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15 October 2014
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Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
John Stuart Jackson (Jackson/Cassey families)
Location of story: 
Venlo - on the borders of Germany and Holland
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

The author of this story has understood the rules and regulations of this site and has agreed that this story can be entered on the People’s War web site.

My Uncle Sidney Reginald Cassey, who joined RAF Bomber Command on 4 May 1939. He was just 21 years of age and was mad to fly, in spite of my parents pleadings not to be air-crew. I well remember how vermantly these pleadings were, but as a boy he had made many model aircraft and his determination was to fly.

Another Uncle Harry H Cassey volunteered for the RAF on the same day. Although posted to different squadrons, they always managed to arrange their leaves, usually of 48 hours, together. Their main separation came when Uncle Sidney was posted to 50th Squadron at Lindholme, 8 miles from Doncaster, Yorkshire, which flew the Hampden bomber. Harry was posted to a Wellington Bomber Squadron. The Wellington was altogether a better aircraft than the Hampden, it had been designed by Barnes Wallace and had a fuselage of the Geodic design.

During their short leaves together, they discussed their operations and on my Uncle Sidney’s last leave, the end of March 1941, he told Uncle Harry “I am not going to survive”.

On Good Friday. 10 April 1941, Uncle Sidney, with his crew: Flight Leutenant G J Cornish, the pilot; Sargeant J Ratcliffe; Flight Sargeant R A Royal and Sargeant S R Cassey, climbed into their Hampden No. AD.789 VN. It was a cold, bright moonlight night and they had been targeted to bomb Dusseldorf. This was a very early bombing raid flying with two other Squadrons, 106 Squadron and 144 Squadron. They flew over the North Sea without incident and apart from a few searchlights located the Dusseldorf target. Dropping their bombs and, as well can be imagined, sighing a great sigh of relief. As they flew at around 12,000 feet, the bright moonlight night, known as a “bomber’s moon”. They flew towards home and safety.

Suddenly, to their horror, they felt a blast of cold air rushing through the aircraft, a yell from a front crew member screamed out “the pilot has bailed out” and to their horror they saw a parachute floating away from the aircraft. We shall never know which crew member got into the pilot’s seat, with all the wind from the open cockpit driving past him, he got into the seat, took the controls and flew towards the scene Pilot Cornish had witnessed. This scene was of Hampden X3153 ZN being attacked by Messerchmitt 110 and going down in flames. This terrible event was clearly seen by the pilot and in consequence he bailed out and left the other three crew members to their fate. The crew member that was now flying the Hampden flew the aircraft into one of the Messerchmitt 110 attackers. We now know this BF110C/4 serial no. 3300 was the result of this collision, both aircraft crashed near each other at Neer in Holland. The German pilot Lieutenant H Reese of 1/NJGI, although wounded managed to bail out, but his Wireless Operator Unteroffizier W Roizaak was killed. Sadly the three crew members Sgt J Ratcliffe, Flt Sgt R A Royle and Sgt S R Cassey were all killed and found together in their crashed aircraft.

All these facts can be verified through:

1. Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, 1941 by W R Chorley, Published by Midland Counties Publications, ISBN 0 904597 87 3
2. The Hampden File by Harry Moyle, A Air Britain Publication, ISBN 0 85130 128 2

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