Distinguished Flying Medal, GVI, 1285725 Sgt Cyril Frederick Hatch, RAFVR, who earned his DFM with 158 Squadron before being killed with 640 Sqn attacking Gelsenkirchen on 13th September 1944.
DFM announced in the London Gazette 17th August 1943:
“Since joining the squadron this wireless operator/air gunner has completed sorties to targets in enemy territory, which have included Berlin, Nuremberg, Kiel, Hamburg, Turin and Frankfurt. Throughout all missions his skill and efficiency in his allotted tasks have assisted his Captain and crew in a most valuable manner, and he has given evidence of a high degree of courage and devotion to duty.”
All his missions with 158 Squadron:
22/23 Nov 1942 Mine Laying
26/27 Nov 1942 Mine Laying
20/21 Dec 1942 Duisberg
9/10 Dec 1943 Mine Laying
14/15 Jan 1943 Lorient
23/24 Jan 1943 Lorient
3/4 Feb 1943 Hamburg
4/5 Feb 1943 Turin (1700 Miles)
7/8 Feb 1943 Lorient
13/14 Feb 1943 Lorient
14/15 Feb 1943 Cologne
25/26 Feb 1943 Nuremberg
22/23 March 1943 St Nazaire
27/28 March 1943 Berlin
29/30 March 1943 Berlin
4/5 April 1943 Kiel
8/9 April 1943 Duisberg
10/11 April 1943 Frankfurt
16/17 April 1943 Pilsen (20.39 – 06.39)
20/21 April 1943 Stettin
26/27 April 1943 Duisberg
With paper packet for DFM, some research and an original newspaper cutting from August 1945 reading:
“DFM FOR BLACKPOOL AIRMAN
The award is announced of the DFM in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty to Sergt Cyril Frederick Hatch, who was born at Bromley, Kent, and whose home is now in Blackpool.
Sergt Hatch is a wireless operator – air gunner.
Since joining the squadron he has completed sorties to targets…. (same as citation)”
During 1944 he joined 640 Squadron, which had been formed in January 1944, on 13th September 1944 his crew was tasked with an attack on Gelsenkirchen, in Halifax III Bomber MZ912 C8-Y.
The crew was lead by Squadron Leader HAM Woodhatch DFC and 6 men, interestingly the crew also included another DFC winner, Flight Lt T.E. Tranter DFC and 2 DFM Winners, including Flying Officer T. Gould DFM and of course Sgt Hatch.
Takeoff from Leconfield was at 1617, by 1845 they were reported to have crashed at Bottrop, everyone but Squadron Leader Woodhatch was killed upon crashing, he was taken as a Prisoner of War.
The grisly even is recalled in the book: The Night Air War, by Martin W. Bowman.
It reads:”Another friend of mine, ex-Rufforth, Flt Lt Woodhatch, had been shot down by a fighter on a daylight raid on the Ruhr – the cannon shells punched holes in the main spar and the aircraft had broken in two, burning fiercely.
Woodhatch was left alone in the nose which was spiralling earthwards but luckily he had time before the aircraft broke in two to put on his parachute. The centrifugal force of the spinning nose section kept Woodhatch firmly in the Pilot’s seat and he hadn’t sufficient strength to lever himself out of it. The aircraft had fallen several thousand feet when, with a superhuman effort, he got down to the front escape hatch, pulled the parachute ripcord whilst still in the aircraft and it luckily billowed out in the slipstream and pulled him clear, only smashing both his kneecaps. He only dropped for a few seconds so the aircraft must have been at about 2000 feet when he escaped and landed in a garden on the outskirts of Essen.
A chap came out of the house, helped Woodhatch to sit on the crossbar of his bicycle and rode furiously down the road. Woodhatch was very elated although in agony and imagined he was being ridden to safety behind our lines but instead of which he was deposited outside the local police station!”
This was the unfortunate end of 6 of the crew, 1 DFC and 2 DFM Winners, 4 RAF Officers, Warrant Officer Hatch and Sgt G Tickner, who was still only 17 years of age at the time, having joined the RAF about 15 or 16 years old.
This was Hatch’s 11th Operation with his crew flown by Squadron Ldr Woodhatch, who had been flying since April with 640
W/O Hatch is now buried in Plot 10, Row A, Grave 14 in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.
His flights with the crew:
18/19 April 1944, Tergnier Halifax LW502 ”U”
20/21 April 1944, Ottignies Halifax MZ 541
9/10 May 1944, Morsalines, MZ 579
31/1 June 1944, Trappes, MZ 541
5/6 June 1944, Maisy, LW 652
12/13 June 1944, St Roch (Amiens), MZ 731, a Night Flight between 23.22 and 04.19, during which time they engaged an enemy aircraft and claimed it as destroyed.
25/25 July, Le Grand Rossignol, MZ 678
27 July, Mimoyecques, MZ 731, during which flight they experienced engine trouble in one bay.
3rd September, Soesterberg, MZ 912
11th September, Cadillac, MZ931 “U”
Finally 13th September 1944, the Raid on Gelsenkirchen, attacking the Nordstern Oil Plant in MZ 912 Y, where they went missing and were shot down by a fighter.