19/20.03.1940 No.51 Squadron Whitley V N1405 Fl/Lt. Baskerville Location: Sylt. +
Mission: Hörnum Seaplane base, Germany

Date: 19/20th March 1940 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron

Type: Whitley V

Serial: N1405

Code: MH-?

Base: Dishforth, North Yorkshire

Location: Sylt

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Edward Baskerville 37537 R.A.F. Age 25. Killed (1)

Pilot 2: P/O. Emery Orville Fennell 40293 R.A.F. Age 23. Killed (2)

Obs: Sgt. Bertram David Shepperson 561926 R.A.F. Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: L.A.C. Leslie Close 548536 R.A.F. Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: L.A.C. William George Newton R.A.F. Age 19. Killed


Took off at 20.35 hrs from Dishforth in the first attack of the war on the German mainland and the largest raid of the war so far.. It was a reprisal raid ordered by the British Government for their raid on the Orkney Islands when German aircraft attacked British ships in Scapa Flow but some dropped bombs on land and killed 1 civilian and wounded 7 more civilians in a village.

30 Whitley's and 20 Hampden's took part and reports were made that the bombing was accurate. 20 tons of high explosive was dropped together with 1,200 incendiary bombs.

This Whitley N1405 was the only aircraft lost and was shot down by anti aircraft fire and crashed into the sea just off the northern tip of Sylt. All crew were killed.

A superb photograph showing local girl tending the grave of P/O. Fennell at his first grave on Sylt
(A.R. Society archive)

L to R: P/O. Emery Fennell, Sgt. Bertram Shepperson
(Courtesy Ron Price-Jones and Neil Smith, 51 Squadron Historical Society)

Rare colour photograph of a Whitley V (A.R. Society archive)

Target: Hornum seaplane base. (Archives)

kiel-war-cemjune2005  kirkbeby-cem
Kiel War Cemetery left and right, Kirkby Churchyard (C.W.G.C)

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. John Edward Baskerville. Kiel War Cemetery 4.F.16 Son of William Francis and Minnie Maude Baskerville, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; husband of Jane Beatty Baskerville, of Winnipeg.

P/O. Emery Orville Fennell. Kiel War Cemetery 3.E.3 Son of William James Fennell and Sophie (nee Osberg) Fennell of Canora, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Sgt. Bertram David Shepperson. Runnymede Memorial Panel 19 No further details as yet.

L.A.C. Leslie Close. Kiel War Cemetery 3.B.20 Son of Henry Seymour Close and Barbara Close, of Burnhope, Co. Durham.

L.A.C. William George Newton. Kirkby Churchyard Grave 261 Son of George Isaac Newton and Lilian Newton, of Liverpool; nephew of Mrs. E. Newton, of Walton, Liverpool.

Researched by: David King (A.R.Society) - Colin Bamford. Further continued research by Neil Smith, 51 Squadron History Society. With thanks to Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt Bomber Command War Diaries, Bill Chorley Bomber Command Losses Vol 1)

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