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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 212915
Last updated: 29 November 2021
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Date:12-APR-1940
Time:14:20 LT
Type:Handley Page Hampden Mk I
Owner/operator:50 Squadron Royal Air Force (50 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L4064
MSN: VN-B
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:North Sea, 120 miles East of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland -   United Kingdom
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Narrative:
Handley Page Hampden Mk.I L4064 (VN-B) 50 Squadron, RAF Waddington: Lost on combat operations 12/4/1940 along with all four crew on board. On the morning of the 12/4/40 an ambitious and hazardous day-light mission to attack shipping in the Lister Fjord, Norway was launched, with 50 Squadron contributing five Hampden’s and 44 Squadron contributing seven Hampden aircraft.

The Primary target was enemy warships off the Norwegian coast around the Lister Fjord; secondary target was to attack warships in Kristiansand harbour. The attacking force was divided into four flights as seen before in the Bergen mission three days ago. 50 Squadron made up No. 3 and No. 4 Sections, while 44 Squadron made up No.1 and No.2 Sections. The flight across the North Sea was made at around 300 Feet due to low cloud; this time the crews were determined not to lose contact with each other.

In a feat of remarkable Navigation the formation entered clearer weather a few miles from the Norwegian Coast almost exactly on target at Lister Fjord. However as cloud was considered too low for safe bombing by the formation leader, the formation turned south and followed the coastline making for Kristiansand harbour. Climbing to 8,000 feet two cruisers and other shipping were spotted in the harbour. Approaching in line astern from inland the formation attacked the two cruisers. All aircraft were loaded with four 500 lb General Purpose bombs internally. It is believed that all twelve aircraft dropped their bombs but no hits were reported. Anti-Aircraft Fire was reported as ‘intense’.

The leader dived to sea level at full speed for the escape with the formation following. Two aircraft of No. 4 Section were reported as being seen going down into the sea in flames (L4073 and L4083)

Immediately after the get-away the formation was set-upon by enemy fighters (believed to be Messerschmitt Bf.109E’s of II/JG.77) and one further (in fact the final) aircraft of No.4 Section, L4081 was seen to crash in flames. Two further aircraft were reported to have been shot-down (thought to be the two 44 Squadron machines). The Hampden’s gunners shot down two enemy aircraft and crippled a third in response.

All but two Hampden’s received damage of varying degrees. The combat lasted for 25 minutes after which the formation of seven remaining aircraft set course for base. Of these seven, only five made it to Base. One aircraft force-landed at Acklington while L4064, escorted by L4168 (Sqn Ldr. D.C.F.Good) ditched into the sea 120 miles East of Newcastle having run out of fuel at around 14.20 hours. L4168 circled the stricken aircraft sending an S.O.S message; the crew were seen to escape the downed aircraft and get into the dinghy. None of the surviving crew was injured.

Hampden’s L4081, L4099, L4064, L4083 and L4073 failed to return from Southern Norway (together with other aircraft from No. 44 Squadron). Crew of Hampden L4064:

40599 Pilot Officer John Bartlett Bull RAF,
623895 Corporal George Fawcett RAF,
580494 Sgt.William Stuart Nevinson RAF and
40848 Pilot Officer Alonzo Derek Pilcher RAF,

All four crew were K.I.A. Believed to have ditched 120 miles East of Newcastle with 3 crew taking to the dinghy; however a search found no trace of the dinghy or its occupants. Sgt. Nevinson is buried in grave 4.D.6, KIEL WAR CEMETERY, Schleswig-Holstein (presumably body washed up at a later date ). His three colleagues have never been found and are commemorated at Runnymede.

Hampden L4062 was built to contract 549267/36 by Handley Page Ltd. at Cricklewood and was awaiting collection in September 1938. After a period of MU storage it was taken on charge by 50 Squadron at Waddington in December 1938 when the unit began converting from Hawker Hind's to Hampden Mk I's. It was delivered to 50 Squadron on 9/12/1938, which meant that it was either the first or second Hampden to be delivered to the Squadron (sources vary as to whether L4062 or L4064 was 50 Squadron's first Hampden)

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978 p 23)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) Filr AIR 81/125: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14141960
3. http://www.no-50-and-no-61-squadrons-association.co.uk/app/download/5802508903/50+SQUADRON+ORB+1939+1943+Revision+1.pdf
4. https://www.backtonormandy.org/the-history/air-force-operations/airplanes-allies-and-axis-lost/hampden/25716-L40641940-04-11.html
5. http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/ww2/view.php?uid=205235
6. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1530792/bull,-john-bartlett/
7. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1269867/fawcett,-george/
8. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2356677/nevinson,-william-stuart/
9. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1804372/pilcher,-alonzo-derek/
10. http://ww2talk.com/index.php?threads/in-memoriam-those-air-force-pilots-crews-who-died-on-this-day-in-ww2.18267/page-28


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
05-Jul-2018 20:04 Dr. John Smith Added
07-Jul-2018 21:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
07-Jul-2018 22:09 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Narrative]
12-Nov-2018 09:23 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
07-Jun-2019 19:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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