The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. H W Ricketts
Herbert Wain Ricketts of Rowsley, Derbyshire was born on 11th November 1918 and joined the RAF about June 1939 as a direct-entry Airman u/t Observer. He completed his training and was serving with 235 Squadron in June 1940, staying with it throughout the Battle of Britain.
By 21st December 1940 he was serving with 272 Squadron at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland. On this date Blenheim IVF L9415 XK-T became lost and ran out of fuel, it came down at Sladran, near Buncrana in County Donegal, Irish Republic after the crew had baled out.
Ricketts was initially thought to be missing by the authorities as he had landed in the sea, and had had to spend the night clinging to a rock offshore. In the morning, he swam to shore.
Ricketts, Sgt. DV Newport and Sgt. SJ Hobbs (the latter two also Battle veterans) were interned but later returned to RAF service, either by escaping or being released. Ricketts was released in October 1943.
Above and below: Ricketts with other internees in Ireland.
We are indebted to Dennis Burke of 'Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland' who has extensively documented the incident involving Hobbs, Newport and Ricketts, the complete account can be seen at http://www.ww2irishaviation.com/l9415.htm
Additional data and all images courtesy of family relatives via his site.
Commissioned in March 1944, he was posted in with a new crew to 299 Squadron on 7th December 1944 from 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit. 299 Squadron was a part of transport command and provided supply dropping services in support of airborne troops and resistance movements within occupied Europe.
He flew on 23rd March 1945 on Operation Varsity, the crossing of the Rhine, releasing a glider over DZ 'A'.
Ricketts was killed with the rest of his crew on 31st March 1945 as a Flying Officer Navigator with 229 Squadron, aged 26.
Stirling 5G-R serial LK332 took off from Shepherds Grove at 9pm to drop supplies to the resistance in Numedal, Norway. Before reaching the target they were shot down by a German night fighter. The aircraft crashed burning into a bog.
The other crew members were:
WO PS Brinkworth
Sgt. JA Elliott
Sgt. KC Hayward
F/Lt. R Trevor-Roper
F/O D Peat
The crew are buried at Indre churchyard, Sondeled, Norway.
For further information see http://ktsorens.tihlde.org/flyvrak/vierli.html
Churchyard photographs courtesy of Julie K McManus.