20/21.04.1943 102 Squadron Halifax II DT747 DY:P Sgt. Griffiths crew loss
Date: 20/21st April 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: 102 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire.
Location: Saedden, Denmark
Pilot: Sgt. Wilfred Ambrose Griffiths 1316333 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Pilot 2: Flt.Sgt. Thomas Samuel Eric Bennett 415055 RNZAF Age 31. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. James Thomas Smith 1053959 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Obs: Sgt. Wilfred Charles Marsh 1312151 RAFVR Age 31. Killed
Obs: Sgt. James Kenneth Campbell 1065510 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Arnold Jenkinson 1380237 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Alexander Cuthbert Weir R123705 RCAF Age 26. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Bertram Charles John White 1339032 RAFVR Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:20 hrs from RAF Pocklington to attack the town of Stettin, 600 miles from England and one of the furthest targets for Bomber Command. Weather was good with a full moon and no cloud, so target markers were accurate, resulting in the total devastation of the centre of the town.
The attack took place between 00:59 hrs and 01:45 hrs. German reports at the time state that 13 Industrial units and 380 houses completely destroyed. A large chemical plant was also hit halting all production. 586 people were killed on the ground.
Above: some of the crew (courtesy Paul Campbell)
Above: some of the crew (courtesy Paul Campbell); Right; Flt.Sgt. Weir, from his service record
These remarkable photographs of the crash site have been supplied by our contact in Denmark, Søren Flensted (see credits below and link pages)
102 squadron Halifax at RAF Pocklington (IWM)
Left: Stettin town 1945
also cost the Allies - out of 339 aircraft that left on the raid 22 aircraft were lost, 130 aircrew were killed, 20 made Prisoners of War and 7 interned for a short while in Sweden.
The majority of aircraft lost succumbed to the very heavy flak encountered, others to the Luftwaffe night fighters who had a difficult time locating them, as the Allied bombers had been instructed to fly in and out at between 1,000 and 5,000 ft making them difficult for the German controllers to track. This the reason the majority fell easy prey to the flak units operating with co-ordinated searchlights.
Halifax DT747 was probably shot down by flak, the aircraft coming down at 00:51 hrs in the village of Saedder which is 5 km north west of Esbjerg, Denmark. This is where the crew were buried.
102 Squadron lost another aircraft in this raid:
HR712 DY:M, flown by Sgt. Olliver who, with his Flt.Eng survived as PoWs but the remaining 5 crew lost their lives. This is also thought to have been taken down with flak but was claimed as a 'probable' by Lt. Peter Ehrhardt of 5./NJG5.
Above left: Original Crew grave markers Right: Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery (courtesy Paul Campbell)
Crew graves photographed by Aircrew Remembered during a visit in April 2013
Sgt. Wilfred Ambrose Griffiths. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.10-15. Son of Martha Jane Griffiths, and stepson of John Peel, of Hakin, Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Right: Kenneth Campbell with his girlfriend (courtesy Paul Campbell)
Flt.Sgt. Thomas Samuel Eric Bennett. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.10-15. Son of Thomas Bennett and of Elisabeth Bennett (nee Goodman), of Brooklyn, Wellington City, New Zealand, husband of Alice Vera (née Hansen) Bennett.
Sgt. James Thomas Smith. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.9. No further details as yet.
Sgt. Wilfred Charles Marsh. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.17. Son of Frank Ashton Marsh and Eda Ellen Marsh, husband of May Lena Marsh, of Ringwood, Hampshire, England.
Sgt. James Kenneth Campbell. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.10-15. Son of James Campbell, and of Maria Campbell, of Widnes, Lancashire, England.
Sgt. Arnold Jenkinson. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.10-15.
Raised in Clayton, Manchester where he attended Ardwick Central Day School and it is believed North Manchester Grammar. He was John Bevins' fathers friend and sadly missed by his parents who owned a sweet and newspaper shop on Ashton New Road in Clayton. (Information courtesy John Bevins)
Flt.Sgt. Alexander Cuthbert Weir. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.10-15. orn 29th April 1917 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Son of Hugh Philip and Hattie (née Kipling) Weir, of Minaki, Ontario, Canada.
Weir Peninsula, Manitoba was named after F/Sgt Weir in 1995
Sgt. Bertram Charles John White. Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery. Collective grave A.10.10-15. No further details as yet.
Research for Paul Campbell (Nephew of Sgt. Campbell) and for the relatives of the crew.
Acknowledgments: With thanks to the following: Paul Campbell, Søren Flensted - Airwar Over Denmark. Thanks to John Bevins for personal details for Sgt. Jenkinson (Feb 2018) and for the correction to the school (Sep 2020). Update to narrative and images by Aircrew Remembered (Sept 2020)
Above left: Family photo of Kenneth Campbell. Back row L to R: Maria's sister, Carrie - Carrie's stepson Danny Wilson - James Kenneth Campbell. Front row: Maria Harrison - James Campbell (Ken and Gordon's parents) In front of Maria, Gordon Campbell (Father of Paul Campbell) Photo taken c1929 (courtesy Paul Campbell)
Above right: Newspaper article - 'Widnes Weekly news', dated Friday 30th April 1943 - 10 days after Sgt. Campbell was reported 'Missing'.