22/23.05.1944 77 Squadron Halifax V LL138 KN:N WO. Geoffrey T. Haworth
Date: 22/23rd May 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: 77 Squadron
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Full Sutton, Yorkshire
Location: Séris, France
Pilot: WO. Geoffrey T. Haworth 1062415 RAFVR Age? PoW (1)
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Reginald Alfred Rose 1874808 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Charles Thiepval Hale 1457196 RAFVR Age 25. PoW (2)
Air Bmr: Fg.Off. Alvin Marshall Beatty J25737 RCAF Age 34. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Raymond George James 1601379 RAFVR Age? Killed
Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Robert James Peggs 415913 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. John D. Taylor 1549741 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 61, Stalag Luft 7, Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Full Sutton in Yorkshire at 23:40 hrs to attack the rail facilities at Séris. Just ten minutes after releasing their bomb load they were attacked by a night fighter - damaging the controls and forcing the Halifax into a uncontrollable dive - 3 of the crew managed to bale out of the stricken aircraft - the remainder of the crew were killed during the initial attack.
LL138 was claimed by Oblt Jakob Schaus, his 9th Abschuss, from 4./NJG4, 5-30km South West of Orleans (ED 4/EC 9) at 3,000m at 02:35 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 3 - Theo Boiten).
(1) The pilot was injured, suffering a fractured spine and despite the French villagers hiding him for several hours it was apparent that he needed treatment they were forced to hand him over to German troops. A crowd gathered during the transportation to Paris - keen to vent their anger on the “terror fliers” but the German guards protected them and the crowd dispersed. After a short stay at Stalag Luft Bankan, near Kreulberg, Upper Silesia was then transferred to Stalag Lamsdorf before being repatriated in a prisoner exchange in January 1945 - via Switzerland. (on the HMS Letitia 2nd February 1945).
(2) He reported that his navigator, Sgt. Charles Hale remained in the vicinity of the crashed aircraft and was captured.
The following is an extract from a report from No.1 Section (France), M.R. & E. Service determined the fate of Flt.Sgt. Hale and the rest of the crew:
Mr. Stours is an American subject and a reputed sculptor, his wife French by birth is a writer, both live in an ancient castle in the vicinity of Mer, 6 km south of Séris. They state that on the 23rd May 1944 at 4pm their daughter who did a lot of good work for the Allies, and is a nurse by vocation was discreetly informed by the Gendarmerie that a wounded airman required attention, near Séris.
She proceeded on her bicycle and found Flt.Sgt. Charles Hale, lying in agony since 6 am in a lonely spot severely wounded in the leg and thigh by machine gun bullets. He had parachuted previous to the crash of the aircraft.
She gave him first aid and stayed by him till the German arrived with a stretcher. The one in charge of the party said ”Its you again, you will be shot, for interfering” and made her stand back. She pluckily replied “its now quarter to nine, I dine at 9 pm so if you want to shoot me you had belter do it now”. Her courage was too much for the Hun, she was released. Flt.Sgt. Hale was taken to hospital towards Tours.
The four dead aircrew were buried at the Séris cemetery
The following is an extract from a letter from Sqn.Ldr. Jennens, for the Senior British Officer, North Compound, Stalag Luft 3 dated the 21st August 1944 to Lady Ampthill which provides the explanation of Sgt. Hale’s death:
"On the 28th. June, 1944 [sic], whilst being transport (censored by Germans) as a Prisoner of War in a German lorry with German guards and six other Allied Officers and Men we were forced to stop due to engine trouble. While repairs were being carried out we were attacked by Allied Fighters. I regret to have to state that F/LT. John CLOUGHTON [sic], RNZAF and Sgt. Charles HALE of 18 Chissenhall Avenue, St. Helens, Lancs, were killed in the attack. The transport returned to Tours and the two bodies were handed over to a Red Cross Field Hospital on the way. I later identified the two bodies at the General Hospital in Tours. I presume them to have been buried in the Cemetery attached to the Hospital.”
F/LT. John CLOUGHTON was in fact Sqn.Ldr. John Greville Clouston 40218, RNZAF from 165 Sqn. He was shot down on D-Day whilst flying Spitfire LF.IXB MK589, SK:G.
Pilot Sqn.Ldr. Lionel William Vaughan Jennens, 28224 PoW No. 1427 from 7 Sqn. Stirling I W7436, MG:D shot down by Bf 109s. on the 18th December 1941.
Lady Margaret Ampthill was the Chairman of the “Wounded and Missing and Relatives Department of the British Red Cross Society.
128 aircraft took part in this operation, 108 Halifaxes, 12 Lancasters together with 8 Mosquitoes - most of the bombs landed on the passenger station and the railway repair workshops.
A busy night for Bomber Command with operations on Le Mans railway yards, Brunswick and Dortmund as well as various ‘Gardening’ operations, with many allied losses.
Sgt. Reginald Alfred Rose. Séris Communal Cemetery. Military Plot. Grave 1. Son of Alfred Henry and Lily Emily Rose, of Ardleigh, Essex, England.
Sgt. Charles Thiepval Hale. Nantes Communal Cemetery (Pont-Du-Cens) Plot L. Row D. Grave 19. Son of Charles and Hannah Hale (née Jones) of 15 Greenfield Road, St. Helens, Merseyside, England.
Fg.Off. Alvin Marshall Beatty. Séris Communal Cemetery. Military Plot. Grave 4. Born on the 9th December 1910 in Tisdale, Saskatchewan. The son of William Marshall and Clara Isabella (née Thomson) Beatty. Husband of Winnifred Katie (née Reid) of Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada. Born in Manitou, Manitoba, Canada.
Sgt. Raymond George James. Séris Communal Cemetery. Military Plot. Grave 3. Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. J. James, of Southampton, England.
Flt.Sgt. Robert James Peggs. Séris Communal Cemetery. Military Plot. Grave 2. Born on the 21st February 1924 in Pingelly, West Australia. The son of Robert William and Pathania Alice Peggs, of Kalamunda, Western Australia. Prior to service worked as a store man.
Page placed for Shelley Campbell - relative of Flt.Sgt. Robert James Peggs. Sources as quoted below. Also to Bill Barry of the Saskatchewan virtual War Memorial for detailed information on Fg.Off. Beatty. (May 2016). Thanks to John Jones for the night-fighter claim and details of Sgt. Hale's capture and death (Nov 2020). Other updates Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2020)