Date: 01/08/1940
Squadron Code: TR-A
Serial Number: Blenheim IV L8792
Flight/Mission Details:

Base; Thorney Island.
Take off time: 1500hrs
Op; Cherbourg.

Commanding Officer (Morgan-Weld-Smith), 59 Squadron RAF - his Blenheim L8792 "A" had taken off from Thorney Island and failed to return from an attack on Cherbourg. (source) According to a source below, the commanding officer of 236 Squadron (escort) was also lost on this mission.


At 1500hrs Belnheim bomber L8792 TR-A took off from RAF Thorney Island it being one of 13 bombers (of 59 Sqdn) assigned to the raid (on Cherbourg)... At 1540hrs a break in the cloud appeared just as the Blenheim bombers of 59 approached the French coast on course, the aerodrome and the peninsula could be seen by the crews as they approached their bombing runs. Not far behind was the second wave of Blenheim fighters of 236 Squadron. 59 managed to drop their bombs amidst heavy anti-aircraft fire causing considerable damage. TR-A failed to return, the cause is unknown. Two fighters of 236 Squadron were also lost (Smarden War Memorial)


The excerpt below ( details the mission flown on this day:

"Returning to Thorney Island, the crews are briefed about the mission, and it undergoes scrutiny. Itself, it was a success, considerable and severe damage had been done, but at a price. One of the Blenheim's of 59 Squadron fails to return, it was piloted by the squadron commanding officer Wing Commander Weld-Smith. Two Blenheim's of 236 Squadron also fail to return. A number of Bf109's of III/JG27 got into the air and could have been responsible for shooting down the Blenheim's of P/O McDonough and S/L Drew, or they may have been hit by gunfire from ground defences"

According to another source on the 12oclockhigh forum, it was II/JG1 that claimed three Blenheims on this day at 1645hrs. Oblt Walter Adolph, Oblt Ernst Duelberg and Ofw Hans Richter. Also mentioned is that the pigeon carried by the crew returned to base... Homing pigeons were carried by crew for use in emergency situations, to carry messages...

According to the 218 Sqdn website, F/L Arthur "Peter" Piper DFC, was pilot of one of six Mk.IVF Blenheims escorting 59 Sqdn on this day from 236 Sqdn... it states the following...

"Six crews now operating the new Mk.IVF Blenheim were detailed and briefed to escort No.59 Squadron attacking the Querqueville aerodrome near Cherbourg, on completion the crews of 236 Squadron were given permission to attack targets of opportunity. Sergeant Smith flying below 50ft attacked two machine gun posts on the airfield and a coastal gun battery. In an attempted get back to safety of the channel Blenheim R3603 "M" was attacked by Me109s, in the ensuing melee Peter fired over 450 rounds at the fighters, low cloud and sea mist gave the crew a chance to loose their antagonists. Opposition from the defences were murderous, two crews including commanding officer Squadron Leader Drew failed to return fromm No.236 Squadron while two (?) crews of 59 Squadron were shot down by Bf109s of JG27. It had been a sobering encounter, Peter's Blenheim had been hit by both flak and MG fire..."


Crew awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp - Although entitlement was revoked by the Air Ministry in 1960 (read more)


Crew Details:

All lost: and Smarden War Memorial

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