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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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15 Squadron Crest
10/11.09.1942 No. 15 Squadron Stirling I BF347 LS-J Fl/Sgt. Harry Bannister

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 10/11th September 1942 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 15 Squadron

Type: Stirling 1

Serial: BF347

Code: LS-J

Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire.

Location: RAF West Malling

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Harry Ernest Bannister 1111864 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Henry Eric Williams 657180 RAF Age 25. Killed

Obs 2: P/O. Clarence William Higgins 48518 RAF Age 28. Killed 

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Wilfred Ernest Pittendrigh 1291394 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Howard Maginn 637636 RAF Age 29. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Norman Allan Prime 536221 RAF Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Sidney Pharies Mansfield 1210919 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off from Bourn in Cambridgeshire at 21.05 hrs to bomb Düsseldorf. A huge force took off - a total of 479 aircraft made up with 242 Wellingtons, 89 Lancasters, 59 Halifaxes, 47 Stirlings, 28 Hampdens and 14 Whitleys. 

The pathfinders marked the target area successfully using the "Pink Pansies" (1) in converted 4,000 lb. bomb casings. The city was hit in all areas apart from the north, also hit was the neighbouring town of Neuss. Reports are that 39 industrial firms in Düsseldorf and a further 13 in Neuss were damaged to the extent that no production could take place for various periods, 8 public buildings were destroyed and 67 damaged. 911 houses were also destroyed, 1,506 seriously damaged and another 8,340 lightly damaged.

On the ground 132 people were killed, made up of 120 in Düsseldorf and 12 in Neuss. A further 11 people were classed as "missing" 2 days after the raid. 19,427 people were made homeless.

                      

Short Stirling Mk. I code LS-J of No. 15 Squadron (Not known if this was BF347)

The raid took it's toll on the RAF though with 33 aircraft lost. (20 Wellingtons, 5 Lancasters. 4 Stirlings, 3 Halifaxes and 1 Hampden) 60 crewmen were killed, 1 injured and 13 made PoW.

Stirling BF347 returned from the raid (one of two damaged by night fighter attacks) and tried to make an emergency landing at RAF West Malling in Kent. The aircraft crashed, sadly killing all of the crew.

(1) "Pink Pansies" an incendiary bomb - 2,800 lbs - used as a target marker made up from Benzol, rubber and phosphorous)

  

 Graves of the three crew members buried at Maidstone (courtesy Michael Clark)

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Harry Ernest Bannister. Maidstone Cemetery. Plot C.C.1. Grave 128 (A) Son of Ernest A. Bannister and Olive Bannister, of Kirkliston, West Lothian, Scotland.

Sgt. Henry Eric Williams. Faversham Borough Cemetery. Sec. E. Grave 19. (B) Son of Ada Williams, of Faversham, England.

P/O. Clarence William Higgins. Maidstone Cemetery. Plot C.C.1. Grave 12 (A) Son of William George and Lilian Grace Higgins, of Hatzic, British Columbia, Canada. B.S.

Sgt. Wilfred Ernest Pittendrigh Little Stanmore Churchyard. Row 12. Grave 17. (C) Son of Russell and Mary Ellen Pittendrigh, of Canons Park, Edgware, Middlesex, England.

Sgt. Henry Howard Maginn. Seagoe Church of Ireland Churchyard. Sec A. Plot 5. Grave 10. (D) Son of William and Adelaide Maginn, of Portadown; husband of Emma Maginn, of Portadown.

Sgt. Norman Allan Prime. Maidstone Cemetery. Plot C.C.1. Grave 58 (A) N.o.K details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. Sidney Pharies Mansfield. Cannock Cemetery Div A. Sec 1. Grave 109 (E) Son of Sydney and Hilda Mansfield, of Cannock, England.

Researched for James Maginn and all relatives / friends of the crew. With thanks to the following: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2',  Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt ‘Bomber Command War Diaries’, the C.W.G.C.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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