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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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14th May 1940 105 Squadron Fairey Battle I L5230 Fl/Lt. Sammels

Operation: Sedan Bridges

Date: 14th May 1940 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 105 Squadron (motto: Fortis in Proeliis - 'Valiant in battles') Advanced Air Striking Force

Type: Fairey Battle I

Serial: L5230

Code: GB-P

Base: Villeneuve-les-Vertus, France

Location: La Neuville-a-Marie, France

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Harold Courtenay Sammels 37901 RAF Age 24. Initially listed as missing - believed killed (1)

Obs: Sgt. Frank Bernard Abbott 563017 RAF Age 28. Initially listed as missing - believed killed (1)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. Raymond Douglas Hughes 551679 RAF Age 20. Initially listed as missing - believed killed (1)


On the Sunday 12th May the same crew took off at 14:30 hrs from Villeneuve-les-Vertus in France on Battle P2176 when they were hit by intense ground fire. Fl/Lt. Sammels managed to nurse the aircraft back to base where it was deemed damaged beyond repair. All three crew were uninjured.

During this operation the squadron lost P/O. Tom Hurst flying Battle K9485 - further details here.

The French High Command called for a supreme effort at Sedan, where the ground forces massing for counter-attack had been rudely scattered. Arrangements were accordingly made for the whole strength of the Allied bombers in France to be hurled against the Sedan bridgehead in a series of waves, and soon after noon the few French aircraft available went into action. Attacking bridges and columns of troops, they suffered losses so severe that their remaining operations for the day were cancelled.

Taking off at 15:40 hrs from Villeneuve-les-Vertus in France with 10 others. The Battle was hopelessly outclassed by the Luftwaffe fighters. The loss of valuable aircrew had been recognised and the following month the Battle flew without an observer.

(1) L5230 was shot down in La Neuville-a-Marie and the crew buried initially in the local church. Post war the bodies were reinterred at the CWGC Sedan-Torcy French National Cemetery in a mass grave marked as Unknown British Airmen.

Following extensive investigations the crew were identified by a process of elimination and they were provided with a personalised headstone in 2017. The service was organised by the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre and attended by family members, regimental representatives and local dignitaries.

The squadron lost 6 others during this single operation, the others:

Battle K9189 flown by P/O. Frederick Heward Ridley killed with his two other crew. (Crew details shown below)

Battle k9342 flown by P/O. Francis Alfred George Lascelles all crew safe after a crash landing. On the 12th April 1939 whilst piloting Battle K9178 with the same crew they were involved in a taxying accident at RAF Harwell in Berkshire, none of the crew injured. Sadly he was to lose his life at 29 years old, when as a Wing Commander and holder of the DFC and MiD with 82 squadron flying Blenheim IV T2165 UX-W shot down on an operation to Heligoland, all 3 crew killed. The same 2 other crew killed with him. Further details here.

Battle L5238 flown by F/O. Richard Nap Wall killed with all crew. On the 16th February 1940 flying Battle K9195 when he forced landed, uninjured and the aircraft was repaired. Then on the 10th May 1940 flying Battle P2190 they were hit by ground fire but managed to return to base (different crew) (Crew details shown below)

Battle L5250 flown by P/O. D.C.F. Murray all 3 crew safe after crash landing. Escaped an earlier incident on the 20th February 1940 flying Battle K9193 survived a crash landing.

Battle L5523 flown by P/O. Hugh Edgar White all 3 crew killed. (Crew details shown below)

Battle L5585 flown by Sq/Ldr. Christopher Francis Gibson shot down with all crew injured, 2 crew taken PoW whilst Sq/Ldr. Gibson evaded and returned to his unit via Spain and Gibraltar. Awarded the DFC for this. Sadly he was to lose his life on the 14th March 1943 flying Halifax II BB281 with 138 Special Duties squadron. All 8 crew killed. (Gibson burial details shown below)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Harold Courtenay Sammels. Initially listed as missing. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 5. Sedan-Torcy French National Cemetery. Plot 20. Collective grave 764A. Born on the 08th June 1912. Joined the RAF on a short service commission with effect from 29th June 1936. Trained and received his wings at RAF Sealand in Wales with No. 5 Flying Training School. Posted to RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire on the 21st February 1937 and attached to 114 Squadron flying the Hawker Audax and the Bristol Blenheim. On the 08th March 1937 he was one of nine pilot officers to the start the re-formed 44 squadron at RAF Wyton then moved to RAF Andover in Hampshire 10 days later. Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Sammels, of North End, Portsmouth. Grave inscription: 'Much Loved And Missed By All The Family'.

Sgt. Frank Bernard Abbott. Initially listed as missing. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 11. Sedan-Torcy French National Cemetery. Plot 20. Collective grave 764A. Joined the RAF straight from school in January 1929 and married Laura just as the war started in1939. Son of Bernard and Honora E. M. Abbott, of Newport, Monmouthshire and husband of Laura Mary Abbott (nee Cox). Grave inscription: 'Always Remembered By Mum And Dad Bernard And Honora Wife Laura Mary'.

LAC. Raymond Douglas Hughes. Initially listed as missing. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 23. Sedan-Torcy French National Cemetery. Plot 20. Collective grave 764A. Son of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Hughes, of Aberdare, Glamorgan, Wales.

Battle K9189

FP/O. rederick Heward Ridley. Donchery Communal Cemetery. Grave 9. 41208. RAF. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. Gordon Atkinson. Donchery Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 7-8. 580557. Age 19. RAF. Son of William and Doris Atkinson, of Bolton, Lancashire. Grave inscription: 'Greater Love Hath No Man Than This, That A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends'.

AC.1. James Samuel Thomson. Donchery Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 7-8. 613420. RAF. Son of James Paul and Sadie Thomson, of Blackpool, Lancashire. Grave inscription: 'Peace Be Thine. Forever In Our Thoughts, Darling. Mum, Toni, Kit And Binnie'.

Battle K9342

W/Cdr. Francis Alfred George Lascelles. DFC. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 13. D. 8. 40398 Age 29. RAF. Awarded short service commission on the 09th January 1938. Son of Sir Alfred George Lascelles, Kt., K.C. (died 09th February 1952 age 94) and of Lady Isabel Carteret Thynne Lascelles (nee Thynne), of Terrington, Yorkshire.

Fl/Sgt. William John Ordway. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 13. D. 13. 529743. RAF. No further details, are you able to assist?

Fl/Sgt. Cecil Pollock Weir. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 13. D. 13. 551626. Age 21. RAF. Son of George and Maud Weir, of Portrush, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. Grave inscription: 'Lovingly Remembered By Father,Mother And Sisters Iris And Phyllis'.

Battle L5238

F/O. Richard Nap Wall. Noyers-Pont-Maugis French National Cemetery. Grave 515. 37839. Age 25. RAF. Awarded short service commission on the 04th May 1936. Completed his trying with No. 8 Flying Training School at Montrose. Son of Charles William and Dorothy Wall and husb and of Lillian Asunta Wall, of Bedford. Grave inscription: 'Not Once Or Twice In Our Rough Island-Story, The Path Of Duty Was The Way To Glory'.

Sgt. Arthur Charles Morgan. Noyers-Pont-Maugis French National Cemetery. Grave 502. 563340. Age 28. RAF. Son of Edwin William and Margaret Ellen Morgan, of Ammanford, Carmarthenshire. Grave inscription: 'Strive To Live As Nobly As They Died'.

LAC. Harold Hatton. Noyers-Pont-Maugis French National Cemetery. Grave 503. 531631. Age 22. RAF. Son of Henry and Agnes Hatton, of Childwall, Liverpool. Grave inscription: 'Dearly Loved. God Himself Stretched Forth His Hand And Drew Him To His Side'.

Battle L5523

P/O. Hugh Edgar White. Choloy War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A. A. 7-9. 40787. Age 26. RAF. Awarded short service commission on the 04th June 1935. Son of William Edgar White, and of Hilda Mary White, of Epsom, Surrey.

Sgt. Geoffrey Andrew Cartwright. Choloy War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A. A. 7-9. 580604 . Age 23. RAF. Son of John Edward and Laura Gertrude Cartwright, of Compton, Staffordshire. Grave inscription: 'They Shall Mount Up With Wings As Eagles Isaiah Xl.31'.

AC.1. James Potter. Choloy War Cemetery. Coll. grave 1A. A. 7-9. 610963. RAF. No further details, are you able to assist?

Battle L5585

Sq/Ldr. Christopher Francis Gibson. DFC. Durnbach War Cemetery. Coll. grave 7. D. 16-17. 39981. Age 31. RAF. Son of James Arthur and Lucy Catherine Gibson, of Holne, Devon. Croix de Guerre avec Palme. Grave inscription: 'The Lord Is My Shepherd: Therefore Can I Lack Nothing'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Portsmouth Grammar School, Bill Chorley for further information, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 26-06-2021

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