In Memoriam  - Peter Gifford Felce                                                                            Home

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Arthur Ernest Abbott

William John Berrill

Peter (F.C.) Causebrook

Harold Cheaseman

Gordon Roy Coe

Jack Dunkley

Gordon George Elderton Peter Gifford Felce

Frederick Furr

Harold Philip Gardiner

Anthony Robert Gillitt

Ronald Douglas Hales

Norman Leonard Hornsey

Robert Howard

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Richard Saxby Mutimer Raymond Reginald Norman Raymond George Osborne Brian Terence Peck
Colin Roderick Penness Douglas Arthur Prigmore John Harry Sharp Norman Perkins Sharpe
Robert Troath Died after Korean War: Raymond-Kimber Leslie Walters

 

PETER GIFFORD FELCE, born 12.11.1920, entered the School in September 1932.  In November 1936 he joined the Staff of the Tecnic Boot Co., Rushden. 

In June 1939, he joined the R.A.F.V.R.  at Sywell and was called for War Service on September.  He was commissioned as Pilot Officer in June 1941, promoted Flying Officer in June 1942, and again promoted to Flight Lieutenant in August 1942.  In September 1942, he was posted missing after his 37th operational flight, (presumably over Cologne), on September 16/17th.  His death was confirmed in October 1942.  Thirty-nine planes were lost that night. 

He was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. F.G.Felce, 68 Wharf Road, Higham Ferrers.      'In Memoriam'  Book

 

Peter was called for war service on 1 September 1939.  He was posted as missing after his 37th operational flight.

Unfortunately, the normal entry route, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission provided no detail, other than that Peter was a member of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (The RAFVR means entry during the war, not entering the RAF as a career).  Fortunately, a genealogical web site  www.findmypast.com supplied the following information:

 

Felce Peter G      F/Lt     69443     27 OTU      1942    vol 5   pg 169

 

This information identified Peter as a member of the 27th Operational Training Unit.

 

A unit based in Lichfield, Staffordshire with with extra satellite bases at Tatenhill and Church Broughton Staffordshire.  At present we don't  yet  know when Peter joined the OTU.  From the number of operational flights recorded in the 'In Memoriam' book, it is likely to have been later in his career since only 9 operational  missions are listed on the OTU web site prior to and including the one in which he was killed.  .

The operation in which Peter was killed is clearly described in the Bomber Command 'diary' for September 1942:

 

Essen      http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/sep42.html      The raid on which Peter Felce died

369 aircraft, including aircraft from the training groups. 39 aircraft - 21 Wellingtons, 9 Lancasters, 5 Stirlings, 3 Halifaxes, 1 Whitley - lost, 10.6 per cent of the force.  (Felce's Wellington was number N2782 T/O Lichfield at  19:49 to Bomb Essen  {OTU web site spreadsheet})

 

Although much of the bombing was scattered, this was probably the most successful attack on this difficult target. There were 33 large and 80 ‘medium’ fires. 8 industrial and 6 transport premises were hit.  The Krupps works were hit by 15 high-explosive bombs and by a crashing bomber loaded with incendiaries.  There was much housing damage.  In Essen and its immediate surroundings, 47 people were killed and 92 injured.

 

Many other towns were hit, in particular Bochum with 50 fires and 4 people dead, Wuppertal with 13 dead, Heme with a large fire in a lorry garage and Cochem, a small town on the Moselle 90 miles south of Essen, which received 1 bomb load destroying 4 houses and killing 15 people.

 

The graves of the crew are given below:

Source below:    http://www.raf-lichfield.co.uk/OTUindex.htm :   Graves @  RHEINBERG  C.W.G. GERMANY

 

P/O F. LUPTON

RAFVR

PILOT

W/O PIERPOINT

RAFVR

OBSERVER (P)

P/O A. EASTON

RAFVR

BOMB AIMER

P/O E.J.C. WHEBLE

RAFVR

AIR GNR

F/L P.C. FELCE

RAFVR

AIR GNR

16th AUGUST 1942 T/O LICHFIELD 19.49 ON OPERATION TO ESSEN

 

No 27 Operational Training Unit      Source:   http://www.raf-lichfield.co.uk/OTUindex.htm

 

27 O.T.U. HISTORY

On the 23rd April 1941 27 O.T.U. was formed at Lichfield,  equipped with Wellington ICs to train night bomber crews.a  Its became the largest unit on the airfield, the service population rapidly expanding to 3500 with a large contingent of the Womens Auxillary Air Force.  The Aircrew who arrived were mainly from the Commonwealth Countries and in particular Australia, here they trained on Wellingtons and formed their crews before going on to their Squadrons or H.C.U’s in the case of the four engined bombers, of which 460 (RAAF) Sqdn became the most dominant.

 

The airfield became so busy (114,000 movements from December 42 to June 45) that it was necessary to use initially the satellite airfields of Tatenhill then Church Broughton to satisfy training commitments. In May 1942 the first Operational Bombing Missions were flown as part of the 1000 bomber raid to Cologne and continued until 1943, after this mainly ‘Nickel' raids were flown until disbandment on 22nd June 1945.

 

Codes used: -

BB       Apr 1941 - Jun 1945

EN       Apr 1941 - Jun 1945

UJ        xxx xxxx - Jun 1945

YL       xxx 1943 - Jun 1945

 

Examples of individuals linked with the OTU

Officer Training Squadron     Source: http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A130478b.htm

i.    Someone who worked in the Unit

Operating from Egypt in support of the Eighth Army, he participated in numerous sorties over Libya. He devised and pressed home new methods of attack, damaging enemy motor transport and starting fires in the dock area of Tobruk. For his deeds he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (1943).  By January 1943 Flight Lieutenant Clark was back in England, instructing Australian aircrew at No.27 Operational Training Unit, Lichfield, Staffordshire. He married Ivy Eileen ('Cherrie') Cook on 10 July that year in the parish church, Normanton, Yorkshire. On 13 September he was posted to No.460 Squadron, R.A.A.F., which was equipped with Lancaster bombers and stationed at Binbrook, Lincolnshire.

 

 ii.    A 'student' whose plane was planned to fly with the OTU on an actual bombing mission to Bremen

Joe Turnbull      http://www.elsham.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/raf_bc/20_men.html

Joe was killed on the night of 13th/14th September 1942, with No 27 Operational Training Unit, Lichfield, as his training drew to a close.  Called "Joe Turner" in No Moon Tonight.

The aircraft was a Vickers Wellington Mk 1c, serial number L7815, codes unknown.

Operation : Bremen

Pilot : Fletcher, W (Bill) J P Sergeant RAAF+

Crew : Sergeant Joe A Turnbull RAAF {nav}+, Sergeant F W Lewis+, Sergeant J G Milne RAAF+, Sergeant F Thompson+

Details: Took off from Lichfield (aka Fradley), and turned back with a faltering port engine.  Stalled whilst turning finals, spun and crashed 2340, bursting into flames on impact.  Don Charlwood states that Joe Turnbull was the eldest of the Twenty Men, rubicund and vociferous, who might easily have passed as a bookmaker, or stage comedian.  He continues "Joe's prediction that he had a week to live was correct.  A couple of hours after the crash, their bombs exploded, killing four of the guards placed on the wreckage.  The crew were buried in Fradley churchyard."

 

 iii     A 'student' who trained at the OTU

Within Bomber Command. he was posted to Advanced Flying Unit (AFU), then to No. 27 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Church Broughton for crew selection, aircraft conversion and intensive training in operational techniques.  At the completion of his training at OTU, his next posting was to Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) for conversion onto Lancasters, then to RAAF No. 460 Squadron at Binbrook, UK, for operational duties.   Source:  http://www.raaf.gov.au/raafmuseum/aircrewaca/profiles/pr65-morgan.htm

 

iv.      An OTU crew killed on a bombing raid to Germany

Wellington Bomber loss:     http://home.st.net.au/~dunn/460sqdn/wellingtonlosses.htm

10 Aug 1942

Z 1463 (Radio Call Sign UV-L)

RAAF 403175 Flt Sgt Finlay, J A Captain (Pilot)

RAAF 401080 Sgt Ponton, R A (Observer)

RAAF 403561 Sgt Dan, N (Bomb Aimer) *

RNZAF Flt Sgt Goord S B (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

RAAF 402832 Flt Sgt Smith, K A (Air Gunner) *

Osnabruck, Germany.

 

* Members of No 27 Operational Training Unit RAF.

 

v.     A plane crew killed whilst training with the OTU

Crash in UK Training  Source: http://www.peakdistrictaircrashes.co.uk/pages/peakdistrict/peakdistrictz1744.htm

Wellington Mk.III Z1744 of No.27 Operational Training Unit, crashed close to Upper Hulme, near Leek, on the 20th November 1942 whilst on a practice bombing and photography flight from Lichfield airfield.

Crew / Passengers

Rank - if applicable

Position e.g. Pilot

Status

James Robert Barlow

Sergeant RAAF

Pilot

Killed

Keith Pettiford

Flying Officer RAAF

Observer

Killed

James Love

Flying Officer RAAF

Observer

Killed

William John Baker

Sergeant RAAF

Bomb Aimer

Killed

Howell James Buckley

Sergeant RAFVR

Wireless Operator

Killed

S. Cheek

Sergeant RAAF

Air Gunner

Injured

At about 16:50 on the 20th November 1942 Wellington Mk.III Z1744 flew into the ground above Upper Hulme.  Prior to this the aircraft had been the subject of a mock attack by two USAAF Spitfires, possibly operating from Atcham near Shrewsbury, one of the aircraft had come too close to Z1744 and cut the trailing aerial that the crew were using to communicate with Lichfield.  With their primary means of communication cut the crew became disorientated and could not gain a fix on Lichfield, after flying in cloud for some time the aircraft was seen to pass very low over Upper Hulme before crashing about 1/3 of a mile to the north.  The aircraft slewed across a field and entered woodland where it was completely destroyed.   The Australian casualties were all buried at Fradley Parish Church close to Lichfield two days after the accident which claimed their lives.

  

OPERATIONAL MISSIONS AND CASUALTIES        Source: http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A130478b.htm

All Aircraft are Wellingtons

DATE

NO A/C

MISSION

CASUALTIES

C.W.G

28.08.41

2

PARIS

.

.

27.04.42

2

LILLE - NICKEL

2 A/C LOST - ALL KILLED

HEVERLEE

CHARLEROI

01.06.42

20

ESSEN

.

.

25.06.42

15

BREMEN

1 A/C LOST - ALL KILLED

RUNNYMEDE

28.07.42

15

HAMBURG

.

.

31.07.42

10

DUSSELDORF

2 A/C LOST - ALL KILLED

RHEINBERG

HULDENBURG

10.09.42

12

DUSSELDORF

.

.

13.09.42

14

BREMEN

1 A/C LOST - ALL KILLED

FRADLEY

16.09.42

12

ESSEN

1 A/C LOST - ALL KILLED

1 A/C LOST   P/O CURLE

RHEINBERG

23.05.43

1

PARIS

1 A/C LOST - ALL KILLED

RUNNYMEDE

23.08.43

4

FORET D'EPERLUGUES

.

.

02.09.43

4

FORET de MARRAL

.

.

03.09.43

4

FORET de RAISMES

.

 

08.09.43

9

BOULOGNE

.

.

23.09.43

1

ORLEANS

1 A/C LOST FLT/SGT DOWLING

.

274 'Nickel' Missions were flown during the War

The names of all the Aircrew who took part in all these missions will follow  This must be chased up.

 

Wellington Bomber      The “Wimpy”

source: http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/collections/aircraft/vickers-wellington-x.cfm

Photo: Vickers Wellington Mk. X

(http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/2001/01/stuff_eng_detail_wellington.htm)

 

Built in greater numbers than any other British bomber, the Wellington formed the backbone of Bomber Command operations until the widespread introduction of four-engined bombers into service in 1941.

Introduced into service in 1938 Wellingtons and Blenheims shared the honour of being the first Royal Air Force aircraft to attack Germany when they bombed ships at Brunsbüttel on 4 September 1939. Even with its power-operated turrets the Wellington was unable to defend itself adequately in daylight and had to switch to night operations to survive the German defences.

Using the geodetic type of construction developed by Barnes Wallis, the Wellington was immensely strong and could take large amounts of damage and still return safely to base. The Wellington served in many roles during its long service life. Designed as a bomber, it became an effective torpedo carrier and submarine killer in Coastal Command before going on to Transport and Training Commands.

 

Official Record of Peter Felce    A response to request for information from Chris Pointon

Hello Graham

Sorry about the delay in replying to your mail which on receipt arrived with a message about Active X Controls - not sure whether this was intentional but my anti virus did not pick it up.

I know a great deal about Peter Felce and here is a summary of his career in the RAF.

13th June 1939 - Enlisted in the RAF - Trained as a Pilot at RAF Sywell probably under a type of Cadet scheme but for some reason was not accepted in this role when war was declared.

 

2nd October 1939 - Posted to No 1 (ITW) Initial Training Wing at Cambridge for square bashing. 15th December 1939 - Posted to No 2 (RC) Reception Centre Cardington for more ground basic training.  19th February 1940 - Posted to No 8 (B&GS) Bombing and Gunnery School Evanton Scotland http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/96495.kml.

 

Air Gunner training.

4th May 1940 - Posted to No 15 (O.T.U) Operational Training Unit Harwell (now the Atomic Research Centre) where he would have flown in a Wellington bomber for the first time as part of a crew.  31st May 1940 - Awarded Air Gunners Badge - Promoted to Sergeant - Posted with a crew to No 99 Sqdn Newmarket Heath (The racecourse) flying in Wellington Bombers on operational missions. This airfield was set up in September 1939 much to the disgust of the racing authorities who protested in vain about the Rowley Mile being turned into a runway - RAF personnel took over the grandstand and used it for accommodation as nothing else could be found.

 

Peter flew approx. 30 Operational Missions until April 1941 to targets in Germany and later in France.

 

13th June 1941 Commissioned as a Pilot Officer and posted to No 27 (O.T.U) Operational Training Unit Lichfield as an Air Gunnery Instructor.

Peter would have met a considerable number of Australians flying with them on Air Gunnery training flights. He went on an Advanced Gunnery Course from Jan 42 to March 42.

 

The crews at Lichfield were brought in to supplement the main bombing force for the 1000 Bomber raids due to shortages of aircraft and trained Aircrew. 30th May 1942 'The 1000 Bomber' raids were not greeted with any delight as the aircraft had been 'abused' by trainees and the Instructors were there for a 'rest' period after having flown 30 Ops already. Peter flew on the first raid to Cologne on the 30th May and all 20 aircraft got back.

 

June 1942 Promoted to Flying Officer. 25th June to Bremen 15 aircraft with 1 missing and the Crew killed.  August 1942 Promoted to Flight Lieutenant

 

16th September 1942 to Essen 12 aircraft with 1 missing and the Crew killed including Peter, his aircraft took off at 19.49 hrs with a very experienced crew of Instructors and was never heard from again. . Whether the aircraft was attacked by a German fighter or shot down by flak is not known but it is possible that it crashed due to technical failure ie the prop falling off which was a frequent event with Lichfield Wellingtons. The irony of it all is that this was the last bombing raid carried out from Lichfield as the loss of Instructors could not be tolerated any longer, and it is most likely that Peter would have survived the War as an Instructor although there were those who went back to flying more Operations by choice due to boredom.

 

Peter Felce is buried in Rheinberg Cemetery in the area known to Bomber crews as 'Happy Valley' .

 

Nickel Operations are the dropping of propaganda leaflets over France. Before a crew left an O.T.U for a Squadron they were assigned to do a Nickel Op over what was thought to be a relatively 'safe' area such as Rouen or Caen however we lost several crews to enemy fighters or flak. Winston Churchill thought they were a waste of time and the French used the leaflets for lighting fires and for more bodily functions - he was probably right.   Let me know if you need any more information   Best wishes  Chris

 

 

CWGC

Name: 

FELCE, PETER GIFFORD

Initials:

P G

Nationality:

United Kingdom

Rank:

Flight Lieutenant (Air Gnr.)

Regiment/Service:

Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Age:

21

Date of Death:

16/09/1942

Service No:

69443

Additional information:

Son of Fred Gifford Felce and Eveline Felce, of Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire.

Casualty Type:

Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:

Coll. grave 4. B. 3-19.

Cemetery:

RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY