Personnel Index - Detail
Awarded the DSO, DFC, DFC and Bar.
4/5 September, 1940; STETTIN - OIL TARGET:
Five aircraft from 49 Squadron operated from Mildenhall this night. Four were successful in bombing the primary target, whilst the crew captained by F/O Hodges (P1347) failed to return.
In the cold grey light of dawn, F/O Bob Hodges and crew sighted the coastline of what they presumed to be Cornwall. Having been airborne for over 9 hours, shortage of fuel made landing imperative. As they entered the circuit of what they thought to be St.Eval, much to their consternation, they were greeted by light flak. Beating a hasty retreat the pilot gradually climbed to a safe height, and with his engines showing the first signs of fuel starvation, he ordered his crew to bale out.
After holding his aircraft steady whilst his crew escaped, the pilot then elected to crash land the aircraft (there being insufficient height for his own safe escape). A successful crash landing was made, and much to the surprise of the pilot, Sgt Wyatt was still aboard; intercom problems prevented him from receiving the order to jump. The broken wreck of Hampden D-Donald had come to rest in a field near St Brieuc... in Brittany! The crew became prisoners or war, but while in a camp at Toulouse in southern France, F/O Hodges and Sgt Wyatt managed to escape and returned to England via Gibraltar. Over a year later, Bob Hodges, by now a Wing Commander, joined 161 Special Duties Squadron at Tempsford where he participated in many clandestine operations. Happily he survived the war, receiving a Knighthood for his deeds as a mark of gratitude from a thankful nation.
German pictures of the downed Hampden.
Near Pordic, an emergency landed English (plane).
Thanks to Oliver Clutton-Brock we have four additional images of P1347 in the field near Pordic.
The Hampden found the perfect field for a skilful dawn landing.
Following the 1940 crash F/O Hodges was in reality a prisoner of the Vichy French Government, athough imprisonment at that time was a sort of benevolent confinement, nothing compared to what POWs had to endure in German-run camps later.
His escape back to the UK allowed him to serve again. Had an airman escaped from a German PoW camp he would not have been expected to return to duty in the same theatre of operation.
He is therefore also included in the Aicrew Index.
(49Sqn wishes to thank Oliver Clutton-Brock for the above information)
He returned to 49Sqn in June 1941 and completed a further 16 Hampden operations.
S/L Hodges DFC (LHS) with his new crew at RAF Scampton......Sgt Bill Rushton, F/Sgt Walter Ellis and (RHS) Sgt Maurice Ash
Ashley Hales has discovered two interesting links:
The story of ACM Sir Lewis Hodges
The obituary for ACM Sir Lewis Hodges