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6 June 2017
Pilot Michael Frank Hall and Crew – 462 Squadron RAAF

 

 

 

 

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

If you can help, please make contact.

 

 

 

Hall and his crew in Halifax II BB417 failed to return from an Op on the night of 11/12 October 1943. All six of the crew were killed. The bodies of the crew were never recovered, so their names are recorded on the Alamein Memorial in Egypt, for those with no known grave.

Captain: Michael Frank HALL 1190798 RAFVR
CWGC online and associated documents record Hall's name as Micheal. It was written as Michael in the letter from the Adjutant 462 Squadron to Hall's father (see later section).

Observer: Frank Richmond Vincent NELLO R/97524 RCAF
Wireless Operator / Air Gunner: Albert GRIFFIN 1379996 RAFVR
Flight Eng: Gordon Frederick William LAWRENCE 1218515 RAFVR
Tail Gunner: Raymond Llewellyn FENNELL 1262360 RAFVR
Bombardier: Sgt J JAMES was this crew's usual Bombardier, however Melbourne Glaister FRASER 1061575 RAFVR was KIA with Crew.
Mid Gunner: Sgt WINDEBANK

Additional Crew Information; some Crew Ops (as yet incomplete);
Details of last Op 11/12 October 1943; and Aircraft Loss.

Information sourced from the 462 Squadron Operational Record Book for 1943 from the National Archives of Australia; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; and the family of R L Fennell, including letters from 462 Sqdn to family of crew members (Thanks go to John Fennell and Avril Browne for scans of photos and letters).
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.

 

Captain

Name: Michael Frank HALL
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1190798
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status:
Date of Death: 12 October 1943
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF

Age at Death: 21
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 269, Alamein Memorial
Son of Neville M and Francis V C Hall (sic)
of Sparkhill, Birmingham
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Observer

Name: Frank Richmond Vincent NELLO
Service: Royal Canadian Air Force
Service Number: R/97524
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Single
Date of Death: 12 October 1943
Rank at Death: Warrant Officer, Class I
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF

Age at Death: 27
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 272, Alamein Memorial
Son of Frank NELLO, and of Jessie Amy NELLO,
of Westview, British Columbia, Canada
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Wireless Operator / Air Gunner

Name: Albert GRIFFIN
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1379996
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Single
Date of Death: 12 October 1943
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF

Age at Death: 22
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 269, Alamein Memorial
Son of Henry George and Beatrice M GRIFFIN,
of Kidderminster, Worcestershire

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Flight Engineer

Name: Gordon Frederick William LAWRENCE
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1218515
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Single
Date of Death: 12 October 1943
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF

Age at Death: 20
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 271, Alamein Memorial
Son of Henry James LAWRENCE and
Alice May LAWRENCE,
of East Dulwich, London
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Flight Sergeant Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, 1262360 RAFVR, of 462 Squadron, KIA 12 October 1943.
Photo from John Fennell.

Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, 1262360 RAFVR
Photo is undated, Air Gunner's brevet can be seen on
his uniform jacket, so his rank is Sgt or F/Sgt.

 

 

Tail Gunner

Name: Raymond Llewellyn FENNELL
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1262360
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Married
Date of Death: 12 October 1943
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF

Age at Death: 30
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 269, Alamein Memorial
Son of Jack and Emily Jane FENNELL;
Husband of Gladys Vera FENNELL,
of New Southgate, Middlesex

 

 

Aircraftman 2 Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, 1262360 RAFVR, in Singapore; later of 462 Squadron, KIA 12 October 1943.

Aircraftman 2 Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, in Singapore.
Photo is not dated.

Why was he in Singapore? Was he in transit to Australia?
Was he in transit or to Africa?

 

Caption Aircraftman 2 Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, 1262360 RAFVR, in Singapore; later of 462 Squadron, KIA 12 October 1943.

Caption on reverse of photo at left, as recorded by him:
"1262360 AC/2 FENNELL.
Unfortunately we are not allowed out like this, must wear tunics. Gets awful hot with tunics & tie. The lucky Australians don't wear either.
Mee-ow! I had written this when in S'pore."

 

Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, 1262360 RAFVR, later of 462 Squadron, with 40 Airmen.

Above: Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, and 40 airmen.

A note beside this photo in a Fennell Family album stated "Ray is in the front row – second from the right. FENNELL is written across his chest." Blue arrow indicates Fennell. Photo is not dated.

"92 Course" (or possibly 9Z or gz for gunners ?) was most likely when Fennell was training as an air gunner – whereabouts as yet unknown. All 41 men are wearing a summer uniform, so probably not in the UK. Only two are wearing jackets (front row, Perrey and Pullen, 6th & 7th from left, and possibly of higher rank), and only three are wearing ties. The corrugated iron wall of the building behind, could indicate Africa, or Australia, or perhaps Singapore?

This photo replaces the previous scan of a copy which was first used on this page on 6 November 2016. This new version is of better quality, so the names of the other men in the photo are now recorded.

Back row, L to R: Bishop, Oldfield, Pearce, Smith K, Edgson, Dolbear, Morris, Boyton, Barefoot.
2nd row from back, L to R: Woodcock, Lucas, Woodbridge, Cameron, Brewster, Pepper, Yates, McLure, Smith, Pleasance, Harper.
2nd row from front, L to R: Stow, Jacobs, Flynn, Holman, Friend, King, Sharpe, Clark, Bolton, Woolbridge.
Front row, L to R: Rodwell, Everett, Blackford, Riles, Howarth, Perrey, Pullen, Luck, Sedman, Fennell, Warner.

John Heggarty, 179888 (previously 1238295), RAFVR, rear gunner in 76 squadron, later Special Duties (RCM) at 462 Squadron, had undertaken air gunnery training somewhere in Rhodesia under the Empire Air Training Scheme (E.A.T.S.). during 1941 (photo in Rhodesia on his page).
Did Fennell also train as an Air Gunner in Rhodesia?

 

 

Sergeant Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, 1262360 RAFVR, later of 462 Squadron, with group of Sergeant Air Gunners.

Above: Sgt Raymond Llewellyn Fennell, and 12 unidentified Sergeant Air Gunners.

A note beside this photo in a Fennell Family album stated "Ray is in the front row – third from the right." Blue arrow indicates Fennell.
No-one else was identified, and the location with a lake or river in the background is not yet known. Photo is not dated.

All 12 men in this photo have Sergeant’s stripes, and a half-wing brevet. On enlargement, these brevets all appear to be AG, and Fennell was an Air Gunner. This photo may therefore be an Air Gunners group at the completion of their training, and after receiving their Air Gunner’s badge and subsequent promotion to Sgt. They may be part of the training group in the previous group photo.

This photo replaces the previous scan of a copy which was first used on this page on 6 November 2016. This new version is of better quality, so the faces of the other men in the photo are now clear.

If anyone recognizes a name or face in either of the two group photos, and can identify locations, please make contact.

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Bombardier
Usual member of Crew, but did not fly on crew's last Op

Name: J James
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve ?
Service Number: not known
Rank: Sergeant
Posting: 462 Squadron RAAF

Possibly "Paddy" James RAF of Belfast, Northern Ireland, later in
a crew with Pilot "Paddy" Kane, of Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland.
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Mid Gunner

Name: B or D WINDEBANK
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve ?
Service Number: not known
Rank: Sergeant
Posting: 462 Squadron RAAF

Ops with this crew from February to May 1943 only, so was not on the crew's last fatal flight on 12 October 1943.

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Bombardier
Substitute, (KIA with Crew)

Name: Melbourne Glaister FRASER
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1061575
Date of Birth: .....
Place of Birth: .....
Date of Enlistment: .....
Locality on Enlistment: .....
Place of Enlistment: .....
Marital Status: Single
Date of Death: 12 October 1943
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron RAAF

Age at Death: 30
Grave reference: No known grave
Memorial: Column 269, Alamein Memorial
Son of John Kilpatrick FRASER and Margaret Glaister FRASER
of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Solicitor (Incorporated Law Society of Northern Ireland).


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Additional Crew Information

Although nominally an Australian Squadron, the original crew of 462 Squadron was made up of British members of the RAFVR (England and from Northern Ireland), and 1 Canadian in the RCAF. The original crew were all Sergeants. By October, and then a crew of 6, there was one Warrant Officer (RCAF), four Flight Sergeants and one Sergeant (all RAFVR). Three were older (two aged 30 and one aged 27), and three were younger (aged 20, 21 and 22).

From the squadron ORB ......
There are some variations in spelling of surnames, and the initials for all those named in this crew; and the name FENNELL was mostly recorded as FENNEL.
No Service Numbers were listed in the Operational Forms 541.
Initials were not always listed, sometimes only rank and surname was recorded.
Postings TO the Squadron only mentioned Officers, so this crew's arrival has not been accurately determined, however it may have been January 1943, as their first Op was in early February.
For the ops from February to mid-May, there were 7 in the crew, which included a Mid-Upper Gunner.
Later ops had sometimes listed fewer than 6 crew members – were the missing names typing omissions?

The RAF AND RCAF Service Files are not as accessible as those for RAAF crewmen, so extra information on this crew is not currently available. However, additional details and photos can be added in the future should anyone like to contribute – if so, please make contact.

Raymond Llewellyn FENNELL – information from his nephew John H C Fennell (Lt Col (Ret'd), Late Royal Engineers).
John started his research into his Uncle's War Service, starting from a photo and an original letter that his father Geoffrey Fennell (RAF Reg't in South Africa) had written home about Raymond. Originally, details on the CWGC site had not only listed Raymond Fennell as serving in an RAAF Squadron (correct), but also that he was a member of the RAAF (incorrect). Successful action was taken by John to have the CWGC record corrected to show the Service Number as RAFVR.
Raymond had died at the age of 30, and was part of a very close family. He was one of five brothers – Jack, Arthur, Geoff (RAF Reg't), Ray (RAFVR), and Bob (RA). Ray was the only brother killed during WW2.
John kindly supplied the portrait photo of Raymond Fennell, as well as the copies of the two group photos (shown in previous section), and copies of two letters about the missing crew (originals not available) – one letter was from the Squadron's Adjutant to Mr Hall (father of Pilot Michael Frank Hall), who had then contacted the the families of the other crew members; and the second letter was from the Squadron's Wing Commander to Raymond Fennell's wife, Gladys (addressed to Mrs R L Fennell). These letters and transcriptions may be read in a later section.
To quote John Fennell ........ "these letters will add to the story of those ordinary blokes caught up in extraordinary events".

After the publication of the copies of the two group photos on 6 November 2016, and viewing of the Hall crew's web page by Fennell family members, the originals of the photos were located. These have now replaced the previous copies, with also an additional photo of AC2 Fennell in Singapore. This raises more questions – why was an AC2 in Singapore? and where did he train as an Air Gunner? Thanks go to John Fennell and Avril Browne for scans of photos and letters.

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Crew Ops

The first record located for the crew was for an Op on the night of 03/04 February 1943, with seven members in the crew, all at the rank of Sergeant. The crew were (no initials, no service numbers, no Air Force listed) ........

Captain Sgt HALL
WOP/AG Sgt GRIFFIN
Observer Sgt NELLO
Bombardier Sgt JAMES
F/Eng Sgt LAWRENCE
Mid Gunner Sgt WINDEBANK
Tail Gunner Sgt FENNEL (sic)

There were at least 22 Ops for the Hall crew in 1943 – four in February, one in March, 2 each in April and May and August, five in September, and six in October, with the October average of an Op every 2 days.
For the Ops from February to May inclusive, there was a crew of seven, which included Mid/Gunner Sgt Windebank.

For each Op in August, September and October, there was a crew of six. Photos of Squadron aircraft in mid/late 1943 showed that there was no mid-upper turret, so a Mid-Upper Gunner was no longer required.
Except except for the last fatal flight, the crew was was usually as listed below, with three promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant.

Pilot F/Sgt M F HALL
Observer Sgt F R V NELLO
B/Aimer Sgt J JAMES
W/OP F/Sgt A GRIFFIN
F/Eng Sgt G F W LAWRENCE
Rear Gunner F/Sgt R L FENNEL (sic)

This crew are not listed in the squadron Ops during June and July of 1943. However checks of the ORB is ongoing, and any extra details will be added at a later date.

Neither James nor Windebank are listed in the CWGC to 31 December 1945, so apparently both survived WW2.
Windebank was not listed in the RAF List of July 1945, so did not receive a Commission. His first name and Service Number are not known.
There are several J James in the same RAF List, so first name, Service Number & any promotions of this Bombardier are not known.

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Details of Op on the night of 11/12 October 1943

Form 540, Summary of Events, Terria, (Libya) 11/12 October 1943 .... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

Eight Halifax II aircraft were detailed to attack MARITZA AERODROME RHODES.
Target identified and the illumination was excellent. One aircraft had to return
early owing to engine trouble. Target was bombed from 8,500/13,500 ft. Bomb bursts
and explosions followed by fire observed in SE dispersal. One dispersed aircraft
believed to be hit. Other bombs seen to burst on N. and S. ends of runway.
Defences encountered – Heavy AA. and Light AA, all inaccurate. Weather and
visibility good, no cloud. One aircraft, (Capt. Sgt Hall M.F.) did not return
from this operation, believed to have crashed in sea. Returning crews reported
seeing fire dying down in sea, thought to be an aircraft.

Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix 'A', October 1943.
12/13 October 1943, detailed to attack Maritza Aerodrome Rhodes (Listed as 1 to 8 as per the sequence in the ORB, summary only).

1. Halifax II BB412 S/Ldr SPV Bird and crew; up 2052; task abandoned owing to Starboard inner engine failure. Bombs jettisoned safe in sea and A/C returned safely to base, landed 0001.

2. Halifax II BB418 Sgt JO Broomfield (RCAF) and crew; up 2040; detailed as flare dropper; target identified and illuminated; aircraft seen on fire in sea & explode; returned safely to base, landed 0525.

3. Halifax II BB419 F/Sgt FH Bright (RAAF) and crew; up 2045; load 10 x 500lb fused bombs and 180 x 4lb incendiaries; bombed and returned safely to base; landed 0450.

4. Halifax II BB415 Sgt SA Heard and crew; up 2052; load 10 x 500lb fused bombs and 180 x 4lb incendiaries; bombed; observed fire at sea at 0219; returned safely to base; landed 0512.

5. Halifax II BB424 S/Ldr WR Kofoed and crew; up 2054; load 10 x 500lb fused bombs and 180 x 4lb incendiaries; bombed; a large red explosion seen in sea, dying out in about 4 minutes; returned safely to base; landed 0441.

6. Halifax II BB416 Sgt H St. Pierre (RCAF) and crew; up 2045; load 2 x 500lb M.C. and 2 x 500lb GP delays, and 180 x 4lb incendiaries; bombed; at 0216 saw what was believed to be aircraft on fire, 2 red glows followed by one only later; returned safely to base; landed 0447.

7. Halifax II BB420 F/O EP Landon and crew; up 2040; detailed as flare dropper; load 2 x 500lb M.C. and 2 x 500lb GP delays and bombs and 180 x 4lb incendiaries; bombed; at 0216 fire seen in distance, SOS picked up relayed from Malta; returned safely to base; landed 0509.

8. Halifax II BB417 F/Sgt MF Hall and crew; detailed as above. (Loss of this Aircraft in next section).

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Aircraft Loss Halifax II BB417

ORB, Form 541, Detail of Work Carried out, Appendix "A", October 1943
11/12th October 1943 ...... (quote, as originally recorded) ...

Aircraft
Halifax II BB417

Crew
F/S Hall MF. Capt.
Sgt Nello FRV. Obs.
F/S Griffin A. Wop.
Sgt Lawrence GFW. F/Eng.

F/S Fennell T/Gnr.
F/S Fraser MG. Bdr.

Terria (Up time not recorded)

Details of Sortie
This aircraft was detailed as above and did
not return believed to have crashed in sea.

(Fraser was substitute Bombardier, replacing the usual Sgt J JAMES.)

 

Below: Letter, undated, from Wing Commander W J Russell, Officer Commanding 462 Squadron,
to Mrs R L Fennell, wife of Rear Gunner Raymond Llewellyn FENNELL

 Letter, undated, from Wing Commander W J Russell, Officer Commanding 462 Squadron, to Mrs R L Fennell, wife of Rear Gunner Raymond Llewellyn FENNELL.

Transcription as follows .......quote, as written, with errors ....

From (sic, TO) Mrs. R.L. Fennell, 40, Brownlow Road, New Southgate, London, N.11

462 Squadron,
Royal Australian Air Force
Middle East.

Dear Mrs Fennell,

Thank you for your letter card dated 22nd October. I am sorry
not to have written to you before, but I was delaying it as long as
possible in the hope that some good news may yet be heard.

Your husband was flying as rear gunner on the night in question
with his usual crew and aircraft. The squadron was detailed for
operation on Rhodes. Everything as far as we know was quite normal,
and the weather good. At about 0230 hours an S.O.S. was received from
the aircraft and its position given. No further signals or messages
were received and the aircraft failed to return to base. Other pilots
on the same raid reported seeing a fire in the sea which they thought
was an aircraft burning and it is possible, though not definite, that
this was the missing aircraft. Air Sea Rescue were standing by to
search at first light and an extensive search was made of the area.
This continued on subsequent days, but nothing was seen or heard.

It looks as though they had trouble necessitating their making
a forced landing in the sea, and it is possible that they got safely
into their dinghy. Their position as far as we know was not very
far from the coast of Crete and we are hoping that they may have been
picked up by local shipping. If this is so, it would be some time
before anything is heard, but we shall continue to hope for the best.

Flight Sergeant Fennell had been with us now for quite some time
and was one of our most reliable air gunners. It was a great loss to
the squadron to lose him and his crew, and we are all fervently hoping
that some good news may yet be heard. You can rely on me letting you
know at once should anything come to light. All the squadron wish to
join me in offering you our deepest sympathy at this sad time.

Yours sincerely,

W. J. RUSSELL, Wing Cmdr.

 

 

Below: Letter dated 2nd November 1943, from Flt/Lt Frank Campbell, Adjutant of 462 Squadron,
to Mr Hall, father of Pilot Michael Frank HALL

Letter dated 2nd November 1943, from Flt/Lt Frank Campbell, Adjutant of 462 Squadron, to Mr Hall, father of Pilot Michael Frank HALL.

Transcription as follows ....... quote, as written, with errors ....

F.H.A.Campbell, ADJUTANT,
No. 462 Squadron,
R.A.F. M.E.
2nd November, 1943.

Dear Mr Hall,

Thank you very much for your letter – yes, all details that
are available about the night your son was missing will be sent to
you. I am delaying all the necessary official action until the
last possible minute in the hope that we may yet hear something
definite: we have had two previous crews who turned up again alive
and well after being reported missing for an incredibly long time
and who had been given up for lost by everyone except their
relations and us here on the squadron – who after all are the only
people who have a deep personal feeling about the loss – and
we are still and will continue to hope for the best. I personally
am convinced that they will turn up. I shall dispose of the
cigarettes are you suggest – we are all busily engaged trying to
get all sorts of supplies of such things for Christmast (sic) – and I
shall use them for that purpose. I hope Michael and his crew are
here to join us, their names and addresses are as follows:-

CAN.R.97524. Sgt. Frank NELLO. 1336, Beach Drive, Victoria, B.C.
Canada. (Unmarried)

1379996. F/Sgt. Albert GRIFFIN. 74, Wood Street, KIDDERMINSTER. (Unmarried)

1218515. Sgt. Gordon LAWRENCE. School House, Salters Hill L.C.C.
School. Gispy Road, W.Nortwood. S.E.27. (Unmarried)

1262360. F/Sgt. Raymond FENNELL. 40, Brownlow Road, New Southgate,
LONDON. N.11. (Married)

1061575. F/Sgt. Melbourne FRESER. 72, Stranmillis Gardens, Belfast.
(Unmarried).

Thank you for your good wishes to the squadron. They are
a grand crowd of fellows and are doing a magnificent job under
difficult and trying conditions.

Finally, apart from all details of the circumstances regarding
the operation from which Michael is missing, and you can rely
on being told everything we get to know ourselves; if there is
anything else I can do or tell you, please write and let me know.

Yours most sincerely,

(Signed) FLT/LT. Frank Campbell.

 

No further mention was made of the Aircraft or crew in the Squadron ORB for October, November or December 1943.

 

As the bodies of the six members of the crew were never recovered, their names are recorded on columns at the Alamein Memorial, for those who have no known grave.

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