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Thread: Blenheim Losses; 235 Sqn 17-8-1940 & 84 Sqn early 1941.

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    Default Blenheim Losses; 235 Sqn 17-8-1940 & 84 Sqn early 1941.

    Hallo all,

    I hope the following will be of interest, especially to those who have helped me previously - and hopefully in the future !


    During 2009 I became interested in the fate of an 84 Squadron Blenheim I. As I cross-checked further through published works it became clear there were problems. Eventually it seemed to me the fates of four Blenheims were mixed up and some details in various books were incorrect. I will try to give what is, in my opinion, the correct fates for these aircraft.

    Oddly two squadrons were involved in two completely separate theatres of war. To help clarify the situation I obtained copies of the Air Min Form 78 Aircraft History Cards and Form 1180 Aircraft Accident Cards where possible. Unfortunately I do not have access to either squadron ORB at present (84 and 235).

    Originally I was looking at Blenheim I L1392 of 84 Squadron. A number of books suggest L1392 crashed on landing on 5 February 1941 at its base at Menidi in Greece, killing the pilot F/Lt. Towgood. Two photos showing the aftermath of this crash appear in 'SCORPIONS STING' by Don Neate.
    However 'RAF BOMBER LOSSES in the MIDDLE EAST and MEDITERRANEAN, Vol. 1' and the Air-Britain 'L1000-N9999' differ in date and cause of loss. They state for L1392 that the undercarriage collapsed during night practice landings at Menidi on 8 March 1941.

    There is a Form 1180 for L1392 covering this accident. It confirms that it occurred on 8 March 1941 as per the version in 'RAF BLME&M, Vol. 1'. The damage was classed as repairable but this did not happen due to the German onslaught in April and so the aircraft was abandoned. The pilot, Sgt. A. Gordon, and his crew were uninjured.

    'RAF BLME&M, Vol. 1' records that the 84 Sqn. Blenheim which crash-landed on 5 February 1941 was L4833, 'VA-U'. The details for this accident are those noted above (crashed landing, pilot F/Lt. Towgood killed) which are sometimes also ascribed to L1392. As already mentioned one particular photo showing this crashed Blenheim appears in 'SCORPIONS STING'. Only the top of the last digit in the serial number is visible, but it seems to me to probably be a '3' as opposed to a '2'. Therefore this, if correct, would appear to confirm L4833 as the aircraft involved on 5 February 1941. The CWGC website furthermore agrees that F/Lt. Towgood died on 5 February 1941 and is buried in Greece.

    Although L4833 is stated to be a Mk. IV in published works on RAF serials the photo above appears to be that of a Mk. I. Also the Form 78 for L4833 describes it as a Mk. I with Mercury VIII engines which are correct for the Mk. I version.

    A major source of confusion for me was finding L4833 listed as a loss in Ross McNeill's 'RAF COASTAL COMMAND LOSSES, Vol. 1'. Here it was noted serving with 235 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command in England. Also that it crashed into the sea near its base at Thorney Island on 17 August 1940. However this cannot be as the Form 78 for L4833 shows that it only served in the Middle East. The same incorrect details appear in the Air-Britain 'RAF AIRCRAFT L1000-N9999'.

    The 235 Squadron losses for 17 August 1940 are not agreed upon in published works covering the period. Some only note N3540 as being Damaged Beyond Repair in a crash-landing.
    For N3540 the Form 78 and Form 1180 for 17 August 1940 both agree that it was burnt out this day after an accident. It crashed on landing at Thorney Island at 21.35 hours when it overshot on return from escorting (!) a Fairey Battle raid to Boulogne. It went through a hedge and the undercarriage collapsed. It tipped up on its nose and burst into flames. While it appears the crew certainly escaped there is no mention of possible injuries. The pilot was Sgt. S. Hobbs, 742901. The Court of Inquiry blamed inexperience for the accident.

    The other accident that day, which was in fact the first of the two, happened at 06.00 hours. This involved P4833 - not L4833 - and the aircraft was classed as 'Repairable'. It did indeed go on to serve with 1 AGS. The crew of P4833 were patrolling over the airfield "during air raid" (sic). After landing the pilot retracted the undercarriage instead of the flaps while the aircraft was still moving. The very unfortunate pilot was...........Sgt. S. Hobbs, 742901 ! He was reprimanded by the Station Commander. The Form 1180s for N3540 and P4833 make brief reference to each other.

    At some point after this traumatic day Sgt. Hobbs seems to have left 235 Sqn. and joined 272 Sqn. operating from Aldergrove. So did his observer on N3540, Sgt. Ricketts. Both were in a Blenheim that crashed in County Donegal in neutral Ireland on 21 December 1940. All three crew were interned for some time.

    So to summarize the above;
    L4833 84 Sqn Crash-landed Greece, 5 February 1941 DBR.
    L1392 84 Sqn Crash-landed Greece, 8 March 1941 Abandoned April 1941.
    N3540 235 Sqn Crash-landed UK, 17 August 1940 Burnt out.
    P4833 235 Sqn Crash-landed UK, 17 August 1940 Repaired.

    I hope the above will be of use when attempting to sort out the fates of these aircraft. I would certainly appreciate any input in order to achieve the most accurate version of the above accidents.

    Regards,

    Martin Gleeson.

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    Default Blenheim Losses - 84 and 235 Squadrons

    Hello Martin,

    I for one am very grateful for your notes regarding the 84 and 235 Squadron Blenheims as both pairs have been causing me difficulties. The problem I was having with 84 Squadron was that the serial L4833 which ought to have been the aircraft that crashed on 05/02/41 is shown in almost every list as a Mk IV but the only photograph I have seen (in Boitenís book ďBristol BlenheimĒ on page 132) of the prop blade lying in the cockpit shows a Mk I. So, even though Gunby and Temple show it as a Mk I, there was that niggling doubt. But I have managed to convince myself that the change from Mk I to Mk IV in that production batch occurred after L4834 and not after L4822 as most lists show. This knowledge also allows me to confirm L1392 in its proper place as being damaged on the night of 08/03/41.

    The two Blenheims of 235 Squadron that crashed on 17/08/40 hadnít given me so much trouble, I had figured out that one was P4833 not L4833, but I hadnít connected the unfortunate Sgt Hobbs with both incidents.

    Thank you for helping to clear up for me a couple of the many little difficulties that plague this sort of work.

    Hugh Wheeler

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    Default 84 and 235 Squadron Blenheims

    Hello Again Martin,

    One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post is that Sgt Hobbs who, as you said, went to 272 Squadron at Aldergrove, was later interned in Eire after the crew abandoned their Blenheim (L9415 XK-T). The Observer and the WOp/AG came down all right but the doubly unfortunate Hobbs landed in Loch Swilly and was forced to spend the night sitting on a rock in the middle of the loch, very wet, until he was rescued in the morning: this was four days before Christmas so he must have been very cold.

    Hugh Wheeler

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    Default

    Hello Hugh,
    I would expect that my good friend and colleague Martin will confirm that it was sgt. Ricketts who landed in Lough Swilly not Hobbs. He swam to a rock named Collig Rock, stayed the night and next morning swam to the village of Lenankeel and gave himself up at Fort Lenan (one of the Swilly Forts built by the British) As we would say here in Ireland " a hardy man" Don't mean to digress!
    Tony K

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    Hallo Hugh and Tony,

    Glad to have helped. It was a very satisfying mini-project as I was able to combine one of my favourite aircraft, two fascinating campaigns and of course the 'Irish' connection with Sgts. Hobbs and Ricketts.

    Regards,

    Martin.

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    Default Lough Swilly

    Hello Tony,

    Thank you for the correction regarding Sgt. Ricketts (and my apologies for the incorrect spelling of the word 'Lough'). I can't recall where I got the information that it was Hobbs who came down in the water.

    Thanks to both you and Martin for your information.

    Hugh

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    Default Bristol Blenheim 4834 - 101 squadron West Raynham 19 August 1940 - P/O Nigel Bicknell

    I have been researching my father's flying log book and his time with 101 Squadron West Raynham. I see the new batch of Blenheim's mentioned in this thread, starting with 4834. This is the aircraft which Nigel Bicknell flew for the first and last time on 19 August 1940. They bombed Antwerp, then the port engine failed and they ditched off Lowestoft. The air gunner was lost but my father and Sgt Gingell survived. Could it have been a brand new aircraft which failed?

    For more details and a illustrative write-up of this event please email me at marcus@bicknell.com.

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    Hallo Marcus,

    I sent a message directly to your e-mail address on Friday. Did you receive it ?

    Regards,

    Martin Gleeson.

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    Default Bristol Blenheim N.3574 - 101 squadron - ditching 19 August 1940 - P/O Nigel Bicknell

    Yes Martin, thanks for the email and the input on details of what I have written about my dad. Anyone reading this can also access my web page on which three phases of Nigel Bicknell's war are described by me from his log book, photo album and cuttings: they are 1409 (Met) Flight, his Blenheim ditching in the North Sea, 19th August 1940 and his Gladiator crash at Hullavington 31st January 1945. More coming.

    Please paste this URL into your browser http://www.marcusbicknell.co.uk/nigel/

    You can contact me by email marcus@bicknell.com

    With warm regards

    Marcus Bicknell, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks
    Last edited by mBicknell; 1st October 2012 at 22:22. Reason: hit send before I was ready

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