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Thread: HMS Walpole friendly fire?

  1. #1
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    Default HMS Walpole friendly fire?

    Hi guys

    I've just been reading the obit of Captain John Marrack RN. One bit that caught my eye was:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/naval-obituaries/6927928/Captain-John-Marrack.html

    "In February 1942 Marrack heard the news of the Channel Dash, the escape of the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau eastwards through the English Channel. Sailing hurriedly from Harwich, he was about half way towards intercepting the Germans when he was bombed by RAF Wellingtons, which, were then driven off by Luftwaffe fighters. When she was still some miles short of the enemy, one of Walpole's ancient boilers suffered a blowout, causing her withdrawal from a torpedo attack."

    Any ideas who the Wellingtons may have been?

    cheers
    A
    RAF Armoured Car Companies 1920-45 http://www.rafacciraq.com/

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    I found one site that says 40 Squadron, Wellingtons, Alconbury under Squadron Leader McGillivray participated in Operation Fuller (great name for a mission!) and were chased by a flight of ME109s as the Walpole tried to intercept.

    http://www.navweaps.com/index_oob/OOB_WWII_Atlantic/OOB_WWII_Cerberus.htm

    There's also a mention of the incident on TOCH - and a related FF incident on a 40 Sqn Wellington at Lowestoft - which I think you know about.

    http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/archive/index.php?t-2670-p-2.html
    Last edited by dfuller52; 5th January 2010 at 19:33. Reason: addt'l info
    David

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    Hi Amrit,

    I just found another reference to Wellingtons in Operation Fuller, this one from 214 Squadron:

    Wellington Mark I C Z1081 BU-B

    12 February 1942: Mission targetting warships.
    The aircraft was ditched after engine problems while taking part in "Operation Fuller", the attempt to stop the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in their "Channel dash" from Brest back up to Germany. Britain only discovered the breakout once the ships were at sea and heading up the English Channel. Being caught somewhat on the hop, several hundred RAF aircraft went out to try and find and catch them, but the weather was pretty dreadful and most of them never saw anything. The ORB reports that "it was 10/10 cloud, down to 500 feet in most places."

    One of the other aircraft reported seeing Z1081 at position approx 52.10N /03.30E, with occasional puffs of black smoke coming from it's port engine. It was seen to be circling (on search patrol?) but did not appear to be losing height at that point. Apparently the aircraft reported engine trouble itself.
    It is not clear how many of the crew managed to get in the dinghy but it is known that all but one died, possibly of exposure before they wer found. Only Sgt Murray was rescued, just about alive and was taken POW.

    Date of loss : 12 February 1942

    Crew of Wellington Mark I C Z1081 BU-B consisted of :

    Sqn/Ldr Martin Tyringham Stephens DFC, 75730, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 13 February 1942, Aged 40
    Sgt R Murray, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom, POW 12 February 1942
    Flt/Lt Patrick Roderick Hughes DFC, 60804, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 12 February 1942
    Wg/Cdr Richard Denis Barry MacFadden DFC, 37476, Pilot, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 12 February 1942
    Plt/Off James Wood, 69426, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 14 February 1942, Aged 25
    Sgt Andrew Paton Everett, 979937, Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 15 February 1942, Aged 26
    Sgt George Ingate Taylor, 643077, Royal Air Force, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 12 February 1942, Aged 22

    Source : Nightjar Newsletter Winter / Spring 2005 and Ian Hunt and Squadron ORB

    Date record last updated : 22 March 2008

    http://www.214squadron.org.uk/Crews_and_losses_Wellington_m.htm
    Last edited by dfuller52; 6th January 2010 at 17:45. Reason: corrected spelling of Ian Hunt's name
    David

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    Default Channel Dash

    Hi David. It's Ian Hunt actually, but never mind. :-)

    Amrit - from what I've read of the Channel Dash it was a bit of a shambles for the RAF with pretty dreadful weather, so I'd be surprised if you find out who the 'culprit' was who bombed HMS Walpole.

    I think there was a paperback book written about the op some time ago. (I don't have a copy - yet? - but have seen it on Abebooks, I think). If you can get hold of a copy you might perhaps find some more info in there.

    Good luck

    Ian

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    My father's crew could be the culprits. He was rear gunner in a 218 Squadron Wellington which bombed a ship they found beneath them after breaking out of cloud. This after being attacked by Me 110s, encountering heavy flak and just escaping Ju88s by re-entering cloud.
    He saw three Wellingtons shot down including two from 419 Squadron (one of which, he discovered while perusing Chorley 50 years later, included a great friend and former crewmate from 218 on board). The weather was awful, there was confusion at Lakenheath with three different briefings going on at the same time and orders being changed every five minutes and he was in a strange aircraft with no idea how the guns were harmonized and, he discovered when he started firing, loaded with night ammunition.
    I doubt that it is now impossible to determine who bombed the Walpole but it might just have been my dad!
    Ian Macdonald

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    Thank you guys. I did suspect that in the midst of the chaos aircraft may not have known who or what they were bombing, even after they got back to base.

    Various squadrons have been mentioned, and I bet many crews did bomb various ships that were allied rather than enemy. I've also seen reference to Hampdens bombing the Walpole party (the party being a number of destroyers making for channel at the time).

    I have been meaning to read more about the Dash but to date it has been limited to Esmonde and the Swordfish attacks.

    cheers
    A
    RAF Armoured Car Companies 1920-45 http://www.rafacciraq.com/

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    According to 'Fiasco: The Break-out Of The German Battleships', John Deane Potter: HMS Walpole was steaming on the edge of a minefield, trying to patch up her engines. Two Wellingtons appeared, no known squadron, and dropped bombs near Walpole. These two aircraft were chased off by two Me 110s the two Me 110s returned, circled the Walpole and, after seeing the canvas RAF roundel on the fo'c'sle, they fired a few token shots and departed.

    Best Wishes.
    Robert.

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