Letter to Harold Fry's father from the Air Ministry



Letter to Harold Fry's father from the Air Ministry


Refers to letter of 10 May 1944 stated they had passed on a request to the British Red Cross to enquire about his son's cuff-links but they replied that no personal effects on any crew member had been recovered. Goes on to outline new enquiries since the invasion and while they could not access the Russian zone, captured enemy records indicated his son's Lancaster came down on 29 January 1944 at Schmachtenhagen, 3 miles east of Orianianburg. Only three crew were recovered with only one named as Pilot Officer Griffiths (bomb aimer).




Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Tel. No. Gerrard 9234

Casualty Branch,
77 Oxford Street,
London, W.1.

5th December, 1945.


Dear Mr. Fry,

You will remember my writing to you on 10th May 1944, to say that I had asked the British Red Cross Society to make a special enquiry through the International Red Cross committee about the cuff-links worn by your son, Flight Lieutenant H.L. Fry. A much belated reply has been received from the international Red Cross Committee at Geneva to the effect that no personal effects of any of the crew members have been recovered.

Our enquiry in May last year was made before D-day and the liberation of Europe. We now have the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service operating on the Continent. Our officers are able to move freely about much of Western Europe but they are precluded from operating in the Russian zone of Germany. Until this ban is lifted it is useless for us to tell them to make enquiries in the Russian zone.

Captured German records state that your son's Lancaster came down at 3.25 a.m. On 29th January, 1944, at Schmachtenhagen, a small place three miles east of Oranienburg and about 25 miles north of Berlin. The Germans mention only three out of the seven occupants – Pilot Officer Griffiths (the air bomber) and two unknown – and they state that the three were buried at Birkenwerder, about 12 miles N.N.W. Of Berlin. (This you already know).

Our natural reaction would be to instruct our Missing Research and Enquiry Service to visit the cemetery at Birkenwerder and find out, if possible the identity of the two unknown and the fate of the others. But Birkenwerder lies in the Russian zone of Germany and we can at present do nothing.

L.Fry, Esq.,
159 South Park Drive,
Ilford, Essex.


[page break]

Urgent representations at a high level have been made to open up the Russian zone to our investigators. If and when this becomes possible, we shall send out our Search officers.

Meanwhile may I again offer you our sympathy in your bereavement.


(Wing Commander in Casualty Branch)



Sinkinson A P, “Letter to Harold Fry's father from the Air Ministry ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 3, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/29814.

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