102 (Ceylon) Squadron

Tentate et perficite (Attempt and Achieve)

Sgt Harold E. Batchelder DFM

Just a little info to be going on with, and as of the 19th of September 2011, Harold is still alive and well, and a pleasure to speak with.

On the night of 16th June 1942 Harold was piloting W7652 out of Topcliffe bound for Essen, part of the story is below, we are checking this now and hope to have much more to add soon.

W7652 DY-P was one of three No.102 Sqdn Halifaxes lost on this operation. The other two were W7651 DY-M, piloted by W/O William R. Davies, and R9530 DY-J piloted by W/O Charles Rae Barr.

W7652 was airborne 23.05 from Topcliffe.
Hit by Flak within seconds of bombing and, subsequently, abandoned in the vicinity of Wesel.

Sgt Batchelder, the last man to bale out, did so from just 800 feet and landed on farmland approximately 2 km N of Hamminkeln, 8 km NNW of Wesel.

Sgt Harold E. Batchelder DFM PoW
Sgt Frederick (Ringer) Bell PoW
Sgt Geoffrey R.D. Hobsbawn PoW
Sgt Frederick L. Ringham PoW
P/O Donald M. McRae RCAF PoW
Sgt R.H. (Swanny) Rivers PoW

Sgt H.E.Batchelder was interned in Camps L3/L6/357. PoW No.305, with Sgt F.Bell, PoW No.307,
Sgt G.R.D.B.Hobsbawn, PoW No.324, Sgt R.H.Rivers, PoW No.354 and Sgt F.L.Ringham, PoW No.355. P/O E.McG McRae in Camp L3, PoW No.294. "

On the same day as this happened he was awarded a DFM, was Gazetted 16th June 1942 - but his award was NOT for the above.

Two weeks earlie on the 20th May 1942 Harold was flying halifax W7677 out of Topcliffe with the following crew:

Sgt H.E. Batchelder (Pilot)
Sgt J.B. Robinson (Second Pilot)
Sgt G.R.D.B. Hobsbawn (Nav)
Sgt F.L. Ringham (WOp )
Sgt. T.H.May (B/A )
Sgt R.H. Rivers (AG )
Sgt F. Bell (F/E )
S/G F.G. Kuebler (2nd WOp)

The full story of what happened to Harold and this crew on this night can be found on Pages 68-70 of Chris Goss's Book, It Suicide, but it's Fun.

When I get time I will try to write up a short version of it here.

Watch Harold being interviewed for the TV documentary 'Air War Over Germany'


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