Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong    <   page 14c  > 

Ameland Graves

Texel & Den Helder




Leeuwarden Airfield


Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar




St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island


Sink the Scharnhorst!

12 Squadron Losses

Runnymede Memorial 




Nes is the second largest village on the island of Ameland. It constitutes as the main village of the eastern, Roman Catholic part of Ameland. In the past, the Catholic Amelanders ran into many conflicts with the western, Protestant Amelanders living in Hollum and Ballum.

Nes has since become a popular tourist destination, as the place where the ferry from the mainland arrives. The village has many small shops and restaurants and even a micro-distillery.






Moving Forward with DNA Testing?   by Willem



Clipping from the Leeuwarder Courant   Thursday the 10th of April, 2014   - Further investigations to drowned persons already buried. - In the General Cemetery of Nes (Ameland) four graves were reopened on Wednesday by employees of the ‘ Landelijk Bureau Vermiste Personen ’ (National Office of Missing Persons).
It’s about the last resting places of drowned persons, who were washed up on the island beaches before World War 2, and whose identities were never found. This work is part of a national program in which the office is trying to find out the identity of people buried there with the help of the (latest) forensic techniques. In this way it’s perhaps possible to take away the state of suspense for some next of kin. Meanwhile the human remains were reburied.
Today, (10th April 2014) I found this article in our well known 'Leeuwarder Courant', by the way the oldest still published newspaper of the Netherlands, and at the moment still the 'European newspaper of the year'. It's about further investigations - after so many years ! - regarding drowned persons already buried for a long time in the Nes General Cemetery (Ameland), the same cemetery in which is situated the Allied Plot of Honour.
It's also 'rather striking', this article, because in yesterday's  Leeuwarder Courant a similar 'cold case article' was published, about the Longway Cemetery at West-Terschelling, where a washed up human leg was buried.
The results of those investigations were ending already in a 'clear ID bingo'. It was from a Dutch man living in Den Haag/The Hague. Meanwhile his daughter has been informed with happy conclusions in the end. 
What is the most important issue of all is that they now have the 'tools' to get much better and dependable results, and the best chance ever to find the real ID of someone.
Here is my summary of that article -On the 26th of July, 1987, a left side leg only, of a man, was found and recovered on the Terschelling beach near Formerum village (beachmarker 8.11), on which was a sports shoe and a nylon sock....that was all (!). The Police and the other authorities have always believed this find was most likely from one of the victims of the British ferry boat 'Herald of Free Enterprise' which had sunk while leaving Zeebrugge in Belgium.
After 27 years it is now clear, after a DNA - match with his daughter, that it is from a man named Nico Zimmerman (aged 45 then), from Den Haag/The Hague and more or less living apart from the rest of his family (no daily contact and he was often cycling etc. elsewhere).
That DNA - match could now be made, because of the fact that former mayor Jurrit Visser of Terschelling island had already asked many years ago that the NFI (Nederlands Forensisch Instituut) take DNA - profiles from all the buried 'unknowns' in the local cemetery, interred since the WW2 (those graves situated in the extreme SW corner of the Allied War Graves Plot of the Longway).
For his daughter it was ' happy result ' ........ at least there is now a grave for her father, a place to visit and lay down flowers etc. ........ as she has done already, of course.








Allen R.E. - KIA - Waddenzee (BF571) Baker L.T. - KIA - Waddenzee (X3279)





Barrett D.H. - KIA - Waddenzee (AE126) Bissell A.F. - KIA - Noordzee (T2921)






Blunt M.J.L. - KIA - Waddenzee (X3279) Brady C.T.T. (DFM) - KIA - Noordzee (X3485)






Burke H. - KIA - Waddenzee (DG252) Burns G.J. - KIA - Waddenzee - Ballumerbocht (JM339)






Butt E.L. - KIA - Waddenzee (W6542) Carson L.B. - KIA - Ameland (BF457) - Nes (Am.) gr. 15A-16A




Carson R. - KIA - Noordzee (W1189) Cole F.M. - KIA - Noordzee (ED688) - Nes (Am.) gr. 13-3





Crawford B.V. - KIA - Waddenzee (BF378) Crawford T.A. - KIA - Noordzee (L8755)




Dalley J. - KIA - Waddenzee - Ballumerbocht (JM339) Daly P. - KIA - Noordzee (ED970)




Davies P.A. - KIA - Noordzee (Z7347) Down A.J. - KIA - Noordzee (BK495)






Dykes B.J. - KIA - Waddenzee (Z9227) Ellis A.J. - KIA - Nijlandsrijd (BF457)






Ellis G.H. - KIA - Noordzee (AT185) Fournier B.M. - KIA - Waddenzee (AE126)





Fowler R.F. - KIA - Nijlandsrijd (BF457) - Nes (Am.) gr. 16A-17A Giles F.H. - KIA - Noordzee (N5227)





Glendinning J.R. - KIA - Waddenzee (DS652) Hogg R.J. - KIA - Noordzee (NN723)





Hopson D.J. - KIA - Nijlandsrijd (BF457) - James C.W. - KIA - Nijlandsrijd (BF457)






Jones A. - KIA - Noordzee (T2921) Lee M. - KIA - Noordzee (AW190)





Marsh G.C. - KIA - Noordzee (AD866) Mitton A W KIA - (ME589)





Morgan S.J. - KIA - Waddenzee (X3279) Owen O.V. - KIA - Noordzee (Z1656)





Palmer E.R. - KIA - Waddenzee (AE126) Parslow K.A. - KIA - Noordzee (Z1207)




Ramshaw J.G. - KIA - Noordzee (DT567) Ratcliffe E.L.G. - KIA - Ameland (BF457)





Ruff I.R.V. - KIA - Waddenzee (DS652) Smith R.H. - KIA - Noordzee (R1410)






Stewart J.D. - KIA - Noordzee (HR715) Thompson E.A.W. - KIA - Waddenzee (AE152)






Thompson R.F. - KIA - Noordzee (AD824) Watson D. - KIA - Waddenzee (AE126)





Weaver R.G. - KIA - Nijlandsrijd (BF457) Williams J. (DFC) - KIA - Nijlandsrijd (BF457)






Hampden AE126 of 49 Squadron.  On the evening of August 28th 1941 eight aircraft from 49 Squadron at RAF Scampton were part of a 118 strong RAF bomber force on a mission to bomb Duisberg. They encountered haze and flak at the target. It soon became clear that two of the squadron's aircraft had failed to return. P/O Bernard Fournier (AE126) and crew became victims of a night fighter, Helmut Lent of 4.NJG. At 03.40hrs their aircraft fell in flames into the Waddenzee just south of the island of Ameland and there were no survivors.

The pilot and his crew are buried in Nes Cemetery, Ameland, Holland.  The crew were Pilot Officer Bernard Maurice Fournier aged 21 (Pilot), Sergeant Duncan Henry Barrett aged 23 (Co-Pilot/Navigator), Sergeant Ernest Richard Palmer aged 21 (Wireless Op/Gunner), and Sergeant Dennis Watson aged 21 (Wireless Op/Gunner).

Report drafted 12 October 1945 by Sgt. J Draaisma, Wachtmeester of the Royal Dutch Military Police stationed at Nes on Ameland. On the night of 28-29 August 1941, a burning aircraft, probably English, crashed into the Waddenzee south of the Island of Ameland. The research and recovery of the aircraft was done by German military personnel, no Dutch police personnel were allowed to participate. A few parts of human remains were collected and brought to the cemetery at Nes. The airmen onboard the twin-engined bomber were burnt and not a single corpse could be positively identified. Sometime later I was informed that a civilian had found an item stemming from an English aircraft, which may serve the purpose of establishing the identity of the crew of the aircraft that had crashed in flames. The man who had found the item, which was a small message cylinder measuring just over 2 1/2 cms in length, painted white and with a blue screw cap with an orange dot in the middle, was Willem Metz. He lives in Buren (Ameland), and declared to me that he had found the item in a meadow belonging to P. Mosterman who lives near the village of Nes on Ameland. He could not remember the exact date when he found it, but said that it was 1 or 2 days after the aircraft had crashed into the Waddenzee south of the village of Nes. Almost certainly one can assume that this item, which contained a small letter, a copy of which is attached to this report, was thrown out of the above mentioned aircraft. W. Metz had not handed over the cylinder as he feared that it would fall into German hands. I then decided to keep the cylinder myself (it is in my possession to this day), because I wanted to make sure that it would end up in the right place, so that the British authorities could firmly establish the fate of the crew of the above mentioned aircraft. This is why I sent it to the Dutch Red Cross, together with a copy of this report plus a copy of the letter from the cylinder.

The photo above shows the original grave at Nes then marked 'Unknown RAF'. The names were apparently added after Sgt J. Draaisma identified the aircraft.

The photo on the right shows the recovery, using a barge, by the Germans of a section of wing from Hampden AE126.

It was not the first occasion that this crew had been involved in a crash. While in training at 25 OTU, and flying  Avro Anson Mk.I N9912, they crashed on Whitwell Moor, Bolsterstones, Stocksbridge on 31st March 1941 while on a night navigation exercise from RAF Finningley. Fortunately no crew members were injured.



Wellington III BK495 KO-N from 115 Squadron took off at 7.21pm on 1st of March 1943 from RAF East Wretham, with three other Wellingtons, for mine laying duties off the Frisian Islands. It was their very first mission with the squadron, having only been posted in from 16 OTU as a freshly trained crew on February 25th.

The aircraft was tracked by radar from the Atlantic Wall and then intercepted. It was shot down by a night fighter piloted by Lt Heinz Grimm of IV./ NJG1 from Leeuwarden, and crashed at 8.42pm into the sea off Ameland. All the crew were lost.

Canadian air gunner Flight Sergeant Down's body was washed ashore on 23rd June 1943 at Ameland and lies in Nes General Cemetery. His crewmates have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The crew were -

The pilot - Sergeant Stanley Gordon Hunt. Son of Dennis and Mary Ethel Louisa Hunt, of Kintbury, Berkshire, and husband to Sybil Eleanor Saich.

The navigator- Sergeant Arthur Battram. Son of John and Rose Battram, of Bury, Lancashire.

The bomb-aimer - Sergeant Kenneth Frederick Bartholomew. Son of Frederick George and Winifred Ellen Bartholomew, of Thatcham, Berkshire; husband of Kathleen (Kitty) Bartholomew.

The wireless operator - Pilot Officer Herbert Whitaker Astin. Age 22. Son of Rowland and Jessie Astin, of Colne, Lancashire. 

The rear gunner - Flight Sergeant Alfred James Down RCAF. Son of Walter Alfred William, and Charlotte Harper Down, of Chatham, Ontario, Canada, and husband of Josephine Down.


Lt Heinz Grimm was born on April 18, 1920. On 9th of October 1943 he chalked up his 27th victory. Shortly afterwards, while flying Bf 110G-4 5346, he was shot down by German flak over Bremen. His radio operator Ofw Czyulka was killed.
Though seriously burned, Heinz Grimm managed to bale out by parachute. He died in hospital on 13th October 1943.


The pilot, Sergeant Stanley Gordon Hunt was the son of Kintbury's butcher, Dennis Francis Hunt, and married Sybil Eleanor Saich (1920-2000) in early 1943. Stanley has no known grave, but is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, and on a panel inside Kintbury's St. Mary's church in Berkshire, UK.

Stanley Hunt as a trainee pilot, and his wife Sybil.

His name remembered at Kintbury Church.

The navigator- Sergeant Arthur Battram, was the 22 year old son of John and Rose Battram, of Bury, in Lancashire. John James Battram (1884-1953), who was from West Ham in London, had married Lancashire girl, Rose Halliwell, and settled in Bury, Lancashire. The couple had three children, Ivy (1919-99), Arthur (1921-43), and Ronald (1925-79).

Their son, Arthur, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The bomb-aimer - Sergeant Kenneth Frederick Bartholomew, was the 20 year old son of Frederick George and Winifred Ellen Bartholomew (nee Hyde), of Thatcham, Berkshire. He appears to have had only one brother, Cyril, who was born in 1925.

In early 1943 Ken married Kathleen (Kitty) Meddings from Andover in Hampshire. He and his skipper, Stanley Hunt, only lived a few miles from each other, with Stan being raised at Thatcham, a few miles east of Newbury, and Ken at Kintbury a couple of miles west. Coincidentally they were both married in early 1943.

Kenneth Bartholomew has no known grave but is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, and remembered on Thatcham's war memorial.

The rear gunner - Flight Sergeant Alfred James Down RCAF, was the 20 year old son of London (UK) born, Walter Down, and Charlotte Harper Grant from Ireland. 

Born on  28th November, 1922 at Chatham, Ontario, he was the brother of Ethel, Rose and George, and lived at 182 Richmond Street. His father was employed as a caretaker at Christ Church, Chatham.

Alfred was educated at Central School from 1929 – 36, and Chatham Collegiate Institute for grades 9 & 10. He studied electricity at the Chatham Vocational School in 1938 and went to the O’Neil Business College on Queen St., Chatham for one and a half years.

Upon leaving school he worked at the Mindorf’s Grocery Store, Libby, McNeil and Libby as a laboratory assistant, and CPR Telegraph in Chatham. 18 year old Alfred was working as a telegraph messenger when he enlisted in the RCAF at Windsor, Ontario on 11th July 1941.

He began his training first at Alymer, then Belleville, Montreal, St. Thomas and Fengal where he received his Air Gunner badge in July of 1942.

On 25th July 1942 he married Josephine McAlorum who was also a former Chatham Vocational School student. The couple had their honeymoon in Niagara Falls and later, set up home at 65 Centre Street, Chatham. Their married life was interrupted when Alfred was transferred overseas in August of 1942.



Photos from inside Christ Church kindly taken for us by Deborah Carrall the Parish Coordinator


After further gunnery training in the UK he was sent for Wellington bomber aircrew instruction with 16 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Heyford, in Oxfordshire. From there he was posted to 115 Squadron on 25th February 1943.

Just prior to take off, on his first and only mission with 115 Squadron, Alf left two letters with a member of the Woman’s Division RCAF to be mailed if he failed to return.

On the 9th of October, 1943 the International Red Cross in Geneva reported that the body of Flt. Sgt. Alfred James Down had washed ashore on the Dutch Island of Ameland the previous June, and his remains had been interred at Nes Cemetery.

A stained glass window at Christ Church, Chatham, honours the names of Alfred Down and Captain Donald Dymond.

The wireless operator - Pilot Officer Herbert Whitaker Astin, was the 22 year old son of Rowland Astin, and Jessie Whitaker, who were married at Clitheroe, Lancashire in 1920. 

He received his commission as pilot officer on October 3rd 1942.

Herbert has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. His name is also engraved on his local memorial, the Memorial Cross at Chatburn, East Lancashire.


On the left, Thatcham War Memorial with Sgt Bartholomew's name remembered, and the Memorial Cross at Chatburn, Lancs, with P/O Astin commemorated.


The 115 Squadron memorial at RAF Witchford in Cambridgeshire

The plate at the back of the above memorial.


Sergeants Albert Bissell and Alfred Jones in Wellington T2921 of 103 Squadron

New Zealander Sergeant Albert Frank Bissell (27) was the wirless operator/air gunner in the crew of Sergeant T.W.B. Emmott, 103 Squadron and based at RAF Elsham Wolds in Lincolnshire.

The Wellington departed her base at 23.31 hrs on 23 June 1942 for a 'Gardening' (mine-laying) mission in the area of the Frisian Islands. The aircraft and its five man crew failed to return. Sgt Bissell and Sgt A. Jones are buried in Nes cemetery, whilst Sgt A.B. Scanlan is buried in Sage War Cemetery, Germany.

Two crewmembers, Sgt T W B Emmot and P/O F.H. Wood, have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. The death of Sgt Alfred Jones was registered at Ameland on August 6th 1942. Nes policeman 25 year old Siebe Reitsma gave witness that the body was found the previous day.

27 year old Francis Albert Bissell was from Ruatapu in Westland, New Zealand and had worked as a bushman and saw-mill worker before joining the RNZAF. Sgt Alfred Brian Scanlan, born in 1915, was living in Greenwich, Middlesex and married to Constance Markham when he joined the RAF. At the time of his death the couple had their home at Ayecliffe, Co. Durham. The pilot, 22 year old Sgt Thomas William Burnett Emmott, was from Chorlton near Manchester. Pilot Officer Fred Hall Wood (32) was married to Alfreda and their home was at Spring Cottage, Allenheads, Northumberland. Unfortunately we know nothing about the age or origins of one of the gunners, Sgt Alfred Jones. Our photo shows Sgt Scanlan's grave at Sage.

Albert Bissell's mother, Mary, was widowed when he was only a year old. His father who was a bushman working for a saw-mill was killed when a dead tree fell on him. She was left with five young children. Her sons all went on to work at the saw-mill.


Wellington X3279 JN-M, of RAF 150 Squadron


On its way to the target the Wellington was shot down by a night-fighter flown by Oblt Ludwig Becker, of 6.NJG2, and crashed at 00.47am on the 7th of June 1942 into the Waddenzee. All the crew were killed.

The bodies of F/O Blunt, Sgt Baker and Sgt Morgan were washed ashore on Ameland where they were buried in Nes General Cemetery. Sgt Jackson, who was found on the sea dike east of Buren village, Ameland, on the morning of 7th June, was first buried in the Roman Catholic graveyard of St. Clement's Church on 10th June but after the war reinterred at Jonkerbos Cemetery. Sgt Preston was apparently washed ashore on the Friesland mainland nearby and his is the only Commonwealth grave in Kollumerland (Kollum) General Cemetery. Sgt Gwilym Edwards has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.


The husband of Hannah Elizabeth Blunt, of Red Hill, Queensland, 27 year old Flying Officer Malcolm James Larke Blunt was the son of Bulimba engineer Reg Blunt, inventor of Queensland's first safety bicycle. Called Tony, by his family, he attended Bulimba State School, then Brisbane Grammar School for his high school years. He stroked for the Grammar winning the 'Head of the River' in his final year there. He achieved his Bachelor of Economics at the University of Queensland after which he worked for the MLC. He later joined the RAAF and gained his wings in Canada where he appeared, during training, in the film called 'Captain of the Clouds'. Malcolm's brother Rupert died on the hospital ship Manunda. On the morning of 19 February 1942, the Australian hospital ship Manunda was damaged during the Japanese air raids on Darwin, despite her highly prominent red cross markings on a white background. 13 members of the ships crew and hospital staff were killed, 19 others were seriously wounded.   


25 year old Sgt Leonard Thomas Baker was the husband of Kathleen Barbara Baker from Sevenoaks, Kent. The co-pilot's body was washed up on Monday, 8 June 1942 on the flats east of Buren at kilometer 22. He had served previously in 6th Battalion of the Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) where he was Mentioned in Dispatches. Leonard was buried with full German military honours at 3pm on June 10, 1942 in the general cemetery at Nes.

The navigator, 28 year old Sgt Kenneth Stoddart Preston, was born at West Derby, Lancashire in 1913. He married Edith Amy Tidswell in 1934 and the couple had two children. Edith remarried in 1950. He was Denis Dudley Fox.


Sergeant Preston's grave at Kollum - the earlier marker and as it is today and Sgt W Jackson's grave at Jonkerbosch (Nijm.)



22 year old Wireless Operator/Gunner, Sgt William Jackson, was the son of Isaac and Nancy Jackson from Morton in Derbyshire and 21 year old Sgt Gwilym Thomas Edwards the son of Richard & Mary Edwards from Mountain Ash, South Wales. We currently have no information about the age or origins of Sgt Stanley James Morgan.

In February 1975 some parts of X3275's wreckage were recovered from the Wadden Sea but with apparently no sign of the remains of missing crew member Gwilym Edwards..




Winston Churchill inspects 150 Squadron.



Wellington X3485 from 156 Squadron

Wellington X3485 from 156 Squadron took off at 9.07pm on 19th of April 1942 from RAF Alconbury in Huntingdonshire as part of fifty-one 3 Group aircraft on a mine-laying mission.

It was one of two aircraft that failed to return and no messages were received. It was presumed lost over the Wadden Sea. The squadron's CO, Wing Commander Peter Heath, reported seeing what appeared to be a burning aircraft over Terschelling. Only the wireless operator F/Sgt Brady's body was recovered and the remainder of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Pilot Officer Fox's crew had only been posted to RAF Alconbury on 18th February.

Cecil Brady's body was found on the 21st April and he was buried the next day at Nes General Cemetery.

The crew were : Pilot Officer Ronald Walter Fox (30) from Filey, Yorkshire, RNZAF Sergeant Thomas Brian Ainger aged 26 from Christchurch, New Zealand, 22 year old Flight Sergeant Cecil Thomas Theobald Brady from Norwich, UK, Sergeant Timothy John Joseph Lyons, aged 20, from Southsea, Hampshire, 25 year old Sergeant John Munro from Oban, Scotland, and Sergeant Douglas Richard Holland, aged 20, from Olton, Warwickshire.


Flight Sergeant Cecil Thomas Theodore Brady had recently been awarded the DFM. His citation reads - On the night of 5th April 1942, Flight Sergeant Brady was Wireless Operator in an aircraft carrying out a bombing attack on Cologne when the second pilot who he was assisting at the time was severely wounded in the stomach by a piece if shrapnel. Under extremely harassing conditions this NCO immediately carried out all possible first aid while the aircraft was still in grave danger. Throughout the entire homeward trip, besides assisting the wounded man and endeavouring to staunch the haemorrage, he carried out his duties of Wireless Operator in such an efficient manner that, despite the shortage of fuel, the aircraft was brought directly to Manston. The safe return of this aircraft and crew is largely attributable to the manner in which he carried out his duties and the possibility of the second pilot's life being saved is in a great part due to the way in which this NCO handled this casualty. Since June 1941 this NCO has taken part in four major operations and at all times he has displayed conspicuous courage and devotion to duty. By his persistent determination and outstanding skill as a wireless operator, this NCO has set an example of the highest order.


In February 1942, 156 Squadron had reformed at RAF Alconbury in Huntingdonshire as a medium bomber squadron equipped with Wellingtons and operating under 3 Group.

A few months later when the Pathfinder Force formed in August 1942, No 156 was one of the four squadrons selected to form the nucleus of the new force, with the object of securing more concentrated and effective bombing by marking targets with incendiary bombs and flares dropped from aircraft flown by experienced crew and using the latest navigational equipment. It remained with the Pathfinder Force for the rest of the European war and, still flying Wellingtons at first and then Lancasters, played a major part in Bomber Command's Offensive. In over a span of 38 months of operations it dropped 16,017 tons of bombs and lost 45 Wellingtons and 117 Lancasters.




Beaufighter JM339 DY-H from 254 Squadron (Coastal Command) piloted by Sgt John Dalley


Beaufighter JM339 crewed by Sgt John Dalley and F/Sgt George Jeffrey Burns from 254 Squadron (Coastal Command) were in a successful attack on two German mine-sweepers in a bay south of Ameland, position 53 degrees 27 minutes North, 05 degrees 45 minutes East, at 4.07pm on 21st November 1944. The six Beaufighters, three from 236 Squadron (rocket projectiles) and three from 254 Squadron (cannon), were led by Wing Commander David L Cartridge. "Aircraft on anti-shipping patrol sighted two 'M' class minesweepers. Attacks were carried out with 24 R.P.s (25-lb head) and cannon. Eight R.P. hits were seen on one vessel and two R.P. hits on the other. Both vessels were left enveloped in smoke and one was burning furiously. JM339 failed to return after attacking."

Beaufighter JM339 DY-H was shot down and both crew-members killed. Sgt Dalley and F/Sgt Burns are buried in Nes Cemetery.

22 year old Sgt John Dalley was from Bromham, Bedfordshire.

254 Squadron's CO, Wing Commander David Leslie CARTRIDGE, D.F.C, received the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) in 1945. His citation reads - Within recent months, this officer has participated in numerous attacks on enemy shipping and throughout has set a fine example of gallantry and devotion to duty. In January, 1945, he led a force of aircraft in an attack on shipping in the harbour at Den Helder. Intense anrti-aircraft fire was encountered and several aircraft were hit. Nevertheless, the attack was pressed home with good results. Much of the success obtained can be attributed to Wing Commander Cartridge's skilful leadership. This officer has displayed outstanding keenness and his determination to obtain the best results has won great praise.

On 30 October 1939, 254 Squadron had reformed at Stradishall as a shipping protection squadron. Equipped with Blenheims it began convoy patrols over coastal shipping off the East Coast on 29 January 1940. It was transferred from fighter to Coastal Command. In April 1940 and began reconnaissance missions in addition to some defensive tasks and later provided fighter escorts for anti-shipping raids. In May 1941, the squadron moved to Northern Ireland returning to Scotland in December where it converted to Beaufighters in June 1942. Torpedo training began in August and in November, 254 Squadron joined the strike wing at North Coates for the rest of the war.  our photo shows Beaufighters from 254 Squadron.


see YouTube film of 254 Squadron                see YouTube film of Beaufighters






Flying Officer Hugh Burke and Halifax DG252 from 138 (Special Operations) Squadron


138 Squadron during World War II, was reformed in 1941, as 138 (Special Duties) Squadron. It was based at RAF Tempsford, and was tasked with dropping agents and equipment of the Special Operations Executive inside occupied territory. It carried out this role until March 1945 when it was reassigned to Bomber Command, operating under No. 3 Group.   

For more than three and a half years the squadron ranged across Europe from Norway in the north to Yugoslavia in the south and at times far into Poland. It was equipped with Whitleys and Lysanders, then with Halifaxes and later with Stirlings. It flew out from Newmarket, Stradishall and Tempsford with, agents, arms, explosives, radio sets and all the other equipment of the saboteur, parachuting them down at rendezvous points where reception committees of local underground members waited. Another, but far less frequent, type of "cloak and dagger" operation undertaken by No. 138 - beginning in September 1941 - was the "pick up" in which the aircraft (always a Lysander) landed to collect some prominent public man, or an agent, or special plans and articles. During 1942 the squadron operated with the bomber force when not required for special duties.

  see page18 for more about RAF Tempsford

138 Squadron lost two Halifax bombers on the night of 19/20th September 1943. Halifax II BB317 NF-N piloted by F/Sgt Norman Sherwood and on a special operation code-named Operation Parsnip 7/Lettuce 12, was shot down by a Luftwaffe fighter into the North Sea west of Petten (20km south of Den Helder.) He and two of his crew were killed and the remaining four taken prisoner.

Halifax DG252 with its 5 man crew was piloted by a special ops veteran, RCAF Squadron Leader Richard Wilkin who is believed to have been part of the crew of the aircraft that delivered to Czechoslovakia the team that assassinated Heydrich. (As well as Wing Commander Ron Hockey, both Sqd/Ldr Wilkin and F/Sgt Albert Hughes had been awarded the Military Cross by the Czech Airforce.) DG252 was apparently returning from a Polish mission, named Operation Catarrh 14/Leek 9, and crashed into the sea near Harlingen in the Frisian Islands. No German night fighter claims have been made for this loss but it is believed that they were shot down.

The crew were - Pilot: RCAF Squadron Leader Richard Pennington Wilkin D.F.C. Flight Engineer : 26 year old Pilot Officer George Alfred Berwick D.F.M. Navigator : Flying Officer James Wilfred Henry Brown D.F.M aged 35. Wireless Op/Air/Gunner : Flying Officer Hugh Burke D.F.M. Age 27. Air/Gunner: Fl/Sgt. Albert Hughes M.C. Age 23.




S/Ldr Richard Wilkin F/O Hugh Burke F/Sgt Albert Hughes P/O George Berwick



Yorkshireman Flying Officer Hugh Burke is buried at Nes General Cemetery. Plot D. Row 11. Grave 24.

Squadron Leader Richard Pennington Wilkin from Alberta, Canada is buried at West Terschelling. Grave 109

Flying Officer James Wilfred Henry Brown from Nottingham is buried at Harlingen General Cemetery Plot E. Row 4. Grave 15.

Pilot Officer George Alfred Berwick from New Barnet, Hertfordshire is buried at Barradeel (Pietersbierum) Protestant Churchyard Row 29. Grave 2.

Flight Sergeant Albert Hughes from Walton, Liverpool has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.


  Wing Commander Ron Hockey (left) with Squadron Leader Wilkin and crew 


Why this very experienced crew was flying straight over Harlingen habour and the enemy FLAK-batteries so very low and just from East to West, we will never know or understand, I guess. The Germans hit the plane almost directly, resulting in a dramatic crash, just outside the habour.

One surviving crew-member, maybe still on the wreckage of the aircraft or arriving after a short swim, at the lava stone wall of the so named “Pollendam” which was only visible during low tide - was crying for help, even screaming at the end, for about 5-10 minutes! Everyone in or near the habour, outside in the night, or standing on a ship’s deck or in house behind an open door or window, could hear loud and clear this cry of distress! The Germans of the gunnery etc.. the only thing they did, was to point one of the search-lights in the direction of the crash site and the crying airman. They saw nothing at all, so they said later on! Many Harlinger inhabitants were mad at these “pigs”, during the following days, in particular the rescue men of the local lifeboat station. Why didn’t these “Herrenvolk” (“Gentlemen”) call those brave rescue sailors or why didn’t they – the men of the Kriegsmarine ! - organize any action themselves?

So sad that all the crew of five died in this way…          


On the next day the dead body of F/O. J.H.W. Brown, the navigator of the machine, was washed up. Some days later the airplane was partly recovered by the Germans and those remains were laying in the Nieuwe Haven (New Harbour) for a period. In the wing tanks was still a fair amount of fuel, which they saved for own use. On the bottom of the wreckage was hanging a parachute, but this one could not rescue any crew, because the airplane was flying very low and everything happened very quick, so the airman had had not much chance to survive. This aircraft, a Handley Page Halifax, was also loaded with large bundles of "Wervelwinds" (Whirlwinds), small booklets with the latest news "from the good side" (in the Dutch language !!).

If DG252 really was flying also to Poland, I don't know exactly, but his destination was over Holland too, I would say. And another thing: in 1963 was found one of those delivery containers, thus not dropped by parachute as it should have been?   As you see, research about SD-planes, it isn't easy. Our photo shows Flying Officer Brown's grave at Harlingen.


Mr. Harry H. Drost, the author of the book “Harlingen in Oorlogstijd” (Harlingen in wartime).

Harry Drost was born in Harlingen, in the time of the First World War, on 31 May 1915, and while he continued his education as a skilled electrician, he made from time to time reports already for the local newspaper, and at the end, in 1938, he became a full time reporter of the “Harlinger Courant” (local paper, also for Vlieland and Terschelling).

After the start of the Second World War and the invasion and occupation later of the Netherlands, soon he came in conflict with the German authorities, because of his free opinion, his writings, so he had to go to the Hague, for  “some clear reprimands”. So journalism was no longer good for his health and income, because of the censorship from there, but also later on because of the lack of paper and ink, and the press fusions too, of more and more Dutch papers into only a couple of “German guided papers” with only a few pro-German reporters.

His life as reporter was done - to the outside world - but to generate income for his family, he started his own business in handmade goods, from wood and marble etc.  That turned out to be more farce then reality, because he was starting to work in the local resistance, which in a harbor city like Harlingen, a very dangerous “job” to do.

Harlingen was for many reasons important for the Germans, extra occupied therefore and by a lot of different troops, personnel of Kriegsmarine, Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, Grüne Polizei, SS-men etc. etc.

Harry Drost was also becoming a skilled forger, making realistic signatures of authorities on all kinds of German paperwork, like on “Ausweise” and “Freistellungen”. There was a complete printing office active under him, making false printings and copies of underground newspapers, etc. etc.

In the meantime he was making detailed reports, for the local “Courant”, for publication later, after the liberation. (In the beginning, it was thought for only a period of about one year, because the war should be over then !). Although operating very carefully - everywhere could be spies and tell tales, even in Harlingen - the Germans once visited him in a sudden raid, and at that moment he had all the luck of the world, because the “Huns” didn’t find all his writings, the copy for this well informed book, stored in an old and ugly box of copperwork in one of the cupboards. They found nothing at all which could send him in prison, or even the liquidation cell…..

What should have been for a period of about one year, is related now in detail the many events and happenings over the whole wartime period of 5 years.

This publication of “Harlingen in Oorlogstijd” was, and still is, a great success (also via website now). The first edition was sold in a moment.

After the war he was for some time a member of the “political investigation department” of the new post-war “military authority”, picking up etc. local members of the Nazi-organisations, like the N.S.B. For many years he was a writer and free-lance-reporter, for more then one newspaper, and for “glossies” etc., until the moment his health was breaking with a brain haemorrhage. And all that time he never forgot the one and only “Harlinger Courant”.





The crash area. Every day the ferries to Vlieland and Terschelling, and so many other ships, are passing by this point; and in all these years after the war, millions have seen this "landsend" of the Pollendam, but there are only a few of them, who realise what was going on there on 20 September 1943. Our second photo shows a German 5.7 cm. FLAK-battery near the harbour at Harlingen.




The crash site




RCAF Squadron Leader R P (Dick) Wilkin (DFC+CMC)

He had flown 534 hours in total, on 34 secret missions all over Western Europe, after earlier serving as a Halifax flying instructor etc. He was believed to have been hit and killed directly by the FLAK-shells, and therefore lost control. It is possible that no other crew member could take over flying the aircraft soon enough.

His remains were washed ashore on the Southern beach near Hoorn on Terschelling on 15 Oct.1943. After identification etc., he was interred in a simple funeral ceremony the next day (16 October)

Pilot Officer G A Berwick (DFM) Pietersbierum (former Gem. Barradeel / today Gem. Franekeradeel) - Prot. churchyard of the former St. Petrus-church (artist’s workshop now) His body drifted ashore, in front of the sea dike nearby.

Flying Officer J W H Brown (DFM) Harlingen - General Cemetery - plot E, row 4, grave 15 - probably the airman crying for help (?!)

His body was found and recovered from the sea in the next day (21 Sept.’42) and buried some days later.

Flying Officer H Burke (DFM) Nes / Ameland - General Cemetery plot D, row 11, grave 24.  His remains drifted onto the sea dike of Ameland’s polder, in between Nes and Ballum on 8 October 1943. He was buried on 11 Oct. 1943

Flight Sergeant H Hughes (CMC) His body was never found. He is commemorated on Runnymede Memorial - panel 137.

 Note: The CMC - the Czechoslovakian (Airforce) Military Cross. Two of the crew, Squadron Leader Wilkin as well as Flight Sergeant Hughes, had been awarded this prestigious medal. It indicates they might have been crew-members of the plane piloted by Wing Commander Ron Hockey, who also had received the same award, which flew the assassination team into Czechoslovakia for “Operation Anthropoid” - the killing of SS top man Reinhard T.E. Heydrich in Prague, 27 May 1942 (he died 4 June’42).



The grave of Pilot Officer George Berwick DFM at Barradeel (Pietersbierum) Protestant Churchyard


Note: some days after the crash, the main parts of the wreckage were recovered from the sea, under supervision of the German authorities; but the rear turret, which possibly still contained the body of F/Sgt. Hughes, was never found at all.

Note: in May 1963, the fishing vessel YE 32 (of Yerseke habor, in Zeeland / S.W.-Holland) while fishing in front of the seaside of Harlingen, picked up one of the weapon delivery containers from this plane crash; and via newspaper articles in the following days, also published abroad, it was the first time for some family of the lost crew to “hear something” about this horrible Halifax crash, and the German behavior afterwards…….

- see on,on, and also on (about lost planes in SD-operations)…/p5098.html (about an earlier plane-crash, in which again J.W.H. Brown, was a Sgt.), and read the book (in Dutch alas) “ Harlingen in oorlogstijd ” (Harlingen in wartime), by the late author Harry H. Drost / 3rd version, 1980, with some extra addition by Mr. Gerrit J. Zwanenburg / pages 178-180, and also in the Dutch (copy) book “ Erfenis van de storm ”, by Gerlof Molenaar & Martin Peters ( ) -     Willem






Operation Anthropoid - The Assassination of Heydrich

 Heydrich was involved in the execution of the "Final Solution" from the start. In the summer of 1939, Himmler assigned the job of mass murder to the Einstatzgruppen, killing squads under the control of Heydrich's security police. Most of the commanders came from Heydrich's SD. Heydrich oversaw the massacre of thousands of Jews, Polish leaders, communists and clergymen. He once commented, "We have had to be hard. We have had to shoot thousands of leading Poles to show how hard we can be." In 1941, after the SS established extermination camps in Poland, Heydrich, whose Grandmother was Jewish, took the job of coordinating the deportation of European Jews to these camps.

On September 24, 1941, Hitler appointed Heydrich Reich Protector of Bohemia-Moravia.

During his role as de facto dictator of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich often drove with his chauffeur in a car with an open roof. This was a show of his confidence in the occupation forces and in the effectiveness of his government. Due to his brutal efficiency, Heydrich was nicknamed the Butcher of Prague.


The operation to assassinate Heydrich was given the codename "Anthropoid". With the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), preparation begining on 20 October 1941. Warrant Officer Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš were chosen to carry out the operation on 28 October 1941 (Czechoslovakia's Independence Day).

On the evening of December 28th 1941 an aircraft of 138 Squadron, piloted by Wing Commander Ron Hockey, carried the Czech soldiers to their homeland. 


(1) Wing Commander Ron Hockey who piloted the aircraft from RAF Tempsford transporting the Czech soldiers to Czechoslovakia. (2) Jozef Gabčík  (3) Jan Kubiš (4) Reinhard Heydrich


On 27 May 1942, at 10:30, Heydrich was proceeding on his daily commute from his home in Panenské Břežany to Prague Castle.

Gabčík and Kubiš waited at the tram stop at a tight curve near Bulovka Hospital in Prague 8-Libeň. The spot was chosen because the curve would force the car to slow down. Valčik was positioned about 100 metres north of Gabčík and Kubiš as lookout for the approaching car.

As Heydrich’s open-topped Mercedes 320 Convertible B reached the curve, Gabčík stepped in front of the vehicle, trying to open fire, but his Sten submachine gun jammed. Heydrich ordered his driver, SS-Oberscharführer Klein, to stop the car. When Heydrich stood up to try to shoot Gabčík, Kubiš threw a modified anti-tank grenade at the vehicle, and its fragments ripped through the car’s right-rear bumper, embedding shrapnel and fibres from the upholstery into Heydrich’s body, even though the grenade failed to enter the car.

Kubiš was also injured by the shrapnel. Heydrich, apparently unaware of his own shrapnel injuries, got out of the car, returned fire and tried to chase Gabčík but soon collapsed. Klein returned from his abortive attempt to chase Kubiš, and Heydrich ordered him to chase Gabčík. Gabčík shot Klein twice (using his revolver) and wounded him.

Heydrich was rushed to Bulovka Hospital, 250 metres away, where he was operated on collapsed left lung, removing the tip of the fractured eleventh rib, suturing the torn diaphragm, inserting several catheters and removing the spleen, which contained a grenade fragment and upholstery material.

After seven days, his condition appeared to be improving when, while sitting up eating a noon meal, he collapsed and went into shock, dying the next morning. Himmler’s physicians officially described the cause of death as septicemia, meaning infection of the bloodstream.
The Czech soldiers were at first convinced that their attack had failed. The assailants initially hid with two Prague families and later took refuge in Karel Boromejsky Church, an Orthodox church in Prague.

The Germans were unable to locate the attackers until Karel Čurda of the "Out Distance" sabotage group surrendered to the Gestapo and gave the names of the team’s local contacts in exchange for his freedom and a bounty of 500,000 Reichsmarks.

SS troops laid siege to the church but, despite the best efforts of over 700 German soldiers, they were unable to take the paratroopers alive; three, including Kubiš, were killed in the prayer loft (Kubiš was said to have survived the battle, but died shortly afterward from his injuries) after a two-hour gun battle. The other four, including Gabčík, committed suicide in the crypt after fending off SS attacks. Our photo shows the Leamington Spa memorial plaque to the Czechoslovak soldiers, airmen and patriots.



See YouTube film of Heydrich Assassination


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4




Halifax LL356 and another courageous crew from 138 (Special Operations) Squadron

This multinational Special Duties crew from No. 138 (SD) Squadron, flying Halifax LL356 NF-U and piloted by Australian F/Sgt George Williamson, took off from RAF Tempsford airfield on the night of 27th April 1944 at 11.10pm, destined with Resistance Supplies for a Drop Zone (DZ) in enemy occupied Belgium (no Agents were on board on this occasion). The crew consisted of one Welshman, two Englishmen, two Canadians and two Australians (see picture below). The aircraft and its seven young airmen failed to return.

Nothing was heard from the aircraft following its departure from Tempsford airfield. Subsequently it failed to arrive at its DZ. There is some documented evidence that LL356 was seen by another SD Halifax pilot, that night at 0015am on 28th April, being attacked by flak over southern Holland. No mid air explosion was reported and no wireless messages or distress signals from the aircraft were ever received, seen or recorded.



(Back, L to R) Sgt George P Croad RAF, Flight Engineer, age 19 years;

Flt/Sgt James E Smythe RCAF, Mid-Upper Gunner/Despatcher, age 21 years;

Sgt Hubert F Benbow RAF, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, age 23 years;

Warrant Officer Class II Arthur J G Barnes RCAF, Observer/Bomb Aimer, age 22 years.

(Front, L to R) Flt/Sgt George H Williamson RAAF, Pilot, age 29 years;

Flt/Sgt Herbert Dootson RAF, Navigator, age 32 years;

Flt/Sgt Eric R Clayworth RAAF, tail gunner, age 25 years.


These RAF and USAAF Special Duties Squadrons were tasked with delivering Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents and supplies to waiting Resistance forces in German-occupied Europe. Their night time clandestine flights attempted to avoid detection by enemy radar, flak and German night fighters, to and from their appointed secret DZs. This involved nerves of steel and breathtaking airmanship and navigation at low levels. Casualties were heavy.

Halifax LL356 NFU was on its 13th Operation. It was carrying no agents that night, only supplies (parachute-able cannisters and bales of supplies, including probably pigeons). It never reached its DZ, no word was heard from the aircraft or crew and it was listed as 'Missing on Operations'. Families of the seven airmen were blocked from discovering its actual fate by the intense secrecy surrounding RAF Tempsford. Sadly some parents died believing their son may still be alive. On 16th June 1944, the body of the Australian pilot was washed up on the Dutch Island of Terschelling. He lies there today in a Commonwealth War Grave. None of the other bodies nor the aircraft were ever recovered.



The pilot, 29 year old Flight Sergeant George Herbert Williamson, was the son of Herbert George and Grace Elizabeth Williamson of Chinchilla, Queensland, and husband of Jessie Louisa Williamson.

He is buried at Longway Cemetery at West Terschelling- Grave 117.  

His grave has been adopted by Mevr.(Mrs.) M. Jonkers, living at Burgemeester Eschauzierstraat no. 9. 

Every year, on May 4th, Netherlands National Memorial Day, after the Remembrance ceremony at 8pm with its two minutes silence and prayer, she and her family take beautiful and fresh flowers to his grave.

His crewmates have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.



(RAFVR) F/Sgt. Herbert Dootson - Navigator, age 29, the son of Frank & Katherine  Dootson. His mother, Katherine, died in 1938. Herbert married May Carruthers in 1933 at Stockport. The couple had two children, Roy (1934) and Margery (1937) and were living at  Levenshulme, Lancashire at the time of his death.

(RAFVR) Sgt. Hubert Francis Benbow -Wireless Operator/Gunner, aged 23; the youngest of the five children of Martin & Edith Mary Benbow, of Caersws village, on the river Severn, in Montgomeryshire.

Although there is a local War Memorial in his former home village Caersws, at the crossing of Main Street - Bridge Street and in front of St. Mary’s Church  it’s not known to us if his name is written on it, and there appears to be no local ‘Roll of Honour’ 

(RAFVR) Sgt. George Partridge Croad - Flight Engineer - aged 19, the son of Frederick John & Grace Beatrice Croad, of Richmond upon Thames, formerly in Surrey, and today a suburb of South West London.

The late Tom Croad laid a wreath in memory of his brother, and the crew of Halifax LL356, during a Remembrance Service at Tempsford Airfield Barn on 11th November 2012.

(RCAF) W/O. Arthur John George Barnes - Observer/Air Bomber, was born on May 15th 1921 at Roseberry Street, St. James, Manitoba, the son of a British-born train inspector, Walter George Barnes, and his wife Bessie Goff, who were married at Lewisham, London in 1916.

Arthur was educated at Kelvin High School, followed by a course at Manitoba Commercial College.

After completing his education he was employed at T. Eaton & Co. as a messenger boy, and working as a mail clerk with that company when enlisting in the RCAF on February 24th 1942. After initial training, and a period of flying instruction, Arthur  remustered to train as an air bomber.

Awarded his sergeant's stripes and air bomber's badge on 19th March 1943, he was soon posted to the UK, arriving at RAF Bournemouth on June 4th.

Aircrew instruction at 29 Operational Training Unit followed, where he joined the crew of an Australian, George Williamson, and after some heavy bomber experience at 1665 HCU, Arthur arrived with his new crewmates at 138 Squadron on February 8th 1944. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial and the WW2 Book of Remembrance in the Memorial Chamber of the Canadian parliament building in Ottawa, Ontario.


Arthur was carrying this home-town newspaper clipping in his paybook. A girl-friend perhaps?


This young WAAF was writing from the Empire Nursing Home in Central London


(RCAF) F/Sgt. James Ethelred Smythe  the Mid Upper Gunner/Dispatcher (delivery master) was born on May 1st 1923, the son of a tailor, Harold Hastings Smythe, and his wife Jessie Maud Kerr, who were married at Calais, Maine, USA, in October 1914.

The family lived at Rose Street, St. Stephen, New Brunswick. He had one brother Paul Edwin Smythe (1925-1996), a musician, who also served in the RCAF.

James attended St. Stephen High School for three years.

When enlisting in the RCAF at Moncton on 2nd October 1942 he was employed as a clerk at Steadman's 5 and 10 cent store in St. Stephen.

James appears to have had a girl-friend as he named Sally McCabe to be one of those informed in the event of his death.

After his initial training he received his instruction as an air-gunner in Canada, and was awarded his air-gunner's badge and sergeant's stripes on July 23rd 1943.

Posted to the UK, he arrived at RAF Bournemouth reception camp on 2nd of September.

His next destination was the air-crew training camp at 29 OTU staying from September 9th till November 12th, where he joined George Williamson's crew. Further heavy bomber training at 1665 HCU and 1653 HCU followed before he was posted to 138 Squadron on February 8th 1944.

He has no known grave but is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial and in the WW2 Book of Remembrance, displayed at the Memorial Chamber at the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Ontario.

(RAAF) F/Sgt. Eric Raymond Clayworth  Rear Gunner - age 25;  Eric was the youngest of the three sons of John and Amelia Clayworth. Born at Singleton, NSW in February 1919, he joined the Australian Army on 15th January 1940. Up till that time he was in the employ of Messrs. A. B. Shaw and C. H. Dunlop, solicitors, of Singleton.

In June 1942 he enlisted in the RAAF and volunteered for aircrew duties. That same year he married Pearl Elgar at Singleton.

His brothers Rodney (1914) and Geoffrey (1916) both joined the Australian Army in 1942 and fortunately survived the War.

Following Eric's death, his widow Pearl, who had been a part-time member of the VAD (Voluntary Aid), volunteered for full-time nursing duties and left Singleton.

Eric's name is written on panel 120, located at the right hand side of the entrance, in the ‘Commemorative Area’ of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, at Anzac Parade; and his name can also be found on the RSL Virtual War Memorial (website) of the Returned Services League in Australia and in the RAAF Casualty Database website.

There is a local War Memorial in Willoughby erected by the Returned Servicemen's League in 1951 at the War Memorial Playing Grounds, near Northbridge, however, nothing is known to us about names of local (WW2) casualties mentioned there.



John Williamson's notes:

Navigator, Flt/Sgt Herbert Dootson: His name is recorded, along with his other 6 crew, in the Book of Remembrance in the beautiful St. Clement-Danes RAF Memorial Church on the Strand, in London. It is also recorded (again with his other 6 crew) in the Record of RAF Tempsford casualties, in St Peter’s Memorial Church, in Tempsford village, Bedfordshire, UK.

WO/AG Sgt Hubert Francis Benbow: The additional memorials described above for the Navigator also apply to Sgt. Benbow.

Engineer Sgt George Partridge Croad: He was in fact the eldest of 3 children of Frederick John and Grace Beatrice Croad. His younger brother, Thomas Croad, recently deceased, spent his whole life remembering and commemorating his lost brother. Again the Memorials at St Clement-Danes and at St Peter’s Church can be added under Sgt Croad’s name.

Obs./Air Bomb W/O Class II Arthur John George Barnes: This airman’s home was St James, Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada, not Victoria, British Columbia! (This was an error in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Archives.). Also Mrs Dorothy Clayworth, the sister-in-law of the Tail Gunner, Eric Raymond Clayworth, has long ago been informed of the CWGC error and the correct home location of W/O Barnes. Again the Memorials at St Clement-Danes and at St Peter’s Church can be added under W/O Barnes’ name. He has also had a small Bay in a Manitoba Lake named after him.

Tail Gunner Flt/Sgt Eric Raymond Clayworth: An additional Memorial to this airman is in his home town on Plaque for the War Memorial Carillon in All Saints Anglican Church, in Singleton, New South Wales. Again the Memorials at St Clement-Danes and at St Peter’s Church can be added under Eric Raymond Clayworth’s name.

Pilot Flt/Sgt George Herbert Williamson: This man (my cousin) did not live in Lismore, New South Wales. That was the home of his wife, Jessie Louisa Williamson and where they were married. Flt/Sgt Williamson’s home town was Chinchilla, on the Darling Downs, west of Toowoomba in Queensland.

Your route comments Willem: Yes, the theory of “first FLAK attack, then a night fighter attack”, seems possible, but my impression from Freddie Clark’s records of the Norwegian Halifax pilot seemed to suggest that the FLAK was indeed hitting its target? We may never know the exact sequence of events?

We shall remember them all especially again at the Shrine of Remembrance here in Melbourne on Sunday 12 July next (2015). I shall forward you my Report of that Commemoration once more, but it will take me a week or so to prepare it afterwards!                     Regards, John Williamson 

see: A “Special” Halifax Bomber Crew    


Following a visit to the pilot's grave in 2000, John Williamson and his wife resolved to search for the families of the other six lost airmen. Over the next 3 years, using Commonwealth War Grave Commission internet records, postal, internet and telephone searching and RAF Historical, Special Operation Executive (SOE), and Australian War Archives, all six families were found. Heart-warming international contacts and assistance occurred.

It was possible from all these sources combined, plus UK historical meteorology records, to deduce the likely exact fate of Halifax LL356 on that night during 'Operation OSRIC 59'. This meant a great deal to all seven families.

Because of a remarkable fortuitous direct observation, actually recorded in Freddie Clark's good book, 'Agents by Moonlight', and made by a Norwegian pilot also in a Halifax flying out of Tempsford on that same night on a separate operation, George Williamson's Halifax was observed to be being attacked by and hit by German flak over Einthoven in southern Holland, while en route to its DZ.

No mid-air explosion was seen, heard or subsequently recorded and no wireless communication was received by anyone from the aircraft. Whether the wireless was destroyed and/or the WO/AG or whoever else in the crew (even the pilot?) were injured or dead, and/or whether the aircraft became unworthy, we shall never know. Obviously no land crash occurred.

It would appear that the crew aborted their mission and attempted to turn back to Tempsford, but did not make it. They either crashed or ditched into the North Sea. The weather that night was rough. Under such circumstances no 'soft landing' would have been possible, even if they were still in control of the aircraft. Advice from a Canadian Search and Rescue Squadron Leader of that time as to the capabilities of a Halifax under such conditions (which in fact were better than the Lancaster) stated that ditching or crashing into such a sea was just like hitting a brick wall and survival was unlikely even with uninjured crew.


From John Williamson

We have written two self-published books about the respective crew's personal and Air Force History and also about our Commemorations. The crew book is entitled "A Delayed Salute" and the Commemoration book is "The Search", both self-published in Adelaide, Australia. (I attach pictures of the covers of these books, now out of print I am afraid after 3 reprints. We simply could not afford to keep getting more reprints for interested relatives and friends. We had no commercial involvement whatever of course, as all this was a labour of love!)

All the seven chapters dealing with each of the airmen of this lost crew in "A Delayed Salute", were composed respectively by their actual family descendants.

There is a suspicion (at least in my mind) that my cousin's crew may have been one of the many victims of the brilliant and tragically undetected German penetration of the S.O.E Resistance Cell in the Netherlands earlier and up to that time - namely "Englandspiel"?  LL356 NF-U was attacked on its way to its DZ, suggesting possibly that the Germans knew there were no SOE Agents or other VIP persons on board? The Halifax carried only cannisters and packages (and maybe pigeons too?). As we all say, we shall never know for sure.

I have attended two of the Tempsford Ceremonies in years past and we have now created an Australian Branch (ATVARA) here in Australia, to commemorate annually all the airmen (especially the RAAF and now resident other national) Air Force personnel who served at RAF Temspford during WWII.

Wing Commander John Williamson AM RAAF (Rtd.). He is author of 'A Delayed Salute: To the Memory of a World War II Air Crew No. 138 Special Duties Squadron, RAF Tempsford',

and is a retired specialist anaesthetist with additional qualifications in marine toxinology and diving and hyperbaric medicine. John is a former National Serviceman (Army, Wacol, Queensland) and a retired Wing Commander from the RAAF Medical Specialist Reserve. He is one of some 140 volunteer guides at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance.


A Graveside Tribute


Willem adds the family's tribute in November 2016





Friesland Drop Zones

After these deliveries, the weapons and ammo etc. were transported to local resistance groups of the B.S., like Leeuwarden, by carrier bikes, in coffins and hearses, farmers wagons, barges etc.. And those BS-men required weapons training of course (mainly in any farmhouse, or some place "in the middle of nowhere", where no German could hear something). Most of these weapons also needed storage for a (long) time, such as in a tomb in the graveyard, behind or even in the church organ, in a dung-hill, etc. And as for deliveries to the Frisian islands - that was another story.    Willem






An interesting map of the Frisian mainland with the (official) RAF Drop Zones in use from 20 Oct. 1944 for deliveries of weapons and ammo etc. by SD-Sqdn. planes.

They started over Dokkum-Aalsum (first DZ in Friesland,) with radio-slogan/message "the worm with red hair". Our 2nd & 3rd images show the Dokkum-Aalsum drop-zone.







Family Veeninga farmhouse. In those years named 'Rimboe' (Jungle), but after WW2 renamed as 'Droppinghiem' (Dropping Home).




Section N of London's SOE ran operations in the Netherlands. They committed some of SOE's worst blunders in security, which allowed the Germans to capture many agents and much sabotage material, in what the Germans called the "Englandspiel".

SOE apparently ignored the absence of security checks in radio transmissions, and other warnings from their chief cryptographer, Leo Marks, that the Germans were running the supposed resistance networks.

Eventually, two captured agents escaped to Switzerland in August 1943. There, the Netherlands Embassy sent messages over their controlled sets to England that SOE Netherlands was compromised. SOE was at last more wary.

SOE partly recovered from this disaster to set up new networks, which continued to operate until the Netherlands were liberated at the end of the war.

A total of 50 agents were captured, compromised by other agents or captives. Most did not survive the war. 




Our photograph in the section above shows weapons being transported on a Leeuwarden baker's cart. The baker,Taco Van der Veen, was involved in helping Jews in hiding and played a major role in the arming of the resistance in Leeuwarden. The danger that this resistance work entailed obviously had an impact on his family who lived in tension and anxiety with the knowledge that resistance work was very severely punished.

On December 8, 1944 the resistance fighters who were involved in the raid on Leeuwarden prison gathered in his family bakery There, the final instructions were given.

The raid which was prompted by the arrest and brutal interrogation of one of the resistance leaders, occurred without firing a shot, freeing 51 resistance workers who were taken to hiding places throughout Friesland.

On December 9, 1944 Leeuwarden was the scene of many raids with the Germans searching for the liberated and liberators, but no one was found. Fortunately there were no reprisals.





The crew of Stirling BF378 LS-T from 15 Squadron


At 5.53pm on the night of the 19 February 1943 26 year old RNZAF Flying Officer Bernard Crawford was on his first operational mission with 15 Squadron when he took off from RAF Bourn in Cambridgeshire at the controls of Stirling BF378 LS-T to attack Wilhelmshaven. The Stirling bomber was a part of a force of 338 aircraft on that raid. As they passed over the Dutch coast on the return journey the Stirling was shot down by a night fighter piloted by Oblt. Hans-Joachim Jabs and crashed into the Waddenzee at around 9.14pm. It was one of three 15 Squadron Stirlings claimed by Oblt. Jabs that night. see  page 14





The whole crew were lost. Only four have known graves.  RNZAF Flying Officer Bernard Verdun Crawford is buried at Nes, RCAF Flying Officer Clarence Roy Long at Wierum and RAF Sergeant Kenneth Stuart Keeble is buried at Nes Protestant Churchyard in Dongeradeel on the Frisian mainland. RAAF Sergeant Arnold Harvey Borrett lies in Vredenhof on the island of Schiermonnikoog.

The bodies of RAF Sergeant William Henry Macklin, RAF Pilot Officer Paul Terence Howson and RAAF Sergeant Charles John Jay Wellesley were not recovered and they are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.


Bomber Command War Diaries recorded -

This raid was another failure, with the Pathfinder marking causing the Main Force bombing to fall north of Wilhelmshaven. The local report says that only 3 people were slightly injured. After this raid it was found that the Pathfinders had been issued with out-of-date maps which did not show recent town developments. A general updating of maps now took place.

338 aircraft - 120 Wellingtons, 110 Halifaxes, 56 Stirlings, 52 Lancasters. Lost - 12 aircraft - 5 Stirlings, 4 Lancasters, 3 Wellingtons, 3.6 per cent of the force.



Wreckage of Short Stirling on the mud-flats at Ameland in March 1943



On that same raid Stirling Mk. III, BF457, LS-“B” (for Beer), also from 15 Sqdn piloted by 20 year old F/O. David Joseph Hopson. The plane crashed East of Buren village on Ameland, and came down burning heavily and totally destroyed at a spot named the “Nijlandsrijt”. * see full story Ameland page 14
All the crew were killed (8 men), including skipper Hopson, and it wasn’t given to him to make an emergency landing or any other life saving exploit before. The casualties of this inferno were:

F/O. David Joseph Hopson - Pilot  - age 20 - from Borden, Kent, UK
F/O. Lawrence Bartlett Carson (RCAF) - Air Bomber - age 29 - of Ontario
F/O. John Williams - Air Gunner - age 31 - of Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
F/O. Edward Lloyd George Ratcliffe - Nav. - 30 - of Treorchy, Glamorgan, UK
Sgt. Ronald Frank Fowler - W.O. / A.G. - age 30 - from Morden, Surrey, UK
Sgt. Ronald George Weaver - Air Gunner - age 21 - from London, UK
Sgt. Clifford William James - Flight Engr. - unkn. - of Lostock, Lancashire, UK
Sgt. Alfred James Ellis - Air Gunner - no further info via the CWGC

The photo shows their earliest grave at Nes.


 Sgt Alvin Crawford the pilot of Blenheim L8755 from 13 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Bicester

Throughout the war, RAF Bicester was used as a training centre, and in April 1940 became home to No. 13 Operational Training Unit RAF, under the control of RAF Bomber Command. In June 1943, the unit transferred to Fighter Command, flying Spitfires and De Havilland Mosquitos. Although no offensive missions were flown, flights were not without risk.

In April 1940, 13 OTU experienced the first losses of the newly formed Bomber Command operational training units. On 6 December 1941, a Blenheim stalled on take-off, killing all three crew members. Just four days later, a second Blenheim crashed in an identical accident, again with no survivors.

During World War II, the base was also used as a glider base. During some raids in Germany, gliders were towed from Bicester to Germany, full of troops and equipment. The gliders would land quietly in the German fields, and the troops were deployed. The glider raids were very successful, and are now considered great tactical feats of aviation.

On 6th June 1942 Blenheim L8755 of 13 OTU took off from RAF Bicester in Oxfordshire with a three man crew on a training flight. They were RCAF Sergeant Thomas (Alvin) Crawford, RNZAF Sergeant Donald John McKenzie and  RAF Flight Sergeant Wesley Newell Ward. The aircraft was reported as missing and is believed to have crashed into the North Sea. All the crew were lost and only the body of the pilot, Thomas Alvin Crawford was recovered when he was washed ashore ten weeks later at Ameland on the 27th July 1942.

Alvin Crawford was born at Harris, Saskatchewan in 1916 and was one of three sons and three daughters born to Ernest and Ethel Crawford.

He was working as a truck driver for his father Ern, who was the local agent for Imperial Oil, when he enlisted in the RCAF at Saskatoon early in 1941. He married Grace Patricia Kavanagh at Regina later that year. She and their son Wayne went on to  live at Devon, Alberta.

27 year old Sergeant Donald McKenzie was the son of Colin and Jane McKenzie, of Awarua Plains, Southland, New Zealand.



A Bad Night for 57 Squadron - Lancasters ED970 and ED707 Lost to German Night-fighters 

Lancaster ED970 of 57 Squadron took off at 2235 on 23rd of May 1943 from RAF Scampton as one of 826 aircraft targeting the German city of Dortmund . It was shot down by a night-fighter piloted by Maj Helmut Lent, IV./NJGI, and crashed into the North Sea approximately 40 km W of the Dutch coastal town of Egmond aan Zee (Noord Holland). Three bodies were washed ashore; Harry Kleiner, Walter Bennett and Peter Daly.

Sgt Harry Kleiner is now buried in Leeuwarden Jewish Cemetery, while both air gunners rest in the island cemeteries on Terschelling and Ameland respectively. The remaining crew, including  Pilot Officer John Robert Morton, the navigator, are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. 
 Air Gunner -
Sgt. Walter James Bennett, was washed ashore on Terschelling island, 1 month later, 24 June 1943 (around 17.45 hrs). His funeral was on the 29th June 1943 at Longway Cemetery. The other air-gunner, Sgt. Peter Daly  was also washed ashore and is buried at Nes Cemetery on Ameland - plot D, row 13, grave 8.

Sgt. Alexander Keir Henderson - age 22 - son of Thomas & Susan K. Henderson, of 23 Kirk St Dundee; husband of Daisy Henderson, of Lochee, Dundee. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 153.

Sgt Alan Ramsay Leslie -age 20 - Son of James Simpson Leslie and Mary C. B. Leslie, of Aberdeen. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 156.

P/O John Robert Morton - age 22 - Navigator - Son of Henry and Caraline Morton, of Bedford Park, Middlesex. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 132.

Sgt Peter Hemingway. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 153.

On the extreme right is Harry Kleiner's war-time grave at St. Jacobiparochie.


Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V Z9227 from 58 Squadron

Whitley bomber Z9227 took off at 7.15 pm 12 March 1942 from RAF Linton-on-Ouse on a mission to bomb Emden.

It was shot down by a German night fighter (ObIt Ludwig Becker, 4./NJGl) and crashed at 11.04pm into the Waddenzee between the mainland and Ameland. The crew all lost their lives.

They were Sgt Charles Ronald Spence RNZAF, Pilot Officer I A B Johnstone, Sgt T W Weeks,  Sgt B J Dykes, and Sgt N H Webster.

Due to the harsh winter and ice the wreck was only found in May when a fisherman discovered the bodies of two crew members in the cockpit on the mudflats. The bodies were recovered and buried on Ameland.

Pilot Officer Johnstone is now buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery after laying in Hollum Churchyard until 1952, while $ergeant Dykes rests at Ameland in Nes General Cemetery. The others have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Sergeant Spence is also remembered on the Invercargill Cenotaph.


Sergeant Bernard Dykes and Sergeant Charles Spence and the War memorial at Invercargill, New Zealand


Sergeant Charles Ronald Spence. 25. Son of Charles Harold and Jessie Caroline Spence, of Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand; husband of Vera Spence, of Invercargill.

Pilot Officer Ian Alexander Bruce Johnstone. The 26 year old was the son of Alexander and Carolie Mary Johnstone; husband of Joan Mary Winefride Johnstone, of Sible Hedingham, Essex.

Sergeant Thomas William Weeks  aged 22 and son of William Mark and Ethel Elizabeth Weeks, of Canton, Cardiff.

Sergeant Bernard John Dykes aged 21. The son of Joseph Walter and Dorothy Eva Dykes, of Maldon, Essex.

Sergeant Norman Harry Webster (24)  Son of Harry Edward and Mabel Lucy Webster, of Needham Market, Suffolk.


A German soldier examines the wing of the Whitley bomber Z9227 GE-R.


Note. This was the first Whitley lost from 58 Squadron since 27-28 December 1941 and, historically, its crew were the last casualties sustained by this Squadron while operating in Bomber Command. Less than a month later, on 7 April 1942, the Squadron was transferred to Coastal Command. In the spring of 1943, 58 Squadron was heavily committed during anti-submarine operations over the Bay of Biscay.



Lancaster DS652 KO-B from 115 Squadron

Piloted by New Zealander F/Sgt Ian Ruff, the aircraft took off from RAF East Wreatham at midnight on 13th June 1943 for a bombing raid on Bochum in the German Ruhr. It is believed that the Lancaster was intercepted on its way home and shot down off Texel by German night fighter pilot Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Jabs in a Bf 110G from 11./NJG.

All the crew were lost. Their average age was 23.

By the end of June three bodies had been washed ashore. Flight Sergeant Ian Ruff and Sergeant John Renwick Glendinning were buried at in Nes and Flight Sergeant Frederick Cuffey at Makkum Protestant Churchyard. Their crewmates Sergeant Norman William Procter, Sergeant Paul Dalralph Deck, and Sergeant Arthur Anthony Rush have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial a few miles from Windsor Castle.


Lancaster DS652 KO-B  and the street sign from Perles


Air-gunner Fred Cuffey (21) had a brother Sgt Jonathan Cuffey (23) who was also a gunner in the RAF and serving with 10 Squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire. They were the sons of Jonathan and Annie Cuffey, of Tottenham in Middlesex. The 23 year old died at on 29th June 1944 where he was the only casualty when Halifax LV870, on a raid to bomb the railway yards at Blainville, crashed near Perles (Aisne) in France. Perles is a village and commune 25 kilometres east of Soissons and 4 kilometres north-west of Fismes, a town on the Soissons-Reims road. His is the only British grave in this churchyard, near the south-western corner of the church. The community honoured Jonathan's memory by naming a street after him.

Avro Anson N5227 MK-L from 500 (County of Kent) Squadron - Coastal Command.

500 squadron had moved to RAF Detling on 28 September 1938, where it was transferred to Coastal Command and equipped with Avro Anson coastal patrol aircraft. It was at Detling during the Battle of Britain, when it was at the receiving end of German attacks on the airfield.

The RAF was at this time trying to gain air superiority in the middle of the 9 day evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk.

N5227 MK-L took off with two other Ansons, MK-A and MK-M at 9.28am on 30th of May 1940 from RAF Detling on what was coded as 'Thistle' mission. MK-L appears to have been shot down. Both the other aircraft returned safely to base.

Ansons MK-F piloted by F/Lt Keppel and MK-S by F/O Grisenthwaite were sent to search the area but abandoned the search due to exceptionally poor visibility.

The crew of the lost MK-L had only returned at 11.42pm the previous evening after a 2 hour frustrating patrol where they reported very poor visibility and were unable to see the sea.

The missing crew were Pilot Officer Irvine Syme Wheelwright, Sergeant Herbert William Johnson, Flight Sergeant Russell George Theophilus Soper, and Leading Aircraftman Frank Howard Giles.

All the airmen were lost. The only body recovered was that of the wireless operator, LAC Frank Howard Giles who was washed ashore a month later (28th July) at Ameland. His crewmates have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.


The 1940 Avro Anson and today's display in 500 (County of Kent) Squadron colours.


Halifax II DT567 MH-F of 51 Squadron lost on a Gardening operation 7/8th March 1943

Take off 1826 from RAF Snaith to lay mines off the Frisians.  Presumed lost over the sea.

F/O Holmes and Sgt Tombe are buried in Sage War Cemetery, Sgt McAleese at Kiel in Germany, while Sgt Ramshaw's grave is on the island of Ameland in Nes , General Cemetery. The three other crew members are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

The Leeuwarden Courant, November 9, 1998, reported that 77-year-old Bartle Hoekstra, who was keeping up a 50 year tradition, again placed a wreath on the grave of Sgt John George Ramshaw at Ameland Cemetery on behalf of his family.

Crew : F/O Alan Lionel Holmes. Age 20. Son of Lionel Robert and Florence Emily Holmes, of Hampstead, London. Buried at Sage.

Sgt Arthur Regent Harding. Age 20. Flight Engineer. Son of Albert Samuel and Bertha Grace Harding, of Lewisham, London. Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt John George Ramshaw.  Navigator. Son of John George and Edith Amelia Ramshaw, of Willington, Co. Durham. Buried Ameland. Row 13 - Grave 14.

P/O Jack Eric Ulrich. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

F/Sgt Robert Edwin Dormon Age 21. Son of Albert Edward and Doris May Dormon; husband of Lilian Anne Dormon, of Holloway, London. Runnymede Memorial

Sgt Patrick McAleese. Air Gunner. Buried at Kiel cemetery in Germany.

Sgt George Tombe. Air Gunner. Buried at Sage.


Our photo above shows the memorial at RAF Snaith. "In memory of the 687 Airmen of 51 Squadron who lost their lives between October 1942 and April 1945". An astonishing loss of 687 lives from a single squadron in 30 months!


Handley Page Halifax B Mark II Series 1A, HR952 'MH-X', of 51 Squadron RAF receiving a mixed load of 500-lb MC bombs and incendiaries in its dispersal at Snaith, Yorkshire, for a night raid on Germany.



Pilot Officer Mark Lee piloting Beaufort I AW190 MW-K from 217 Squadron Coastal Command

He was the pilot of a Beaufort aircraft shot down on a shipping strike operation off the Dutch Coast 25km south-west of Den Helder. His crew were

RCAF Flight Sergeant John Ansley Foster.Age 29. Son of Jonathan W. and Frances L. Foster, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Sergeant Henry Carter

Sergeant John Alfred Chadaway. Age 22. Son of Albert James Chadaway and Margaret Chadaway, of Hall Green, Birmingham.


217 Squadron records relate - 15th December 1941. Dull with intermittent slight rain until about 2pm. Three crews from Manston went out on a shipping strike at 3.42pm and found their target off the Dutch coast. F/Lt Finch went in first and scored direct hits and was badly shaken by the blast of his own bombs. As he was using 11 seconds delay it rather looks as though his bombs went into the boilers. P/O Lee followed but was shot down and crashed into the sea. P/O Aldridge having seen this went in at zero feet and while scoring more direct hits missed disaster by inches and good airmanship. His wing-tip fouled a stay on the ship and left bits and pieces behind.

F/Lt Finch and P/O Aldridge were awarded the DFC.

Mark Lee's body was recovered at Ameland on December 17th and buried two days later.

This record puzzles me. (Tom) The above text in italics is copied from 217 ops records and dated 15th December 1941 but CWG records and 'Coastal Command Losses' by Ross McNeill both give the date as 9th December.

Quoting Ross McNeill - December 9th -

Took off in company with two other 217 Squadron Beauforts to attack a convoy sighted off Hoek van Holland earlier. At 16:39 hrs the flight found and attacked the convoy of one ship of 12,000 tons, five of between 1,000 and 2,000 tons and two flak-ships, positioned some 25 km (c 15X miles) SW of Den Helder. F/Lt Finch attacked first and dropped three 500 lb bombs onto the Madrid. P/O Lee was next but was hit in the port engine which caught fire and the Beaufort crashed at 17:39 hrs just in front of the bow of the Madrid. P/O Aldridge was last to attack the Madrid but clipped one of the ship's masts with his aircraft's port wing. P/O Lee was washed ashore on Ameland and rests locally in Nes General Cemetery, while Sgt Chadaway, Sgt Carter and Sgt Foster, a Canadian from Vancouver, are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.  (see the loss of F/Lt Finch and his crew in 1942)



At the start of the Second World War 217 squadron was used to fly patrols over the Western Approaches to the Channel, moving to the incomplete base at St. Eval on the north-west coast of Cornwall in October. In May 1940 the squadron received its first Beaufort torpedo bombers, but the new aircraft suffered from some serious teething problems and its introduction was delayed until 24 September. Once in service the Beaufort was used for attacks on enemy shipping and for mine laying. On 15 March 1937, 217 reformed as a general reconnaissance squadron at RAF Boscombe Down equipped with Ansons. On the outbreak of World War Two, it took up its station and began flying patrols over the western approaches to the English Channel. For the next two years it was based at RAF St. Eval in Cornwall which it first occupied in an unfinished state in October 1939.

In May 1940 217 Squadron began to receive Beauforts but teething troubles prevented these from being used operationally until 25 September and the Ansons did not end their patrols until December.

It often used the South Coast airfields at RAF Manston and RAF Thorney Island for operational flying between 1941 and early 1942. The Beauforts concentrated on attacks on enemy shipping and minelaying until transferred to Ceylon in May 1942.


A Beaufort of 217 Squadron


Mark Lee, born in 1921, was the son of Frederick & Constance Lee of Kibworth, Leicestershire. Mark served as a Pilot Officer in 217 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, service number 89826. He was aged 21 years when he was killed on 15th December 1941.

Pilot Office Lee is buried at Ameland (Nes) General Cemetery, Friesland, plot reference D. Row 15. Grave 4.


Report from 'The Kibworth News’ Spring Number 1942

The death by enemy action of Pilot Officer Mark Lee, R.A.F.V.R. came as a very bitter blow to those who knew and loved him, - his parents, Capt. and Mrs. Frederick Lee, of Low Ash, of whom he was the only and very dearly beloved son, - his sister Vivienne (W.A.A.F.) and many others.

Mark had only just attained his majority; but in his short life he had proved himself a fine sportsman, a good scout and a true friend. It can be said of him that his make-up was such that he just could not help making friends. At home, at school, at college and amongst his fellow-officers, he was loved by all. If one word could describe Mark it was "modesty". Excelling as he did at all games, cricket, rugger, hockey, squash and athletics, it was a pleasure to be in a team with him, and one felt proud to be beaten by him. Completely conscientious, he treated his flying training as his job in life, and well indeed has he served his country.

When at his Prep School at Nevill Holt he became Captain of the Cricket XI, Vice-Captain of the Rugger XV, Captain of the Hockey XI, Captain of the School and a King's Scout. At Bryanston, his Public School he played for the school in the Rugger XV and Squash Team, and was a successful long-distance runner. I believe he was the first boy to get his colours for cricket, hockey, rugger and athletics. From Bryanston he was chosen to attend the Duke of York's Camp. From Bryanston he went to Cambridge.

He was selected to play in the Fresher Rugger Trials and played cricket, hockey, rugger and squash for his college, being captain of the hockey XI and cricket team. During the first year at Cambridge he was elected to the Wanderers Club and was strongly fancied for his Hockey Blue, which I think he would have secured had he stayed his third year. He was a Rover Scout, and attended the International Moot in Scotland. He took his degree in English, was a lover of poetry and a collector of books. He played rugger for Leicester Stoneygate R.F.C. in the vacation.

Straight from Cambridge, knowing his country's need, Mark, in his second year chose to spend the early part of 1940 in flying training. Called up in July 1941 he trained on the South Coast and Scotland, secured his wings at Cranwell and then went to Canada for six months. At the time of his death (December 1941), he was a Captain in the Coastal Command. His machine was hit in the engine.

His two fellow Pilots were decorated for their part in the attack, which was successful.

He was just 21 years of age. His social and public interests were too numerous to mention in detail, for it can be said that he was interested in everything around him.

Mark has joined our Roll of Honour. We will try to live up to the tradition he has established and to his glorious memory.



Handley-Page Hampden AD866 piloted by F/Sgt Gordon Marsh

Hampden AD 866- PL of RAF 144 Squadron took off from RAF Hemswell on the evening of 3rd July 1941 as part of a force of 68 bombers raiding Bremen. Good bombing was claimed by the crews despite cloud and haze. Two Wellingtons and one Hampden were lost. Hampden AD866 crashed into the north Sea. Its crew were..

Flight Sergeant Gordon Cedric Marsh, (Pilot) Age 21. Son of John Gordon and Florence Elizabeth Marsh, of Selly Park, Birmingham.

Sergeant Walter Cross, 21, Son of Joseph Durnal Cross and Gladys Cross, of Rossington, Yorkshire.

Sergeant Edward Ryder Foster, 23, Son of Robert and Elsie Maud Foster, of Hull.

Sergeant Douglas MacDonald Napier, 20, Son of Walter and Jessie Napier, of Donnington, Sussex.

All the crew were killed. The only body recovered was that of F/Sgt Gordon Cedric Marsh who was washed up on the beach of Ameland on 9th of August 1941. He was buried in the General Cemetery of Nes two days later. The other four crew-members have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

A Hampden from 144 Squadron


Wellington Z1656 from 57 Squadron. Sgt Orthin Vaughan Owen & P/O Les Gaskin




Sergeant Owen was lost in Wellington Z1656 of 57 Squadron. The aircraft took off from Feltwell, Norfolk at 2255 hours on 11 August 1942 for a raid on Mainz, and is presumed to have come down in the sea – his death is recorded as having occurred on the 12th.

His was the only body recovered – presumably washed ashore – and he lies in Plot D, Row 13, Grave 22 in the Ameland (Nes) General Cemetery.  His colleagues (Pilot Officers P Dawson, A J Knell and A L Gaskin, and Sergeant L C Bray) are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.


The crew of Wellington Z1656 were:

Pilot Officer Albert John (Bertie) Knell, 21. Son of Mr. and Mrs. A. T. H. Knell, of Sevenoaks, Kent.

Pilot Officer Alfred Leslie Gaskin, 20. Son of Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Gaskin, of Brough, Yorkshire.

Sergeant Leonard Charles Bray, 28. Son of Arthur W. and Frances L. Bray, of Hersham, Surrey.

Pilot Officer Philip Dawson, 20. Son of the Revd. John & Mary Dawson of Anthiyur, South India.

Sergeant Orthin Vaughan Owen, 24. Son of the Revd. Richard Vaughan Owen, of Port Dinorwic, Caernarvonshire.



Orthin Owen as a Midshipman with the Merchant Navy in 1940 and in his RAF air-gunner's flying kit in 1942





Pilot Officer Philip Dawson and his name on the Fleet (Hampshire) War Memorial




Pilot Officer A.J. 'Bertie' Knell on the War Memorial at his hometown, Sevenoaks in Kent.





Val Shepherd and her brother Les Gaskin


I served in the W.R.N.S. (Womens Royal Naval Service) before I was married - I had the grand title of Pilots’s Mate. I was only an ‘Engine fitter' having been interested in mechanics as long as I can remember.

This morning I attended a “Memory Group” in the Joseph Rowntree Home where I have lived since it was opened many years ago. This was fun, most people contributed something recalling such things as Lifeboy Soap, Ajax Cleaner, and the infamous OMO soap packet which some women left on the windowsill to indicate the Old Man is Out!!!   We all have our memories…I will soon be 90 and have a neighbour who is 103!!

My last memory of Les was of him preparing to return and putting on his flying boots. I remember he had gauntlet gloves with silk lining. He was standing at the open window looking into the garden (one photo shows the plum tree) his brilliant ginger curly hair and vivid blue eyes (blue eyes are the weakest and one of the reason he could not become a pilot). When his papers arrived - I can see him now (I was about 15 years old), running with them in his left hand to tell me.

Les trained in Canada…I recall his amazement on seeing the Falls and surviving the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

The British Red Cross advised my parents his body had been picked up by a German boat and was given a sea burial. My dear Mum was heartbroken.

Thankfully she died several months prior to the death of my younger brother, Harold, who sailed from Brough Yawl Club on Boxing Day 1960. His friend died later due to exposure leaving two young widows.

The River Humber is notorious for its quicksands and his body was never recovered. His cousin who had a share in their first small yacht tried to help me aboard-but no way could I leave the gangplank. Harold was not able to swim and always wore wellingtons instead of white sandshoes-who knows, maybe he believed …..

We did have fun as a family of four, two brothers, Mary my sister, with only one pair of ice skating boots we had to share. The recent Olympics brought back many memories….In two years I will be 90 years of age and with a happy professional life as the Child Care Officer for Bridington and Filey in the sixties following the sudden death of Ossy, my 41yr old husband.

Tim who has lived in Singapore, is a teacher at the UCSEA Singapore where I visited 5 times when I was younger. Tom his son, who wrote to Tom Bint on my behalf, has been a great help with this 27’’ iMac as my vision is failing. On behalf of the thousands of families whom you have given strength - I truly thank you Willem and Tom.          

 Val (Shepherd, nee Gaskin) March 2014 - a widow since 1963.




57 Squadron    At the outbreak of war 57 squadron was based in France equipped with Bristol Blenheims and engaged in bombing and reconnaissance operations during the German invasion. The squadron operated from Rosières, then Poix and finally Crécy before returning to England in May 1940.

In June 1940 it moved to RAF Lossiemouth in Northern Scotland and from July to October - after having first made an attack on enemy-occupied Norway - was employed on anti-shipping sweeps over the North Sea. It then moved to RAF Feltwell, converted to Wellingtons and in January 1941, joined in the strategic night-bombing offensive.

In September 1942 57 squadron moved to RAF Scampton and converted to Avro Lancasters. This was followed by a move to East Kirkby in August 1943 from where it operated for the remainder of the war.


57 Squadron's Standard

Among the targets attacked by the squadron in 1944 were the V1 storage sites in the caves at St. Leu d'Esserent, and the Mondeville steelworks at Caen, situated only two thousand yards ahead of the advancing British troops. In December 1944, the squadron took part in a raid on the German Baltic Fleet at Gdynia and in March 1945, was represented in the bomber force which so pulverised the defences of Wesel just before the crossing of the Rhine that Commandos were able to seize the town with only 36 casualties. Of this last attack Field-Marshal Montgomery later said: "The bombing of Wesel was a masterpiece, and was a decisive factor in making possible our entry into the town before midnight."


Wellington Z1207 QT-U from 142 Squadron



Wellington IV Z1207 QT-U of 142 Squadron took off from RAF Grimsby at 20.21 on 20th January 1942 on a mission to bomb Emden. It failed to return and was presumed lost off the Dutch Friesian Islands while on its way to the target. Only two of the crew's bodies were recovered. Pilot Officer Parslow is buried at Ameland and Sergeant Swingler at Terschelling. The others in the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. It is believed to be the Wellington claimed by Oblt Ludwig Becker of 6./NJG 2 at 21.37 hours, north of Terschelling. Becker had already shot down Z8370 of 12 Squadron at 21.00 and that Wellington had taken off from Binbrook half an hour before Z1207 left Grimsby.  Its crew were :

RCAF Pilot Officer John Grant Scott (J4112) 29. Son of George and Louise Scott; husband of Wenonah G. Scott, of Mascouche, Province of Quebec, Canada.

Sergeant Edward Sextus Swingler, Pilot, 25. Son of William Herbert and Lilian Alice Swingler, of Newbury, Berkshire.

Pilot Officer Kenneth Archibald Parslow, Observer. Son of Archibald Joseph and Frances Mary Parslow, of Winchmore Hill, Middlesex.

Flight Sergeant Gwladgwyn John Sharp. Son of Frederick Arthur and Susan Ann Sharp, of Cardigan.

RNZAF Flight Sergeant Albert Williams Kerrisk, 23. Son of Daniel and Tryphena Alice Kerrisk, of Hawera, Taranaki, New Zealand.

Flight Sergeant Michael Thomas O'Brien, 21. Son of Margaret O'Brien, of Coventry.



Left to right - P/O Kerrisk, P/O Scott, F/Sgt Sharp, P/O Parslow, F/Sgt O'Brien, Sgt Swingler






Hampden AE152 from 44 Squadron and Pilot Officer E A W Thompson

Hampden AE152 KM-R from 44 Squadron took off from RAF Waddington at 8.45pm on the evening of 2nd September 1941. Nine Hampdens from this Squadron were detailed to attack Berlin together with 128 aircraft from other Groups and Stations. Of this number, only five of the Squadron's aircraft reached the target. One of those lost was AE152 which crashed into the North Sea. Only the body of the pilot, P/O Edward Thompson, was recovered at Ameland on 9th September and he was buried the next day.

His crewmates have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.


The crew were :

Pilot Officer Edward Alan Wilfred Thompson (Pilot) Age: 21 Son of George Frederick and Emma Jane Thompson, of Dawlish, Devon.

RCAF Pilot Officer Herbert James Cook (Observer) J/3603 Age: 25. Son of Herbert Franklin Cook and Laura Anna Cook, of Shawinigan Falls, Province of Quebec, Canada.

Sergeant Eric Dyer (Wireless Op/Gunner) DFM Age: 28. Son of Harry and Edith Dyer; husband of Joan Rosalie Dyer, of Leicester.

Sergeant Walter McBeth (Rear Gunner) Age: 23. Son of Peter Ferguson McBeth and Annie McBeth, of Stirling, Scotland.






Hampden  AE152 KM-R







Willem's Introduction


Ameland in war-time


Texel  & Den Helder 


Friesland War-time Crashes


Ameland,166 & 75sqdn




Friesland Cemeteries


Ameland Graves




Leeuwarden area




Scharnhorst! 2


Wirdum Remembers


Terschelling 2


Scharnhorst! 3




Sage War Cemetery


12 Squadron


Schiermonnikoog  part 2


424 Squadron






Vlieland Cemetery


Vuren at war


Kallenkote Cemetery




Makkum Cemetery


Wartime Occupied Harlingen


Hampden AE 428,


A Fatal collision?


RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


 WW2 photographs


Hudsons & Venturas


Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group


Shipdham & USAF 44th


101 Squadron


408 Squadron's Leipzig raid


68th Squadron's losses


Local Radar


Rottum Island


Lancasters DS776  & JA921


Bergen  Cemetery

13   Cartoons  24   Lemmer     





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