© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons


454 RAAF Squadron :  13.6.43 - 23.7.43


Squadron Leader Lionel Harvey FOLKARD


RAFVR Pilot No. 40102


Squadron Leader Folkhard


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They called "Operation Thesis" - >>> Black Friday <<<


"Operation Thesis" A retaliatory raid that would be a large combined air strike against various ports and military establishments on Crete.  8 crews were chosen for this mission. 


The planners at HQ had forgotten that although the Allies were on double summer time, the Axis were not.  The plan assumed the German defences would be at breakfast and be caught unawares, but in Crete, breakfast was over and the Germans were already attending their daily duties.  This combined with the time it took the escort to coordinate and so the Baltimores consequently arrived over the island first, alerting the island defences, anti-aircraft guns and enemy fighters. The German defences were fully prepared and hence the inevitable result of this low-level strike.




FLIGHT CREW -  AG 995 - First Wave - 23.7.1943


Squadron Leader L.H. Folkard, RAFVR - POW

Flying Officer D.F. Hutchinson, RAAF - POW

Flying Officer W.W. Dyer, RAFVR -- POW

Warrant Officer K.S. Wedgwood - KIA V

 


The other 3 Crews:  AG952; FA300 (see Grimwade page); FA390:A (see Akhurst page)




Second Wave - 23.7.43


4 CREWS:  FA409; AG869; FA247 AND FA224




One of 8 crews selected for the "Thesis" Raid of Crete was to relieve pressure from the German operation "Huskey" - the Allied invasion of Sicily and avenge the execution of 100 Cretans who had been shot after assisting a Commando raid on the island.


Folkhard was detailed to lead the squadron's 8 airctraft on the 230 mile flight.   454 were to provide 2 box formations of 4 aircraft each - each loaded with six 250 lb bombs.   The mission resulted in 5 aircraft lost over Crete. 


Folkhard later described the mission ..."We came down to low-level and then went along the Crete coast towards the Suda Bay.  We were now under 100 feet and the ground fire was extreme.  We had flown only half way to the target and we suffered major damage to our aircraft.  Our port engine was on fire and I was wounded in the left leg, also my right arm was hanging by a shred, and I was losing a great deal of blood onto the cockpit floor".  Folkhard somehow managed to crash land on a sandy beach and he then lost consciousness.  All survived except Warrant Officer K.S. Wedgwood.


Squadron Leader Folkhard was taken as a Prisoner of War and sent to Stalag Luft III in Sagan - Germany.  Later repatriated.


Aerial view of Stalag Luft III - Sagan - Germany - WW2


The Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training) Branch, often abbreviated to RAFVR(T) is a voluntary element of the British Royal Air Force.  -- see "Our History" page.



Lionel H FOLKARD