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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 229896
Last updated: 15 June 2020
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Date:10-JUL-1940
Time:day
Type:Bristol Blenheim Mk IV
Owner/operator:107 Squadron Royal Air Force (107 Sqn RAF)
Registration: R3916
C/n / msn: OM-R
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Airaines, Amiens, Somme department, Hauts de France -   France
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Wattisham, Suffolk
Destination airport:RAF Wattisham, Suffolk
Narrative:
Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV R3916 (OM-R) 107 Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) when lost (Failed To Return) from combat operations over France. All three crew survived, but were captured and taken as PoWs. According to the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/1068): "Blenheim R3916 crashed near Amiens, France, 10 July 1940. Sergeant R W Lonsdale: missing, later reported as safe. Sergeant B R George and Pilot Officer J P North-Lewis: prisoners of war"

Airborne from RAF Wattisham, Suffolk as one of six Blenheims tasked to attack Glisy Aerdrome, near Amiems, Somme Department, France. Five of the six Blenheims were shot down (R3916, R3815, P6894, L9468 and R3606). Blenheim R3916 was shot down over the target area by a Bf 109 of 9/JG 3; force landed near Airaines and all three crew survived.

Crew of Blenheim R3916:
Sergeant R W Lonsdale (Observer) RAF VR 755548; survived, captured, taken as PoW but later escaped (see below)
Sergeant Brymor R George (Wireless Op./Air Gunner) RAF 967684; survived, captured, taken as PoW. Interned in PoW Camp 357 as PoW No. 367
Pilot Officer J P North-Lewis (Pilot) RAF 73546; survived, captured, taken as PoW. Interned in PoW Camp Stalag Luft III as PoW No. 128

Sgt R W Lonsdale was initially interned as a PoW, but escaped in December 1940, passing over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, where he was detained in Miranda Prison, but eventually released, and returned to "friendly territory" at Gibraltar in 1941, from where he was repatriated to the UK.

According to a French source, roughly translated into English (see link #6 for the original French text):

"An aviator, the observer of Blenheim R3916 which had fallen in Airaines, Sgt Robert Lonsdale, was able to escape. According to his subsequent report, which was extremely laconic: "Our twin engine aircraft landed on fire at Airaines. The pilot was quickly captured, but I could flee with the gunner, Sgt Brymor George.

We got civilian clothes and then food then we went to Tully with three Artillery soldiers. On the 21st of July [1940] in Oisemont, I was arrested by a German soldier who identified me, probably by my flying boots. I was brought to the town hall, where I was interrogated and searched. I do not know what has happened to my comrades. On July the 26th [1940] when I was transferred with French soldiers in a truck, I jumped from the truck, to the east from Oisemont, and fled.

I crossed the Seine at east of Mantes then walked to Rambouillet and Chartres. I crossed the Loire between Orléans and Blois before passing Romorantin and Chabris. On August 11, [1940] I passed the Line of Demarcation. I reached Châteauroux and, with some British soldiers, and got to Agde via Toulouse on 15 August [1940].

I was transferred on October 18th [1940] to Fort Saint Jean, Marseille. December 26 [1940], I left for Spain with four companions. I was interned in Figueras, Cervera, Zaragoza and Miranda and was released on March 9, 1941".

Although Lonsdale is careful not to mention it, the fact that he made two trips with compatriots who also escaped through stealthy means, indicated that he was assisted by civilians and, more precisely, by a chain of resistance fighters. However, we can not say more because, at that time 'heroic', information about these sectors are little more than fragmentary."

The reported crash location of Airaines is a commune in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France in northern France. 30 km (19 miles) north west of Amiens, and about 30 km (19 miles) south of Abbeville at approximate Coordinates: 49°57′57″N 1°56′39″E.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft R1000-R9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1980 p 23)
2. National Archvies (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/1068: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14502680
3. The Other Few: The Contribution Made by Bomber and Coastal Aircrew to the Battle Of Britain (p 29) By Larry Donnelly
4. http://francecrashes39-45.net/page_fiche_av.php?id=4387
5. Sgt Lonsdale's PoW Escape Report: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14082642
6. https://www.avions-bateaux.com/uploads/attachment/produit/produit_3117_bb15cbf0fc7ec7548b56256d40a169a6.pdf (French text)
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airaines


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
11-Oct-2019 20:45 Dr. John Smith Added
11-Oct-2019 20:53 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
11-Oct-2019 21:41 juza7 Updated [Operator]

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