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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 172424
Last updated: 6 December 2020
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Type:Handley Page Halifax Mk II
Owner/operator:35 (Madras Presidency) Squadron Royal Air Force (35 (Madras Presidency) Sqn RAF)
Registration: W7656
C/n / msn: TL-P
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Trondheimsfjord outside Vikhamar -   Norway
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Kinloss
Destination airport:
The aircraft made it to the target area, and proceeded to fly through the barrage of flak in Fættenfjord and over the target to drop their mines. For some reason the navigator had been unable to release the mines when they were over the target, and the pilot, F/L Petley, told the crew that they would go round again for a second attempt.
Flying in from a slightly different approach than the first bombing run up all at first appeared to be calm. The barrage of flak they had faced on the first bombing run had abated. As the crew were soon to discover, this was to be the calm before the storm. As the aircraft neared Tirpitz for the second time they were suddenly met by a severe and intense attack from what must have seemed, and probably was, every single German weapon available in the area.

The port wing of the aircraft was hit and caught fire. The aircraft quickly began to lose height, and F/L Petley crash landed it on the waters of Trondheimsfjord outside Vikhamar.

The wireless operator, Sgt Cranstone, was the first man out after the ditching, followed by Sgt Price, the flight engineer, who released the dinghy. Flt Lt Petley joined them and they climbed into the dinghy. The tail gunner, Sgt Pomroy emerged from the aircraft, and on realising that two of the crew were missing he went back into the aircraft to look for them. The aircraft was sinking fast and Sgt Pomroy had to retreat to the dinghy with the others. The navigator, Sgt Columbine and the wireless operator, Sgt Evans did not survive, and it is not known if they had been hit by flak or whether they had died when the aircraft ditched. The surviving four airmen sat in the dinghy and watched as their aircraft sank to the bottom of the fjord, still on fire.

For around three hours the men drifted around in the fjord unable to make any headway with the dinghy paddles due to the strong currents in the water. They were found by two Norwegians who had rowed out into the fjord. The Norwegians threw them a line and towed the dinghy in to the shore.

Once ashore, the crew thought that they might be taken to the Norwegian underground, however, they were not. Instead, they found that they were taken to a German camp where they were handed over and became POW's. They were taken by train to Oslo, and from there they were flown to Germany where they spent the rest of the war years in German POW camps.
Pilot: 74689 Flt Lt D Petley POW Stalag Luft 3 Zagan & Belaria. PoW Number 205.
Flight Engineer: Sgt Price POW ?
Navigator: 1185189 Sgt Alfred Bernard Columbine - Runnymede Memorial Panel 80
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: 402989 Sgt Arthur William Smith Evans RNZAF - Runnymede Memorial Panel 117
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: 933267 Sgt G Cranstone POW Stalag Luft 1 Barth Vogelsang. PoW Number 227.
Air Gunner: 1378961 Sgt G Pomroy POW Stalag 357 Kopernikus. PoW Number 265.

RAF Prisoners of War.

Revision history:

22-Dec-2014 13:58 gerard57 Added
11-Feb-2015 13:35 Boile A. Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
13-Dec-2017 22:08 Red Dragon Updated [Cn, Operator, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
26-Oct-2018 18:33 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Destination airport, Narrative]

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