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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 213401
Last updated: 2 December 2021
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Date:22-MAY-1940
Time:03:45
Type:Handley Page Hampden Mk I
Owner/operator:144 Squadron Royal Air Force (144 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L4067
MSN: PL-Z
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Berwick Road, Rainham, Essex -   United Kingdom
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:
Narrative:
On May 21, 1940 a mixed force of 124 British bomber aircraft were dispatched to attack German railways leading to the battle front at many places between Monchengladbach and Euskirchen. Five aircraft were lost; three Wellingtons, one Whitley, and a Hampden. The latter aircraft crashed near Hornchurch.

The sole Handley Page Hampden lost from this raid effort was a 144 Squadron machine, L4067, from Hemswell, Lincolnshire. The aircraft with its four crew entered German airspace at an altitude of 6,000 feet and facing deteriorating weather conditions.

The crew consisted of Pilot Officer E Coton, Pilot Officer Jones, Corporal Smith and Sergeant Cyril Shewry. Hit, and seriously damaged by defensive German flak in the Krefeld area, the pilot, Pilot Officer E H Coton, ordered the crew to abandon the Hampden as he struggled to hold it steady in what seemed to be a terminal dive. All three cleared the aircraft and safely landed by parachute in Germany except for Sergeant Cyril Joseph Shewry who was shot on the ground.

At an altitude of 1,000 feet Plot Officer Coton unexpectedly regained control of the Hampden by pushing the throttle through the gate into the emergency position. Aware that the solution was not going to last forever, he pointed in the general direction of England and hoped for the best. It was not long before the engines started to show signs of distress. With Pilot Oficer Coton alone and erroneously believing himself over The Wash, the defences illuminated the Hampden over the Thames Estuary.

Unable to identify himself (the navigator knew the colours of the day code fired by flare, but was being "entertained" in Germany at the time), P/O Coton was fired upon by the British guns. He abandoned the aircraft by parachute.

E H Coton, who was to survive the war, rising to the rank of Wing Commander, after flying with distinction in other bombers, was nearly lynched by an angry mob as he made a poor landing in a ploughed field. At 03.45 the Hampden crashed at Berwick Road, Rainham, Essex

Crew of Hampden L4067:
Pilot Officer E.H. Coton (pilot), bailed out and survived, as per the above
Pilot Officer H.O. Jones; bailed out, survived, captured, taken as PoW. Interned in Camps PoW 9AH/L3, as PoW No.507
Sergeant (Observer) Cyril J. Shewry, RAF 550468, age 21, bailed out, but was killed 22/05/1940, as per the above, buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Corporal W.G. Smith; bailed out, survived, captured, taken as PoW. Interned in PoW Camps 8B/L1/L3/L1, as PoW No.13103.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain 1979 p 23)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/462: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14501992
3. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2041888/shewry,-cyril-joseph/
4. http://www.nwamuseum.co.uk/WESTESSEXcrashesMishaps3WW2.pdf
5. http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/144_squadron.html#212205


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-Jul-2018 23:08 Dr. John Smith Added
17-Oct-2018 05:32 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
27-May-2019 00:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
27-May-2019 00:26 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
29-Jul-2019 00:58 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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