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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 196536
Last updated: 1 February 2021
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Type:Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V
Owner/operator:51 Squadron Royal Air Force (51 Sqn RAF)
Registration: N1405
C/n / msn: AWA.1559
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Waddensee, in the tidal area north of Morsum, Sylt and west of Rømø -   Germany
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Dishforth, North Yorkshire
Destination airport:
In the evening of 19 March 1940, 50 RAF bombers attacked the German seaplane base at Hornum, at the southern end of the North Sea island of Sylt. The raid, publicly disclosed in the Commons by the Prime Minister as it was happening, was a reprisal for the German bombing of Scapa Flow three days ago which killed six sailors and one civilian.

4 Group RAF sent eight aircraft from 10 Sqn, 7 from 51 Sqn, 7 from 77 Sqn and 8 from 102 Sqn. 5 Group sent 20 Hampdens, to form the greatest number of RAF aircraft to concentrate on a single German target to date. All aircraft claimed to have attacked the target as briefed, with the exception of a crew from 102 Sqn which returned early. One crew from 51 Sqn successfully evaded an attack from an Arado float plane (Ar 196) but encountered severe Flak and the tail gunner was wounded. Another aircraft of 51 Sqn, Whitley V N1405, failed to return.

This aircraft took off at 20:35 hours from Dishforth. At 23:30 hours it had just dropped its bomb load when it was caught by searchlights and hit by flak from 2,3,4 and 5./111 detachments. It continued unsteady and burning towards north to the Danish island of Rømø and then turned out over the sea and finally at 23:35 hours crashed and exploded in the tidal area north of Morsum, Sylt and west of Rømø.

All on board perished:
Flt Lt John Edward Baskerville (pilot) Service Number 37537, aged 25
Pilot Officer Emery Orville Fennel (pilot) Service Number 40293
Sgt Bertram David Shepperson (observer) Service Number 561926
LAC Leslie Close (wireless operator/air gunner) Service Number 548536, aged 20
LAC William George Newton (wireless operator/air gunner) Service Number 551758, aged 19

Baskerville, O`Fennel and Close now rest in Kiel War Cemetery while Shepperson has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The body of Newton was washed ashore on the Danish island of Rømø on 26 May. On the 28th he was given a military burial by the German Wehrmacht in Kirkeby cemetery. The parish minister of Kirkeby R. Jørgensen officiated at the graveside ceremony.


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-N9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/102:

Revision history:

06-Jul-2017 11:26 Laurent Rizzotti Added
06-Jun-2019 17:58 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
06-Jun-2019 19:48 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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