H.J. Hugill crew 30.09.42 †

18/09/1942 – Operations. Gardening of St. Nazaire
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation 1500lb. Vegetables were successfully planted. Light tracer was encountered over St.Nazaire which appeared to come from the town. A few searchlights were seen operation independently. No enemy aircraft were seen, the weather was very clear at target area, navigation was by D.R. and T.R.

Wellington Mk.III BJ.758 AA-?

Sgt. Kenneth John Bettles, RAFVR 657229 – Pilot.
Sgt. Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Kenneth David Glenn, RCAF R.79353 – Observer.
,   – .
F/S Frank Arthur Stevens, RAFVR 942319 – Wireless Operator.
,   – .
Sgt. Earl Ray Belford, RNZAF R.88751/ J.17419 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. William Gould Gillessie, RCAF R.88681 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:02 – Landed 00:44
Flight Time 05:42

30/09/1942 – Operations. Gardening off Terschelling
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation, 1500lb vegetables were successfully planted. A convoy was seen at the garden which was machine gunned. Light A.A. fire was encountered, no enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was fine with patches of thick haze. Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III X.3954 AA-?

Sgt. Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 – Pilot.
Sgt. Edmund John Pete, RAFVR 1279494 – Observer.
Sgt. Edwin ‘Eddy’ Worsdale, RNZAF NZ412919 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James George Barnes, RCAF NZ405362 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:30 – Landed 23:30
Flight Time 04:00

02/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Krefeld
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4,000 lb and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Fires were seen, which appeared to be mainly in open country. Heavy and light A.A. fire was encountered, mainly on enemy coast. Searchlights were considerable, operating in cones over the target area. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather was fine at target, with considerable ground haze, Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III X.3594 AA-?

Sgt. Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 – Pilot.
Sgt Edmund John Pete, RAFVR 1279494 – Observer.
Sgt. Edwin ‘Eddy’ Worsdale, RNZAF NZ412919 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James George Barnes, RCAF NZ405362 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:15 – Landed 23:35
Flight Time 04:20

05/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Aachen
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 30lb. and 4lb. incendiaries were dropped in the target area, large fires were seen in built up area, which appeared to spread between MAASTRICH and AACHEN. Heavy and Light A.A. fire was moderate, with a few scattered searchlights. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather over target was good with slight ground haze. Navigation was by D.R. T.R. and visual.

Wellington Mk.III X.3956? AA-?

Sgt. Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 – Pilot.
Sgt Edmund John Pete, RAFVR 1279494 – Observer.
Sgt. Edwin ‘Eddy’ Worsdale, RNZAF NZ412919 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James George Barnes, RNZAF NZ405362 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:15 – Landed 01:35
Flight Time 06:20

23/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Genoa
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 1,000 lb. 500lb. and 250lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area, some aircraft claimed to have also bombed Savona. A few light A.A guns and one or two searchlights were encountered. No combats took place. The cloud base at target was down to 3 to 4,000 feet. The aircraft came below this cloud to bomb. Navigation was good by D.R., T.R., loops and fixes.

Wellington Mk.III Z.1652 AA-?

Sgt. Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 – Pilot.
Sgt Edmund John Pete, RAFVR 1279494 – Observer.
Sgt. Edwin ‘Eddy’ Worsdale, RNZAF NZ412919 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James George Barnes, RAFVR NZ405362 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:15 – Landed 03:30
Flight Time 09:15

24/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Milan
Five aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 1,000lb. 500lb. 250lb and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Some slight A.A. fire was encountered, cloud stopped searchlight activity. No combats with enemy aircraft took place. 10/10ths cloud from the French Coast to the target made identification of the target difficult. Navigation was difficult owing to cloud preventing the use of Astro. Wellington Z1652 captained by Sergt. Hugill and Wellington BK725 captained by Sergt. McConnell failed to return.

Wellington Mk.III Z.1652 AA-?

Sgt. Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 – Pilot.
Sgt Edmund John Pete, RAFVR 1279494 – Observer.
Sgt. Edwin ‘Eddy’ Worsdale, RNZAF NZ412919 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. James George Barnes, RAFVR NZ405362 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Owing to adverse weather conditions, the crew had failed to reach the necessary height to cross the Alps and the decision was made to abort only their 5th Op as a crew and return to Mildenhall.

Whilst on their return flight over France, Edwin and crew, skippered by Howard Hugill crashed after being attacked by an ME110. Unable to maintain height, one crew member, James Barnes the Air Bomber, baled out prior to impact, but the rest crash landed, resulting in the Pilot, Sgt Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 and Sgt. Edmund John Pete, RAF 1279494 the Observer, being killed in the crash, approximately 30 kms east of Reims.

Sgt. Howard James Hugill, RNZAF NZ414293 – Pilot.
Killed age 21.
Son of James and Elsie Marion Hugill, of Huapai, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Ville-Sur-Retourne Churchyard, France..
Grave location – Joint grave.

Sgt. Edmund John Pete, RAFVR 1270404 – Observer.
Killed age 20.
Son of Charles and Rosa Fanny Pete, of Palmer’S Green, Middlesex.
Buried Ville-Sur-Retourne Churchyard, France..
Grave location – Joint grave.
‘In loving remembrance’

Sgt. Edwin Worsdale, RNZAF NZ412919 – Wireless Operator.
Evader
Date of return to United Kingdom:

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Fake identity papers produced to assist Edwin Worsdale, Wireless Operator with the Hugill crew escape from Switzerland, back to the United Kingdom. Accession no. 2011/256.1 ©Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Edwin and another crew member, Sgt. Newbold made off on foot from the site of the crash, reaching Switzerland 18 days later, having been provided assistance by French families along their 30km a day escape. Whilst in Switzerland, Edwin spent 9 months at the British Embassy in Geneva as a cipher clerk.

On the 5th of June 1944, Edwin left Switzerland for Spain, briefed by the British escape and evasion representative in Switzerland and carrying the necessary forged documents to assist in his escape – under the alias ‘Lucien Bovet’, an insurance inspector. His initial train journey took him to South Western France and in order to get to Spain he crossed the Pyrenees unassisted. On arrival in Spain, he gave himself up to the Spanish authorities and was released to the charge of the British Embassy. Edwin returned to the United Kingdom, via Gibraltar on the 11th of July 1944.

On his return to the United Kingdom Edwin was interviewed and debriefed by Intelligence School 9 (I.S.9), which had as its chief task the support and rescue of escaped POWs and Evaders (E&E’s) stranded in enemy territory in Europe. I.S.9 activities fell under M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

“I was a member of the crew of a Wellington Mk III aircraft which took off from Mildenhall on the 23rd October 1942 to bomb Milan. On the outward journey we could not get the aircraft to rise above 12,500 ft whereas we required to rise to 14,000 ft when approaching the Alps. The pilot accordingly turned back. We were uncertain of our position but thought that we were well south of Paris. We then flew out of cloud and were hit at about 10,000 ft by a fighter, the rear turret being put out of action. The pilot took evasive action, diving to about 3,000 ft in the hope of being able to hedge-hop home. However, first the instruments and then the motors went out of action, and fire started in the bomb bay where we had a full load of incendiaries. We crash-landed. The bomb aimer (J G Barner) had already baled out and I learned a year later in Switzerland that he was a P/W in Germany. Before we hit the ground we jettisoned the incendiaries but the fire was pretty bad. In spite of this the pilot made a magnificent landing about midnight. We came down in a ploughed field between a wood and a village, possibly Menil- Nelles. And certainly about 20 20 west of Vouziers. The rear gunner was trapped in his turret, but I was able to push his turret from the inside and so make an opening for him to get out. I then took off all my equipment and after the rear gunner had pushed the turret round for me, I was able to get out through the same opening. We had just got clear from the aircraft when the petrol exploded. We were unable to get at the Pilot and Navigator who were still in the aircraft. We did not know at that time that the Bomb Aimer had baled out and thought he also was in the aircraft.

Newbold and I walked all night and rested all the next day (25th October). At night we set out again and early on 26th October passed through St. Souplet-sur-Py. We continued till daylight and then slept for the day on what we believe was a former battlefield. In the evening we called at a farm at Suippes where we were allowed to stay overnight, leaving before daybreak on 27th October. The weather was bad and we could not walk far before daylight. We hid in the woods till evening when we went to Somme-Suippes. Here we found shelter at a farm for the night and the next day (28th October). From the evening of 28th October when we left Somme-Suippes, till 1st November we continued walking through woods by day and on roads at night, getting food but no other help at farmhouses. On Ist November we were taken in at a farm at Villers-le-Sec and given food and civilian clothes (up to this point we had still been wearing battle dress and flying boots). We left the farm next morning (2nd November) and from then on walked by day, approaching villages only at night time for shelter and food. We decided to head for Switzerland for the following reasons (1) We thought it was too late in the year to make for Spain. (2) Neither of us could speak French. (3) We had not been able to get in touch with any organization. I do not now remember our route but we followed a compass course S.E. avoiding all the main towns. We saw only four Germans during the whole of our walk – two in a car and two on bicycles. We got very good help from French peasants in the way of food and shelter for a night at at time. On 11th November we crossed crossed the Swiss frontier at Damvant SW of Porrentuy. We had no assistance in crossing. The country is hilly and wooded and we crossed in thick fog about 1700 hrs without seeing any German guards or patrols or any frontier wire. We gave ourselves up to the Mayor of Damvant who handed us over to the Military Police. The latter took us to Porrentruy where we spent four days in prison. We were then handed over to the British Legation in Berne. For the last nine months of my stay in Switzerland I was employed in the Consulate in Geneva, having previously been in Vevey. I left Switzerland on 5th June 1944 with Lieutenant Commander Stephen and my subsequent journey is described in a separate appendix to this report.”

After returning to New Zealand and after a training course, W/O Edwin Worsdale was commisioned as a Pilot Officer, serving as a cipher clerk in the South Pacific region. Edwin received a Mention in Dispatches on the 1st of July 1945:

“In recognition of distinguished service and devotion to duty.”
Sgt. James George Barnes, RNZAF NZ405362 – Front Gunner .
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 803
Promoted to W/O whilst interred
Date of return to United Kingdom: 16th of May 1945
Citation MBE (28 Dec 1945):
“This Warrant Officer displayed a high degree of fortitude and initiative during the time he was a prisoner of war in Germany between December 1942 and May 1945. Soon after his arrival he was elected camp leader and, although new to prison life, he rapidly gained the control and confidence of the camp. He took charge of the domestic running of the camp and was untiring in his efforts to smooth out the difficulties that inevitably occur when so many diverse nationalities are kept in the close proximity of a prison camp. Warrant Officer Barnes helped to organize all the entertainment and was entirely responsible for a very successful sports day. When the camp moved to Heydekrug, he took charge of one of the compounds there until he was moved to Stalag Luft III by the Germans and placed in a punishment cell. This Warrant Officer put in many hours of work trying to improve the living conditions of the camps he was in, and did much to help the prisoners with the own private difficulties.”

Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.
Evader
Date of return to United Kingdom: