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Haskell W.

WW2 individuals

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W. R. Haskell  D. F. C.

Full Names

Rank /Unit  

Years at Q.E.G.S.

Walter  Ralph  Haskell

Wing Commander
57 Squadron, Royal  Air  Force

 

Date  / Place of Birth

Date  / Place of Death

Age at Death

1915
Verwood

Tuesday 17 August 1943   
Either The Baltic or North  Sea

28


Walter was the son of John and Mary Haskell, of Ringwood Rd., Verwood and the husband of Kathleen Doris Haskell, also of Verwood.
It is likely that Walter would have been at W.G.S in the late 1920s and possibly until 1931. It is thought that he could have joined the R.A.F., straight from school and that his aircrew service might have arisen from the expansion of the Royal Air Force, in the mid-1930s. The date of his Commission was 31st of August 1940.
Walter was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross when he was a Pilot Officer in No 40 Squadron, which had been recently re-equipped with the Wellington 1C bomber and flew from RAF Wyton Cambs. The Date & action are not known, although it would appear to have been on or before 4-10-40, since his D.F.C. was Gazetted on the 22nd of November 1940.
57 Squadron began converting to Lancasters in September 1942 at R.A.F Scampton, where it remained until August 1943. Shortly after, it moved to R.A.F. East Kirkby in East Lincs., flying the Lancaster Mk. lll, within 5 Group.
Wing Commander Haskell was the Commanding Officer of No. 57 Squadron. On the night of 17/18th August 1943, he was flying as captain of Lancaster Mk.lll ED 989. Letters DX-F. At 2144 hrs, he took off from RAF Scampton, 5 miles North of Lincoln, to attack Peenemunde, a secret weapon complex, North-East of Lubeck, on the coast of The Baltic.
In June 1943, photographic evidence had supported the information received from espionage sources that, at this site, the Germans were developing rocket projectiles. It was agreed at Cabinet level that it should be heavily attacked by Bomber Command. However, the distance to be flown, at least 1180 miles round trip, dictated that it would be necessary to wait until the nights were long enough, to provide some protection for the aircraft and crews. Walter Haskell's aircraft was one of 600 heavy bombers which carried out this raid, some six or seven weeks after the discovery.
A diversionary raid on Berlin, by a small force of eight Mosquito aircraft was set up and for some time, this successfully distracted a force of some 200 enemy night fighters which allowed a large part of the main force to attack Peenemunde. The target was significantly damaged and many of the work force were killed.
By the time it became obvious that the night fighters should be redeployed, relatively few of them had sufficient fuel to engage the bombers. However, some arrived in time to attack the last wave of 200 aircraft, which was bombing from the relatively low height of 7,000 feet and in moonlight.  29 of this force were lost. Altogether, 41 of the main force aircraft were lost and 2 from the diversionary attack of Berlin.
Having regard to the time of take-off, it must be assumed that Walter Haskell's Lancaster was in the last wave to attack and it is thus likely that it became the victim of a night fighter. Undoubtedly the aircraft went into the sea some time during, the return flight and it is recorded as having been, "Lost without trace".
Walter and his crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial to those who died whilst serving in the Royal Air Force and have no known grave.
NOTE. Wing Cdr. Haskell was one of three Squadron Commanders reported missing from this operation.

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