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Mission: Gardening off the Danish island of Als.

Date: 23-24th April 1944.

Unit: No.77 Squadron R.A.F.

Type: Halifax V.

Serial No: LL235.

Coded: KN-L

Location: 15 km NNE of Sonderborg off the Danish island of Als, Denmark.

Pilot: F/Lt Edward Noel Thompson DFC 54128 R.A.F. – Killed.

Flt/Eng: Sgt John Armstrong 953912 R.A.F.V.R. – Missing.

Nav: F/O Gerald McClelland DFM 160597 R.A.F.V.R. – Killed.

A/Bmr: F/O Alfred Edward Robbins DFC 144544 R.A.F.V.R. – Missing.

W/Op: F/Sgt Fredrick Walter Harvey 1330253 R.A.F.V.R. – Killed.

R/Gnr: Sgt D M M Harris R.A.F.V.R. – P.O.W.

Mu/Gnr: Sgt Roy Redall 1218557 R.A.F.V.R. – Killed.


1 Sea mines wait to be loaded aboard a Halifax V Series IA   of No 77 - Copy
Sea mines wait to be loaded aboard a Halifax V of 77 Squadron (IWM)

Took-off at 2100 hrs from RAF Elvington for Baltic Gardening duties. Shot down by a Me110 from NJG3, over Northern Als. Above the village of Svenstrup an explosion occurred in the aircraft and it crashed into the sea at Karlsminde, about 200 meters off shore and 500 meters northwest of the lighthouse at Tranerodde. The gunner Sgt D.M.M. Harris was very lucky. He was saved by a local fisherman, Chr. Hanson and two other eye witnesses, after having spent more than half an hour in the cold water. An ambulance was taking Sgt. Harris to Sonderborg hospital, but the Germans stopped the vehicle and took him to the barracks in Sonderborg. He was later sent to the prison camp Stalag Luft VI at Heydekrug, Germany.

The body of the pilot, F/Lt Thompson was found on the 27th April, in the water at the wreck of the aircraft. The body of Sgt. Roy Redall was found on the 31st May on the beach at Himmark. Both airmen were buried in Aabenraa cemetery.

The Navigator B/A P/O Gerald McClelland was washed ashore near Assens on the other side of the straight. He was buried in Assens. The W/Op Flt/Sgt Harvey was washed ashore near Faaborg and buried there. The Flt/Eng Sgt Armstrong was never found. The A/Bmr F/O Robbins was not officially found as his identification may have been removed, but a body was washed ashore near Havnbjerg Forrest and buried in Aabenraa cemetery as ‘Unknown’. This may have been F/O Robbins.

Parts from the aircraft wreck, including mines were removed soon after the crash, but many parts still lay on the sea bed. A propeller was retrieved from the wreck in 1972 by sports divers and is now preserved.

2a  Grave of  FltLt Thompson.cc2b Memorial stone to the crew, near the crash site.
cccccccccGrave of Flt/Lt Thompson.ccccccccccccccccccccccccccc Memorial stone to the crew near the crash site.

Flt. Lt Edward Noel Thompson (568955), (History, by Steve Passfield)
Edward Thompson, ‘Ned’ to his friends, joined the RAF in January 1936 as ground crew. The following details are from his RAF Flying Log Books 1 & 2. Which are in the care of his great nephew, along with his D.F.C.

1st June 1941 transferred to Booker (EFTS) to train as a pilot and there trained on Tiger Moths, under the supervision of Sgt Sproxton.
September 1941 to Brize Norton training on Oxfords with No. 2. F.T.S.
October transferred to Bobbington No. 3. ADNS and trained on the Anson. He then passed through Ossington and Wigtown.
May 1943, to Lossiemouth No. 20 O.T.U. training on Wellingtons. By now he had 584 hours and was transferred to No.1652 Conversion Unit at Marston Moor, where he became familiar with the Halifax, before joining 77 Squadron.
September 21st 1943, Halifax. His first raid as No1 pilot was Hanover.
October 22nd, 1943, Halifax. On a raid to Kassel, returned with flak damage.
Flew on raids to Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Stuttgart in November /December 1943.
January 14th 1944 bombing raid Berlin, lost starboard inner engine over target, hit by Ju88.
February 1944 commenced Mining Ops and on the 25th was again holed by Flak.
March 1st to 7th, bombing raids over France including Meulan, Trappes and Le Mans.
13th March 1944, Mining Op. Direct hit on nose by L/Flak. B/n killed. Nav. Injured. W/O/P hit by machine gun fire. Flew the damaged Halifax back and landed at Ford Aerodrome.

For this he was award the DFC, citation entered in the Fourth Supplement to the London Gazette. Tuesday 4th April 1944.

Distinguished Flying Cross

Acting Flight Lieutenant Edward Noel Thompson, RAF. April 1944.
This officer was the pilot of an aircraft detailed for a mine laying operation one night in March 1944. Whilst over the target area the aircraft came under heavy fire from the batteries on each side of the shore. F/Lt Thompson maneuvered with much skill but eventually the aircraft was heavily hit. The nose of the aircraft was badly damaged and windscreen of the pilot’s cockpit was shattered. One crew member was killed and two seriously wounded. Never the less Fl/Lt Thompson released his mines and then set course for this country. Although deprived of his navigator who was too badly hurt to fulfill his duties, F/Lt flew the damaged aircraft to a home based airfield. In very trying circumstances this officer displayed skill, Courage and determination worthy of the highest praise.
20th March 1944 New crew formed. Air test at Butterworth.
April 18 1944 Mining ops
April 20
1944 Ops Ottignies
April 22
1944 Ops Laon
April 23 1944 Mining (missing)
His family received a telegram reporting him missing on 25th April 1944.
His body was found near the wreckage on and he was buried on the 1st May at Aabenraa.
A memorial stone was unveiled on April 2005, 150m northwest of Karlsmindevej 21, DK-6420,Nordborg., approximately 200 metres from the crash site.

Compiled by David King
The British Library is preserving this site for the future in the UK Web Archive at All Aircrew Remembered on our Remembrance pages, are therefor not just remembered here, but also subsequently remembered and recorded as part of our nation’s history
and heritage at The British Library.