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Tempsford Special Duties - Losses of Aircraft

RAF Tempsford operational losses, World War Two, 1939-1945

The RAF station at Tempsford, Bedfordshire, is just a few miles from my home at Potton. Little remains at the site except for a museum, which is well worth a visit. Go to the site Tempsford Museum for opening times and details. Also visit the RAF Tempsford site for loads of information and stories.

The airfield occupied fields between what is now the A1, the Great North Road, and the ridge at Tetworth Hill. It's coordinates are 52°09'31N and 000°15'49W if you want to find it on the maps, although little can be discerned of the airfield itself.

The airfield was the source of many Special Duties Operations, primarily by 138 and 161 squadrons. Famously, the Special Operations Executive agent Violette Szabo was transferred to occupied Europe from Tempsford for the first of her two missions, before being transferred from RAF Harrington for her final and tragic mission.

During the war, many squadrons operated out of the station:
No. 109 Squadron RAF (1942) - Vickers Wellington I
No. 138 Squadron RAF (1942-1944) - Handley Page Halifax II and V
No. 149 Squadron RAF (1943-1944) - Short Stirling III and IV
No. 161 Squadron RAF (1942-1945) - Whitley V, Westland Lysander III, Hudson I, Havoc I and III
No. 426 Squadron RCAF (1945) - Consolidated Liberator VIII
No. 617 Squadron RAF detachment (1945) - Avro Lancaster I & III

There is a superb web-site dedicated to Tempsford which details its history. Click the link to go to it: www.harringtonmuseum.org.uk/tempsford-airfield/.

There were a number of accidents involving the Aircraft operating out of Tempsford that I have included as separate pages in this web site. A great many were also sadly lost whilst on operations. Rather than make each of these losses a separate web page, I have listed each on this page with the reference page number in the Aircraft lost on Allied Force's Special Duty Operations & Associated Roll of Honour. If I have transcribed the crew list, I will display the names of the crew instead of the document page number. The previous link will take you to a PDF of the records, you must then scroll down to the relevant page number. In many cases there is a significant amount of interesting data, usually at least the squadron, Aircraft type and designation, crew list, and details of the operation and the loss where known, which it often is. Unfortunately, the link to the site in the table below, even those in column headed "page #", only take you to page 1 of the PDF, you have to scroll down to the page you want. Alternatively, you could save the PDF to your hard drive, then open it in Adobe Acrobat and use the built-in PDF page finder.

The National Archives at Kew have accident reports for two aircraft that crashed on operations from RAF Tempsford - Wellington R1450 and Harvard KF231. I have included these aircraft even though they do not appear in the Tempsford Squadron Operations Record Book. It will be interesting to see why these particular reports should be stored in the Archives.


The pain has stopped, for I am dead, my time on Earth is done,
But in a hundred years from now, I'll still be twenty-one.

My brief sweet life is over, my eyes no longer see,
No summer walks - no Christmas Trees - no pretty girls for me.

I've got the chop, I've had it, my nightly ops are done,
Yet, in another hundred years, I'll still be twenty-one.

R W Gilbert, Mid Upper Gunner, RAF

DatePlane TypeSquadronSerial #ID CodeCrew List/Page #MissionExternal LinkComment (see also aircraft serial number links)
28/03/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFT4166NF-BF/Sgt John Thompson RAFVR - Pilot - killed
P/O Stanley Widdup RAFVR - 2 Pilot - killed
Sgt William Charles Evans RAF- Dispatcher - killed
P/O Robert William Franklin RAFVR - Navigator - killed
Sgt Kenneth Hailstone RAF AAF - Wireless Op - killed
Sgt George Robert Wood RAFVR - Gunner - killed.
WATERCRESS/CATARRHAircraft crashed into sea 00.15 hrs at Den Helder, South of Texel, Holland about 200 - 500 metres offshore between Petten and Callantsoog
21/04/1942Halifax Mk II138 RAFV9976F/O Ryszard Zygmuntowicz, PAF - Pilot - killed
W/C Walter Ronald (Wally) Farley, DFC, RAF - 2nd Pilot - killed
F/O James Ansford Pulton RAFVR (161 Sqdn) - Gunner - killed
Sgt Czeslaw Madracki PAF - Navigator (Flt Engineer?) - killed
F/Sgt Bronislaw Karbowski PAF - Rear Gunner - killed
F/Lt Antoni Henryk Voellnagel PAF - Flight Engineer (Navigator?) - killed
Sgt Leon Wilmanski PAF - Air Bomber (W/Op?) - killed
Sgt Mieczyslav Wojciechowski PAF - Wireless Op (Gunner?) - killed
Peter Starisky (Peter Schuulmburg) NKVD agent - killed
Sevolod (Visevolod?) Troussevitch (John Traun) NKVD agent - killed
Franz Löschl - passenger - killed
Lorenz Mraz - passenger - killed

Some uncertainty exists with the names of the agents.
WHISKEY/PICKAXEAircraft hit hill on North side of the “Blauberge “ mountain south of Wildbad Kreuth, Bavaria south of Munich on way to DZ in dense fog, Operation WHISKEY/ PICKAXE to Austria. A highly secret mission.
21/04/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFZ9158NF-VP/O Ivan Anderson Miller RCAF - Pilot- killed
Sgt Sydney William Francis Leigh RAFVR - Wireless Op / Gunner - killed
F/Sgt Walter John Edward Lines RCAF - Observer - killed
Sgt Raymond Fred Shaddick RAFVR - 2nd Pilot - killed
Sgt K Hubbard - Rear Gunner -injured.
T/O Tempsford to drop leaflets in the region of St-Etienne, France On returning to their briefed landing airfield at Tangmere the crew encountered a very thick mist and were ordered to divert to Boscombe Down. While doing so the Whitley, flying too low, crashed and caught fire on the experimental range at Porton, Wiltshire.
29/05/1942Lysander Mk IIIa161 RAFV9595MA-V (D)P/O A.J. Mott - Pilot - Prisoner of War
Alex Nitelet - Belgian MI9 agent - evaded.
The pilot of the Lysander, P/O John Mott, put the aircraft down in a field near the hamlet of le Grand Malleray, some twenty kilometres north of Chateauroux, in Unoccupied France. When the time came to take off John Mott found that the Lysander had stuck fast in boggy ground, and was unable to leave. The pilot was arrested by Vichy police, but escaped and was able to return to England.
23/06/1942Whitley Mk V161 RAFZ9224MA-PSgt W. Smith - Pilot (AbM, LBW & BCL)
F/Sgt Peterson - Pilot (FoF)
Slt Sgt Clayton - Rear Gunner.
T/O Tempsford 2300 hrs aircraft crashed on take off due to faulty air speed indicator with all crew surviving on intended nickelling operation
26/07/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFZ9282NF-MF/Sgt John Owen RAFVR - Pilot - killed
F/Sgt William George Rock RAF - Wireless Op / Gunner - killed
Sgt Douglas Thornton RAFVR - 2nd Pilot - killed
Sgt James Whalley RAFVR - Observer - killed
Sgt P.H. Avery - Prisoner of War.
SPANIEL?Aircraft Failed To Return after operation to Denmark(FOF) Crashed at Vire, while bombing Cholet, France (ROHW & AbM) Airborne from Tempsford on a secret, unrecorded operation. Cause not established. Sgt P.H. Avery survived and was taken prisoner. Some data suggest the mission was a standard bombing operation and not a Special Duties mission.
29/07/1942Wellington?? RAFR1450F. Lowe, Pilot Officer - Prisoner of War
Arthur Ferdinand Litzow RAFVR, Pilot Officer (Observer) - Killed
William John Atchison RAFVR, Sergeant (Observer) - killed
Trevor Haughton Cray RNZAF, Sergeant (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) - killed
Sergeant W. White - Prisoner of War
Flt. Lt. Patrick Wilson Langford, RCAF - Instructor Pilot - Prisoner of War.

National Archive Reference.
Memorial page to the "RAF Fifty"The crew of this aircraft were "student" under the instruction of a Canadian, Ft Lt Patrick Wilson Langford, MiD, of No. 16 Operational Training Unit RAF Upper Heyford. Langford survived the crash of this aircraft and became a Prisoner of War in Stalag Luft 3 Prisoner of War camp, where he took part in the "Great Escape". He was one of 50 RAF officers subsequently murdered by the Gestapo in retaliation. The page link on the aircraft identification gives more detail.
30/07/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFZ9230NF-NS/L William Twiston Davies, DFC, RAF - Pilot - killed
F/Sgt Leonard Sidney Franklin RAFVR - Flight Engineer - killed
F/Sgt Trevor Morgan Gray RAFVR - Navigator killed
Sgt Edward Henry Kerry RAFVR - Bomb Aimer - killed
Sgt Derrick Frank Staton RAFVR - Wireless Op / Gunner - killed
Sgt Geoffrey Barrington Wood RAFVR - Gunner - killed
Sgt Philip Thomas Wright RAFVR - Gunner - killed.
LETTUCE 5Aircraft FTR from SOE operation LETTUCE 5 to Holland, shot down by night fighter piloted by Lt August Geiger of III. NJGI while running up to target. Aircraft crashed 00:58 hrs in vicinity of a wooded area known as the Haarlerberg 7km WNW of Rijssen (Prov of Overijssel), a town 11 km SW of Almelo. Loss Register states Holterberg, 5km west of Rijssen as crash location. All crew killed.
25/08/1942Whitley MK V138 RAFZ9232NF-LS/L H.A. Outram - Pilot - evaded
P/O L. Wilson (161 Sqdn) - Co Pilot - evaded
P/O E.R.W. Wood DFM - evaded
F/Lt H.L. Holliday - evaded
Sgt G.F. Foster - evaded.
SYRINGA 7Airborne from Tempsford on one of five separate supply drops, code named Syringa (7,10,11,12,and 13) Z9232 was operating "SYRINGA 7". Crash-landed 0030 hrs at St-Loup (Loir-et-Cher), on the south bank of the Cher river, 10 km SE of Romorantin-Lanthenay, France. The crew realised they were on the unoccupied side of the line of demarcation and were assisted by the French wife of a Welshman whose determination resulted in their repatriation. All made good their escape, arriving in Gibraltar, by way of Spain on 27 Sep 1942, leaving the next day for England.
28/08/1942Whitley161 RAFZ9218PF/Sgt Creswell - Pilot - Uninjured
F/Sgt Bray - 2nd Pilot - Uninjured
W/O Browne - Navigator - Uninjured
Sgt Moorhouse - Wireless Op / Gunner - Uninjured
Sgt Hempseed - Uninjured
Sgt White - Uninjured
Sgt Whitcar - Uninjured.
MANFRIDAY/PLATYPUST/O Tempsford 2016 hrs aircraft made wheels up crash landing in a small field near Sandwich having suffered engine failures on returning from operation MANFRIDAY/PLATYPUS to France. Crew not injured & aircraft subsequently repaired to finish days at No 42 OTU
20/09/1942Whitley Mk V161 RAFZ6814MA-L47LUCKYSHOT 7Made a wheels up stalled landing at Storrington, Sussex after engine failure on return from unsuccessful Operation LUCKYSHOT 7 to Belgium. Crew uninjured. Aircraft repaired and ended its days at No 81 OTU
20/09/1942Whitley Mk V161 RAFZ6940MA-S48T/O Tempsford 19:04 FTR from TERRIER DZ in Belgium. Crashed near Boulogne, France. All crew killed.
25/09/1942Whitley Mk V161 RAFZ9131MA-Q49T/O Tempsford crashed near Sevigny-Waleppe (Ardennes), France after completing first half of operation MONGOOSE 2 / PRIMO, Belgium. Crew baled out after dropping agents. Sgt Ronald Eden Franklin RAFVR died of wounds, other crew survived.
27/09/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFZ9275NF-G50INCOMPARABLE 1T/O Tempsford Crashed near Merville, (Nord), France on Operation INCOMPARABLE 1 to Belgium. Three crew killed in crash, other two died in Prisoner of War camp.
02/10/1942Halifax Mk II138 RAFW7776NF-B51CHISELT/O Tempsford 1800 hrs aircraft had forced landing 0730 hrs 2 miles SW of Goldsborough, N of Whitley, Yorks due to fuel shortage on returning from Operation CHISEL to DZ RAK206, Poland, dropping four agents. Polish Air Force crew all survived
02/10/1942Whitley Mk V161 RAFZ6653MA-O52LETTUCE 7T/O Tempsford 2130 hrs on Nordpol Spiel operation aircraft ditched in sea, at apx 2245 hrs, off Dutch coast following engine failure during operation LETTUCE 7 to Holland. Two from crew of five survived.
22/10/1942Whitley Mk V161 RAFBD228MA-S54LUCKYSHOT 8 / GRANTHAM IT/O Tempsford aircraft crashed and burnt on landing at Tempsford airfield after returning from Operation LUCKYSHOT 8 / GRANTHAM I to Belgium. Pilot Officer Wreford William George Smith DFC, RAFVR was killed, rest of crew survived.
23/10/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFP5029NF-E,53SPRUCE 2T/O Tempsford 2013 hrs aircraft ditched 0310 hrs off Eastbourne pier on return from successful operation SPRUCE 2, France having lost an engine and low on fuel. Crew rescued by Royal Navy
30/10/1942Halifax Mk II138 RAFW7773NF-S55Memorial Page
30/10/1942Halifax Mk II138 RAFW7774NF-T,54WRENCHAirborne from Tempsford 1754 hrs on OPERATION WRENCH, an arms supply drop over Poland. Ditched 0640 on return journey off Sheringham, Norfolk. The crews plight was seen by coastguards and all were rescued by the Sheringham lifeboat 'Foresters Centenary'. The crew of the Halifax reported they had been badly shot about by ME110 night-fighters, sustaining damage to control surfaces, engines and fuel tanks
01/11/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFZ9159NF-D56
19/11/1942Whitley Mk V138 RAFZ9160MA-U59
23/11/1942Whitley Mk V161 RAFZ6629MA-N61
23/12/1942Halifax Mk II138 RAFW7775NF-R66
??/01/1943Halifax161 RAF67Serial and squadron code identities not known
16/01/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDG285MA-X68
20/02/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFW1012NF-Z71
15/03/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB281NF-O74
15/03/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFDT620NF-T76
15/03/1943Halifax MK V161 RAFDG245MA-W75
15/03/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDG283MA-Y77
20/03/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDG244MA-Y78
25/03/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFHR665NF-L80
13/04/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB340NF-D81
13/04/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDG409MA-W82
14/04/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB363NF-T83
18/04/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFDT725NF-J85
12/05/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFDT627NF - P88
13/05/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB313NF-M,89
14/05/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB328NF-U90
16/05/1943Lysander Mk III161 RAFR9106MA-K91
22/05/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB329NF-Z92
12/06/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDG406MA-V96
19/06/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFW1229NF-A97
23/06/1943Halifax Mk II161 RAFDG405MA-Y98
23/06/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFDT727NF-K97
24/06/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB379NF-J100
13/07/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJD155NF-M103Identification possibly JD115
17/07/1943Hudson T9465161 RAFMA-T105Serial Number not known
23/07/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDK119MA-U106
15/08/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB334NF-X110
17/08/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJD179NF-Z113
17/08/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJD312NF-J112
14/09/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFHR666NF-E118
15/09/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJD154NF-V120
15/09/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJD269NF-Q119
15/09/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJN910NF-K121
17/09/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB309NF-T123C Flight
17/09/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJD156NF-W122
19/09/1943Halifax Mk V138 RAFDG253NF-F114
20/09/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB317NF-N125
20/09/1943Halifax Mk V138 RAFDG252NF-B124
10/10/1943Liberator III138 RAFBZ858NF-F126C Flight
19/10/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFLW281NF-W127
21/10/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFEB239MA-Y129
04/11/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFDT726NF-H131
06/11/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDK232MA-T133
07/11/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFJN921NF-B134
11/11/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFEB129MA-W135
10/12/1943Lancaster Mk III617 RAFED825AJ-E141Flew from Tempsford on temporary attachment for SD ops. This aircraft earlier took part in the Dambuster Raid as "T for Tommy".
11/12/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB378NF-D142
11/12/1943Lancaster Mk III617 RAFED886AJ-O143Flew from Tempsford on temporary attachment.
11/12/1943Stirling Mk 1214 RAFR9289BU-O142
17/12/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFLW280NF-K150This and the following five aircraft were all lost on the night of 16th/17th December, 1943.
17/12/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFDK206MA-V149
17/12/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFLK899MA-T152
17/12/1943Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL115NF-A151
17/12/1943Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL119NF-L147
17/12/1943Halifax Mk V161 RAFLL120MA-W148Additional reference to DG286 (BO). This and the preceeding five aircraft were all lost on the night of 16th/17th December, 1943.
19/12/1943Halifax Mk II138 RAFBB364NF-R153
08/01/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLK743NF-J157
23/01/1944Halifax Mk V161 RAFDG272MA-U160
23/01/1944Halifax Mk V161 RAFLL182MA-V159Additional reference to LL181? (ANPoB)
08/02/1944Halifax Mk II138 RAFLW275NF-O167
08/02/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL114NF-P168
11/02/1944Lysander V9822161 RAFMA-E171
04/03/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL279NF-R182
04/03/1944Lysander Mk IIIA161 RAFV9605MA-B177
05/03/1944Stirling Mk III218 RAFEE944HA-H186
28/03/1944Hudson Mk IIIA161 RAFFK767190
31/03/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL287NF-S191
01/04/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL252NF-K192
11/04/1944Halifax Mk V161 RAFLK738MA-T199
13/04/1944Halifax161 RAFDG409203
19/04/1944Hudson161 RAFT9439MA-R204
28/04/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL356NF-U209
04/05/1944Lysander Mk IIIA161 RAFV9664MA-212
08/05/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL192NF-A218
08/05/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL280NF-O217
10/05/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL183MA-W222On loan from 161 Squadron
17/05/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLK736225
23/05/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFDG286229
30/05/1944Halifax Mk V161 RAFLL300MA-Z234
01/06/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL276NF-F237
01/06/1944Halifax138 RAFLL419NF-V236Additional reference to LL276
01/06/1944Hudson Mk III161 RAFV9155MA-Q238
02/06/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL284NF-E240Additional reference to NF-V (FoF)
02/06/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL289NF-P239
03/06/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL307NF-J241
08/06/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL306NF-R258
08/06/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL416NF-O257
08/06/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL466NF-T259
06/07/1944Hudson Mk IIIA161 RAFFK790MA-R277Memorial Page The link on the left will load a web page about the last mission of this Aircraft compiled by a family member.
08/07/1944Lysander Mk IIIA161 RAFV9490MA-H280
12/07/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL251NF-N282
19/07/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL364NF-B289
19/07/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL387NF-P290
01/08/1944Hudson Mk I161 RAFN7263294
05/08/1944Halifax Mk V161 RAFLL248MA-U305
05/08/1944Lysander Mk IIIA161 RAFV9748JR-D303
09/08/1944Halifax Mk V138 RAFLL308NF-Q309
09/08/1944Halifax Mk V161 RAFLL358MA-Y308Memorial PageAlso recorded as being part of 138 Sqdn RAF, (ANPOB).
29/08/1944Halifax Mk V161 RAFLL388MA-W339
01/09/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLJ503NF-P344
01/09/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK131NF-T343
09/09/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK200NF-J348
21/09/1944Stirling Mk IV161 RAFLK208MA-X407
29/09/1944Lysander Mk IIIA161 RAFV9749MA-M419
29/09/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLJ932NF-N418
07/10/1944Stirling Mk IV161 RAFLK238MA-X423
19/10/1944Stirling Mk IV161 RAFLK207MA-W437
09/11/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLJ993NF-M448
09/11/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK198NF-H449
27/11/1944Hudson Mk III161 RAFT9463MA-L456
27/11/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK151NF-E457
03/12/1944Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK143NF-B,458
31/12/1944Stirling138 RAFLK283NF-J463
08/01/1945Hudson161 RAFAM931MA-H467
10/02/1945Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK279NF-L479
14/02/1945Stirling Mk IV161 RAFLK236MA-Y481
21/02/1945Hudson Mk III161 RAFT9405MA-K482
23/02/1945Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK149NF-D487
27/02/1945Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLK272NF-P489
03/03/1945Hudson IIIA161 RAFFK797MA-M491
05/03/1945Stirling Mk IV138 RAFLJ999NF-Q494
05/03/1945Stirling Mk IV161 RAFLK312MA-W495
21/03/1945Hudson161 RAFFK803MA-N506Memorial Page
21/03/1945Hudson161 RAFT9445MA-O504Memorial Page
23/03/1945Stirling IV161 RAFLK209MA-T507
31/03/1945Stirling IV138 RAFLK144517
31/03/1945Stirling Mk IV161 RAFLK119MA-Y515
??/04/1945Halifax298 RAF538
12/04/1945Hudson161 RAFMAQ-P522