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6 November 2018
Pilot Humphrey Ralph Green and Crew – 462 Squadron RAAF Middle East

 

 

 

 

Wanted: Photo of Crew, or individuals,
and information about them.

If you can help, please make contact.

 

 

Green and his crew in Halifax II DT495 D failed to return from an Op on the night of 08/09 February 1943. As they had no known graves, all seven of the crew are commemorated on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt.

Captain: Humphrey Ralph GREEN
Flight Eng: Michael Denis McHALE
Wireless Operator: William Sutherland MURRAY
Observer/Navigator: George Henry HALE
Mid-Upper Gunner: Donald McCARDLE
Tail Gunner: Thomas Edward MACKRILL
Bombardier: Henry Nicholson BALMFORTH

Enlistment details; Additional Crew Information; the Crew Ops;
Details of last Op 08/09 February 1943;
and Aircraft Loss and Luftwaffe Fighter claim.

Information sourced from: 462 Squadron Operational Record Book (ORB) for 1943 from the National Archives of Australia (NAA);
Commonwealth War Graves Commission;
the George Henry HALE Archives. with thanks to his son Kenneth HALE;
reference was also made to "To See the Dawn Again" by Mark Lax & Leon Kane-Maguire (details in Acknowledgements );
internet sites as referenced in the following text.
Terminology in the October 1943 ORB for 462 Squadron differs from later usage e.g. Observer/Navigator; Bombardier/Air Bomber/Bomb Aimer; Tail/Rear Gunner.

 

Pilot

Name: Humphrey Ralph GREEN
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1381429
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment info
Next of Kin: Ernest Ralph GREEN
Date of Death: 09 February 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 22
Grave reference: No known grave
Commemorated at Alamein Memorial, Egypt, Column 270

Son of Ernest Ralph and Annie GREEN,
of Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales.
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Flight Engineer

Name: Michael Denis McHALE
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1087959
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment info
Next of Kin: G J McHALE
Date of Death: 09 February 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 29
Grave reference: No known grave
Commemorated at Alamein Memorial, Egypt, Column 271

Son of Lilian McHALE;
Husband of Gwyneth Joan McHALE, of Tooting, Surrey, England.
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Wireless Operator

Name: William Sutherland MURRAY
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 987911
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment info
Next of Kin: W. MURRAY
Date of Death: 09 February 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 28
Grave reference: No known grave
Commemorated at Alamein Memorial, Egypt, Column 271

Son of William and Margaret MURRAY, Glasgow, Scotland.
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Observer / Navigator

Name: George Henry HALE
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1318812
Date of Birth: 19 February 1911
Place of Birth: Paddington London
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment info
Next of Kin: D. HALE
Date of Death: 09 February 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 32
Grave reference: No known grave
Commemorated at Alamein Memorial, Egypt, Column 270

Husband of D. HALE, of Willesden, Middlesex, England,
and father of Kenneth Hale.

 

Sergeant George Henry Hale, 1318812 RAFVR, of 462 Squadron, on 08 January 1943, Tripoli.

Above: Sergeant George Henry HALE, on 08 January 1943, exactly one month before he was killed in action. His Sergeant stripes, and Observer badge are visible. The photo was taken at Tripoli, North Africa (so presumably Libya). His Operational duties in 462 Squadron commenced as Observer in the Crew's first Op on 31 January 1943.

 

Observer George Henry Hale, 1318812 RAFVR, in flying suit, 462 Squadron.

Above: George Henry HALE, in his flying suit. No badges of rank are visible. The photo was undated, and the location is not yet known. Due to the amount of plant life in the background, it may be somewhere in England during training.
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Mid-Upper Gunner

Name: Donald McCARDLE
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1425873
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment info
Next of Kin: J McCARDLE
Date of Death: 09 February 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 20
Grave reference: No known grave
Commemorated at Alamein Memorial, Egypt, Column 271

Son of John McCARDLE,
and of Edna McCARDLE, of Whitefield, Lancashire, England.
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Tail / Rear Gunner

Name: Thomas Edward MACKRILL
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 944296
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment info
Next of Kin: M MACKRIILL
Date of Death: 09 February 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: 24
Grave reference: No known grave
Commemorated at Alamein Memorial, Egypt, Column 271

Son of James and Ada MACKRILL,
Husband of Marie MACKRILL, of Charlestown, Yorkshire.
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Bombardier / Bomb Aimer

Name: Henry Nicholson BALMFORTH
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1434390
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment Info
Place of Enlistment: ..... *** see later Enlistment info
Next of Kin:
Date of Death: 09 February 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron, Middle East Command

Age at Death: ....
Grave reference: No known grave
Commemorated at Alamein Memorial, Egypt, Column 270

Son of Thomas Henry and Ivy BALMFORTH,
of Stanley, Yorkshire, England.
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*** Enlistment Details

From the website http://www.ab-ix.co.uk/rfc_raf.pdf which details RFC and RAF Service Numbers: .....

No. 1375001 to No. 1400000 were allocated from August 1940 at Euston. This batch includes 1381429 for Green.

No. 1311745 to No. 1325000 were allocated from November 1940 at Oxford. This batch includes 1318812 for Hale.

No. 965000 to No. 1149977 were allocated from September 1939 at Padgate. This batch includes 987911 for Murray, and 1087959 for McHale.

No. 1425001 to No. 1474999 were allocated from April 1941 at Cardington. This batch includes 1425873 for McCardle, and 1434390 for Balmforth.

No. 935000 to No. 964999 were allocated from September 1939 at Cardington. This batch includes 944296 for Mackrill.
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Additional Crew Information

462 Squadron arrived at Solluch No. 1 on 24 February 1943 (the air party) and 25 February 1943 (the road convoy). Ops scheduled for 26, 27 and 28 February were cancelled due to unfavourable weather conditions.

The crew were posted to 462 Squadron at Solluch No. 1 in Cyrenaica (= Suluq, Libya) sometime during January 1943.
All seven in the crew were at the rank of Sergeant, so as NCOs, they were not listed in the Postings TO the Squadron.
As an all-Sergeant crew, they may have been posted from a Heavy Conversion Unit, soon after completing training.

Crew arrival forms have not been located for this crew, and with RAF Service Files difficult to access, their individual prior RAF service histories are not known.

From the 462 Squadron ORB, Flight Engineer McHale carried out his first Op with the Knight crew on 29 January 1943, substituting for their usual F/Eng Bennett.

Commencing on 31 January 1943, the Green Crew flew 4 Ops together, with McHale's Ops total being 5. The Crew Ops are listed in the following section.

Observer George Henry Hale was the oldest of the crew at age 32, and was married with one son. Sadly George lost his life 10 days before his birthday. Some time in 1943, his wife and child were evacuated from their home in London to the village of Stanley, in Yorkshire, staying there for 3 years. They were not aware at the time that another member of the crew, Bomb Aimer Henry Nicholson Balmforth (single, age not known) was also from Stanley, Yorkshire. Hale's wife and child, and Balmforth's parents may have crossed paths in the village, without knowing they each shared the loss of a loved one from the same crew. Hale's wife is deceased, but his son Ken and family have contributed photos and information for this crew page.

F/Eng McHale was aged 28 and also married. He may have had a child, as a Wendy McHale has been in contact with another researcher of this same crew. Rear Gunner Mackrill was aged 24 and also married.

WOp Murray was 28 and single, Pilot Green was 22 and single, and MU/AG McCardle was the youngest at 20, also single.

They were an all-British crew, all RAF Volunteer Reserve, in what was nominally an RAAF Squadron. Pilot Green was Welsh, Murray was Scottish, and the other five were English.

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Crew Ops at 462 Squadron, Solluch No. 1, Cyrenaica – transcribed from the 462 Squadron Operational Record Book, January and February 1943, Forms 541 Detail of Work Carried Out; and Forms 540 Summary of Events. Some of the pages are badly faded, or are very poor quality carbon copies (some 1943 originals had been created using very worn carbon paper), so some words are almost illegible.
My apologies for any transcriptions errors.

Pilot Green and his usual crew – 4 Ops, all in Halifax DT495 D. Green did not carry out any Ops as 2nd Pilot.

 

Date Op No A/C Serial Code Z5- Up Down Target Op Type Comments
31/01/1943 1 DT495 D 1652 2359 Rail Ferry Terminus, Messina, Sicily Bombing

From Solluch No. 1;
Due to 10/10th cloud cover, target was hard to find, found gap in clouds and got below and identified target;
bombed target from below cloud; returned safely to base.
1 of 7 aircraft detailed.

03/02/1943 2 DT495 D 1922 0250 Palermo Harbour shipping, Sicily; Bombing

From Solluch No. 1;
flares had died before aircraft reached target, but town was identified and bombs aimed at estimated position of harbour; heavy flak moderate; light flak intense; many searchlights; returned safely to base.
1 of 7 aircraft detailed.

05/02/1943 3 DT495 D 1747 0146 Palermo Harbour shipping, Sicily Bombing

From Solluch No. 1;
bombed target from 12,000 ft; 1 x 1000 lb bomb hung-up and was brought back; heavy flak; icing at 5,000 ft;
returned safely to base.
1 of 9 aircraft detailed.

08/02/1943 4 DT495 D 1754 Failed to return Palermo Harbour Shipping, Sicily Bombing

From From Solluch No. 1;
failed to return, all missing;
1 of 6 aircraft detailed.

Listed below is the earlier Op carried out by F/Eng McHale with the Bennett crew, bringing McHale's Op tally to 5.
29/01/1943 1 W7868 ?
or
W7956 ?
Y ?
or
V ?
0107 0759 Rail Ferry Terminus, Messina, Sicily Bombing

From Solluch No. 1;
Bombed target, heavy flak but not intense or accurate;
returned safely to base.
1 of 6 aircraft detailed.

 

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Details of this crew's last Op on the night of 08/09 February 1943 – 6 Aircraft were detailed

Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Solluch No. 1, Appendix 'A', February 1943, page 5 and reverse side of page 5.
08/09 February 1943, detailed to attack Shipping in Palermo Harbour, Sicily (crews listed as 1 to 6 as per the sequence in the ORB; summary only; the aircraft serial numbers and letter codes have not been included, as they are almost illegible).

1. Kofoed and crew; up 1735, down 0207(?); bombed target; explosion in flare chute, W/Op injured; weather icing over target
2. Spencer and crew; up 1743, down 0133; bombed target; weather icing and static electricity
3. Hall and crew; up 1738, down 2145; abandoned due to heavy icing; bombs jettisoned in sea
4. Earl and crew; up 1745, down 2350; abandoned primary target due to trouble with oil pressure of both outer engines; bombs dropped on first suitable target
5. Green and Crew; up 1754, Failed to Return and listed as Missing
6. Buskell and Crew; up 1757, down 0006; failed to reach target due to very severe icing; looked for alternate target while returning to base; located searchlights and aimed bombs there

Details for Green and crew, Form 541, February 1943, reverse side of page 5 .... (quote, as originally recorded)

1943, Feb 8/9 Halifax II "D" DT495
(Crew of seven listed by rank, initials, surnames and duty)
from Solluch No. 1; up at 1754
This aircraft was detailed to attack shipping in
Palermo Harbour, but nothing was heard of it
after it took off – Missing.

Form 540, Summary of Events, Solluch No. 1, pages 1 and 2, 08 February 1943 .... (quote, as originally recorded)

Six Halifax II aircraft were air tested.
Six Halifax II aircraft were detailed to attack shipping in Palermo Harbour. An
alternate target of Train Ferry Terminus at Messina was given. Two aircraft reached
the target area and attacked from heights of 17,000 ft and 7,500 ft. One of these
two aircraft saw bomb bursts South of the town. No other results were observed owing to cloud. Whilst over the target a photo flash exploded in the flare chute of one
aircraft, blowing out rear bulkhead cover, tearing out chute and loosening flooring.
The wireless Operator (F/Sgt. J. R. Angus) sustained injuries to his feet in
endeavouring to eject the flash and his action undoubtedly minimised the effect of
the explosion. Of the remaining 4 aircraft, one had to jettison its bombs in the
sea and return to base owing to severe icing, the second reached a point 50 miles
S. E. of the Target but owing to severe icing had to abandon the task. The third had
to abandon the task owing to engine trouble and attacked AUGUSTA docks were bursts
were seen in the dock area. No news has been received of the fourth aircraft.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records the date of death of all members of this crew as 09 February 1943. If the following Luftwaffe Fighter claim was correct with the time, their deaths occurred on 08 February 1943.

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Luftwaffe Fighter claim and Aircraft loss location

The following Luftwaffe Claim was located after some details were received from Ken Hale. (Translations in italics)
Date: 08 Feb 1943
Rank: Hptm. Dr. (Captain, Doctor)
First Name: Horst
Last Name: PATUSCHKA
Staffel: Stab II. (Staffel = Squadron; Stab = Headquarters)
Unit: NJG 2 (Nachtjagdgeschwader = Night Fighter)
Aircraft: Halifax
Place: 576 6L1/03 Ost: 3800m [MTO] (Ost = East; 3800m = height; MTO = Mediterranean Theatre of Operations)
Time: 2130 hours

A second aircraft was also claimed by this pilot on this night, 43 minutes later at 2213 hours – Wellington, 562 1L3: 1500m [MTO]
Information on Horst PATUSCHKA may be found on many internet sites by searching for his name.
In February 1943, the Luftwaffe Night Fighter Squadron II / NJG 2 was based in Comiso, south eastern end of Sicily (see Map 3 below).

A list of Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims are listed on several Internet sites, including –
Aircrew Remembered (Luftwaffe Victories by name and date)
Jan J. Safarik: Air Aces (Luftwaffe Wartime Aerial Victory Credits)
Also book "Luftwaffe Night Fighter Combat Claims 1939-1945" by John Foreman, Simon W Parry and Johannes Matthews.

The Luftwaffe Map Reference System (Gradnetz of Gradnetzmeldeverfahren) may also be seen on several internet sites, including
Eagles over Norway (The Luftwaffe Map Reference System)
Aircrew Remembered (Luftwaffe Grid Reference System for Action Location). At the end of that web page, there is a link to "Luftwaffe grid conversion tool", which goes to the Jan J. Safarik site. There is also an email listed below the Conversion Tool, for contact, comments and questions.

After having filling out the claim "57661" and location "03 Ost" in the Conversion Tool – it appeared that the Luftwaffe Claim and Halifax loss was in a position on land west-south-west of Tunis in Tunisia – see Map 1 below. This did not make sense as it was the opposite direction to the expected flight path of the 462 Squadron Halifax, and too far west from Solluch No. 1 base (even allowing for a dog-leg course), and also too far from the Luftwaffe base on Sicily.

Assistance was sought and received from Andrey Sadchikov, via the Conversion Tool email address.
Andrey's quoted reference source was –
"The list of German’s claims on 08/02/1943 (from O.K.L. Fighter Claims Chef für Ausz. und Dizsiplin Luftwaffen-Personalamt L.P. [A] V Films & Supplementary Claims from Lists Reich & Western Front 1943)"
The Halifax claim details are as listed above, with the original reference "Film C. 2027/I Anerk: Nr.11"
The Wellington details with the original reference "Film C. 2027/I Anerk: Nr.12"
Andrey agreed that there appeared to be an error in the "location" as recorded (either initially by Patuschka, or in later transcriptions to permanent records).

A second conversion was then carried out, using the claim "57661" and location "13 Ost" in the Conversion Tool. This gave the site for a Fighter Bomber interception, south east of Sicily, and on the more logical Halifax route back to Solluch – see Map 2 below.
Using the same method, the Wellington loss, which occurred just 43 minutes later, gave a location close to the Halifax loss – see Map 3.

Taking into account the distance involved, the time span, and fuel supply, the Luftwaffe Fighter aircraft could not have travelled from Comiso in the south east of Sicily to the "03 Ost" location in Tunisia, and returned in time to claim a second aircraft south east of Sicily.

The conclusion is that the the correct location should be 576 6L1/13 Ost: 3800m [MTO] which is the same latitude, but exactly 10 degrees different in Longitude, so 10 degrees east of the O3 Ost location.
In support of this conclusion – other Fighter Pilots from II / NJG 2 from Comiso also made claims in early 1943, and some of their claims were recorded as "13 Ost".

 

Horst PATUSCHKA Luftwaffe night fighter claim, Halifax, 08 February 1943 (03 OST)

Map 1: Horst PATUSCHKA Luftwaffe claim, original record
Halifax at 2130 hours 08 Feb 1943 – 576 6L1/03 Ost
Latitude: 36.395833 N (or 36° 23' 45" N)
Longitude: 5.875000 E (or 5° 52' 30" E)
Position of Red Marker, over land west-south-west of Tunis.
This site would probably have resulted in visible aircraft wreckage.
The Target of Palermo, Sicily is at the top right of map.

 

Horst PATUSCHKA Luftwaffe night fighter claim, Halifax, 08 February 1943 (corrected to 13 OST)

Map 2: Horst PATUSCHKA Luftwaffe claim, corrected
Halifax at 2130 hours 08 Feb 1943 – 576 6L1/13 Ost
Latitude: 36.395833 N (or 36° 23' 45" N)
Longitude: 15.875000 E (or 15° 52' 30" E)
Position of Red Marker, off the south-east coast of Sicily.
This site over the sea would have no visible wreckage, and no known graves for the crew.

 

Horst PATUSCHKA Luftwaffe night fighter claim, Halifax and Wellington, 08 February 1943 (13 Ost)

Map 3: Horst PATUSCHKA Luftwaffe claim, corrected for Halifax, off the south-east coast of Sicily
576 6L1/13 Ost (Halifax)
Latitude: 36.395833 N (or 36° 23' 45" N)
Longitude: 15.875000 E (or 15° 52' 30" E)
Position of yellow pin, named "1st Victory" for Halifax DT495 D, on 08 Feb 1943 at 2130 hours
Position of yellow pin, named "2nd Victory" Wellington 08 Feb 1943 at 2213 hours 562 1L3/ (13 Ost inferred)

Palermo, on the north coast of Sicily, was the Target for the Halifax of 462 Squadron.
Comiso, near the southern coast of Sicily, was the base for Luftwaffe Night Fighter Squadron II / NJG 2.
Solluch, about 36 miles (58 km) south of Benghazi, Cyrenaica (Libya) was the location for 462 Squadron at that date.
In the absence of any original flight plans for the Op of 08 February 1943, the yellow line from Benghazi to Palermo gives a "direct" flight path.
All six of the 462 Squadron on Ops that night departed between 1735 and 1757 hours.
The two which bombed Palermo returned/landed between 0133 and 0207, giving a total flight time of about 7.5 to 8.5 hours.
It is not known if Pilot Green and crew actually reached and bombed Palermo.
The Luftwaffe claim at 2130 hours is 3 hours 36 minutes after Halifax DT495 took-off from Solluch at 1754 hours.

Was the Halifax intercepted after the crew had bombed Palermo, and were on the return flight to Solluch?
Or on the way to the Target?
The answer may never be known.

Thanks are extended to Andrey Sadchikov for email discussions, and for supplying Maps 2 and 3.

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