Sgt (Flight Engineer) Henry Sadler
Sgt Henry (k/a Leo) Sadler was killed on the night of 22/23 April 1944. He was in Lancaster II DS682 JI-N, the full crew, who were all killed, being:
Flying Officer Maurice Linden Morgan-Owen, from London, aged 20
Sgt Henry Sadler, from Birmingham, aged 25
Flight Sgt Alan William Green, from Quinton, Warwickshire, aged 23
Flying Officer George Alexander Jacobson RAAF, from Gunalda, Queensland, aged 27
Sgt Ernest (Sunny) Gledhill, from Bradford, aged 22
Sgt (Mid-Turret Gunner) Alfred Douglas Tetley, from Harrogate, aged 23
Sgt (rear Gunner) Herbert Stanley Hayward, from Bishop Stortford, aged 27
They took off from RAF Waterbeach at 2258 Hrs but crashed in the sea. Sgt Sadler, who was washed ashore on 21 June 1944, and Sgt Teteley are buried in Sage War Cemetery, near Oldenburg; the rest of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Full details of the last mission of Lancaster II DS682 can be found here. There it is stated that:
"DS 682 was supposed to return to Waterbeach at 03.00 on Sunday the 23rd of April. At 02.56, an SOS message was received from the aircraft. Their position was over the sea, approximately 70 miles west off the Dutch coast. Nothing more was heard from the aircraft. According to the acting Squadron Leader at the time, Barney Reid, at first light an Air Sea Rescue aircraft was despatched to look for the crew. Barney Reid personally took part in this. However, despite good visibility, nothing was found."
They were part of one of the great pre-invasion raids on targets on the hinterland of the invasion coast, stretching back into the Reich. On the night of 22/23 April 1944 596 aircraft -323 Lancasters, 254 Halifaxs, and 19 Mosquitos, of all except 5 Group, took off for Düsseldorf. The losses however were high, 29 aircraft (16 Halifaxes and 13 Lancasters) amounting to 4.9% of the force, mainly caused by night-fighters which penetrated the bomber stream wreaking havoc.
This story has demonstrated how unreliable records can be. In Avro Lancaster - The Definitive Record, 2nd edition, by Harry Holmes, Lancaster II DS682 is recorded as being with 115 Squadron, and that it landed at Ford after being hit by a Ju88 during the night of 5/6 September 1943. Philip Moyes, in Bomber Squadrons of the R.A.F. and their Aircraft also lists DS682, coded KO, with 115 Squadron. But although 115 Squadron did take part in the great Düsseldorf raid, they were based in RAF Witchford, not RAF Waterbeach. The only Lancaster lost by 115 Squadron that night was Lancaster III ND753 KO-K, piloted by P/O R.E. Chantler. These books contain an imense amount of data and errors are to be expected in such long detailed lists. The sollution is to cross-check everything, and in this particular case even the Commonwealth War Graves Commission record for Sgt Sadler is wrong, giving his date of death as 23 July 1944, but with correct squadron, whilst for the rest of the crew they give the correct date of 23 April 1944.
The crew photograph is from a website dedicated to the memory of Ernest 'Sunny' Gledhill and the Men He Flew With in the Photo Gallery here.
Sage War Cemetery - Click to enlarge.
(Correct data from The Bomber Command War Diaries, by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt, and from Volume 5 of Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War - 1944 by W.R. Chorley)
So who was Sgt Henry Sadler? Tom Canning will explain.