On the night of 5/6 September 1940, Handley Page Hampden HP52 Mk.I P1172 (PL-J) of RAF 144 Squadron took off at 2200 hours from RAF Hemswell, east of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. The mission was to bomb Hamburg in Germany.
At 0456 hours, P1172 reported that it was in difficulty and requested a bearing for home. The aircraft was asked for a call-sign, but that was the last contact from P1172, the signal faded out and then ceased. They are believed to have crashed in the North Sea.
The crew of Handley Page Hampden P1172:
Pilot Officer John Edward Newton–Clare RAF (33492) pilot, age 20
Sergeant Charles Owen Clarke RAFVR (745257), age 20
Sergeant William Thomson RAF (637247) wireless operator, age 18
Sergeant William Leslie Powell RAF (641379), age 19
Thomson was the son of Thomas and Jessie Mitchell Thomson of 9 Dupplin Brae, Perth. He joined the RAF, six months before the outbreak of war. He was employed with the motor engineers, Frew & Co, Ltd, Princess Street, Perth.
No bodies of any crew members or any traces of wreckage were ever found. All four of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.
P1172 was one of two RAF 144 Squadron Hampdens that were lost on this operation; the other being P4378.
The Handley Page Hampden was designed by Gustav Victor Lachmann. Lachmann served as a lieutenant in the German Army cavalry during the First World War – joining the German Flying Corps in 1917. After working in Germany with the Schneider and Albatross aircraft works, he resigned in 1926 to join the Ishikawajima Aircraft Works in Tokyo as a technical adviser. In 1929, he joined Handley Page and in 1932 was its chief designer. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Lachmann was interned as an enemy alien in Quebec, Canada, and on the Isle of Man. Under pressure from his employers, he was allowed to continue his work from the ‘Lingfield Cage’, an internment camp on Lingfield Racecourse. In 1949, he became a British citizen.
William Thomson Perthshire Advertiser 5 April 1941
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: HANDLEY PAGE HP.52 HAMPDEN AND HEREFORD. (CH 3478) Hampden Mark Is, AE257 ?KM-X? and AE202 ?KM-K?, of No. 44 Squadron RAF based at Waddington, Lincolnshire, in flight. Both aircraft were lost on raids over Germany, AE257 on the night of 21/22 October 1941 flying to Bremen, and AE202 over Hamburg on 26/27 July 1942. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126908
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: HANDLEY PAGE HAMPDEN. (CH 1207) The instrument panel and flying controls of a Handley Page Hampden. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209936