Personnel Index - Detail
5/6 July, 1941; OSNABRUCK/MINELAYING:
No 5 Group dispatched 39 Hampdens to attack Osnabruck; 49 Squadron contributed 11 aircraft, with a further 3 aircraft detailed to lay mines off the Frisian Islands. Bombing results were reported as good, but 2 Hampdens failed to return; one was from 61 Squadron at Hemswell, the other came from 49 Squadron.
The aircraft that failed to return to base, was piloted by Sgt James Flint (AD856). He and his crew had departed Scampton at 22.30hrs on the night of Saturday 5 July. Shortly after crossing the Dutch coast, they were intercepted by night fighters, receiving some damage before eventually shaking their attackers off. The crew continued on to make a successful bombing attack before returning back across the North Sea. Just 50 miles from the English coast, cannon shells from two German Me110 intruders ripped into the Hampden, mortally wounding the W/op, Sgt Fitch. Very cartridges were ignited inside the Hampden and on another attack the port engine was put out of action. Within sight of the English coast, the Germans eventually broke off their attack and turned tail.
Jim Flint fought valiantly to keep his stricken aircraft airborne but was eventually forced to ditch AD856 just off the Norfolk coast near Cromer.The pilot managed to escape through the hatch above his seat, but soon realised the navigator had not followed. Re-entering the quickly submerging bomber, Jim found the navigator badly wounded on the aircraft floor. At considerable personal risk and with superhuman strength, he managed to pull the inert body from the wreck, before P-Peter slipped below the waves.
Within 50yds of the shore, a soldier came to the airmens help. Sadly, the navigator later died of his wounds at 11.00hrs the following morning, police recovered the body of Sgt Fitch from the beach near Cromer.
Sgt J. Flint Pilot (Injured)
Sgt A.S. Benningfield (Killed)
Sgt J.D. Fitch (Killed)
Sgt E.C. Atkinson (Injured)