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Mission: Düsseldorf, Germany

Date: 1st August 1942

Unit: No. 25 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Wellington IC

Serial: DV439

Coded: PP- D

Location: Wemeldinge, Zeeland, Netherlands.

Pilot: F/Lt. P.P.L.E. Welch R.A.F. P.O.W. Camp; 04C (Oflag Saalhaus-Colditz) P.O.W. No:610

Fl/Eng: F/Lt. J. Hamilton R.A.F. P.O.W. Camp; L3 (Stalag Luft Sagan and Beleria) P.O.W. No:597

Air/Bmr: Sgt. S. Valensky R.C.A.F. P.O.W. Camp; 344 (Stalag Lamsdorf) P.O.W. No:25682

Air/Gnr: Sgt. D.J. Veasey R.C.A.F. P.O.W. Camp; 344 (Stalag Lamsdorf) P.O.W. No:25142

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Francis Penney R/107561 R.C.A.F. Age. 19 - Killed.


Took off from Finningley, Yorkshire at 23.41hrs to bomb the German city of Düsseldorf. 630 aircraft took part in the operation, a total of 900 tons of explosives were dropped. 15,000 buildings were damaged, a further 453 were destroyed. Very heavy losses by the attacking force with 29 aircraft lost. Wellington DV439 was attacked by German night fighters and crash landed. The claim for this loss was made by a Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer who by the end of the war had a score of 121 kills.

1 Copy of PP-D
August 2
nd 1942, a picture of the aircraft which made a very good landing under the circumstances (Jolie)

2 Copy of Wellington DV439

Schnaufer’s crew combat report:

"Our fighter controller transmitted a number of changes of heading and once again I managed to spot the Tommy as he loomed up off to the right ahead of us. We dove down and underneath him so that he stood out against the sky. Pulling up the nose slightly we thought we recognised a twin-engine Hampden, noted for its so called swallow nests - its feared gun turrets and their powerful defences.

Having manoeuvred into an excellent firing position, Schnaufer had quickly revised his original intention to attack from directly astern foregoing the usual tactic. Raising the nose he let the enemy machine have it from all barrels. Fire took hold so quickly that the bomber crew barely had time to think about defending themselves. Unfortunately our long burst of fire and the resulting dazzling tracer trails were enough for us to briefly lose our night vision and the bomber disappeared from view. We searched in vain for it again. Perhaps he had already gone down? He had certainly been hit with a decent enough salvo. We headed back in a sombre mood. We had no time to be annoyed as the ground station had soon vectored us onto another contact. It was a few days later that we were informed that we would be credited for this aircraft as we had misidentified it, eye witness statements confirm the kills as did the crew themselves."

3 Rumpelhardt, Schnaufer, Ganzler
Left to right: Lt Rumpelhardt, Hptm Schnaufer and Ofw Gänzler

4 Combat Report Schnaufer
Combat Report Schnaufer, dated 2
nd August 1942 (Jolie)

5 Combat report Rumpelhardt
Combat report of Lt Rumpelhardt dated 02.08.1942 (Jolie)

Burial detail:
William Francis Penney


Grave Ref. 5. H. 9.

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless with special thanks to Jan Jolie, Netherlands for contributing photos for use in this page of remembrance, August 2013
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