19/11/43 Attack Against Targets at Leverkusen

Crew
F/S Allan Johnson Mayfield RNZAF. Pilot
P/O Jack Francis David Jarmy. Navigator
Sgt. Robert Douglas  Sommerville. Air Bomber
F/S William Lake. Wireless Operator
Sgt. A. Warburton. Flight Engineer
Sgt. Thomas Darbyshire. Mid Upper Gunner
F/S John Sebastian Hulena RNZAF. Rear Gunner

Aircraft
Striling Mk.III EH939  – “J” for Johnny (logbook says ‘X’ for X-Ray)

Flight
Up 17.02 19th November
Down 21.18 20th November
Total Flight Time 4 hours 20 minutes

As the ORB states, aircraft were diverted on their return to Bradwell Bay, ( This airfield had the FIDO Fog Dispersal system that would possibly have proved invaluable for Allan that night). Currently I have no explanation for why Bradwell Bay appears in Bob’s records as a posting. I have postulated to others that it might have been because of the duration of absence from Mepal – the aircrews had to be ‘somewhere’ all the time. I have received warmish agreement for this idea, but nothing absolute as way of confirmation.

November 19th ORB Diary:
“The weather was poor being 10/10ths cloud cover over the target, there was also a fog at base which neccesitated the aircraft landing at Bradwell Bay”.
November 20th Training:
“A thick fog enveloped the aerodrome and made flying impossible. Ground training was therefore carried out”.
November 21st Training:
“No flying again”.

75 (NZ) Sqn RAF Operations Record Book (ORB)
19/11/43
Operations.   
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 2,000lbs, 1,000 lbs and incendiaries of 30 lbs and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to return, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Except for one vivid  red flash seen through the clouds, little results were observed. Heavy and medium A.A. Fire co-operating with Searchlights was encountered, but caused negligible damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen and a few combats took place but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The aircraft  captained be F/S R.Hunt met a J.U.88 which attacked his aircraft, the fire was returned and strikes were seen on the enemy aircraft. Our aircraft was then attacked by a FW190, the first was returned but the enemy aircraft disappeared. The weather was poor, being ten-tenths cloud over the target, there was also a fog at base which necessitated the aircraft landing at BRADWELL BAY on return. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was captained by F/Sgt. N. PARKER.
Page 631, 1943. Form 540/ 541 AIR27/ 646  75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal. National Archives.

Stirling Mk.III LJ442 JN-F
F/S. Noel Norman Parker RAAF AUS.413240. Pilot 10 Sep to19 Nov 1943 c/w G L Turner, R Broadhead, C C P Logan as 2P then own crew. Shot down night of 19-20 November 1943 during a raid on Leverkusen. Successfully evaded capture and safe in the UK 6 Feb 1944. His interrogation debrief report was :
I was detailed as Captain of Stirling LM442 to attack Leverkusen on the night of 19th November 1943. I took off from Base at 1701 hrs and my estimated time of arrival at target was approximately 1919 hrs. Just before ETS expired my Navigator stated that we were running three minutes late. At the time the target was not in sight, nor were there any P.F. indicators to be seen. I proceeded on to the end of my ETA and then commenced to orbit. Whilst doing this orbit I saw flares going down on a diversionary attack against Duisburg and at this time started to get struck by predicted flak. I complete my orbit, jettisoned my bomb load and started on my flak home. I was then flying at a height of approximately 13,500 feet. I continued to fly for about 20 minutes on the return trip when I was attacked by an unidentified fighter. The fighter made four attacks in all and on the third attack my aircraft was struck in the rear turret as was reported by the rear gunner. The fighter made a further attacks and the starboard wing tanks were struck, apparently by cannon fire. The mid-upper-gunner then reported the starboard wing on fire near the wing root and shortly afterwards the flames spread along the fuselage. I gave the order “abandon aircraft” but did not receive any acknowledgement from the crew. I assumed that the members of the crew were at that time donning their parachutes. The aircraft was then at approximately 8,000 feet and I saw the Bomb Aimer leave by the front escape hatch. I was just adjusting my own parachute when an explosion occurred and the next thing I knew was that I was on the ground. I discovered that I had received a badly lacerated left small finger, a cur on my cheek and a bad laceration behind the left ear. I also discovered that I had difficulty in moving my head and is was later found that I had fractured a small bone in my neck and also broken three ribs on my right side. I did not see or meet any of my crew any of my crew after I had landed. There was no identification of my name or my number on my parachute harness. I reached the Spanish border at 0130 hrs on the 1st January, 1944, and crossed the border to a small town and proceeded from there to a larger town called Urdax. I contacted the police with others at Urdax and after lunch we were taken back to the small town where we gave our particulars. I remained at Urdax until the 4th January being accommodated in private billets with our meals at the local hotel. The billets were not particular satisfactory. Leaving Urdax Urdax on the 4th we were taken under escort to Irum [sp] where I was lodged with others at Hotel Harte. While there I contacted the British Consul at San Sebastion and he visited us two days after my arrival. The Consul gave me 100 pesetas and supplied me with an overcoat. I also obtained through the manger of the Hotel in conjunction with the local store, one pair of shoes, two pairs of socks, one shirt and one pair of gloves. I remained at Iram from the 4th to the 16th January. On the 16th January we left Irum and proceeded to Karagose [sp] where we remained until 26th January. While there I was lodged in the Senblas hotel until the 25th and the Hotel Loreinti from the 25th to the 28th January. While at Karagse I received another 150 pesetas from the British Consul, Mr Gill. I left Karagoas on the 28th and was taken to Alhama where I remained until the 2nd February 1944. On the 2nd February we left Alhama for Madrid remaining there for one night. We were accommodated at the Hotel Mora. On 3rd February we went to Granda being accommodated at a Hotel and the following day we proceeded to Gibraltar.”
Later A/Sqn Ldr. DFC* both awards with 97 Sqn.

Sgt. Robert E. Griffiths RAFVR 1457278. Nav. 10th Sep to 19th Nov 1943. Shot down night of 19-20 Nov 1943 during a raid on Leverkusen. Successfully evaded capture and safe UK date unknown.

F/S. Jack Edwin Hyde RNZAF NZ416637. AB. 10th Sep to 19th Nov 1943. Shot down by a Me110, seriously wounded, night of 19th-20th Nov 1943 during a raid on the Leverkusen chemical plants, his 6th sortie. PoW No. 1102. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags Luft VI and Luft JV. Took part in the forced march from Stalag IV (Gross Tychow) to Stalag XIB (Fallingbostel) – 6th Feb to 2nd May 1945. Promoted to W/O while a PoW.

P/O William Robert Kell RNZAF NZ411755. 10th September to 19th November 1943. Died Friday 19th September 1943, age 23. Buried Chievres Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Sgt. Stanley Watkins RAFVR 544249. FE. 10th September to 19th September. Died Friday 19th September 1943, age 26. Buried Chievres Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Sgt. William Gilfillan RAFVR 156298. 10th September to 19th September. Died Friday 19th September 1943, age 20. Buried Chievres Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Sgt. Michael Irvine Ryder Day RAFVR 1891503. AG. 10th September to 19th September. Died Friday 19th September 1943, age 19. Buried Chievres Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Bomber Command War Diary
19 November 1943
273 aircraft – 95 Halifaxes, 87 Stirlings, 82 Lancasters, 9 Mosquitos – were dispatched to the previously unbombed town of Remscheid on the southern edge of the Ruhr; only 26 people had been killed in Remscheid, by stray bombs, in the last 3 years. This raid marks the true end of the Battle of the Ruhr. 15 aircraft – 8 Stirlings, 5 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters – were lost, 5.5 per cent of the force.

8 aircraft laid mines in the Frisian Islands without loss.
Page 452, The Bomber Command War Diaries. 2011. Everitt Middlebrook. Midland publishing.

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