A Request For Information

LMF Hampden

Hello everybody,

I was recently asked to help research the details surrounding the death of a reader’s grandparent lost during World War II while flying operationally. The operation in question concerns No.455 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force attached to RAF Coastal Command flying Hampden TB.Is and took place on January 11th 1943.

The information I have is as follows;

  • The attack involved 12 aircraft which took off from RAF Leuchars at 1556hrs.
  • Their target was enemy shipping off the Norwegian coast.
  • All 12 aircraft returned to the UK but one aircraft, Hampden AD792/UB-P, crashed in the Scottish highlands attempting to return to base.
  • Two of the crew (Flying Officer P J Hill 122499 RAF and Pilot Officer WJ Rees 123457 RAF) were killed instantly. One (Sergeant R A Smithers 411656 RAAF) died a week later from his injuries. The last crewmember,  Sergeant R K Spohn 412208 RAAF, survived and died in 1995.

What I am looking for are details of the mission itself – location of the enemy ships, details of the attack such as were any of the vessels hit/sunk and anything else of importance. Additionally, I would like any details regarding the crash. As far as I can determine on my own the crash would appear to have been an accident but I need to know if this was entirely the case e.g. was the aircraft damaged by enemy action or was the weather poor since it was early January?

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. You can either comment below or if you prefer you can email me at defenceoftherealm@gmail.com

Thank you in advance

Tony Wilkins


8 responses to “A Request For Information

  1. You don’t necessarily get a great deal more than what you have. I googled “R A Smithers 411656 RAAF” and the first two sites were OK….




    If anybody is RAAF try “https://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RC09125_018–1-.pdf”

    There are lots of pdfs and you need to search each one for the name of the Australian. In the URL, you change the _018 bit to _01, _02, _03 etc to get to all the documents.

    Googling the aircraft serial number is usually productive such as “Hampden AD792” or try the pilot’s name which may find stuff that the navigator’s name will not.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Do you know about 455 Sqn – A Request For Information | Aviation Trails

  3. Hi Tony,
    It’s not a lot more info, but according to my copy of Herington’s ‘Australia In The War 1939 – 1945’, Series 3 ‘Air’, Vol. III, p.612) the January 11th attack was 455 Squadron’s first outing for 1943 (after plans for a second expedition to Russia were rejected by the Russians). The operation was a sweep to patrol between Egero Island and Lister. They were led by Sqn Leader (later Wing Commander) J.N. ‘Jack’ Davenport. By all accounts, these first sweeps of 1943 were uneventful.

    Liked by 1 person

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