (link below) but I was wondering about comments from the RAF/RCAF side, which weren't printable at the time.

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/bournemouth-raid-1943-a-11371.html
    David

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    The Metropole Hotel at Bournemouth, Hampshire, was attacked on Sunday, 23rd May 1943, at 13.00 hrs, by twenty Focke Wulf FW190 fighter aircraft of SKG10 (Schnellkampfgeschwader).
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    Default Hi Henk

    I have researched this particular raid because both my parents were invovled at two different locations in Bournemouth.The FW 190's flew over Bournemouth on different flight paths, dropping bombs at locations near to military sites causing damage to buildings and killing many, including RCAF, RAAF,RAF and US personnel. The Metropole Hotel was a billet for airmen, many killed on the day, 28 are buried in the military plot in Bournemouth North cemetery. My wife & I attended a memorial service held in May 1993, also there were veterans from Canada who were in Bournemouth on the day of the raid. regards Pete

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    There's a great deal of information in Chris Goss' "Luftwaffe Fighter-Bombers Over Britain." I've a combat report from a Typhoon pilot who intercepted a separate raid elsewhere on the coast at about the same time, but nothing from official sources re: the attack in Bournemouth.

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    There is a foolscap soft-back book (sold in recent years by the Dorset Record Office, Dorchester) called BOURNEMOUTH AT WAR, author unknown and about W.W.II. I have read this book and feel certain the enemy air raids in Bournemouth are detailed. I can't find my copy, its gone on walkabout, has anyone got access to this book and if so please could they check and let David know. Thank you.

    Norman

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    In lieu of someone giving you the correct information, you can use Geoff Sullivans search engine to partially look at the casualties, civilians are easy enough to find though probably not complete.

    Go to his site:
    http://www.hut-six.co.uk/cgi-bin/search39-47.php

    Enter the date 23/05/1943 and select Civilian from the 'regiment' field. It returns 101 civilians killed that day. The two main groups listed are from Bournemouth Borough and Hastings borough councils. Something must have occured in Hastings that day also.

    Or easier would this link, to the Bournemouth Borough Council listings which have a total of 175 civilains only listed for the war.
    http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_reports.aspx?cemetery=4004079&mode=1

    Doing the same and selecting Canada in the regiment field finds these men who are all Buried in Bournemouth Cemeteries. They may be related.

    001 ABBOTT, WG R/100271 23/05/1943
    002 ASSAF, G R/120876 23/05/1943
    005 CHALMERS, DR R/71447 23/05/1943
    009 GILBERT, EOM R/189181 23/05/1943
    015 MATHESON, AC R/112402 23/05/1943
    016 MATIER, FJ R/164447 23/05/1943
    019 PELRINE, RF R/88040 23/05/1943
    020 POST, WI J/21624 23/05/1943
    021 SOOS, JL R/156843 23/05/1943
    025 WOOD, WG R/61915 23/05/1943
    026 WOODS, RC R/93015 23/05/1943

    There are 221 casulaties for that date when you search for 'United Kingdom' only, that includes those 101 civilians above.

    Commonwealth deaths should all be obvious from the cemetery report for Bournemouth on those dates and after. There are a number of Australians also.

    BOURNEMOUTH NORTH CEMETERY
    This cemetery contains 110 Second World War burials, 75 of them forming a plot to the right of the main entrance, the rest scattered. The war graves plot was used for the burial of airmen from various R.A.F. stations in the area prior to the opening of R.A.F. Regional Cemeteries and 23 of the 41 airmen who lie there were killed during an air raid on 23 May 1943. 1 of the burials is unidentified. BOURNEMOUTH CREMATORIUM is situated in the cemetery and the names of 33 servicemen and women of the Second World War whose remains were cremated there are inscribed on a screen wall.

    http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_reports.aspx?cemetery=2067528&mode=1

    The missing ones here are the RAF men, some will be at that link above.

    I hope this is helpful. If the links don't work, just shout.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Of the seven probable Australians killed on that day, the casualty files for Mills and Kerrigan are digitised on the Australian National Archives site.
    http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/recordsearch/index.aspx
    Check them out from "Record Search" using their service numbers.

    GRAY, NEAL MORTON, N M Sergeant 420618 Royal Australian Air Force
    FENTON, RONALD FRANKLIN, R F Flight Sergeant 412938 Royal Australian Air Force
    KERRIGAN, ALLAN JOHN, A J Flight Sergeant 420681 Royal Australian Air Force
    POPE, VIVIAN LEWIS, V L Flight Sergeant 416993 Royal Australian Air Force
    McMAHON, JOHN FRANCIS, J F Flight Sergeant 409848 Royal Australian Air Force
    MILLS, GEORGE ARTHUR, G A Sergeant 33250 Royal Australian Air Force
    CRABBE, COLIN BERNARD, C B Flight Sergeant 420453 Royal Australian Air Force

    They may have been posted to 11 PDRC, RAF Station Brighton as one telegram is from the officer commanding there.

    Of interest as it shows what the families were told at the time.

    regards, Dennis
    Last edited by dennis_burke; 15th December 2008 at 22:45.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    Default Bournemouth 23 May 1943

    I collated this wee file of the probable casualties for that day.

    http://www.skynet.ie/~dan/war/Bournemouth430523.pdf

    Some notes:
    Its not exact!
    I've included the Bournemouth County Borough listings for that date up to June 1st, check the notes on CWGC, they explain if the civilian was injuried.

    The relevent service men buried in Bournemouth North Cemetery.

    Then the vagueness creeps in, I checked RAF and RAFVR airmen for 23 May only. So, men who died of injuries are not accounted for in this list.

    Finally, I did a sample of unitied Kingdom Service deaths for that date only and found three more deaths registered in Bournemouth.

    By no means complete but a start.

    Flight Magazines Archive for July 29th, 1943 lists the following group of men:
    KILLED ON ACTIVE SERVICE—A/C.2 W.S. Anthony; Sgt. W. H: Bastable; P/O. D. B. Cooper; A/C.2 P. L. Corner; P/O. A. S. Gibson; A/C.2 T. Hayde; Sgt. F. W. Hennessey; L.A/C. J. Howlett; L.A/C. J. Ireland; A/C.2 A. J. P. Lohoar; A/C.2 F. H. B. Porter; A/C.l C. D. Pulsford: L.A/C. H. R Roberts; Cpl. H. Simmonds

    And yes, I should get out more!

    night, Dennis
    Last edited by dennis_burke; 16th December 2008 at 01:22.
    Dennis Burke
    - Dublin

    Foreign Aircrew and Aircraft Ireland 1939-1945
    www.ww2irishaviation.com

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    "Something must have occured in Hastings that day also."

    Yes, that was the other raid, by a different group of SKG10 aircraft, which was intercepted by Typhoons as it withdrew. Also described in Chris Goss' excellent book.

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    Marvellous stuff. Thanks Dennis and everyone. As you probably know, Woods is one of the boys of Malvern High that I am looking into, so this will be very helpful for what is going to become a book.

    The question of why they hit the hotel is interesting. Were they aware that it was being used as a billet? Or was it that close to the military targets? Sounds from the descriptions that they were being bloody minded about it all, but I read one account from a Luftwaffe pilot that they were targeting military objectives. Does Gross go into this? Has anything been written about the tip and run raids from a strategic point of view?
    David

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