06/07.04.1940 No. 83 Squadron Hampden I L4054 P/O. Roberts
Date: 06/07th April 1940 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 83 Squadron 5 Group (motto: 'Strike to Defend')
Type: Hampden I
Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Location: North Sea
Pilot: P/O. Wilfred Roberts 40319 RAF Age 25. Killed
Obs/Pilot: P/O. Keith Brooke-Taylor 41251 RAF Age 21. Killed (1)
Obs: Sgt. Andrew McNicol 563207 RAF Age 26. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC.1. Denis William Sharpe 541437 RAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 19:15 hrs on a security patrol of German seaplane bases in the area of Sylt and the general area north west of Germany. Another aircraft saw what he assumed to be L4054 being coned by searchlight and fired upon.
At 02:45 hrs when in the region of St. Mary's Lighthouse they sent out an SOS by lamp and continued to do so for over an hour whilst they circled the area. No radio signals were transmitted by the crew. The SOS signal was received by the lighthouse keeper and challenged - the correct reply was seen and the authorities were informed at once.
But the aircraft was then seen to descend and the landing light was also observed. At about 04:00 hrs an engine was seen to fail and 3 of the crew were seen to bale out of the aircraft over the sea. The wireless operator remained in the aircraft and had probably been either badly injured or killed earlier over Sylt. Hampden L4054 crashed at 04:21 hrs. The 3 crew members who baled out were sadly drowned. Their bodies recovered later. That of LAC Sharpe remained in the aircraft which crashed, exploding the bomb load that was still carried. It seems that the aircraft had suffered hydraulic damage which prevented them jettisoning the bombs and operating the landing gear. No radio signals sent as LAC Sharpe was incapacitated.
Mr. Russ Gray, a member of the North East section of the Air Crash Investigation and Archaeology Group located the crash site near the lighthouse in 2007. It is understood that a plaque to the crew was placed in the Lighthouse on the 12th April 2008.
(1) Sadly the family were also to lose his brother, Rex in New Zealand the same year on the 30th December 1940.See details of this here.
P/O. Wilfred Roberts. Chevington Cemetery. Section H. Grave 287. Son of William David Roberts, and of Ellen Roberts, of Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand. Grave inscription reads: 'In Loving Memory Of Our Dear Son Wilfred. Who Gave His Life Doing His Duty'.
P/O. Keith Brooke-Taylor. Chevington Cemetery. Section H. Grave 286. Son of Roydon and Ida Winifred Brooke-Taylor, of Wellington City, New Zealand. Grave inscription reads: 'Of Wellington, New Zealand. He Came And Gave All'.
Sgt. Andrew McNicol. Barrow-In-Furness Cemetery And Crematorium (Thorncliffe). Section 3. C. of E. Grave 2621. Son of Hugh and Florence Rose McNicol, of Barrow-in-Furness, England. Joined RAF as an apprentice at Halton. Grave inscription reads: 'His Memory Is Our Greatest Treasure In Our Hearts He Will Live Forever'.
AC.1. Denis William Sharpe. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 26. Born on the 26th September 1916 in Leicester, the son of George William and Florence Lily Sharpe, of Braunstone, Leicester, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this Crew with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum
, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: