INNISS – George Harold Frederick

Initials: G H F
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Pilot Officer (Pilot)
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force
Unit Text: 106 Sqdn.
Age: 24
Date of Death: 04/02/1941
Service No: 43036
Additional information: Son of Charles H. Inniss and Caroline Inniss, of Barbados. Arts Graduate of Durham University.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Plot L. Row A. Grave 15.

Hampden AD750 – gardening off St.Nazaire. Crashed near St.Pète-en-Retz (between St.Nazaire and Nantes, Loire-et-Atlantique, France).


George Inniss 2

Photograph probably taken when George gained his wings on 23rd March 1940

[Courtesy Peter Burton/BajanThings]

Read a very extensive report on George’s live, his service in the RAF and the crash that killed him on the Bajan Things website (with many pictures):

A summary:

P/O George HF Inniss (43036): 31st May 1916 to 5th February 1941
George won a Barbados scholarship and undertook a Classics degree at Codrington College Barbados – conferred by Durham University. He came to the UK in Aug 1938 to undertake a teaching diploma at London University – the intention was he would then join a school in Cambridge. We don’t think he did the latter. Instead on 6 Sept 1939, – 3 days after WWII was declared on Germany – George volunteered for the RAF. As a commonwealth citizen constriction would not have applied to him. He was a true volunteer. Having trained as pilot George was assigned to 106 squadron on 15 Dec 1940. It took approx. 14 month to train him as a pilot. He joined with just 170 hour flying time. In normal circumstances it took between 18 months to 2 years and 200 to 320 flying hours to train a pilot for the RAF, however in 1939 there was an acute shortage of pilots and training was shortened. So having spent 14 months being trained as a pilot – George was killed in action on his first operational sortie. Such a sad story.

Excerpts from the webpage on Bajan Things:

“The body of Navigator P/O George Harold Frederick Inniss was found away from the crash-site. He bailed-out too low and was attached to his parachute. He has a bullet wound in his chest.”

On George’s last flight he is listed as Observer (navigator/bomber). In the early days newbie pilots were often put as Observers to build up their experience.

On the evening of 4th February 1941, six Handley Page Hampden Mk. I aircraft from 106 Squadron, RAF Bomber Command took off from RAF Finningley, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire at 17.30hrs to lay mines in the Bay of Saint-Nazaire and to bomb a French aircraft factory located adjacent to the aerodrome at Château Bougon.

AD750’s mission was to bomb the French aircraft manufacturer: La Société Nationale des Constructions Aéronautiques de l’Ouest (SNCAO) factory situated adjacent to the aerodrome at Château Bougon (now known as: Aéroport Nantes Atlantique). That night fog covered the whole area. Near to Château Bougon was a German flak corps anti-aircraft artillery battery.

Prior to releasing its bombs AD750 was hit by German flak. The aircraft exploded when it crashed nose first in a field at La Marronnière farm, La Marsoire, Pont-Saint-Martin, Loire-Atlantique about 2 km from the target.

The standing RAF rules for airmen were aircrew should only bail-out when there was no other option. This meant sometimes it was too late. On the night of 4thFebruary 1941 there was fog and little visibility. Given the visibility that night and what we learnt in the 106 Squadron Personal Experience Reports for the mission, our guess is that AD750 was probably at an altitude of 2,000ft or lower. Prior to bailing-out it was necessary for the crew to put on their parachutes. While flying the crew did not wear their parachutes in order to remain mobile within the cramped quarters of the Handley Page Hampden Mk. I airframe. The crew putting on their parachutes would have eaten up precious time and altitude.

We believe two of the crew were able to bail-out but did not survive and two of the crew were unable to bail-out and died when AD750 crashed /exploded.

Often when aircrew bailed-out they would not have enough altitude for the parachutes to open properly. We believe this was what happened with the AD750 crash.

With AD750 one crew member’s charred body was found at the crash-site attached to remnants of his parachute, suggesting he bailed-out too late. This is believed to have been SGT Jack Lewis Franco who we think was the ventral (under belly) gunner who would have escaped via the jettisoned rear exit door in the belly of the Hampden.

The other crew member that bailed out, was found away from the crash-site. He survived but was severely hurt and found the next morning on 5th February 1941 dying from his injuries. It is understood he was shot by the Germans. This crew-member is believed to have been the navigator P/O George Harold Frederick Inniss who would have been the first to bail-out given he was found away from the crash-site. He would have escaped via the front exit door in the belly of the Hampden.

The two crew that were unable to bail-out are believed to have been the pilot F/O William Kelman Burr Thomas and the dorsal (upper) gunner SGT Frederick Arnold Colson. F/O William Kelman Burr Thomas and SGT Frederick Arnold Colson are buried in a joint grave at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Pont-du-Cens Communal Cemetery.

[Source: Peter Burton/Bajan Things]

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