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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 53486
Last updated: 17 October 2021
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Type:Bristol Beaufort I
Owner/operator:22 Squadron Royal Air Force (22 Sqn RAF)
Registration: L9889
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:North Sea, 8 km NW off Den Helder -   Netherlands
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF North Coates, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:
26 November 1940 was a bad day for RAF Coastal Command with four aircraft failing to return from operations. Only one of the 13 airmen aboard survived, as a POW.

Two Beauforts of 22 Sqn RAF took off at 12.30 hrs from North Coates and set course for Holland. They made landfall at Den Helder at 13.35 hrs and the formation leader, Squadron Leader F H Roberts, flying the Beaufort I L9889 OA-T, sighted two merchant vessels, each between 3,000 and 4,000 tons, some 8 km northwest of Den Helder.

After circling the ships for about ten minutes in medium and heavy flak the Beaufort was seen to drop its torpedo and continue the attack run, turning slightly to port, before crashing into the North Sea 400 yards beyond the ship at approx 14.25 hrs. The downing of the Beaufort was claimed by a German patrol boat, Vorpostenboot 1101. Only one of the four crew survived and was captured.

Squadron Leader Frank Howard Roberts (pilot) KIA
Sgt Stephen Frederick Martin (observer) KIA
Sgt Stanley Norman Douglas (wireless operator/air gunner) KIA
Sgt T Pickering - survived, captured, taken as POW

Roberts and Douglas both rest in Sage War Cemetery while Sgt Martin was washed ashore at Schiermonnikoog and buried locally in Vredenhof Cemetery on 8 January 1941.

This was his first flight with 22 Squadron for 24 year old Squadron Leader Frank Howard Roberts, the son of Norman Roberts (formerly of the Royal Navy). An experienced RAF regular officer from West Hartlepool, Frank had received his commission as an officer in 1934, and was married to Marjorie Junie Squires at Gosport, Hampshire in late 1939. He was originally buried somewhere on the Ost Friesland coast and reburied after the war at Sage War Cemetery - Grave Reference 7. D. 8.

20 year old Sgt Stanley Norman Douglas was the son of John and Isabel Douglas, from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is buried at Sage War Cemetery - Grave Reference 7. D. 3.

Sgt Stephen Frederick Martin was the 20 year old son of Bertie and Emily Martin, from Ilford, Essex. His birth was registered at the Medway area of Kent in December 1919 and he is buried in Grave 51 at Schiermonnikoog’s Vredenhof Cemetery.

Sgt T Pickering was the only crew member to survive. He was made a POW and spent the war at Stalag XI-D / 357, located just to the east of the town of Fallingbostel in Lower Saxony, north-west Germany.


1. "Royal Air Force Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War, vol 1: Aircraft and Crew Losses 1939-1941", by Ross McNeill. ISBN 1-85780-128-8
2. “Battle of Britain-The Forgotten Months, November and December 1940.”, by John Foreman. ISBN 1-871187-02-8
4. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1978 p 65)

Revision history:

17-Dec-2008 11:45 ASN archive Added
27-Nov-2015 08:16 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Total fatalities, Total occupants, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
13-Jun-2019 17:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Operator, Other fatalities, Source, Narrative]
13-Jun-2019 17:17 Dr. John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
17-Jun-2019 09:49 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]
26-Oct-2020 19:13 TigerTimon Updated [Other fatalities, Phase]

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