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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 89533
Last updated: 29 November 2019
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Date:03-JAN-1940
Time:09:15
Type:Bristol Blenheim Mk I
Owner/operator:18 Squadron Royal Air Force (18 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L1410
C/n / msn: WV-B
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Hagbenden in Eynatten, near Raeren-lez-Eupen (Liège) -   Belgium
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Metz, France
Destination airport:
Narrative:
On 3 January 1940 the Blenheim I L1410 ("WV-B") of 18 Squadron RAF based at Méharicourt (Picardie, France) took off at 07:55 hrs from Metz for a photo reconnaissance mission over the Siegfried line. Shortly after becoming airborne he was attacked by a RAF Hurricane but escaped damage.

But later during the mission the Blenheim was intercepted at an height of 7000 metres over Emmerich by three Bf 109s. The British pilot, Flying Officer Kempster, tried to escape by diving towards the neutral Belgium but the bomber was badly damaged.

After passing the German-Belgian border, the pilot ordered his crew to bale out. Only the air gunner, AC.1 Harris, baled out, but too low to survive. The navigator, Sgt Smith, remained aboard. F/O Kempster then attempted a forced landing but hit a power line before crashing in a meadows near the hamlet of Hagbenden in Eynatten, near Raeren-lez-Eupen (Liège), just inside the Belgian frontier, at 09:15 hours.

Both men survived the crash and were helped out from the wreck by local residents. They suffered of burns in varying degrees. They were interned in Belgium.

The body of AC.1 Harris was brought to the military hospital of Liege, and buried three days later in the Liège (Robermont) Cemetery. He was the first fatal RAF casualty of the war to die in Belgium.

This Blenheim was probably the victim of Fw Gerhard Goltzsche of 1./JG77 who claimed a Blenheim shot down at 10:10 hrs (German time) 15 km south of Aachen as his first victory.

Crew:
Flying Officer Charles Mervyn Patrick Kempster (pilot) Interned
Sgt Frederick Leece Smith (navigator) Interned
AC.1 Peter Bothamley Harris (wireless operator/air gunner, Service Number 537545, aged 20) - killed in action

Sources:

1. "Bomber Command losses, vol 1. Aircraft and Crews lost during 1939-1940", by W R Chorley, ISBN 0-904597-85-7
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1978 p 9)
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/82: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14141904
4. http://www.belgian-wings.be/Webpages/Navigator/Belgian_Aviation_History/interbellum/ThePhoneyWar.htm
5. http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/archive/index.php?t-2670-p-2.html
6. https://www.luchtvaartgeschiedenis.be/content/blenheim-l1410-bij-eynatten
7. https://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1956/1956%20-%200166.PDF
8. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2258816/harris,-peter-bothamley/
9. http://www.rafinfo.org.uk/BCWW2Losses/1939-1940.htm
10. http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/p-b-harris-18-sqn-3-1-1940.36633/
11. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?19446-Blenheim-L1410-18-Sqn-Wednesday-Jan-3rd-1940-Crew
12. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/yorkshire/york43/dt702.html
13. Luftwaffe claim lists by Tony Wood and Jim Perry: http://lesbutler.co.uk/claims/tonywood.htm
14. https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raeren
15. http://www.maplandia.com/belgium/wallonne/liege/hagbenden/

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Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
25-Jan-2011 15:03 ThW Added
26-Jan-2011 02:20 penguin832 Updated [Registration, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
04-Feb-2011 13:33 ThW Updated [Registration]
03-Jan-2012 02:10 Uli Elch Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
07-Jan-2012 06:28 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source]
03-Jun-2013 07:18 Nepa Updated [Operator, Narrative]
04-Aug-2013 21:16 JINX Updated [Operator]
15-Dec-2014 15:06 Jixon Updated [Operator]
08-Jul-2015 19:55 ytarg Updated [Embed code]
08-Jul-2015 19:56 harro Updated [Embed code]
17-Oct-2015 15:07 JINX Updated [Operator]
20-Oct-2015 17:52 Jixn Updated [Operator, Narrative]
03-Jan-2017 17:27 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
06-Oct-2018 06:47 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
05-Jun-2019 23:18 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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