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At the municipal cemetery in St. Jacobiparochie, municipality of Het Bildt, there are nine war graves of the Commonwealth. 

In addition to those mentioned below from 77 Squadron there is a crew member of Halifax bomber W1179 of 158 Squadron, 20 year old Flight Sergeant (Air Gnr.) William Mcintyre McLachlin, R/53905, RCAF (158 Squadron. RAF). Take off was the evening of July 19th, 1942 at 23.43 from RAF East Moor.  Halifax W1179 was on a mission to bomb the U-boat yard in Bremen-Vegesack. The aircraft crashed into the Wadden Sea and all crew members perished. One of them is buried in this cemetery. The others are buried  at Franeker , Terschelling , Harlingen and Texel in Den Burg .

Also here are three graves of unidentified airmen and a Polish airman, 28 year old  Sgt Piotr Bednarski. 

Sgt Piotr Bednarski, 792895. On 11 May 1943 the Halifax DT627 of 138 Squadron SOE (Special Operations Executive) departed from RAF Tempsford. The aircraft with a full Polish crew crashed for unknown reasons in the North Sea. The entire crew was killed. One of them is buried in this cemetery. Two are buried in the General Cemetery in West-Terschelling. One is buried in the Polish War Cemetery in Breda and the remaining three crew members were never found.

 

 

The story of RCAF-wireless operator / air gunner Sgt. Donald M. Godard (77 Sqdn.) and the crew of Whitley Bomber Z9306 KN-S

 

Whitley V Z9306 KN-S of No. 77 Squadron took off at 1653 hours, target Düsseldorf during the night of 27/28

 December 1941. Shot down by a nightfighter ( Ofw. Paul Gildner of 4./NJG4) and crashed at 1957 hours at Zwart Haan (Friesland) , 16 kms NW of Leewarden, Holland. Those who died are buried in Het Bildt (Sint Jacobparochie) General Cemetery.

Aerial view of part of RAF Driffield, Yorkshire in the 1941 winter snow showing the hangars fronting the bombing circle and other buildings on the technical site. Armstrong Whitley Mark Vs of 77 Squadron are parked on the airfield in front of the hangars.  IWM photo

The loss of Whitley Z9306, KN-"S" (for Sugar) over Zwarte Haan / St. Jacobiparochie -- 27

 December 1941: a cold winters’ Saturday between Christmas and the end of the year. While the motorized armed forces of the "Huns", in their "Barbarossa" campaign since June of that year, were following the trails of Napoleon’s "Grande Armée" in Russia, the RAF was "knocking again" on the backdoor of Germany itself and the occupied Lowlands along the North Sea. The battle in the air was growing every day, after the RAF was given some breathing-space now; Great Britain was escaped from the dangers of the "Blitzkrieg im Westen". That night, Bomber Command was sending out bombers in a raid to Düsseldorf, a city in the heart of the German industrial and mine centre along the river Ruhr, across the (former) East border of Holland, and not far from Venlo and Roermond in (Dutch) Limburg.

It should be a busy airpower night again over Friesland, starting in the late afternoon already (short period of daylight); RAF Leeming for instance, in North Yorkshire, was in action too, the airfield where No. 77 Squadron "Straight and True" was based. From that field was starting amongst others, at 16.53 hrs., Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V, No. Z9306, KN-"S" for Sugar. At the time the "solid but old lady" was crossing the Dutch coastline on her way to Germany, it should be dark and therefore maybe safe enough, to carry out this bomb drop flight without any Luftwaffe or Flak troubles (?). Alas, this day in history was following another scenario…..

 

The Whitley V was fitted with two Roll Royce Merlin X engines and was limited to a maximum take off weight of 14.4 tonne (32,500 lb). The maximum bomb load was 3.6 tonne (8,000 lb), but this load could only be carried relatively short distances and at ranges of around 1000 Km the practical bomb load was nearer 2 tonne (4,000 lb). 

Whilst the aircraft could attain a ceiling of 18,000 feet, at this height its handling characteristics were poor and with the limited heating provided the temperature in the cabin was unacceptably low, many crew members got frostbite during the European winter. It was however fitted with quite effective wing de-icing. A more realistic operating height was around 10,000 feet. With one rear gun turret it was inadequately armed for daylight operations. 

Nevertheless it compared favourably with many German bombers of the period.  The Whitley bomber was generally manned by a crew of five, consisting of two pilots, one of whom in the early days frequently did the navigation; an observer who acted as bomb aimer but soon took over the navigation, and two 'wireless operator air gunners' (WAG) who could  carry out either duties. However some aircrew were mustered for 'air gunner' duties only.

 

 

After the usual airborne and climbing up routines and the MG-tests above sea etc., for Sgt. D.M. Godard, the Canadian wireless operator (and air gunner) of the a/c., there wasn’t so much work to do for a while, because of the "radio-silence" and the other crewmates posted in the MG-positions; he was listening to the BBC-news of the day and later on he was "play ing" popular dance music. How could he know that in the same time, on the ground, in the new "Tiger" Stellung on Terschelling island, the controllers of the Luftwaffe were listening to "different music"? The blips via their equipment received, were as "music to duvels’ ears". Soon they should launch their reaction by sending a nightfighter, hanging in the air already, in the "waiting room" over the coastline.

Because of the N.N.W.-winds on the back (± 5 Beaufort), the Whitley was flying for the best (about 120 miles an hour) but the Messerschmitt Bf-110 of Ofw. Paul Gildner and his crew, set on the trail by "Tiger", could intercept this RAF bomber in an easy way; the Whitley was also going as straight as an arrow, without any sudden movements to portside or in other directions, a clear sign the crew didn’t notice the danger of the moment. 

Throughout his career, Oberleutnant Paul Gildner flew some 160 missions and achieved the milestone of 44 confirmed victories, 42 of which were taken on night missions.

For Donald and his comrades the outcome was suddenly and heavy: as a red-orange lightning the glowing fire of the enemy was curving the floor and the mean fuel tank (800 gallons !), between Donald’s position and the seat of the navigator behind in the cockpit, and that fire was leaving in a diagonal way the fuselage via the ceiling. At the same time the plane was set on fire, in such a way, no fire axe or extinguisher or any other tool could stop this burning torch. "Abandon aircraft" !!!

The unhurt pilot, P/O. Charles A.C. Havelock, blocked the rudders of the craft, by a precursor of the automatic pilot (?) , and by doing this he was creating a stable platform for the men, so they were leaving soon the heat of this "melting pot" in the best order, one after another, via the nearest emergency hatch. But when Donald as the number 4 was trying to escape, the damned machine was starting to spin ! Of course he was a young and healthy man, sporty and strong, and in such a situation he was fighting for his life as a lion, with all his powers. But for minutes and minutes long, he simply could not overcome the extreme forces of nature, during the going down of the unlucky Whitley-bomber. And in the same time the flames were leaking on him….. and that terrible heat in your lungs ! 

"This is the end of all"; his last thoughts¦.. or not ? He was "back in the reality for a bit" on the moment the heat was gone and he was falling in the cold winter air, downwards to earth. In a reflex he activated his chute - it seemed he was flying up and not going down anymore! - and in a strange way he was feeling free and peaceful, painless and even relaxed. How in heaven's name he was escaped from the death ? Was he swung out by the same forces who made him a prisoner before ? And what was happened to the others ? And where was the plane….. ? (he had missed the enormous explosion, in the air already, in which the Whitley was broken in fragments and some greater pieces, coming down over a large area, most in 2 directions near St. Jacobiparochie; for that reason, the local people have thought for a long time, 2 planes were crashed over there, maybe after an ordinary collision?).

 

His brain was working 100% again at the time Gildner’s Messerschmitt G9+HM was turning back over the crash site. Obviously the "Flugzeugführer" and Luftwaffe Ace would make for himself clear, his claim was right, "ohne absicht", by seeing what was happening to the RAF-bomber and the crew at the end. Donald could hear the raider circling, although the German plane wasn’t to spot all the time. 

Then he was gone, and…. our brave Canadian, ever a peaceful inhabitant of Hamilton city, in Ontario (between Toronto and the US border) was landing on mother earth in the meanwhile. There, somewhere in the middle of Northern Fries-land, in a cold, naked and wet landscape - the weather Gods were bringing rain and sleet during the day before - the adrenaline was gone and the pain in the burned skin was coming back. And dark thoughts too, about the other crews - he was seeing and hearing nothing of them ! - and about his own future, on the "wrong side of the front". What to do now ?

No German soldier was waiting for him - no arresting team with weapons, dogs etc., as you should expect - no people at all were there, not to make him prisoner, nor to help him or to give him shelter, or simple, to give him a drink, a glass of water. Man, he was thirsty !

With a lot of trouble he was free of his parachute - the wind was hard blowing in it - and after some other "urgent things", he was starting to walk, into the West of course. Via lonesome and dark country roads, in between agricultural land in "winter sleep", under temperatures of minus 1-2° Celsius, he was walking all the night, till…. he gave up at last. What the hell he was doing ? For what exactly ? Running back to England ? Impossible ! Even helpful Dutchies, in their blinded (farm)houses didn’t see him, didn’t know he was there, outside in the cold and the dark, as long as he didn’t knock on a door or ring a house bell, and was running away for every watching dog. Therefore, in the early morning, he was going to one of the next farmhouses, in good faith. " God bless this airman! " But…. there they couldn’t help him in a good way, because they didn’t speak English; they simply didn’t understand him !!! And this family was very frightened too, for everything in connection to the war, and for every possible German reaction, following after giving some help in any way. Really, this was a great disappointment for him (and in particular about that point, he could not speak to them, with nobody; only some clumsy signs with hands and feet, and some "face language"). Then he gave up totally, seeking some rest and waiting for the things that might happen.

And yes, after a while the Germans were coming (maybe from the nearby Ack-Ack-Stellung Koehoal ?; see page 7). And yes he was a POW indeed now (No. 90104). But these "Jerries" were friendly, and some of them could speak a bit English too. But the news they were telling him about his mates, wasn’t so "friendly at all": they were all killed ! Could he believe them ?

Donald Godard is listed as having spent the latter part of the war in Stalag Luft 6,  a German prisoner-of-war camp for British and Canadian NCOs (non-commissioned officers) from June 1943. It was located near the town of Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilutė in Lithuania) and was the northernmost POW camp within the confines of the German Reich. His first camp was probably at Stalag 1.

 

The other crewmembers who were escaping before him, leaving the plane as the numbers 1, 2 & 3, they were safe landed from the air, but at least 2 of them came down into the Wadden Sea. They died soon because of the extreme cold in the water, their wet and heavy airmen’s outfit, equipments and boots. And the other, also before him ? I don’t know till now; and for the last man of all, it’s the same…. I don’t know. Maybe he was killed in the plane already, immediate, in the German nightfighter attack, or in the explosion of the plane ?

On the next Tuesday, the day before New Years Eve, at 15.00 hrs., they were buried in a simple funeral ceremony, in the General Cemetery of St. Jacobiparochie ( the Parish of St. Jacob, locally also named St. Jabik). 

This cemetery, situated along the Zuiderweg (Southern Way) the road to "Moaije Paal" and Minnertsga, is not far from the crash site. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their graves are still there, all in plot B, row 44 (besides other Allied grave from later years).

Grave 28: Observer / Sgt. Ronald Shuttleworth,- RAF(VR) - age 21 - KIA 27-12-1941,  son of Thomas & Florence Edith Shuttleworth, of Donisthorpe, Leicestershire (UK).

Grave 29: W.O.+A.G./Sgt. Eric Fieldsend, RAF(VR) - age 21 - KIA 27-12-1941, - son of Mr. and Mrs. F.W. Fieldsend, of Sheffield (UK).

Grave 30: Pilot / Pilot.Off. Charles Acton Chaplin Havelock- RAF(VR) - age 25 - KIA 27-12-1941, son of Christopher Hugh & Enid Winifred Havelock, of Ipswich, Suffolk (UK)

Grave 31: F/Sgt. (2nd Pilot) Ozment, Donald Eric - RCAF -age 20 - KIA 27-12-1941,   (CWGC no further details)

What happened further to Donald M. Godard in the German prisoner camps, alas I can’t say, but he was back in "Good Old England" before VE-day !!!

My colleague-researcher Mr. Gerrit Zijlstra from Midlum / Harlingen (he passed away already) was in contact with Donald, in 1972 / 1973 etc., resulting in a newspaper article in (the) "Friesch Dagblad", a local paper in Friesland, 9 May 1973. And Donald and his wife should come over to Europe, to visit the crash side and the graves in St. Jacobiparochie, of his brave crewmates. But if he ever did……?

During the whole period that 77 Squadron was operating Whitley aircraft with Bomber Command, September 1939 to May 1942, 1687 operational sorties were flown on 239 raids, mostly over France and Germany, and 69  aircraft were lost, of which 65 were on operations, an average loss rate of 4%. It is believed that the Squadron carried out more raids and suffered more losses than any other Whitley squadron ('Bomber Command War Diaries', Middlebrook & Everitt, 1986). The probability of a squadron aircrew member completing 30 operations, the number in a tour of duty, was only around 30%. The casualties suffered were 245 aircrew either killed or missing believed dead and 59 taken prisoners of war. 10 ground personnel were also killed, mostly  during the enemy attack on RAF Driffield.  A further 48 aircrew whose aircraft were lost, either survived, evaded capture or were interned in a neutral country.

 

Sgt Ronald Shuttleworth  - His brother Clive wrote - Ron Shuttleworth attended Ashby Grammar School and then Leicester University in the 1930s. He actually volunteered to join the RAF whilst still at the University. He did his bomber training in South Africa, a country he liked very much. He wrote in a letter home that if he ever got out of the war alive ...

Roger Anderson and a small group of former students from the war years held a memorial ceremony in the University’s Council Chamber on Friday, 20 April 2001, as a tribute to six old Leicester University College students who forfeited their lives while on military service for World War II. During the ceremony, the families, relatives and friends paid tribute to each of those remembered: Jack Bramley, George Eades, Jack Gibson, Leslie Lewin, Ronald Shuttleworth, and Graham Wright. Afterwards guests made their way to the grounds in front of the Fielding Johnson Building to formally hand over to the University a bench with a plaque containing the names of the six.

 

Ron Shuttleworth's old school, Ashby-de-la-Zouch Grammar,and his name on the Donisthorpe War Memorial

 

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The crew's graves

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Added by Willem 17th June 2012 

 

Because of the more or less "open end" of the story of Sgt. Donald M. Godard, and of the rest of the crew of Whitley Z9306. I was trying to make a "100% clear story", but I didn't succeed, in my opinion; there are still questions left - I was trying to find the answers yesterday evening - because.....there should be an extra crewmember in this plane ( ? ! ). I always thought there was standard 5 man crew flying in such a type of bomber, but in this case..... maybe 6?

 

In all the research work I'm doing, I try to use as many sources as I can find; from (old) newspaper articles, from info via Google, from books (in English, German, Dutch or Frisian), by interviews (of older people), from (copies of) original documents, by photos, etc. etc. In that way I was using not only that "Friesch Dagblad" article (of Wednesday 9 May 1973), but also paperwork of the community of "Het Bildt" (the local administration / "gemeente" in which St. Jacobiparochie village is laying) and also a book, named " Net ferjitte... Niet fergete" ("Don't forget", in Frisian and in Biltsk), written by the authors Andries Bosma and Harrie Dijkstra, in 1995. And the authorities of Het Bildt (in a letter from them to me of 17 Jan. 1977), as well as the authors in their book, are writing about (maybe) a SECOND AIRMAN FROM THIS PLANE, "also on the run for a couple of hours", but MADE POW BY THE GERMANS, early the next morning (!). Another airman, not Donald Godard.

Therefore, of course, I was trying to find the names etc., of that No. 6 man. But, there is no extra name; at least, I cannot find that name. I don't understand......

And in the book, on the pages 58 and 59 is written down: "On Saturday 27 December 1941 a British warplane was attacked and set on fire. The pilot, a 21 aged Canadian, saved his life by parachute, while the 4 others from the plane were killed (5 men thus !). But later on in the book: "Mr. Sipke Zoodsma (born 04-11-1921) from Minnertsga village, was asked by local policeman Jelle Kuiken to go with him on his motorcycle with sidecar, before the Germans should come, to the side were was landed one of the escaped pilots (they are even writing about a second RAF-plane, which should be landed nearby the crashed Whitley, trying to assist the men from that lost plane, but crashing too, in a trench........ Nonsense of course ! ). But still..... ONE OF THE ESCAPED PILOTS.

And further on, on the same page, you can read how this Mr. Zoodsma was assisting that pilot in the following hours, by bringing him all the way to Harlingen, walking, to the harbour, to a safe shelter in a potato-storage there, of trader / owner Mr. Braaksma, via the local tramway / light railway (not the easiest way to go, I think, via (foundation) sleepers and gravel / stones, on that dark and freezing winter night, making in the same time noise in the stone bedding and on the steel bridges in the railway, and crossing many roads.......????????).

I don't understand all this, moreover, because Donald was walking alone, without any support or using a guide, as he wrote and told  Mr. Gerrit Zijlstra, and as was written in that newspaper article.

Maybe you can trace an extra crewmember, if there was one ?

 A lot to think about. The 77 Squadron memorial list only shows four crew killed. The 2nd pilot was the only other Canadian. Tom

 

Copyright G Godard

 

Geoff Godard's Research

 

 

A War Story      By Geoff Godard  (added December 2  2013)

A Canadian boy lives to tell the story of one bombing mission toward Germany

This is a copy of a letter written by Don Godard in 1972 describing the circumstances of the shooting down of a Whitley bomber over Holland December 27, 1941 while he was serving with the RCAF in England during World War II as a Wireless/Air Gunner with the rank of Flight Sergeant.

I am looking at the pictures of the graves of my four comrades that were sent to me. I wonder why my life was spared and none of the others. The tail gunner was a Canadian, like myself, and so was the navigator. The first pilot (and captain) was English as was the co-pilot, as far as I remember. I was the wireless operator. Most aircrews flew together regularly, however our Squadron (#77) at that time flew mostly "pick-up" crews. The second pilot had had 2 or 3 trips, along with the captain and navigator. I believe the tail gunner was on his first trip and I was on my 10th trip.

I understand that on the same night, or perhaps the night after, another Whitley was shot down and all the crew were, tragically, killed. I showed the picture of the graves to my family and pointed out the 5th. grave in line and remarked that that is my grave - only I am not in it!

As you are probably aware, the Whitley aircraft carried a crew of 5. I cannot remember what target we were headed for in Germany that night, although I suspect that it was somewhere in the Ruhr valley. In 1941 we were rather experimenting for the terrible bombing that came along in the later years of the war. For the most part there were about 40 or 50 aircraft participating in a raid and if a larger striking force were used (one night in November we used about 180 aircraft) the forces were divided up. On the November raid, one of the targets included Berlin. I believe it was the first Berlin raid although only about 50 planes were assigned that target.

On the day of a raid, the air crews were notified by means of a list posted in the lounging area in the hangar. This showed the captain and crew and which of the aircraft we were assigned to fly. After breakfast, the assigned crew did an air test for an hour, had lunch and assembled in the briefing room where the maps were covered up until all were assembled. Then the target was announced in a dramatic manner and the briefing began. As a wireless operator, my participation was not too intense. In fact the night I was shot down, I only knew I was in Holland because of the ditches and of course, the dikes. The routes taken to the target were never direct to avoid alerting the Germans to the actual target.

On December 27th we took off about 5 o'clock in the afternoon. It was broad daylight because we were on Daylight Saving Time. The course was calculated so that it would be just turning quite dark when we arrived over enemy territory, which of course was Holland because of the occupation. The flight was quite uneventful and, in fact, I had the wireless set tuned to the BBC news and then some dance music and was figuring out a way to switch the music to the intercom for the others to hear. Whitley’s fly at about 110 - 120 miles per hour. Both motors were functioning smoothly.

It was eight minutes past 7, when a stream of red hot material crashed through the cabin between me, with my back to the cockpit, and the navigator who was working about six feet from me and facing me. The red hot flak came diagonally through the floor of the plane and out the ceiling. I knew it was flak as the noise it made I had heard many times before. Never this close, however.

Underneath the cockpit of the Whitley aircraft is the main gas tank holding 800 gals. of aviation fuel. Each wing carries 500 gals. in wing tanks and immediately behind a bulkhead, just behind the wireless operator’s position, there are two more auxiliary tanks, each containing 250 gals.

The cockpit immediately began to fill with flames. They were most intense at the pilot's position. The 2nd pilot jettisoned the escape hatch, in the nose, which was just forward of his position and down 2 steps. The captain put the plane on automatic pilot and moved to the right of the cockpit to lend assistance to the second pilot. He then signaled to the navigator to pass him and go toward the escape hatch. My instructions, given previously, were to go out the door half way down the main fuselage. It was, of course, only a matter of seconds to clip our chest parachute packs onto our harness.

I knew that the "auxiliary" tanks, full of petrol, would be very difficult to squeeze between and I decided to go out the front. The navigator signaled the captain to go ahead while he folded up his table for clearer action. I had an almost irresistible impulse to knock the navigator aside and beat him to the escape hatch. Fortunately for me, I did not and instead I watched him jump. When my turn came, the plane took a sudden lurch. When I jumped for the hatch and landed where the opening should be, it had moved over my head and instead, I landed on the ceiling. The plane had gone into a spin.

The next two minutes I spent bouncing around the cockpit, hitting various parts of it, all the while engulfed in bright, noisy crackling flame. I vividly recall hoping that the plane would hit the ground with one great smash before I burned to death. It appeared to me it would be less painful.

Suddenly the deafening noise ceased, and the vivid red light disappeared. A wonderfully refreshing wind cooled my face. I looked up and saw stars. I had somehow fallen, or been blown, out of the aircraft. I checked my parachute and saw that the clip on one side had become disengaged. If I pulled the rip cord it would spiral rather than open. The chest parachute packs were equipped with cloth handles on each side for carrying. With one hand I held the handle on the side where the clip had broken loose, then pulled the rip cord. I felt a terrible jerk on my arms but the chute had opened!

 I estimated that I was about 300 feet from the ground by that time. We had been flying at 13,000 ft. which was the operational height of the plane. There was a strong wind blowing and I hit the ground with quite a jolt. Fortunately, it was a plowed field with a small bit of frost on the surface. The landing wasn’t too bad but I was dragged along on my face for a short distance because I could not disengage my parachute due to an injured hand. Checking myself over, I was still more or less in one piece.

I was informed afterward by the Germans that the three men who had jumped from the plane before me were blown out to sea and were drowned, or died from exposure. Fieldsend, the tail gunner, never got out of the plane.

My wounds were really not too serious. The burns to my face and hands along with some minor cuts and bruises made me look dreadful. I think that the poor farmer who phoned the police thought I would die shortly if I did not receive medical attention. I approached him at daybreak the next morning because my burns were very painful and there was no place I could lie down and sleep. It was below freezing and I was dressed for a heated cockpit. I kept getting fits of the shakes.

This letter is much longer than I expected, however you stirred up memories and one gets garrulous as one gets older. I was only 21 in 1941.

I spent most of the war as a prisoner of war but escaped March 1945 and only got back to England just before VE Day. Now I am a stockbroker living in Hamilton the city where I was born and raised and have lived in most of my life. My wife, Nora, is also a Hamilton girl who I met before I went overseas.

Don Godard died in 1976 in Hamilton Ontario, leaving his wife, three sons and a daughter. By 2001 he would have enjoyed the company of ten granddaughters ranging in age from nine to twenty five, and as of late 2013, four great grandchildren with a fifth on the way.

 

A Canadian veteran returns to Europe


Following is the sequence of events that led to Mr. Godard recounting his harrowing escape and his subsequent visit to the graves of his old comrades, written with the assistance of George G. Mills, also a veteran of the RCAF during World War II. Mills lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in England during that time.

The adventure described above was the result of a very interesting piece of detective work by undertaken by a Mr. Zijlstra, who, in December 1941 was a ten year old Dutch boy was cycling to his grandparents’ home at Zwarte Haan, when he came across pieces of a wrecked RAF plane. He was unaware that one of the crew had walked at night in the direction of Haarlingen and eventually had knocked at the door of a farmhouse only a short distance from his own home. The airman was, of course, Don Godard and the boy eventually moved to Midlum and started to work in the Town Hall in Haarlingen.

He became very interested in crashed airplanes and would make models of various types. In 1970 he advertised in the local paper for anyone who could tell him about the December 1941 crash near St. Jacobiparochie. Maaike Bronwer-Balt and her husband Sieb visited him in Midlum and told him what they knew and also about the survival of Mr. Godard. Mrs. Brouwer-Balt had tended the graveyard nearby where the rest of the crew were buried.

After inquiring through the War Office, by then the Canadian Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Mr. Zijlstra was able to track down and contact Mr. Godard, sending him photographs of the graves of his comrades. The letter was the result, and in 1973 Don and his wife, Nora visited Holland where Mrs. Brouwer-Balt joined them to help with the language.

They received a warm welcome in Haarlingen, where memories of the incident were vivid for those who were old enough to have experienced the war since this was the first aircraft to be downed in the area. The “poor farmer” who had answered Don’s knock on the window was a Mr. Van Straaten, a young man recently married with a young child.. He and his wife still lived at the same farm. For some years afterward many of his neighbours made it clear they were unhappy with his action in turning the “British” airman over to the Germans that night.

Nevertheless, he welcomed Don and Nora. The photos below show the field Don landed on, the farmhouse itself, and a recreation of the knock on the window that December night. Concerning his action at the time, Mr. Van Straaten had always maintained he did not call the Germans. However, it was early in the war, and there was no organized resistance or underground he was aware of to spirit downed airmen back to safety.

Fearing the consequences to his family if he was found to be harbouring the downed airman, he knew he must report him, but called the local police instead rather than the occupying German authority, and tried to be circumspect in how he phrased his information. He said he had a stranger, possibly a British airman, at his farm, in the hope that there was an underground the duty officer was aware of. Unfortunately, the duty officer receiving the call was either equally unaware or had accepted the German hegemony.

Don’s visit corroborated Mr. Van Straaten’s story, because it resulted in a successful search for the “Incident Book” for the night of December 27/28.

The young duty officer that night was now the Chief of Police in 1973.Don also visited the graves of his comrades. One is for Sergeant Ronald Shuttleworth, the copilot December 27.

In 2000, Don’s family was contacted by the University of Sheffield, which was establishing a memorial for those of its students who did not return from the war. He had volunteered in 1940, and was 21 years old when he died defending his country. Details of his last night were provided to the University.

The fifth grave would have been Don’s but for the incredible luck that spares some and condemns others in war.



Visiting the farmhouse again in 1973 - Mr Gerrit Zijlstra (Left) + Mr Don Godard (Right) - Copyright G Godard

Don’s visit corroborated Mr. Van Straaten’s story, because it resulted in a successful search for the “Incident Book” for the night of December 27/28. The young duty officer that night was now the Chief of Police in 1973.

Don also visited the graves of his comrades. One is for Sergeant Ronald Shuttleworth, the copilot December 27. In 2000, Don’s family was contacted by the University of Sheffield, which was establishing a memorial for those of its students who did not return from the war. He had volunteered in 1940, and was 21 years old when he died defending his country. Details of his last night were provided to the University.

The fifth grave would have been Don’s but for the incredible luck that spares some and condemns others in war.


 

Willem's photos from 6th December 2013

 

A memory now to my late colleague and fellow researcher Gerrit Zijl

stra of Midlum (show



158 Squadron's Halifax bombers W1179 and W1162

Piloted by Londoner, Pilot Officer Horace James Skelly, Halifax W1179 NP-S took off at 23.43 hrs from RAF East Moor on July 19,1942, for an operation against the U-boat docks at Vegesack.

Though the Handley Page Hailfax never attained the limelight and glamour of its partner, the Avro Lancaster, it made almost as great a contribution to Allied victory in World War II, and it did so in a far greater diversity of roles.

The aircraft was capable of carrying a bomb load of 13,000 lb and W1179, on that night, was loaded with 7 X 1000 lb plus a number of 250 lb bombs and incendaries.

Around 1335 - 1392 gallons of fuel was carried and this would normally last 7 to 8 hours.

The Halifax was intercepted and attacked by the Luftwaffe. It is believed to have been shot down by a night-fighter from II./NJG.2. Either by Oblt. Egmont ‘Egi’ Prinz zur Lippe Weissenfeld and his crew, or by Oblt. Rudolf Schönert. (see Beryl's note below).

For the guards of the Harlingen ‘Luchtwachtdienst’, on the rooftop of the local townhall, it was a busy night. At least four Allied bombers could be seen going down over the Wadden Sea.

North of Vlieland island, the same unit of the Luftwaffe in which Oblt. Schönert was operating, the 5th Staffel, lost a Messerschmitt Bf.-110 night-fighter. This enemy aircraft, from ‘ Fliegerhorst ‘ Leeuwarden and flown by Uffz. Roman Brejczek (a 24 year old Pilot, just new in the unit) was attacking an RAF Hampden flying in over the sea. What exactly happened is not known, but both planes crashed into the waves. It is speculated that there may have been a collision.

About those two German air force pilots. One of them attacked Halifax W1179 most likely, but it's not to say who exactly after all these years. Was it Oblt. Zur Lippe Weissenfeld? (to be honest, I really think so by myself!) or was it Oblt. Schönert ? There are 2 ' claims ' from that Luftwaffe unit, in that area and night, both about the same time (02.51 and 02.52 hrs.). But I think, Schönert and his crew was operating more Eastwards then, near Schiermonnikoog/Borkum islands. But there was also operating a Major Helm + crew (his claim was at 02.40 hrs., but was it over the Wadden Sea ?

By the way, Oblt. means ' Oberleutnant ' (Upper Lieutenant) let's say about the RAF rank of Flying Officer.  Willem.

The information you had regarding the German air force pilot who might have shot Douglas' aircraft down was "Weissenfeld" or "Schonert" or possibly "Helm". In my files I had the following: ' The aircraft was attacked by a Bf. 110 night fighter flown by Major Alfred Helm 2NJG/II and crashed into the sea.'

You really think it more likely that it was Weissenfeld, though?  Beryl Wills

 

Halifax W1179 crashed into the Waddenzee between the Frisian mainland and Terschelling. There were no survivors. Six bodies were recovered from the water and taken for burial in various Frisian and Dutch cemeteries. 

The only Canadian in the crew was air-gunner, 20 year old F/Sgt  William (Smokey) McIntyre McLachlin.

He was born 25 November 1921, the son of Russell Angus McLachlin (born in Ontario) & and Quebec born Janet Edna McLachlin (née Graham) living then at 20 Grove Avenue, Ottawa. 

He was a pupil at Hopewell (South) Avenue Elementary School (1927-1934) and went on to attend the Glebe Collegiate Institute from 1935-1939. He was an avid student and apart from his academic prowess, was on the senior football team, and also played hockey. As a teenager, from a wealthy family, he was already showing an interest in aviation and in his spare time built model airplanes.

When he was 18, William enlisted in the RCAF. He first served at RCAF Ottawa for about 2 months where he received his basic training.  On December 11, 1940, he was assigned to 112 Squadron and posted to England where he attended an air-gunner's course at RAF Halton, in Buckinghamshire and some further gunnery training with 289 Squadron at  RAF Kirknewton in Scotland. After further training at 54 OTU and 60 OTU, on 28th August 1941 he was posted to 409 Squadron, at RAF Digby, who flew Bristol Beaufighters. He remained with that squadron until April 1942 when he received more gunnery training at 1484 Target Towing Flight based at RAF Driffield. From there he was posted to 158 Squadron on 5th May 1942.

Thanks to Beryl Wills for his service history.

 

It was some time after the crash when his family got the ‘final message’, via the German authorities and the International Red Cross about his death and final resting place.

His body had been washed ashore on the Frisian mainland coast near ‘Westhoek’ hamlet. The burial, soon  after his ID was confirmed, was in the nearest cemetery, at St. Jabik, St. Jacobiparochie, plot B, row 44, grave 32. 

At the bottom of his gravestone is written some text from a poem by Lord Tennyson, 'One clear call for me!; and may there be no moaning at the bar, when I put out to sea

 

The skipper, Pilot Officer Horace James Skelly aged 20, was the son of  Horace and Charlotte Skelly, from Upper Holloway, London.  Enlisted at RAF Uxbridge, in Middlesex, he was promoted from Sergeant to Pilot Officer on 19/9/41. His service record, kindly passed to us by Beryl Wills, shows that in February 1942, he was receiving aircrew training at 23 OTU (Operational Training Unit,)  Pershore. 

He was posted to 158 Squadron at Driffield 7/3/42, - Proceeded to No. 51 MU (Maintenance Unit) for ferrying aircraft 20/3/42 - Returned 23/3/42 - Flew as 2nd Pilot on Operations to: - 28/3/42 - Lubeck (F/Lt. D.J. Harkness) - 1/4/42 - Paris/Poissy (Sgt I.T. Chambers) - 5/4/42 - Cologne (Sgt. I.T. Chambers) - 6/4/42 - Essen (Sgt. I.T. Chambers) - Detached to No. 1502 Beam Approach Training Flight, Driffield  3/5/42. Returned from No. 1502 BAT Flight 10/5/42. Flew as Pilot and Captain of Operations from RAF East Moor to: - 25/6/42 - Bremen - 8/7/42 - Wilhelmshaven - 13/7/42 - Duisburg - 19/7/42 - Vegesack.     

The body of Pilot Officer Horace Skelly was found 4km from Oostbierum on 20/7/42.

He is buried at Harlingen General Cemetery, plot E, row 3, grave 5, and remembered with his crewmates on the 158 Squadron memorial at RAF Lissett.

His name is also added to the Islington (London) Book of Remembrance, and, is believed to be written on the William Ellis Grammar School's WW2 memorial list.

The family's text at the bottom of his headstone says: ‘Rather use than fame' which was the motto of his old school  at Highgate. It's from Tennyson's verse in 'Merlin and Vivien'--"With this for motto, Rather use than fame"   (It is better to be useful and unknown than famous but useless.)

 

(RAFVR) Sgt. John Robertson Rennie, the wireless operator/ air gunner, was the 22 year old son of son of John Robertson & Margaret Russell Rennie, of Tullibody, a town situated on the river Forth, in Clackmannanshire, Scotland.

He enlisted at RAF Padgate, near Warrington in Cheshire. Before being posted to RAF East Moor on 15th June 1942, John was with 44 Squadron at Waddington. They were the first squadron to convert completely to Lancasters—flying their first operational missions in the aircraft on 3 March 1942.

His body was recovered at a sea-dike on the Frisian mainland and he is buried at Harlingerweg - ( plot K, row 1, grave 3).

The family text on his grave marker in Franeker reads: ‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember him'.

His name is on the local ‘War Dead List’ in his home town at the church hall of St. Serf’s, and can also be found on the local War Memorial in Tullibody Park.

Is it a mistake that the J R Rennie on the Tullibody Memorial is not shown as RAF- or is it another J R Rennie?

I have checked the Commonwealth Graves site but he seems to be the only one named.  Tom

 

(RAAF) Sgt. James Keith Paton, the wireless operator, at 34, he was the oldest member of the crew. 

His birthplace was Tower Hill, Koroit, in Western Victoria, on 30th April 1908. He was the son of local butcher, James Louis Paton, and his wife Margaret. He was educated at Koroit State School, 1/1/20 - 31/12/21 and Warrnambool High School 11/1/22 - 31/12/24 .

Throughout the 1930s he was employed as a school teacher around the Kew area of Victoria. He served in the 21st Battn. Senior Cadets (2 years) - Date of enlistment: 13 October 1940 - Enlisted at No. 1 Recruiting Centre, Melbourne - Address at time of enlistment: State School 2747, Lake Condah, Via Milltown, Victoria.

In May 1940 he married 30 year old Blanche Evelyn McGuinness and moved to Boisdale. They had one son, Keith John Paton, born March 1941.

His RAAF career started at No. 2 Initial Training School, Bradfield Park on 14th October 1940. The last time he saw the now pregnant Blanche, was just before he left the Embarkation Depot at Sydney for the UK and Canada on 29th November 1940.

After aircrew and gunnery training in Canada during 1941, and a brief stay at the RAF reception centre at Bournemouth, UK, he was posted to the RAF Signals School at Yatesbury, in Wiltshire, for wireless operator training. His next posting, on 6th January 1942, was to 16 Operational Training Unit, at Upper Heyford, near Oxford, for training on night bomber crews, in Handley Page Hampdens and Herefords.

After completing his training, he was posted to 158 Squadron at RAF East Moor, situated 7 miles from York, on 12th June 1942. James then flew as a wireless operator on operations to: Bremen 25/6/42 (pilot Sgt. F.T. Hardy), Wilhelmshaven 8/7/42 (P/O H.J. Skelly), Duisburg 13/7/42 (P/O H.J. Skelly), and Vegesack 19/7/42 (P/O H.J. Skelly)

The body of Sgt Paton was washed ashore on the causeway Afsluitdijk, near km marker 23.4 on the Dutch coast, on 8th August 1942. He now rests in Harlingen General Cemetery, Friesland. Plot E, Row 3, Grave 9 -

A document, dated 9th July 1948, recorded that Mr. J.W. van Wageningen had adopted Sergeant Paton's grave.

The additional text on his gravestone says: ‘Ever remembered; duty nobly done’ 

Today his name can be found on panel 128 in the ‘Commemorative Area’ at the Australian War Memorial at Anzac Parade in Canberra and on the Koroit War Memorial, in the Botanic Gardens.

Koroit is a small rural town in western Victoria, a few kilometres north of the Princes Highway, and 278 kilometres (173 miles) west of Melbourne. It is in the Shire of Moyne local government area located amidst rolling green pastures on the North rim of Tower Hill, an extinct volcano.

At the 2011 census, Koroit had a population of 1,958.

The town borrows its name from the Koroitch Gundidj people who occupied the area prior to European settlement.

Thanks to Beryl Wills for his personal and service history.

 I must give credit to my source though.  Most of the information I last emailed you was given to me by a fellow named Eddie Fell.  Eddie lived in Driffield and was the Chairman of the 158 Squadron Association.  He told me he did some local research into aircraft that crashed in the area and, as all of them turned out to be from the 158 Squadron, he began a quest to find out as much as he could about the Squadron and the people who served with it.  His research took off and he was invited to join the Association.   I was in touch with him in March 2009 and, sadly, he died 9 October 2009.  Also, some of the information I obtained on James Keith Paton was from the Australia Archives.    Beryl.

 

(RAFVR) Sgt. Douglas George Jillings was the crew's flight engineer. Aged 24, and born on 28th April 1918, he was the son of Benjamin and of Dora Lucy Jillings, of Finchley, Middlesex.

Douglas was from a large family of five boys and one girl. Two of his brothers, John, and Benjamin, also served in the armed services.

Doug is believed to have joined the RAF Territorials in 1938 and was later drafted into the RAF to work on Spitfire engines.

With thanks to a relative, Beryl Wills from Canada, we now know more about his service history. He enlisted at RAF Uxbridge in Middlesex. Trained at No. 4 School of Technical Training, St. Athan (South Wales)- Posted to No 158 Squadron at RAF East Moor near York,- Detached to No. 10 Squadron 23/6/42 (do not know if he flew operationally at No. 10 Squadron) - Ceased detachment 11/7/42 (or 1/7/42) - Flew as Flight Engineer to P/O H.J. Skelly with 158 Squadron.

His body was washed ashore on the Southern Beach (Zuidstrand) at Terschelling on 1 Aug. 1942.

After its recovery and identification the burial took place on Monday 3 Aug.1942, with a ‘routine military funeral service’, led by the local occupying German troops (they were mainly Kriegsmarine & Luftwaffe).

There has been an email exchange between Mrs. Nienke Meijvogel - Blom (living on Terschelling island) and me, about the war grave of Sgt. (Flt. Engineer) Douglas George Jillings, in the Longway Cemetery in West-Terschelling village. She told me about the adoption of the grave by her parents, since the wartime days and till about 4 years ago. She and her husband are caring now for his last resting place. In fact it was her mother - who is still living in an ' old age apartment ' named ' De Stilen ', just outside the village - who was caring in the past, while her father (Mr. Blom) was doing the family contacts by letters and postcards with his family in England. Alas, her father died last May and her mum's health is not so very good at the moment, but, as she was answering, she is trying to find ' paperwork ' and (old) photos, in some family albums and will make us copies  later...       Willem - September 2013

 

From a visit by Willem with the visitors from Melbourne, Australia, in August 2015. see bottom of page 15

'When I arrived at the Hotel Nap in West-Terschelling village, where Bill Rudd and Lyane Kelynack were staying for 2 nights, and enjoying some coffee in the lobby before starting our real cemetery tour that morning (walking with Bill along the Longway!), I showed them the ‘family message’ for Doug’s grave, from Beryl and his family from Canada. Believe me, it was an emotional moment for us (Lyane was in tears), because of that portrait, of such a young and handsome guy as he was, and because of the touching texts written on it ...... we will never forget!  Willem. 

 

 

(RAFVR) Sgt. Roland Jack Smith, the aircraft's observer, was born on 27th of May, 1914, at Place Lodge in Essendon village, Hertfordshire (UK).  He was the 28 year old son of John James & Floris Smith. His father was employed as a carpenter on the Hatfield House Estate. Roland attended  Essendon elementary school until 1924, and Hertford Grammar School/Richard Hale (Boys) School, until 1931.

Nothing is known about any further education or employment before he enlisted in the RAFVR at RAF Cardington, in Bedfordshire.

In 1939 he had married Hilda Joyce Bennett, from the ‘De Havilland Mosquito city’ of Hatfield, in Hertfordshire.

Nothing is known of his earlier service record but he was posted from 35 Squadron to 158 Squadron at East Moor on 16th June 1942. 

His body was found 12 days after the crash,in the harbour of Oudeschild (Island of Texel) at 11:00 hours local time on 1 August 1942.

Jack was buried that same day at Den Burg village General Cemetery, plot K, row 5, grave 107.

The additional family text on the bottom of his Texel gravestone says: 'Greater love hath no man.' 

His name is also remembered on the WW1 & WW2 War Memorial in his home village of Essendon. It is is engraved on the WW2 stone which was added later to the base of the monument when six local boys were honoured. Situated near the crossing of the local road near Essendon Hill, there is another War Memorial in the village, just inside the lychgate of the St. Mary the Virgin Church. - His name is written No. 5 from the top. Inside the old and beautiful St. Mary the Virgin Church, is a wooden ‘Memory Board’ on which you can also find his name.

 

RAFVR Sgt. Frederick Henry George Simkins was 32. Born at Wandsworth, London, he married Miriam Rosalie Tomkins at Hove in Sussex in 1935. Their home was Hanslope, in the Milton Keynes area of Buckinghamshire.

He enlisted at RAF Uxbridge in Middlesex. His first operational posting was to 104 Squadron at Driffield - Flew as Wireless Operator on Operations to: - 17/12/41 - Brest - 10/1/42 - Wilhelmshaven (returned early) - 17/1/42 - Bremen - 31/1/42 - Brest - 12/2/42 - Enemy Warships (returned early) -

Posted to No. 158 Squadron at Driffield 14/2/42 - Flew as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner on Operations to: - 12/4/42 - Essen (Sgt. D.B. Webb) (returned early) - 24/4/42 - Rostock (Sgt. D.B. Webb) - 28/4/42 - Kiel (Sgt. D.B. Webb) - Detached to 21 Operational Training Unit  22/6/42- 8/7/42 - Wilhelmshaven (S/Ldr. A.S.R.E. Ennis) -13/7/42 - Duisburg (S/Ldr. F.P. Hewitt) - 19/7/42 - Vegesack (P/O H.J. Skelly). Service information from Beryl Wills.

Frederick has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

He is also remembered on the Roll of Honour, a WW2 memorial stone inside the Soldiers' Chapel at the parish church of St. James the Great at Hanslope.

On that same stone can be found the name of another Hanslope airman who crashed in the Terschelling area. Sgt. Bernard Leslie Hancock, co-pilot of Wellington HE116 from 21 OTU at RAF Edgehill, was lost with all his crew while taking part in a raid on Bremen on 13th September 1942. He also has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

 

 

 

 

 Dora Jillings, who had been a widow since her 65 year old husband had died in 1941,would tragically lose another son on 23rd June 1944. He was Sgt John Albert Jillings, also a flight engineer, who flew with 460 Squadron. He had married Mabel Gilbert at Barnet in 1939.
Lancaster NE116 crashed at Morienval, 8km north east of Crepy-en-Valois in France, and five of its crew were killed. They were all buried at Morienval Communal Cemetery.
The Lancaster bomber in which Sgt. John Albert Jillings was the Flight Engineer, took off from RAF station Binbrook in Lincolnshire (UK) at 22.33 hrs. on June 22nd, 1944 piloted by Australian, F/Sgt Lawrence Randolph Pearson.
The target that night was the railway yard area at Reims, in Northern France, between Paris and the Belgian border. While on their way to the target, the RAF bomber was twice 'coned' by enemy searchlights but the pilot managed to escape. Then it was attacked by a German night-fighter and the skipper ordered the crew to evacuate from a height of only 2000 metres.
The Lancaster still had a full bomb load and a large amount of fuel in its wing tanks. It fell in a spin, crashed to the ground, and exploded. Only two of its crew had managed to parachute to safety, the navigator, RAAF F/Sgt Clive W Schwilk, and the bomb-aimer, RAAF F/Sgt William J Flynn
22 year old Clive Schwilk, who was from Waverley, a suburb of Sydney, came down not far from the crash site, and was close enough to witness the ' most unpleasant end ' of Lancaster NE116 and the remainder of its crew. He later described seeing one of his dead mates hanging from his parachute in a nearby tree.
Clive was taken prisoner by two 'elderly' German soldiers but managed to escape from the attic of a barn he was locked up in. With the aid of the French resistance he evaded capture and was liberated by American ground troops at Fréteval on August 13th, 1944. (see - http://www.evasioncomete.org/fschwilcw.html)

His old college, the elite Armidale School in NSW, announced his return to Australia in its August 1945 magazine.

His Australian crewmate, William J Flynn, evaded capture. He also was assisted by the French Resistance, and was later reunited with Clive  at Camp Fréteval.

 

The Fréteval forest is 299 square miles of thick woodland 100 miles south of Paris. In World War II it was used to hide Allied airmen who were on the run in a camp with the codename of "Sherwood". The route from Paris involved the evaders getting by train to the town of Châteaudun and then a 10-mile  hike down country roads. The French Resistance was very strong in this area and the officer in charge was an ex-Comet line veteran, Jean de Blommaert, who was parachuted into France and made his way to Paris to start arrangements for the camp. A British officer, Airey Neave, of MI9, (the British Military Intelligence Section 9), was in overall control of the operation and the first evaders were brought from Paris on 20 May 1944. On 13 August 1944 the Fréteval camp was liberated by the American 3rd Army and 132 Allied airmen were brought to safety.  Wikipedia

Jean De Blommaert, wounded while serving with the Belgian army just before Belgium capitulated in 1940, joined the Resistance immediately after the Germans overran his country and was an active organizer of Comete, the famous escape line that ran from Belgium through France and across the Pyrenees into Spain.  

Never caught, he operated under several false names and earned from the Germans the nickname of "The Fox".

A special service called MI 9 was created under the wing of the British Intelligence Service, and controlled by Captain Airey Neave, with the object of organising, with the local Resistance of the different countries, lines of evasion and repatriation to the British Isles. The one named "Comet" was the most important and succeeded in putting hundreds of airmen back into the fight.

In April, 1944, De Blommaert made his way to London where he discussed the escape setup with MI9. He then returned to France to set up a series of relay camps in French Resistance areas where evaders could be taken and gradually processed into Brittany, and easier access to the UK. That plan might have gone ahead, but on May 13th Lucien Boussa, then a Squadron Leader in the Belgian section of the RAF, arrived at Resistance headquarters in Paris with a change of orders from the British. The message from London was to the point. The invasion is not far away. Do not evacuate any more airmen. Hide them on the spot.

 Jean De Blommaert then developed a plan - a camp to which Allied airmen from all over France and Belgium could be sent to await the liberation.

Located in central France, that camp soon became the destination of most airmen moving through the escape routes of Europe.

Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave DSO, OBE, MC, TD (1916 –1979) was a captain in the British army, an intelligence officer, barrister and politician. During World War II, he was the first British officer to successfully escape from the German prisoner-of-war camp at Colditz Castle. He later became Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Abingdon. He was assassinated in 1979 in a car-bomb attack at the House of Commons. The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

 

On the same evening that W1179 was lost, July 19th, 1942, Halifax W1162 NP-S was also on a bombing raid against the same target. It took off at 2356 on the 19th July 1942 from RAF East Moor. Presumed lost over the sea, four from this crew are buried in Sage War Cemetery, while Sgt Redler, Sgt Seymour and Sgt Forgie have no known graves. Sgt Seymour's father, the Reverend Archibald Thomas Seymour, was vicar at Swallowfield near the Berkshire town of Reading. 

The crew were- Sgt P J Dillon, Sgt W H Rogers, Sgt A E Watkins, Sgt D A Redler, Sgt R H C Seymour, Sgt H E Godfrey RNZAF, and Sgt R Forgie.

 Note. ObIt Egmont Prinz zur Lippe Weissenfeld and Maj Helm, both of II.NJG2 reported combats at 0252 and 0240 respectively. Evidence suggests they may have been responsible for the loss of the two 158 Squadron Halifax bombers. 

 

 

The grave of Polish airman Sgt Piotr Bednarski of 138 Squadron (Special Operations)

 

 

Halifax DT627 RF-P was an aircraft of 138 Squadron operating from Tempsford Airfield. On 11th of May 1943 it took off with a Polish crew from RAF Tempsford and headed for Holland on a special operation named 'Leek 7/ Catarrah 12.

138 Squadron was a mixed aircraft Special Duties squadron, formed on 25 August 1941 from No.1419 (Special Duties) Flight. At first it carried out a mix of supply drop and actual landings in occupied Europe, but from October 1942 138 Squadron concentrated on the supply drop task, mainly to the Resistance, sometimes flying as far as Poland and Yugoslavia from Tempsford.

 138 Sqn Halifax II DT627 RF-P crashed into the sea off the Dutch coast. Both pilots are buried at Terschelling  (Westerschelling) General Cemetery and Sgt Germansinski PAF lies in Postdongeradeel (Anjum) Protestant Cemetery. The others have no known graves. 

 

The crew -
F/Lt Jan Polnik PAF (age 24) P76792.    Buried Terschelling (Westerschelling) General Cemetery next to his crewmate, Bronislaw Wojno.

F/Sgt Bronislaw Wojno PAF (age 29) P 787743.
Born: 5 Sept. 1914, in Lomza, a city NE of Warsaw, in Podlachië / East-Poland. Buried Westerschelling General Cemetery.

F/O Jerzy Henryk Polkowski PAF (age 30) P 0438. No known grave.


Sgt Karol Germansinski PAF (age 29) P 793221. Buried Postdongeradeel (Anjum) Protestant Cemetery. Later moved to Breda in Noord-Braban.

Sgt Piotr Bednarksi PAF (age 28) P 792895. Buried at 
the General Cemetery of St. Jacobiparochie.

Sgt Jerzy Kurzak PAF (age 35) P 793785. No known grave.

Sgt Edward Piatkowski PAF (age 24) P 782899. No known grave.

 

 

 

 

The pilot, F/Lt Jan Polnik, came from 300 Squadron to Tempsford. (Possibly with 301 Squadron previously). He was washed ashore at Terschelling on Wednesday June 30th 1943 and buried during a German military funeral with his crewmate, the 2nd pilot, F/Sgt Bronislaw Wojno, on the 6th of July.


 
 
F/Sgt Bronislaw Wojno

Jan had married a 22 year old British nurse and ambulance driver, Constance Harrison, in the autumn of 1942 in Warwickshire, UK and within a few months their son Michael Jan Polnik was born. Constance had been a nurse and ambulance driver during the 1940/42 extensive bombing of Coventry.

After the war Constance was never re-married.  She passed away at the end of 2010 (aged 90). Her ashes were brought to her husband's grave at Terschelling. In front of the original tombstone is erected a small plexiglas panel commemorating her (and their love forever !)  

Like all the Allied graves in West-Terschelling, this grave (no. 98) was adopted by a local family (or a local company / business, etc.). In this case by the family of J. Potharst. This John Potharst stayed in very good contact with Jan's son Michael and his family in England, and the Polnik family have visited Terschelling and the grave of their parents many times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAF Tempsford 

 

 

RAF Tempsford is a former RAF station located 2.3 miles (3.7 km) north east of Sandy, Bedfordshire, England and 4.4 miles (7.1 km) south of St. Neots, Cambridgeshire.

The airfield was perhaps the most secret airfield in World War II. It was home to the Special Duties Squadrons, No. 138, which dropped Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents and their supplies into occupied Europe, and No. 161, which specialised in personnel delivery and retrieval by landing in occupied Europe. These 2 squadrons were often referred to as 'the Cloak & Dagger squadrons, and 'the Moonlight Squadrons. Their job was to deliver arms, agents, ammunition, food, and other vital supplies to Resistance organisations in the occupied territories

 

For three years the airfield, built over what had been an area of marsh, was the air centre of the resistance movements of all Europe.. Night after night, villagers heard airplanes go off, and probably heard them droning back in the small hours. But they never saw the people, men and women in civilian clothes, who were driven down the prohibited road from the airfield, the men and women who had been brought to England from Occupied France under the very noses of the Wehrmacht and Gestapo. On other trips, they dropped Czech, Polish and Dutch agents in their own countries.

 

 

 

Waiting for returning aircraft at Tempsford control tower, and 22nd of April 1943 - The Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, meets with pilots of 'C' (Polish) Flight, No. 138 (Special Duties) Squadron RAF during his visit to Tempsford.

 

 

 

 

Handley Page Halifax B Mark II, W1007 'NF-U', of No. 138 (Special Duties) Squadron RAF, resting on its nose at Tempsford, Bedfordshire, having burst a tyre on landing and swung off the runway, and the Polish Forces memorial at Northolt, UK.

 

 

 

 

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 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 551847 was also washed ashore and is buried at  Nes Cemetery on Ameland - plot D, row 13, grave 8.

 

Sgt. Alexander Keir Henderson  1125769 - 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 1551139 -age 20 - Son of James Simpson Leslie and Mary C. B. Leslie, of Aberdeen. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 156.


P/O John Robert Morton 129550 - age 22 - Navigator - Son of Henry and Caraline Morton, of Bedford Park, Middlesex. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 132.

Sgt Peter Hemingway 1392967. Commemorated at Runnymede, panel 153.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

The graves of Peter Daly at Nes, Ameland, Harry Kleiner at Leeuwarden and Walter Bennett at West-Terschelling

 

 

 

The other Lancaster was ED707, flown by Australian F/O Ernest Keel Chivers. Take off was at 2240, 23rd May 1943, from RAF Scampton. The aircraft was shot down by a German night-fighter piloted by Lt Heinz Grimm, of IV./NJGl, and crashed at  0247 in the Waddenzee between Den Helder and the island of Texel.

Crew:

RAAF 275328 F/O Ernest  Keel Chivers, (Pilot) -age 32- Son of Frederick Emanuel and Rose Jessie Chivers; husband of Yvonne Gwenevere Chivers, of Hurlstone Park, New South Wales, Australia. Buried Texel (Den Burg) Cemetery.

RAF Sgt Thomas Richard  Bayles, (Flight Engineer). Son of Mrs. R. Bayles, of Barnard Castle, Co. Durham.. Buried Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery.

RAF Sgt Philip Parkin, (Navigator) Age 21. Son of Albert and Lucy Parkin, of Linthwaite, Huddersfield. Buried Texel (Den Burg) Cemetery

RAF Sgt Ivor Armstrong Jervis, (Air Bomber) Age 19. Son of George Leslie and Doris Irene Jervis, of Clowne, Derbyshire. Buried Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery.

RAF Sgt David  Arthur Robb, (Wireless Operator) Age 29. Son of David Arthur Robb, and of Clara Robb, of Higher Openshaw, Manchester. Buried Texel (Den Burg) Cemetery.

RAF Sgt William Henry Bestwick, (Mid Upper Gunner) Age 19. Son of George and Ellen Bestwick, of Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Commemorated Runnymede Memorial Panel 142.

RAF Sgt William Barrymore Rawnsley, (Rear Gunner) Age 28. Husband of Letitia Lilian Rawnsley, of Langdon Hills, Essex. Commemorated Runnymede Memorial Panel 162.

 

 

 

 

Graves of Unknown Airmen at St. Jacobiparochie

 

 

 

There are three graves with no names. The first, (no. 34) is of an "Unknown Airman / Sergeant", who's remains were found on 31 March 1943, in front of the Sea Dike of Het Bildt. The authorities were trying to find his ID during the next day, 1 April 1943 (also written down on the tombstone), but without any success (no papers found, no tag, no names in outfit, etc.). He was buried on 3rd April 1943, at 11.30 hrs.

The second grave is of an airman found on the 18th of March 1943, and the third on the 9th of August 1943.

 

 

Willem's Introduction

14

Ameland in war-time

25

Texel  & Den Helder 

1

Friesland War-time Crashes

14b

Ameland,166 & 75 Squadron

26

Hindeloopen

2

Friesland Cemeteries

14c

Ameland Graves

27

Destroy the Scharnhorst!

3

Leeuwarden area

15

Terschelling

28

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2

3a

Wirdum Remembers

15b

Terschelling 2

28a

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3

4

Schiermonnikoog

16

Sage War Cemetery

29

12 Squadron in World War 2

4b

Schiermonnikoog  part 2

16b

424 Squadron

30

The Runnymede Memorial

5

Harlingen

17

Vlieland Cemetery

31

Vuren at war

6

Kallenkote Cemetery

18

Jacobiparochie

32

Makkum Cemetery

7

Wartime Harlingen

19

Hampden AE 428

33

A fatal collision?

8

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

20

Willem's War-time photos

34

Hudsons & Venturas

9

Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group

21

USAF 44th

34a

Hudsons & Venturas 2

10

408 Squadron's Leipzig raid

21b

68th Squadron's Casualties

35

  101 Squadron

11

Friesland radar

22

Rottum Island

12

Lancasters DS776  & JA921

23

Bergen General Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

back to 626 Squadron

 

 

 

 

 

 email-address:  w.jong1@upcmail.nl

 

uk         tom.bint2@gmail.com