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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 218256
Last updated: 7 August 2020
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Type:Vickers Wellington Mk IC
Owner/operator:99 Squadron Royal Air Force (99 Sqn RAF)
Registration: R1333
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 6
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Devil’s Dyke, on the edge of Newmarket, Suffolk, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Newmarket
Destination airport:
During the night of 18-19 December 1940, RAF Bomber Command dispatched 17 Wellintons and 9 Whitleys to Mannheim, and 5 Wellingtons to the Pirelli factory at Milan. Fires were claimed started near Mannheim main railway station and 3 aircraft which reached Milan claimed a "terrific blaze" there.

Local German reports counted 13 HE and 100 incendiary bombs falling on Mannheim, destroying a house, damaging an administration building in a factory and starting several roof-frame fires. On the other side of the Rhine, Ludwigshafen reported 7 HE and 252 incendiary bombs, 10 fires, a gas pipeline and a factory damaged. The nearby towns of Oppau and Wiesbaden also reported some bombs. No casualty is listed in these reports.

Two British aircraft were lost during this operation, both Wellingtons of 99 Sqn RAF. One crashed on take-off and the other ditched off Sussex on return. Five men died in these mishaps.

The first loss of the night for 99 Sqn was the Wellington IC R1333 LF-B “Bertie”. It took off in the evening from RAF Station Newmarket, his target being Ludwigshafen: it is possible that the precise target given to this crew was in this city rather than the twin city of Mannheim, and that Bomber Command resume of the night put together all sorties to the two cities as a raid on Mannheim. The Wellington failed to become probably airborne and crashed at 2128 hrs on the edge of Newmarket into Devil’s Dyke, a 7.5 miles long earthwork passing near the village. Assumed to be an Anglo-Saxon earthwork, it reaches at some place an height of 30 feet.

That evening, Plt Off Morian Hansen of 99 Sqn, a Danish speedway driver who volunteered in 1939 for service in the RAF, was in charge of the flarepath at Newmarket airfield. He jumped into a van and drove to the crash scene. He entered the burning aircraft – still loaded with bombs – and managed to bring one of the crew, Sgt Cliff Hendy, to safety. He returned to the burning aircraft and saved another crewmember, Sgt George Lea. The four remaining crew members died in the accident.

Flt Lt Glencairn Sholto Ogilvie KIFA
Plt Off Arthur Patnell Pritchard RNZAF KIFA
Sgt Rupert James Bowden (observer) KIFA
Sgt Cliff Hendy (wireless operator/air gunner) WIFA
Sgt George Lea (wireless operator/air gunner) WIFA
Sgt William Edwin Herbert Boast (air gunner) KIFA

R1333 was the ‘Broughton Wellington’ brought on subscription by the Broughton, Flintshire, factory workforce to the tune of £15,000. It had only flown for just forty-two days.

On 19 March 1941, Morian Hansen received an Honorary Award of the George Medal for this incident.

Arthur Pritchard was the son of Mr and Mrs A.J. Pritchard of Wanganui. He was educated at Wanganui Technical College where he passed matriculation and gained School Certificate. He furthered his studies by taking a commercial course at correspondence school. He was involved in rugby, cricket, tennis, swimming and athletics. Before applying for enrolment in the Civil Reserve in February 1939 he was employed in the Commercial Bank of Australia, Wanganui. He began his flying training at the Wanganui Aero Club and on the outbreak of war he immediately applied for service in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Enlisted for aircrew training on 20 November 1939 he was at the Ground Training School, Levin until he was posted to No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, New Plymouth on 18 December 1939. On completion of this elementary training he was posted on 11 March 1940 to No. 2 Service Flying Training School, Blenheim and on 14 May 1940 received his flying badge. On 28 June 1940 he was commissioned as a pilot officer and on 12 July he left for England. On 26 August he arrived at RAF Depot, Uxbridge, Middlesex and was posted to 15 OTU, Harwell, Berkshire on 7 September. He crewed up and received operational training on Wellington bomber aircraft before being posted to 99 Sqn, Newmarket, Suffolk on 12 November.

"Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, vol 1: Aircraft and Crew lost during 1939-1940", by W R Chorley. ISBN 0-904597-85-7
"The Bomber Command War Diaries", by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt, ISBN 1-85780-033-8 (no more online)’s_Dyke,_Cambridgeshire

Revision history:

21-Nov-2018 16:56 Laurent Rizzotti Added

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