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Halifax Downed in Channel

by BBC Open Centre, Lancashire

Contributed by 
BBC Open Centre, Lancashire
People in story: 
Robert Hollinrake
Location of story: 
English Channel
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
A2915714
Contributed on: 
13 August 2004

Halifax ZA - 'N' of 10 Squadron RAF left Melbourne, Yorkshire at 21.38 on 10 August 1943 as part of a 1,000 bomber raid on Nuremburg, Germany.

It's route to the target was long and arduous ... down to Beachy Head ... across to Dieppe ... across Paris and on to Germany.

The aircraft suffered damage prior to the target, but still managed to drop it's full load of bombs on the target. Further damage was inflicted as the stricken aircraft limped towards home at reduced speed - gradually losing height in order to maintain flying speed on two engines.

The final blow was the loss of a third engine and part of a wing due to ack-ack fire over Dieppe, making the aircraft uncontrollable in level flight.

With considerable skill, the captain - Sgt Bob Dibben - ditched "N fer Nuts" on a very rough sea ... in the dark ... at 0410 on 11 August 1943 after a flight of seven-and-a-half hours.

The crew all survived the impact, despite significant damage to the fuselage nose that shattered allowing sea water and fuel into the aircraft, before it came to rest ... much to the discomfort of the crew.

Squadron records for 10 August 1943 state:
Halifax JD198 "N" failed to return from this mission ... nothing being heard from it after it left base.

The crew were:
Sgt Dibben AR ... Capt
Sgt Parsonson E ... Navigator
Sgt Tomlin RLM ... Air Bomber
Sgt Ure IL ... Wirelss Op
Sgt Hollinrake R ... Flight Engineer
Sgt Agnew A ... Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt Finnie J ... Rear Gunner

The crew wathced from a badly punctured dingy as "N" sank approximately 40 miles from the French coast ... 17 hours later being picked up by a German-manned French fishing vessel and landed at Le Treport ... we were all POW until 1945.

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Message 1 - Halifax downed in channel

Posted on: 13 August 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Chorley lists this aircrft as Halifax II JD198 ZA-N. He adds that the crew had arrived on 10 Squadron from 1652 CU on 6 July 1943 and had participated in three of the four Hamburg raids, plus one on Mannheim, before coming to grief on their fifth sortie.

PoW details are listed as follows:

Sgt A R Dibben: Camps L1/L6/L4 - PoW No 1299
Sgt E R Parsonson: Camps L1/L6/L4 - PoW No 1329
Sgt R L M Tomlin: Camps L1/L6/L4 - PoW No 1342
Sgt I L Ure: Camps L1/L6/L4 - PoW No 1345
Sgt R H Hollinrake: Camps L1/L6/L4 - PoW No 1317
Sgt A Agnew: Camp L1/L6/357 - PoW No 1282
Sgt J R Finnie: Camp L1/L6/357 - PoW No 27540

L1: Stalag Luft I Barth, Germany
L4: Stalag Luft IV Gross Tycho, Poland
L6: Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug, Lithuania
Stalag 357 first at Thorn, Poland then at Oerbke (Fallingbostel), Germany.

Most of the RAF NCOs were moved from Stalag Luft I to Luft VI at the end of October 1943. The move from Luft VI to Luft IV was made on 15 July 1944 and to Stalag 357 at Thorn on 16 July 1944.

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