Sergeant Harry Bliss - 218 Squadron  
 

 

 

Sergeant Harry Bliss - RAF

 

 Sergeant Harry Bliss RAF was the son of Henry & Lilian Bliss of 154 Mayfield Avenue, Dover. Harry was born on the 26th of October 1919 and was one of six children, including a sister Olive and brother Raymond (served in the Royal Sussex Regiment and died of T.B. after returning home from a POW Camp.)

 Harry had originally hoped to become a pilot but was diagnosed with colour blindness and trained as an air gunner instead. After attending 1651 Conversion Unit, he was posted to 218 Squadron on the 4th of February 1943 and became the only survivor of the crash on 28/29th April 1943 when Stirling 1 EF356 HA-O left Downham Market at 21.05 as part of a Gardening Op. in the Sweet Pea area of Rostock, Germany. The Stirling was caught on German Radar and shot down at 00.35 at Oddum, between Esbjerg and Ringkobing,Denmark, by the German pilot Oberfeldweber Mangeldorf from 12/NJG 3. Before the Stirling crashed, Sergeant Bliss parachuted to safety, landing at 7.00 a.m..A local smallholder called the Parish Executive Officer who arrested Harry and took him to Addum Village where he was picked up by the Danish police and then handed over to the German Wehrmacht in Skjorn. He was taken to the interrogation centre at Oberursel before being sent to Prisoner of War Camps, including Stalag III and Stalag Luft IV Gross Tychow.At the latter camp the conditions were particularly atrocious and it is believed that it was here that his appendix burst. In a letter to Harry’s mother, a survivor and friend of Harry’s who must have been with him at the camp told her that Harry had suffered deep marks on his chest after having a rifle butt pushed into it. 

 In the book, "Footprints in the Sands of Time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock,i t states that on part of the journey by train from Gross Tychow to Fallingbostel, where, locked up in a cramped cattle truck with other pow’s, Harry developed acute appendicitis for which he received no medical attention. He died on the 30th of March 1945, just weeks short of victory in Europe.

 The family was also told that Harry made several escape attempts during his time as a POW.In letters home dated December and February 1943,andJanuary and September 1944, to his sister, Olive from Stalag III, Harry tells her that letters from home are getting through but that" he would like to mention that this place is no holiday camp"

 He also mentions that he is keeping busy, playing chess, and drawing and as he is a Sergeant,"we don’t have to work. I am doing haircutting and learning French as a past time".

 Harry's crew crew consisted of:

Name

Service

Trade

Hometown

Age

Sgt Kenneth Hailey

RAFVR

Pilot

Southgate. Middlesex

21

Sgt Andrew Surtees

RAFVR

Flight Engineer

Morpeth,Northumberland

21

Sgt Arthur Sindrey

RAFVR

Navigator

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

21

P/O Sidney Holliman

RAFVR

Bomb Aimer

Cockfosters,Middlesex

21

Sgt Ronald Barton

RAFVR

W/Op/AG

Bethnal Green, London

22

Sgt Harry Bliss

RAFVR

Air Gunner

Dover

25

Sgt James Head

RAFVR

Air Gunner

Hurstpierpoint,Sussex

20

 

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 Sergeant Head and P/O Holliman rest in Fourfelt Cemetery (F/O Holliman’s body was to be found the morning after the crash while Sergeant Head’s remains were found at the crash site on the 18th of May 1943). The remaining four crew rest in Oddum Cemetery. Sergeant Harry Bliss rests in Becklingen War Cemetery

 

 

 

  Information and  photos courtesy of Maggie Booth & the Bliss family. Special thanks to Soren Flenstead, research by Linda Ibrom.