Appeal for information on Wakefield WW2 Airman Sgt William Herbert who was shot down over Germany
Airgunner, Sgt William Herbert, was just 21-years-old when he was killed in action along with five of his fellow crewmembers – including a fellow sergeant from Wakefield – after launching an attack on Bremen, Germany on the night of September 13/14, 1942.
An hour later, when their aircraft, Wellington BJ600 GT-C, flew into the Netherlands it was spotted by the German defenses and subsequently hit north of Hardenberg, at around 3am.
William and his crewmembers Sgt Jack Herring, from Wakefield, aged 21, Pilot Officer Valentine George Brough, from New Zealand, aged 22, Sgt Phillip Stevenson Hammond, from Surrey, aged 19, Sgt William Chippindale Massey, from Leeds, aged 31 and Sgt Thomas Cuthbert 'Tom' Dewar, aged 30 from Scotland, all perished in the crash.
Now, a Dutch World War 2 foundation, The Drenthe Air War Research Foundation, is researching the crash of Wellington BJ600 GT-C and is searching for relatives, information and photos of William – the only crewmember who they have been unable to trace a photograph of.
Sgt William Herbert was born in 1921, the son of William and Elsie Clemantina Herbert, who are believed to have lived on Garden Street in Wakefield.
He enlisted in the Royal Air Force and was given the idenfification number '644481' and began training as an air gunner.
While in the RAF, William was assigned to RAF 156 Squadron, flying as an airgunner on a Vickers Wellington.
He flew 12 mossions in August and September 1942.
The whole crew is buried at General Cemetery Gramsbergen, The Netherlands.
In 1999, while laying pipes in the area of the crash site, gas company NAM came across remains of Wellington BJ600 GT-C.
Anyone with information about Sgt William Herbert, especially if they have any photographs of him, are asked to contact the Dutch research team, either by visiting their website www.slodrenthe.nl or emailing [email protected].
The crewmembers of the Wellington BJ600 GT-C
Sgt Jack Herring.
Sgt Jack Herring was born in 1921 to Ernest and Edith Annie Herring, at Sandal, Wakefield.
After enlisting in the Royal Air Force, Jack was given identification number '1213839' and began training as a bomb aimer.
Jack received his training at, among others, No. 6 Initial Training Wing, No.2 Squadron, at RAF Aberystwyth. Here Jack was part of 'C' Flight.
In the RAF, Jack was assigned to RAF 156 Squadron and flew many missions as a bomb aimer of a Vickers Wellington throughout August and September 1924.
Pilot Officer Valentine George Brough
Valentine George Brough was born on November 11, 1920, the youngest child of Louis Brough and Louisa Myrtle Page.
Valentine had three older siblings; Louis Walter Brough (1912-2001), Edna Myrtle Brough (1915-1983) and Dorothy Ann Brough (1918-1999).
The family lived in Wanganui, Wellington, New Zealand.
He spent his life on the South Island of New Zealand, working on his grandfather's farm at Takaka, Golden Bay. Here he also attended the local school.
After graduating from school, Valentine accepted a 10-year assignment in the Air Force, but this was canceled after the declaration of war in 1939.
Valentine enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Here Valentine was admitted and given identification number 'NZ39082', after which he could begin his training as a pilot.
He spent time at various airfields in New Zealand until he earned his wings, then received more advanced training in Canada. His first training in New Zealand was in Tiger Moths and Oxfords, and in Canada, Harvards.
In the RAF, Valentine was assigned to RAF 156 Squadron. Here he flew the following missions as a co-pilot to gain experience before he got his own crew (and aircraft).
On September 1, 1942, Valentine was promoted from Sergeant to Pilot Officer. However, his promotion had not yet been implemented when he died on September 14, 1942.
Sgt Phillip Stevenson Hammond
Phillip Stevenson Hammond was born in 1923 to Dudley Victor Hammond and Simone Margueite Abrioux, in Newdigate, Surrey.
After enlisting in the Royal Air Force, Phillip was given identification number '1331531' and began training as a pilot. To gain experience, he flew as a co-pilot.
In the RAF, Phillip was assigned to RAF 156 Squadron. Here he flew one mission as co-pilot of a Vickers Wellington.
Sgt William Chippindale Massey
William Chippindale Massey was born on February 28, 1911, the son of George Henry Massey and Selina Chippindale.
The family lived in Leeds where William worked as a milkman.
On 26 August 1934, William married Leila Annie Skinner, originally from Pocklington, East Yorkshire.
After enlisting in the Royal Air Force, William was given identification number '1031306' and began training as an observer.
In the RAF, William was assigned to RAF 156 Squadron.
Sgt Thomas Cuthbert Dewar
Thomas Cuthbert 'Tom' Dewar was born in 1912, the son of James McL. C. Dewar and Annie Kempie Cuthbert Dewar.
His parents divorced, after which his father married Susan RW Dewar. The family lived in Crieff, Scotland.
Thomas attended the local primary school in Crieff.
After enlisting in the Royal Air Force, Thomas was given identification number '988654' and began training as a radio operator and gunner.
In the RAF, Thomas was assigned to RAF 156 Squadron.