Date: 13/05/1940
Squadron Code: TR-O
Serial Number: Blenheim IV N6173
Flight/Mission Details:

Base: Poix
Take off time. 1700hrs
Op: Reconnaissance over the Sedan area, France

Loss Details:

Source: Peter D. Cornwell, The Battle of France, Then and Now, 2008
He has P/O C Chamberlain in Blenheim IV N6173 (with Sgt Seldon and AC1 Hands); shot down over Belgium on 13/05/1940, believed that it crashed at Neerwinden, 7.30 pm. And states 'All recorded missing on May 14 by the CWGC.'

The Blenheim crash site and grave in 1940 - Neerwindon. (Ken Jelfs)


Tue 14 May 1940 (Date posted as missing)
British Air Forces France
Reconnaissance over the Sedan area, France
59 Squadron, RAF (Poix, France - 52 Wing, British Expeditionary Force Air Component)
Blenheim IV N6173 - TR-O (Squadron Code sourced by Ken Jelfs).

Lost without trace, all three crew being commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Update to appear in Vol Three: Recent research in Belgium suggests that the aircraft may have crashed there, at Neerwinden, at about 1700 on the 13th. Unidentified remains of a Blenheim crew from this locality were in 1955 transferred to the Hotten War Cemetery.

Two blenheims lost on this day - The other a/c piloted by F/Lt PA Hawks.



Scarred earth - The crash site today - (Ken jelfs)


Ken Jelfs, the cousin of Croydon Chamberlain notes that there is a distinct discrepancy in the recording of both aircraft losses on this day. Stating that most sources date it as the 14th of May (the day they were officially recorded as missing). Furthing noting that given that both aircraft were airborne before 1800 hours on the 13th, they would have certainly run out of fuel well before midnight and the early hours of the 14th... Ken further notes that Hawks & crew were airborne at 1400hrs and Chamberlain and crew by 1700hrs.

According to certain sources at the time, P/O Chamberlain survived the crash and was by one account taken to a hospital in France and another story was that he escaped to Luxembourg (Richard Los, Keep Them Flying). It would be a wonderful if he did, however he is still registered as MIA (persumed dead) on the CWGC on the above date. According to Ken, this had a profound affect on Croydon's mother who never gave up hope that he had survived but sadly, never had the closure she deserved...


Update May 2015: Over the last few years, Ken has worked tirelessly to have the "unknown crew" gravesite confirmed as the final resting place of Croydon and his crew. He has been in touch with authorities in Belgium who provided him with the pictures. The work continues with the Ministry of Defence. The CWGC, to commemorate the 75th year since the crew were lost, granted permission for a wreath and pictures to be laid at the grave in Holland, on 13th May 2015. Ken was able to get in touch with members of the Seldon and Hands family's for the occassion. A note from all three, was included on the wreath.

...::: 75 years on - Not Forgotten! :::...



Crew Details:

All lost:

Source: Traces of World War II -

During WWII, the RAF used three-letter codes to identify their aircraft from a distance. Two large letters were painted before the roundel, which signified the squadron to which the aircraft belonged, and another letter was painted after the roundel which indicated the individual aircraft. Aditionally, there was the individual serial number for each aircraft, which was painted in a much smaller size, usually somewhere at the rear of the aircraft: (more)

Codes used by RAF 59 Squadron:

PJ Sep 1938 - Sep 1939
TR Sep 1939 - Oct 1942
1 Aug 1943 - Jul 1944
WE Jul 1944 - Oct 1945
BY Oct 1945 - Jun 1946, Dec 1947 - Oct 1950