Flight Sergeant Peter Holt 1481 Bombing Gunnery Flight/1 Group

Peter was the only child of Clara Holt nee Sutcliffe. He was born on 11/11/1920 at 30 Earl Street Shipley West Yorkshire and was an older cousin of my mother Edna Dodd Nee Holmes and her late sisters Ivy and Olive.

On their visits to their Aunt, Mum and Aunty Olive remembered him as a very quiet unassuming lad who had a real passion for model trains and who was very adept at making them.  His mother was particularly strict and became easily irritated by him. Mum has often indicated that my Great Aunt was somewhat intolerant of him at times and he led a somewhat repressed life as a youngster.

Peter eventually enlisted with the RAF on 15/03/1941 aged 21 and was in 199 Squadron. His Service Number was 1147370.
A description of him reads as follows Height 5ft 5 1/4inches. Hair black. Eyes brown Complexion pale. Chest size 30 ½ inches.
Occupation Cinema Projectionist.

Further details read as follows.
UNIT 3RC 15/03/1941
3RC RESERVE 16/03/1941
RESERVE TO 1ACRC 07/07/1941
4 ITW REASON H 19/07/1941
22 EFTS REASON H 09/07/1941
14 FTS REASON H 25/10/1941
2 SFTS REASON H 15/12/1941
22 OTU REASON HHG 26/05/1942
BRIZE NORTON
26 OUT 02 [? 01] 1942
150 Squadron 14/09/1942
150 Squadron to 199 Squadron 16/11/1942
199 Squadron to [ ? 1481B Flight ] 15/05/1943
DEP POR 02/03/19444 Admit Victoria Hospital Worksop 15/04/1944 Transferred RAF Hospital Rauceby Grantham Lincolnshire 19/04/1944
DEP POR 02/05/1948 HELMSWELL [ MES] 15/04/1944
DEP POR 21/07/1945KR ACI 652 [B] 28/06/1945.
 
He went on to complete many successful sorties in Wellington aeroplanes. Taken from information held at the National Archives at KEW.

Peter’s entries read as follows:

AIRCRAFT TYPE 'T' BX514 (199 Squadron
8/9/Dec 1942 Crew.  Sgt Holt P Pilot Sgt Bennett H Navigator Sgt Thomas A H Air Bomber Sgt Aspinall S J W/Op AG Sgt  Staples MC R Gunner
Time up 16.96hrs Time Down 23.50 hrs
Mine Laying 2x1500 VEGS. Mines were successfully laid at 1941hrs from a height of 700 ft with good visibility below cloud. Timed run was made from {?Vesjsnacs –difficult to transcribe} neck and both parachutes seen to open. Operation considered successful.
 
26/01/1943 Wellington III 2 BK 3
Time up 17.05. Time Down 23.20hrs.
From a height of 8000ft this aircraft bombed the Docks and a burst was seen in the dock area. The area was well identified and a large fire was seen in the South part of a town with scattered fires in other parts. The aircraft landed at base.

29/01/1943. Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 16.45hrs Time down 22.20 hrs.
From a fix this aircraft bombed the presumed position of the target, but no results were observed due to the 10/10 cloud. Aircraft returned to base.

04/02/1943 Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 18.30hrs Time down 23.50hrs.
Lorient 21.12hrs 9000ft 060degrees M No cloud visibility good. Outer harbour and docks clearly seen. Bombs believed to fall near Magisin general but {/ word} seen pjhoto flash failed.  One fire seen on West of town area. This aircraft returned safely to base.
 
07.02/1943 Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 19.17hrs. Time down 00.17hrs
Lorient 21.45hrs 7000ft 200 degrees M clear, no cloud. Visibility good apart from smoke fires.  Port area virtually identified. Also by fires raised by previous aircraft. Bombs from this aircraft believed to fall in the centre of aiming area. Burst not seEn. Huge fires started in aiming areas  “A”  and “ B” also many other fires seen throughout the town.  Results could still be seen when we were 100 miles away on our return.

12/02/1943 Wellington III 'V' BJ674
Time up 18.16hrs Time down 22.20hrs.
Sea Mining 19.45hrs 700ft heading 340 degrees clear, no cloud. Visibility very good. Run of 7 minutes on course. 340 degrees both parachutes seen to open.

13/02/1943 Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 17.30hrs Time down 23.20hrs
Lorient 20.41hrs 9000ft 300 degrees W Clear moonlight,no cloud. Target identified . Bombs from this aircraft believed to fall 300 yards NW of aiming point.

19/02/1943. Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 17.45hrs Time down 22.45 hrs
Wilhelmshaven 20.05hrs 13,5000ft 095 degrees M 7/10 CLOUD. Port area identified visually. Bomb believed to fall on aiming point. Our bomb not seen. No other result of bombing seen in target area.

05/03/1943 Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 19.20 hrs Time Down 23.58hrs.
{? Word } 21.25hrs 15,oooft 190 degrees N IAS 150mph. No cloud. Good horizontal visibility. Large volume of smoke. Target identified by { ?concentration} Red and green T I markers. Own burst not seen. No scattered fires seen. One large concentration of fire around aiming point. Concentration 100%. If path finder fosse put the TI markers in place KRUPPS should be finished. Glow of fires could still be seen after crossing coast on way back.

09/03/1943 Wellington ?KK18634
Time up 18.50 Time down 01.05yrs. 21.43hrs 700ft 244 degrees N. No cloud. Patches of thick mist at seal level. Good visibility horizontally, above. Timed  rrun of 5 ½ minutes. From south tip of heading 247 degrees N.G.S. 150. Both Parachutes seen to open. Very successful trip.

12/03/1943 Wellington III 'Z' BK 1368
Time up 19.30hrs Time down 00.15hrs.
   ESSEN  21.41hrs 14,000ft 210 degrees N Lat 180 degrees. No cloud. Smoke. Visibility very    good. Target identified by three green TI markers. In sight. Own bomb not seen to  explode due to violent evasive action from flack. Saw too bright yellow explosions { ? smoulder} larger 4000lb which lit up our aircraft. One appeared to be midway and the East side of { ? } { ?commander] pathfinder laid their markers well but the attack was not as concentrated as the last raid as there appeared to be a number of bombs dropped in over 2 – 3 miles W and N and outside of defence.

13/03/1943 Wellington III 'N' BK541
Time up 01.00hrs Time down 06.15hrs
03.45hrs 700ft 049degrees G/S 157 No cloud base. Visibility good Run of 9 ½ minutes from Spiekereek. Both Parachutes seen to open and VEGS Enter water.Very successful uneventful trip.

26/03/1943 Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 19.35hrs Time down 00.05hrs.
Durisburg 21.55hrs 16000ft 190 degrees N   IAS 160mph. Visibility good. 10/10 cloud tops 14/15000ft target identified by red and green tracking flares in bombing sights. No results observed owing to cloud. Pathfinder force released point flares, appeared to be scattered.

28/03/1943 Wellington III 'Z' BK138
Time up 19.04hrs Time down 01.00hrs
St Nazaire 22.09hs 10,000ft 170 degrees N  IAS 140. No cloud VISIBILITY GOOD. Target identified by TI markers red. Bombs seen to explode among building. Very successful trip. TI markers accurately timed and well concentrated.

29/03/1943 Wellington 'X' BK138
Time up 19.35hrs Time down 00.35hrs
Bochin 21.50hrs 16,000ft 190 degrees N IAS 160mph. Visibility good no cloud. Some ground { ?haze or base} Target identified by green tracking flare. One white flare in bomb sight at time of release. No results observed. Very scattered and on the whole results very disappointing.

08/04/1943 Wellington 'Y' BK702
Time up 20.25hrs Time Down 02.30hrs
Sea mining 23.31hrs 700ft 131 degrees N IAS 18F. No cloud.  Slight [ ?haze or base]  Target identified. La Calabasse. Timed run of 6 minutes. On course 131 IAS 155 Both parachutes seen to open. Small hole in tail plume believed to be due to light flack.

10/04/1943 Wellington X 'P' ?5470
Time up 23.5hrs Time down 06.00hrs
Frankfurt 02.36hrs 11,00oft 050 degrees M IAS 150 10/10 cloud tops 9,000ft. Visibility good above cloud. Target identified by reflection of red and green markers TI markers seen on cloud. No results were observed owing to cloud. No sky markers were visible above cloud in target area owing to 10/10 cloud. It was expected that this method would be used.

14/04/1943 Wellington X 'P' ?5470
Time up 21.25hrs Time down 04.25hrs
Stuttgart 00.55hrs 12,000ft 210degrees M IAS . Clear no cloud. Visibility very good . Target identified by TI markes green,yellow T/I’s seen on track. Bombs aimed at centre of 3 groups of T.Is. No results observed. A few fires were just stating. Rather scattered but certainly in a built up target area. Quite successful. Several large HE bursts also seen in a built up target area shortly after we left.
 
16/04/1943. Wellington X 'P' ?5470
Time up 21.20hrs Time Down 04.20hrs
Maunheim 00.57hrs 12,000ft 030 degrees M IAS 160mph. No cloud hazy. Bombed on green TI’s in bomb sight. Target not in sight owing to much ground haze. No results observed. No fires yet seen in this target area. Difficult to estimate success of raid at time.
 
20/04/1943. Wellington X 'P' ?5470
Time up 20.45hrs Time down 02.40hrs
Sea mining 00.02hrs 1000ft 010 degrees [M] Slight mist. Some high cloud. Visibility good. Target identified by S End of Ile – De- Croix. Run of 1 minute on heading 010 MG/S 164. Both parachutes seen to open. Successful trip.
 
These are the only entries we have of Peters’ sorties.
 

The Air Historical Branch sent us the following details.
Flight Sgt Holt was the Pilot of Wellington aircraft HE804 operating with 1481 Bombing Gunnery Flight of 1 Group, based at Ingham.  Casualty records show that F/sgt Holt and three other members of the crew were serving with 1 Lancaster finishing School based at Hemswell, Lincolnshire, at the time of the accident.

On 15th April 1944 the crew of HE804 were undertaking an exercise when at 15.15hrs whilst flying at 1500ft the starboard engine failed and the aircraft lost height and crashed in woods at Ollerton Road east of Worksop, Nottinghamshire. An examination of the aircraft failed to show he reason for the engine failure. Sadly the entire crew received injuries as a result of the accident. F/Sgt Holt was dangerously injured and admitted to the Victoria Hospital Worksop.

On 19th April 1944 he was transferred to RAF Rauceby Grantham Lincolnshire
Other members of the crew read as follows
J18014 Fg Off D A BLACK
J14397 Fg Off G  MANN
1395366  F/SGT F A SPARKS
1435983 Sgt WR FIELD
R 205197 Sgt R L HOLMGREN
R194626 Sgt E R MATTHEWS
613917 Sgt F H ROUT
R 210602 Sgt E SMITH
  
Peter received a Flying badge on 04/04/1942,
He was eventually awarded the DFM on 15/06/1943 at this was presented to him at  Buckingham Palace by the King on 30/11/1943 in.  His investiture reads.

A local newspaper's report on Peter's DFM

1147370 Sergeant Peter Holt No 199 Squadron. Since October 1942 Sergeant Holte has completed numerous operational missions over enemy territory. These operations have included sorties to Cologne, Duisburg and Essen and also minelaying flights in enemy waters. He has invariably taken part in these attacks with skill and courage, and though the enemy opposition has been frequently encountered, he has always set an example of sool judgement, airmanship and efficiency. His gallantry and devotion to duty have been an inspiration to the rest of the squadron.
 
On 19/06/1944 Peter also received a Good Conduct badge, which is entered as being a 1stv 
On April the 15th 1944 my mother and her sister Olive, remembered their mother Annie Holmes rushing into the house and out again telling them she was going to her Sister Clara’s’ home. She informed them briefly that Peter had been involved in a serious air crash and was “Critically injured.” 

They were shocked by this information, but I was told in that day and age one never asked questions, and so being many years younger the full impact of what had occurred never really registered with either of them.
They understood that Peter had deliberately veered the plane away from a school.

 The extent of the injuries was never mentioned, and they never saw Peter again. In due course, they completely lost touch with their family roots. 

I contacted a local paper in Worksop to see if they held any archive material and in time I was put in touch with a Mr Dennis Gray and his wife Marjorie.  We have remained friends to this day.
           
Worksop Guardin Published on Thursday 14 December 2006 16:04
"MEMORIES of Second World War years in the Worksop area came flooding back following last week's Worksop Guardian feature on Clumber Park.
The Oval resident Dennis Gray clearly remembers the day when a Wellington bomber smashed into the trees just short of Truman's Lodge.
"It had taken off from Scofton and was taking part in an exercise when one of its engines failed," he said.
"There was a gang of us, all about the same age playing around in the area. We saw what was happening and we couldn't believe our eyes."
Mr Gray said it was the 15th April 1944 when the plane, HE 804 piloted by Yorkshireman Flt Sgt Peter Holt, got into trouble over Worksop.
"We could see there was something wrong – the Wellington was a two-engined plane and this one was limping along on one at just 500 feet ," he said.
"The plane was definitely heading for a crash as he was losing height all the time."
But as far as the lads could see he was not going to hit any houses.
But there were three schools which were in danger – particularly Worksop College.
His only option if he was going to avoid hitting it was to come down in Clumber Park – in an area that was known to be cluttered with Nissen huts packed with ammunition and armaments.
In an effort to save children's lives the pilot bravely chose the second option, and started to put the plane down in Clumber.
Thankfully his courageous decision paid off and he managed to avoid the rows of munitions dumps as his plane crumpled into the trees.
Miraculously none of the crew members – the pilot, the wireless operator and seven trainee air gunners – lost their lives.
"It was 3.15pm when it happened and in no time at all the souvenir hunters were on the scene. That was our cue to dash off home," added Dennis.
 Retford's Bill Taylor who served as a corporal in the RAF Fire and Rescue has researched and written about, the history of wartime airfields in the area.
The Wellington was never a popular plane with pilots," he said.
"To fly it at all with one engine out would have been extremely difficult.
"According to my records the plane was on a gunnery exercise – at that time Scofton (RAF Worksop) was a very important place for training pilots and their air crew"

 
Mr Gray and his friends remember picking up several pieces of Perspex long after the incident.
Tragically the end of my research was thought provoking to say the least.  We tried to establish if Peter was still alive, and could be contacted. We did this by trying to trace his Social Security details but after much searching it was discovered that Peter had in fact died in 1960.

We sent off for the death certificate and it was an enormous shock to learn the following
FRIDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER  1961 25 Elwick Court Cheshunt Hertfordshire Peter Sutcliffe known as Holt 40yrs Estimating Clerk - Suicide while the balance of his mind was temporarily disturbed by Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from exhaust fumes of a motor car.
The irony of his death was that my parents were living only approximately 25-30 miles away and had no knowledge that he was within such close proximity.

My Grandma – Peters Aunt, died in November 1944 the same year as the accident, when he would still be recovering, from his injuries. 3 weeks later Peters own Mum – Clara died.   Peter had no siblings.

Very regrettably Peter had supposedly been informed by an Aunt  at the Funeral of his Mother  that the man he had always know to be his Father i e FRED HOLT was in fact not his Father after all!

 Peter may have been prone to depression prior to joining the RAF.  If he wasn’t at that point in his life, he was obviously a deeply troubled and mentally unstable young man at the time of his death.   He had lost touch with all his maternal Aunts/Uncles and Cousins, and  we believe and he must have felt incredibly lonely and isolated.  

 Post Traumatic Stress disorder may not have been recognised in 1961,  and the type of help Peter may have been given, would without doubt fall short of what is on offer for people today who suffer from Mental Health problems. It would be very unusual to have witnessed all the scenes Peter would have seen, and experienced so many personal tragedies, without suffering from some kind of Mental breakdown.

We have no knowledge of any girlfriends, or indeed wife/children he may have had.

The Coroners inquest shows that a Mrs Midgeley " Step Aunt " was the last person to have seen Peter, before his untimely death.
Peter will always be held dear to my heart.  I never met him, and I have little information regarding his personality other than what I have been told over the years. 

 I feel that he was a hugely courageous young man, who deserves always to be remembered as such for the incredible bravery and effort he gave for his Country.

By Jane Dodd, Peters 1st Cousin x1 removed


BK138 ended its career with 21OTU, RAF Moreton-in-Marsh. It made a forced landing at RAF Broadwell on 6th April 1944 after the toilet lid became detatched and lodged in the aircrafts aileron controls!  

The fate of the crew of HE804
J18014 Fg Off D A BLACK Unknown
J14397 Fg Off G  MANN Unknown

1395366  F/SGT Frank Albert SPARKS to General Duties Branch 16th March 1945 as 195467. To pilot Officer RAFVR 10 Squadron in September 1945.

1435983 Sgt WR FIELD Unknown

R 205197 Sgt R L HOLMGREN RCAF Rear Air Gunner flew with 550 Squadron flew lancasters EE139 'BQ-B' 'The Phantom of the Ruhr', PA991 'BQ-E' and PA995 'BQ-K' 'The Vulture Strikes'.

R194626 Sgt E R MATTHEWS Unknown

613917 Sgt F H ROUT maybe 625 Squadron? (Flt Sgt F H (Frank) Rout Gunner S.African)

R 210602 Sgt Eric SMITH RCAF from West Summerland, British Columbia. 626 Squadron killed 4th November 1944 aged 20 in Lancaster I LM290 'UM-W2' took off from RAF Wickenby and shot down by Luftwaffe ME410 over Menen, Belgium whilst on a mission to bomb Bochum, Germany.  Buried in a communal grave at Kortrijk Communal Cemetery, West Vlaanderen Belgium. Row BB. Coll. grave 15-19.