Sergeant Francis Compton DFM

35 Squadron RAF

35 Squadron RAF

Seargeant Francis Compton, 20 and from Paulsgrove, was killed on the night of 29 June 1943.

Not only does Compton’s story show just how young some of Bomber Command’s aircrew were, it also highlights just how many young men from Portsmouth were lost in the skies over Europe in the Second World War.

His Halifax Bomber, serial number HR812, Squadron number TL-F, took off at 11.27pm from Graveley on a mission to attack Cologne in Germany. Part of 35 Squadron, RAF, their role was to act as pathfinders, identifying and illuminating the target for the main force who would follow on behind.

Compton, an Air Gunner, was onboard HR812 when she was shot down by a German night fighter, piloted by Lieutenant Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, at 01.55am. The Halifax crashed near Wandre, 8 kilometres North East of Liege in Belgium.

During the Battle of the Ruhr in May 1943, Sgt Compton (then serving with No.10 Sqdn), shot down one night-fighter, damaged a second and drove off at least two others. His immediate DFM was Gazetted on 4 June 1943.

Sergeant Compton is buried in Heverlee Cemetery, Belgium.



Filed under Local History, portsmouth heroes, Royal Air Force, World War Two

18 responses to “Sergeant Francis Compton DFM

  1. megan gilbert

    This is a great Post for me to see my Great uncle was in this crew Sgt L.E Carey. thank you for the post i am currently trying to find any of the survivors and the crash location again thank you for your post


  2. James Daly

    Hi Megan thank you for your comment. I’m currently writing a book about people from Portsmouth who were killed during the War, and I’m featuring Francis Compton as a representative of Bomber Command. I have some notes about the ops that the crew did, I can forward them to you if you like.


  3. megan gilbert

    that would be fantastic. !!!!

    i am currently trying to get in touch with the right people to try and find if the surviving members of the crash are still alive as well as contacting a group in belgium to work on recoveries of downed aircraft i nbelgium to see if they have any info on the crash site. my great uncle was only ever reported as missing in action.

    thank you so much this is great i really appreciate it


    • James Daly

      Hi Megan its no problem, I will try to dig out my notes and email them to you when I get a chance. I would be very interested to hear if you find out anything interesting from Belgium.

  4. megan gilbert

    send me an email and i will send you some stuff i just got emailed

  5. Jon Beck

    Thanks for the story about Francis Compton. I believe that my uncle, Stanley Powell, was on HR812 when it went down (navigator?). He escaped from Stalag 4B on his sixth attempt and was one of only 3 RAF service members to receive the Military Cross.

    I would love to get more info if you have it. I would gladly provide you any information I can if you would like.

    • megan gilbert

      HI JON i was trying to track down your uncle as he is one of three survivors of this crash is he still alive today?

      i would love any info you have my email is above i am in contact with a writer who is doing an boigraphy on the german who shot them down.

      he is in the process of collecting his notes for me.

      my great uncle is the only canadian who was on board that plane and from what i have found so far is that they went down in the river by Souverain-Wandre belgium. they were on a mission to clononge to illuminate the target for that campaign. while under attack they must have dropped thier load which cause the destruction of four housees on the ground.

      i recently purchased a book in which your uncles story is told it is called Survial at Stalag IVB

      looking forward to hearing from you

  6. Laura Cooper

    Hi there,

    I came accross this while I was doing a bit of research into the history of my paternal Grandfather. He was H C Billett (Harry) and was the navigator on this plane. As far as I know he was in a prisoner of war camp after the crash. He survived the war and died in 1987 (approx). I am now 33 and very interested in his life during the war. Sadly my Grandma died a few years ago now and I wish I had asked her more about him while she was alive as I was only about 8 when he died.

    Best wishes,

    Laura Cooper (nee Billett)

    • James Daly

      Hi Laura, how amazing it is to hear from you. Francis Compton has been an inspiring man to research, as he comes from the same suburb of Portsmouth as me. He – and your grandfather – were remarkable and very brave men. When I was at Kew I transcribed the Squadron records for the crew, which give an idea of what missions they flew on and when. Compton is heavily featured in a chapter on Bomber Command in my new book which is due out in a couple of weeks time.

  7. megan

    fantastic to meet another family member of this amazing crew and cant wait to see the crew records i have found about where they went down but have not been able to find out if the plane was ever recovered

  8. Dupe Powell

    My Father was Stanley Powell MC. He passed away in February 2000. My husband came across this thread and it has come as a bit of a shock. I will try and fill in the gaps for you with some of his photos and our memories. Dupe Powell.

    • megan

      just noticed this reply it is great to meet you. i love how a blog can bring so many people with a distant connection together. any pictures you have i would love to see specially if my great uncle is involved even one of the specific plane they flew if you have one please feel free to reply at

  9. Hi there.
    My Grandfather was also in this crew. SGT R.J Taylor. He was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. He survived the crash and saw out the rest of the war in a pow camp/s. Unfortunately he died in the mid 1990’s and my grandmother a few years ago. He never spoke about his time during the war so we don’t have much to go on. We have a service record and a diary he wrote in the pow camp and I know of 2 photographs and that’s it. So, it would be great to hear from the rest of the crew if you have stories to share of their time together. 🙂

  10. I recognise that this is a late posting, but I have been working with one of the families to put together a document on the loss of HR812; if anyone has any information that they think might be useful, please contact me.

    The work is due for completion June / July 2013, so I would be happy to share my findings when they are completed.

    • megan

      sorry to only see this now i hope you had enough info for your work. i have leslie’s service records but do not have any info on this flight i believe i managed to get a few flight logs but would have to double check it still blows my mind that almost every crew member has had a family member come to this post. 🙂

  11. gavin hughes

    bit late to the party, im found this trying to research my grand fathers brother, W Hughes, any information that any one has about the crew anyone has, please share, many thanks

    Gavin Hughes

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