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Wartime Texel  & Den Helder   by Willem de Jong

Texel & Den Helder

 

 

D

Leeuwarden Airfield

Schiermonikoog

Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar

Ameland

Vlieland

Terschelling

St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

     Hindeloopen
     Sink the Scharnhorst!
     12 Squadron Losses
     Runnymede Memorial 

 

Deanweb - the Forest oan Directory

 

 

 

Texel is a municipality and an island in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It is the largest and most populated of the Frisian Islands in the Wadden Sea, and also the westernmost of this archipelago, which extends to Denmark. The next island in the archipelago, to the north of Texel, is Vlieland. It can be reached from Den Helder on the mainland by ferry.

 

It includes the seven villages of De Cocksdorp, De Koog, De Waal, Den Burg, Den Hoorn, Oosterend, and Oudeschild, and the small townships of Bargen, De Nes, Dijkmanshuizen, Driehuizen, Harkebuurt, 't Horntje, Midden-Eierland, Molenbuurt, Nieuweschild, Noorderbuurt, Ongeren, Oost, Spang, Spijkdorp, Tienhoven, Westermient, Zevenhuizen, and Zuid-Eierland.

 

Texel (Den Berg) General Cemetery contains a plot of 167 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, most of them airmen. 44 of the burials are unidentified.The cemetery address is:- Kogerstraat, Den Burg,Texel. There is also a book containing the war stories behind the tombstones of many of the graves.



The loss of 236 Squadron's Beaufighter JL575 at Den Helder

From November 1942, until the end of the war, 236 squadron formed part of the North Coates Strike Wing  spending most of its time on anti-shipping duties. It also took part in the sinking of two U-boats, one soon after the wing returned to operations and the second only twenty days before the squadron was disbanded at the end of the war. U-418 was sunk in the Bay of Biscay on 1 June 1943, while U-2338 was sunk off the Danish coast on 5 May 1945 by aircraft from 236 and 254 Squadrons.

Beaufighter JL575 from 236 Squadron took off from RAF North Coates in Lincolnshire

on the afternoon of the 18th of July 1943 as part of a Strike Wing consisting of twelve aircraft from 236 Squadron, twelve from 143  Squadron, nine from 254 Squadron and escorted by fighter aircraft, to attack a north bound convoy off Den Helder. The convoy was too near land for effective torpedo attacks so all aircraft returned to base.

 

A few hours later, armed with torpedos and rocklets, six Beaufighters from 236 Squadron along with six aircraft from 143 Squadron and some escorting fighters from 613 Squadron, returned to to attack the same convoy which was now out of the harbour but still had protection from the flak batteries at Den Helder. On this occasion two ships were damaged and set on fire.

 

The strike force came under heavy gunfire both from the ships and coastal defences.

All the RAF aircraft involved in this fierce battle were damaged by flak, and two Beaufighters, JL275 from 236 Squadron, piloted by Pilot Officer Kidd, and JL890 from 143 Squadron, piloted by Flying Officer Blackie, were shot down.

 

Three P-51 Mustangs of 613 Squadron were also shot down. All three pilots were posted as missing/killed in action when their aircraft were reported to have crashed into the North Sea. AG568 was piloted by F/O J S Treseder, AG656 by F/Lt H Gore, and AM175 by F/O H G Taverner.

 

Official records show that the Germans lost two Bf 109G-6 fighters,19853 piloted by Fw. E Roden and 20085 by Uffz. G Hasenfuss.

 

Beaufighter JL275, with P/O Kidd and navigator P/O H C Stevenson aboard, crashed into some residential homes on the corner of the Oostslootstraat and the 2nd Vroonstraat only 250 metres inland at Den Helder. Four houses were burnt down and many others, including a coal warehouse, were damaged. A number of civilians were wounded but fortunately none were killed.

 

A Beaufighter of Coastal Command and the crash site

 

On this copy of the original crashsite photo, you can see clearly one of the engines and the "twisted prop" in the garden of the houses, and on the lower roof of the storeroom / kitchen annex, you can see the tail section of the plane (almost complete). The heavy fire caused by burning fuel from the a/c. was the greatest danger for the people living there; no one was killed, beside the 2 airmen, but some were wounded..... in fact a great miracle ! Willem

 

 

 

 

In the centre - the crash site

 

 

 

 

 

There is now a memorial to the two airmen on the crash site and a brass plaque relating the details of the incident. Two trees have been planted behind the memorial.

 

 

 

 

Detail from the memorial and plaque

 

 

 

 

 

24 year old Pilot Officer Ernest Frederick Kidd was the son of Ernest and Catherine Emily Kidd, of Canvey Island, Essex. His crewmate, 22 year old Pilot Officer Harold Cuthbert Stevenson,  was the son of William and Dorothy Spours Stevenson and the husband of WAAF Audrey Dorothy Stevenson, of Dursley, Gloucestershire.

They were first buried at Huisduinen,and are now buried in a joint grave at Bergen-op-zoom war cemetery.

 

 

The German minesweeper Sperrbrecher 102  sunk on 20th April 1944, when she was bombed off Schiermonnikoog  by Beaufighters of the RAF North Coates Strike Wing. The vessel was one of 117 sunk during the war by that unit.

 

 

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Spitfire X4712 at Texel in 1941

 

 

 

On April 9, 1941 Flying Officer JHL Blount (DFC)  left RAF Oakington in Cambridgeshire with his Spitfire X4712. The purpose of this flight was photo reconnaissance over the port of Bremer. He was attacked by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 piloted by Fw. Rudolf Mickel.

The Spitfire was seriously damaged and F/O Blount was forced into a 'belly landing' on the island of Texel.. He was taken prisoner by the Germans and spent the remainder of the war in a prison camp.

After his release in 1945 he returned to his career in the RAF and progressed through the ranks. In 1967 he was Captain of the Queen's Flight and was tragically killed, together with three other crew members, when the Whirlwind helicopter, in which he was travelling to RAF Yeovilton, lost a rotor blade and crashed at Brightwalton in Berkshire.

John Hubert Lempriere Blount (1919-67) was the son of Air Vice Marshal C.H.B. Blount, of London.

 

 

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Bristol Blenheim R3619 from RAF 82 Squadron based at RAF Watton took off just before noon  with its three man crew on the 29th July 1940 to bomb Hansestadt Bremen in Germany. Because it was a cloudless day, this lone aircraft was very visible and it was decided that the original plan be scrapped and a closer target of opportunity, Leeuwarden Airfield, was chosen. This turned out to be like sticking your hand into a bees nest.

 

 

82 Squadron Bleheims lined up at RAF Watton and the wreckage of R3619 UX-T  at Texel

 

After they bombed the target from 2000 feet (700 metres) there was an immediate scramble of Luftwaffe fighters taking off in high speed pursuit. Before the Blenheim reached the coast and its cloud-cover they were under attack by Me.Bf-109Es of unit II./JG.27 who had only been stationed at Leeuwarden since 12th July that year. In the first attackers' gunfire their wireless operator/ gunner Sergeant Keith MacPherson was killed.

The pilot F/Lt Keighley did not realise that he himself had sustained leg and other injuries and was wrestling with the controls and thinking they might make it home when suddenly they lost one of their propellers. To avoid ditching in the sea he turned the aircraft towards the Dutch coast. Bill Keighley fortunately made a successful wheels-up landing at the De Waard family's farm on the Frisian island of Texel. It was only then that he was aware of their dead crew-mate and his own wounds.

After he and his Observer, John Parsons, were captured F/Lt Keighley was hospitalized and it was six weeks before he was fit enough to be sent on to a POW camp.

His remaining war years were spent at Camps 9AH/L3 (Sagan in former German Lower Silesia (now Poland) and  Sgt John William Hammond Parsons to camps L1/L6/357 at Fallingbostel and Niedersachsen in North Germany. Their crewmate Sgt Keith Dalroy MacPherson was buried with full German military honours at Den Burg, Texel on 30th July 1940.

Two different pilots have been named for the destruction of the Blenheim. One was Lt Hans Bosch and the other Lt Herbert Kargel. Another record shows the victor to be Fw W Petermann but that has both the date and the RAF squadron wrong.

 82 Squadron was reformed as a light-bomber squadron equipped with the Hawker Hind at RAF Andover on 14 June 1937, re-equipping with Blenheim Mk Is during 1938, and receiving the more advanced Blenheim Mk.IV in August 1938.The squadron started the Second World War flying anti-shipping missions over the North Sea, one of its aircraft sinking the German U-Boat U-31 on 11 March 1940 though U-31 was subsequently raised, and returned to service being sunk by a destroyer in November. On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, and 82 Squadron was deployed in attacks against the German forces. On 17 May, 12 unescorted Blenheims were sent to attack German forces near Gembloux, Belgium, but were intercepted by Messerschmitt Bf 109s, with eleven aircraft being lost.Despite these losses, it continued to fly missions in support of the BEF, and after the evacuation from Dunkirk, against German held airfields and invasion barges in the Channel ports. Our photo shows a German military funeral at Texel.

 

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Wellington X9667 from 21 Operational Training Unit

Wellington X9667 took off at 1830 hours on the night of 26/27th January 1943 from RAF Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire, the home station of 21 Operational Training Unit which was responsible for the training of air crew to fly Wellington Bombers. It was on a 'Bullseye' training sortie. A Bullseye was the nearest that a training crew could get to an operational sortie without actually being fired on. The bomber crew treated it as an exercise to navigate to a target and to experience having to evade or perhaps being coned in searchlights and trying to work out how to deal with it.  The Bullseye route took the aircraft 50miles out over the North Sea from Clacton in Essex with no radio communications, to a position at least 50 miles off the coast.

The aircraft was shot down by a German night-fighter fighter from 11./NJG.1, believed to be either piloted by Lt. Wolfgang Kuthe or Fw. Heinz Vinke, and crashed at 0025 hours into the Waddenzee between Den Helder and the Island of Texel, east of Wierengen (Noord Holland). Six of the crew were killed and F/Sgt Morgan was taken prisoner.    

 Flt Sgt Morgan when he was a POW reported : “FO Frank Mitchell our Captain and Pilot remained at the controls, giving myself and others the opportunity of abandoning the aircraft in the nick of time. The suddenness of the attack which ended our ill fated flight, was such that I am unable to give much detail of our last moments together."

The crew were

RAAF 404654 FO Mitchell, F H  (Pilot)  * on loan from 405 Sqn RCAF

RAF Sgt G G Ellis, (Pupil Pilot) 

RAF Sgt E H Tucker, (Navigator) 

RAF Sgt D Llewylyn, (Bomb Aimer) 

RAF Flt Sgt J N Morgan, (Wireless Op./ Air Gunner)

RAF Sgt R E Elvin, (Wireless Op. /Air Gunner) 

RAAF 414377 Sgt N G Smith. (Air Gunner)

The bodies of  Australian F/O Frank Mitchell, Welshman P/O Dilwyn Llewelyn and Sgt Ronald Elvin were washed ashore on the mainland of Holland near Van Helder and they are buried in the Bergen-op-Zoom War cemetery, Netherlands. The town of Bergen-op-Zoom is in the Dutch province of Noorfr-Brabant, some 40kms north west of Antwerp (Belgium). 

The bodies of pupil pilot Sgt Gordon Ellis and air gunner, Australian Sgt Norman Smith, were washed ashore on the south side of the Island of Texel. They are buried in the Texel (Den Burg) Cemetery, Netherlands.

The navigator, Sgt Eric Tucker, is buried at Wieringen (Westerland) Protestant churchyard. His is the only wargrave there.

 

 

20 year old Sergeant Eric Tucker's grave, a local view of Wieringen, and St Nicolaas Church

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Medemblik Cemetery

 

Medemblik is 18 kilometers north of Hoorn and 55 kilometres north-east of Amsterdam, on the west bank of the IJsselmeer. It lies 6 kilometers east of the main Amsterdam-Leeuwarden road (A7). The cemetery is on the southern outskirts of the village, on the byroad to Oostwoud. The war graves are in a central position, near the entrance. 
There are three war casualties buried at this site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three Canadian airmen buried here. 20 year old Pilot Officer Kenneth H Taylor of 408 Squadron and 23 year old twin brothers, air gunners Robert and Richard Todd of 75 Squadron.

 

 

 

Hampden AT154 EQ-B took off from RAF Balderton at 11.26pm on June 2nd 1942. The target was Essen. It was shot down by Hauptmann Helmut Lent and crashed into the IJsselmeer, east of Medemblik at 01.06am. The crew were P/O Kenneth H. Taylor RCAF, F/O Peter L. Edwards, Sgt Ewart G. Ronson, and Sgt Orville W. McKenzie RCAF.

 

Pilot Officer Kenneth Henry McPherson Taylor was born on 30th December 1921 at Guelph, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada the son of John McPherson Taylor and Lila Bernice Taylor. He attended Upper Canada High School, one of Canada's most prestigious preparatory schools,where many of Canada's most powerful and wealthy were graduates. At the time of his death his home address was given as 5 Killarney Road, Toronto. His older brother, John (Jack) McPherson Taylor (born 1910) was an officer with the Hamilton Light Infantry, serving in Europe.

 

 

 

Stirling Mk.III EH889 AA-Z of 75 Squadron took off at 23.48 on 22nd of June 1943 from RAF Newmarket. The mission to bomb the German city of Mulheim. 557 aircraft were involved in this operation. 35 were lost, 4 from 75 Squadron.

EH889 piloted by F/Lt Thomas Fraser McCrorie DFC was shot down at 00.26 hrs by a night-fighter, flown by Oblt. Lothar Linke, of IV/NJG1 and crashed into the IJsselmeer. The crew were -

Pilot  F/Lt Thomas Fraser McCrorie DFC RAFVR

Flight Engineer Sgt Eric Grainger  RAFVR

Navigator P/O William Stuckey M.I.D. RAFVR

Bomb/Aimer Sgt James Leonard Richards  R.N.Z.A.F.

Wireless/operator W.O.2 Robert Earnest Tod.  D.F.M. R.C.A.F.

Air Gunner W.O.2 Richard Douglas Tod.  R.C.A.F.

Air Gunner Sgt Raymond Anthony Kennedy  RAFVR

Five bodies of the crew were recovered from the IJsselmeer during July. The 23 year old Tod twins are buried at Medemblik General Cemetery. F/Lt T. F. McCrorie is buried at Hemelumer-Oldeferd [Molkwerum] Protestant Churchyard. Sgt R. A. Kennedy lies in Wieringermeer [Middenmeer] General Cemetery. P/O W. Stuckey rests in Wonseradeel [Makkum] Protestant Churchyard. The bodies of the flight engineer Sgt Eric Grainger and New Zealand bomb-aimer Sgt James Richards were never found and they are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial which is situated near Windsor in the UK.

On the 10th of April that year the twins had flown in Stirling BF455 piloted by F/Sgt C Rothschild on a mission to Frankfurt. The aircraft was badly damaged by flak over the target and later engaged in a running battle with Luftwaffe night-fighters. Low on fuel, the bomber was ditched in the Channel, some 3 miles off Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. All were picked up by an ASR Walrus amphibian. Sgt Robert Tod, was awarded an Immediate DFM for his actions as Wireless Operator.

The citation in the London Gazette of May 7th 1943 read -"Sergeant Robert Ernest Tod, Royal Canadian Air Force, No. 75 (N.Z.) Squadron.

This airman was the wireless operator of an aircraft which was damaged by anti-aircraft fire during an operational flight over enemy territory. The aircraft gradually lost height and the pilot was eventually compelled to bring it down on to the sea. Meanwhile, Sergeant Tod coolly worked at his apparatus, maintaining wireless contact with base. His excellent work enabled the aircraft to be continuously plotted from the ground, and plans for rescue to be made. The entire crew of the aircraft were picked up within 15 minutes of coming down on to the sea. This airman displayed great coolness and unswerving devotion to duty throughout."

 

 

 

The loss of Wellington Z1269 BH-L from 300 (Polish) Squadron

At 7.40pm on 26th of March 1942 Wellington Z1269 BH-L with a crew of six from the Polish 300 Squadron, and piloted by 26 year old Flying Officer Bogumil Zelazinski, took off from RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire, UK on a mission to bomb Essen in Germany. At around 10.27pm it was shot down by the German nightfighter Prinz Zur Lippe Weissenfeld. It crashed into the "Balg Canal" 3,5 kilometers south/east of the De Kooy airfield. The crash site was near the heavily defended (FLAK etc.) area around "Fliegerhorst" De Koog airfield close to the FLAK-guns and search lights of the local Marine Flak Abteilung 8./MFlaA 808, situated east of the airfield, and not far from the "Kooy-sluis" (the ships lock on the Balgzand Canal). The Polish crew of six were all killed but only three bodies were at first recovered. 

Wellington Z1269 BH-L

Oblt. Egmont "Egi" Prinz zur Lippe Weissenfeld of 5/NJG2 was operating that night from "Fliegerhorst" Bergen, in Noord-Holland (near Alkmaar and the West-coast). His 2nd man, radar-operator etc., was Uff.Renette, using the new Lichtenstein  radar equipment. They managed to shoot down 4 RAF-planes that night mostly operating in Sector / Raum "Salz-hering" ( "Pickle Herring"; radarpost / funkmess-stellung) near Medenblik town, the oldest city of West-Friesland.  For this night's work Egi was awarded the Knight's Cross.

The Polish Wellington was the first plane the ME 110 spotted at an altitude of 4800 meters. Its first attack at 22.25 hours went wrong. The tail gunner of the Wellington spotted the fighter-plane and shot at her. The second attack was better and the Wellington dropped her bombs (that was above the polder Wieringermeer) and then tried to escape. But the ME 110 persisted and in the third attack Prinz zur Lippe shot the starboard engine to pieces. At 22.27 hours  the plane went down, burning fiercely. Two parachutes were seen, but the airmen drowned at sea. They were probably: F/O Franciszek Jakubowski and P/O Boleslaw Uszpolewicz. Their bodies were later found ashore.

The crew were -

F/O.  Bogumil Zelazinski ( 1st pilot)  - born 23.10.1915, in Kazan Rosja (seems to be in Russia, not in Poland)

F/O.  Franciszek Jakubowski  (Navigator) - born 17.06.1910, in Deblin (S.E. of  Warszawa / Warsaw, in E.- Poland)

P/O. Boleslaw Uszpolewicz - (2nd pilot) born 25.04.1914, in Poniewierz Litwa (N.E.- Poland)

Sgt.  Jerzy Kwiecinski - (Wireless Operator) born 26.10.1929 (not known where)

Sgt. Teofil Niemeczek - (Air Gunner) born 22.10.1915, in Kleszczów p. Piotrków (S.E.- Poland)

Sgt. Wladyslaw Stachurski - (Air Gunner) born 09.02.1911, in Wola p. Pirola Kutno (somewhere in Poland ?)  

Sgt. Wladyslaw Stachurski, P/O Boleslaw Uszpolewicz, and F/O Bogumil Zelazinski were buried on 31st March 1942 in the military plot of the "Huisduinen Cemetery. On April 4th 1942 in the same Cemetery F/O Franciszek Jakubowski, and a body that appears to be of one of his crew-mates, an 'Unknown Polish Airman', were also buried. (On 26.3.1942 a very mutilated unidentified body wearing a white pullover had been found near the wreck.)

All five graves were exhumed in May 1947 and reburied at the Bergen op Zoom War Cemetery. The crew  are also commemorated on the Polish War Memorial at Northolt in the UK.

 

 

Balgzandkanaal - near Flgh. De Kooy. Arrow points to crash-site area.

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Boleslaw Uszpolewicz (right) and 'scoreboard' on a 300 Sqdn Wellington

 

 

 

 

Two of the Wellingtons shot down by Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld that evening were from 12 Squadron who were then stationed at RAF Binbrook.

Wellington W5371 took off at 8.26pm piloted by Canadian Flight Sergeant F J Lowe, and with Australian Sergeant T E Parsons as co-pilot, to bomb Essen. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was later established that it was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at 11.15pm at Monnickendam (Noord-Holland) on the west coast of the Zuider Zee, Holland. All of the six crew were killed. F/Sgt Lowe, and Sgt’s Parsons, Lea and Stanley are buried at Bergen General Cemetery, Noord-Holland, Netherlands. Sgt’s Pooley and Dove are buried in the Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery.

Wellington W5372 took off at 8.11pm piloted by an experienced officer 30 year old Wing Commander Albert Golding DFC. He was shot down by a night-fighter and crashed at 11.58pm between Bovenkarspel and Enkhuizen (Noord olland) 16 km ENE of Hoorn on the land of Mr Oud near De Veer and West of the Kathoeksloot at Bovenkarspel. All six crew members are buried in Bergen General Cemetery. Albert Golding had previously served with 37 Squadron.

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300 Squadron crew in 1941 and their Squadron crest

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Dutch airfield De Kooy, before the war

 

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Fliegerhorst De Kooy, during W.W.2 (FLAK)

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Starting a Messerschmitt Bf-110 - NJG.1

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"Mammut" radar equipment (FuMO 51) for long distance aircraft detection

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2 cm. FLAK-gun near Fliegerhorst De Kooy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Fleet Air Arm 826 Squadron's Albacore L7801

 

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm's 826 Squadron was formed at Ford, Sussex, specially to fly the Albacore, and received 12 aircraft on 15 March 1940.

The Fairey "Albacore" was a single-engine biplane designed as a torpedo-spotter reconnaissance aircraft. It was an all-metal monocoque fuselaged biplane, its wings braced with wire and covered with fabric. It also had a heated enclosed cabin, was nicknamed the "Applecore", and was regarded as pleasant to fly. It did not carry any fancy electronic navigation gear but relied initially on the Observer reading a map and the stars, and the pilot checking his compass. It could carry either a 1670lb torpedo or four 500lb bombs but its maximum speed without bomb load was only 161 miles (259 km) per hour.

The squadron went into action on 31 May 1940, attacking E-boats off Zeebrugge and road and rail targets at Westende, Belgium. The squadron moved to Bircham Newton, Norfolk the following month, operating under the direction of RAF Coastal Command until November, making night attacks, laying mines and bombing shipping. In May 1940, the squadron provided cover for the Dunkirk evacuation from Detling, and on 31 May bombed targets at Westende, and E-boats off Zeebrugge.

On the morning of Friday 21st of June 1940 a Hudson on patrol spotted a German convoy of 5 freighters near Texel.

Eight British Albacores of 826 Squadron from HMS PEREGRINE airfield and nine Hudsons from RAF 206 Squadron of Coastal Command were sent to intercept it. The convoy was not located so the aircraft attacked the port of Texel

The eight Albacores raided the DeKooy airfield and Willemsoord. Two were lost.

The nine Hudson bombers of 206 Squadron went on to attack and sink the old dismantled Dutch coastal battleship VLIEREEDE at Den Helder.

That ship was later salvaged by the Germans in October 1940 and towed off to Kiel where it was converted into a floating AA battery. Renamed the Ariadne its superstructure was almost completely sheared and new armament and fire control systems and Würzburg radar were installed.

 

826 Squadron's Albacore L7801 left Royal Navy station Ford (HMS Peregrine)  at around 2.30pm on 21st June 1940 with seven other Albacores. They failed to find the German convoy.
During their attack on the heavily defended De Kooy air-base, near Den Helder L7801 came under heavy fire from the ground defences. The aircraft was damaged and tried to escape over the Marsdiep waters to Texel island. It was intercepted and shot down by Messerschmitt Bf-109Es of JG.51 and crashed out of control killing all three crewmen. They were Lieutenant James L M Bell, 20 year old  Sub-Lieutenant Frank B Hookins and 21 year old Naval Airman 1st Class Robert George Poole. All are buried in Den Burgh cemetery at Texel.

 

 

826 Squadron Albacores

Why this aircraft was flying on a rover or intruder patrol against a German occupied airfield in Holland I do not really understand. In my opinion this type of naval torpedo bomber was not good or fast enough for this type of warfare. It might be they were flying an anti-shipping patrol over the Marsdiep area and flew over neighbouring De Kooy airfield by accident.  Willem

The crash site at Texel

 

The second Albacore L7089 4- R and how S/Lt. Peter Butterworth was caught by the Germans

The story about the 2nd Albacore and S/Lt. Butterworth is mainly based on a Nieuwsbrief (= Newsletter) of the LOMT (Luchtvaart-en Oorlogs-Museum Texel) of Nov. 2012; it's written by Mr. Hans Nauta, from the village of  Egmond-Binnen / Noord-Holland, and the (original ?) photos are in the collection of Mr. Bram van Dijk. I translated only a small part of an interesting and much longer story.....    Willem

The other lost Albacore was L7089 coded "4R", and flown by S/Lt.  "Peter" Butterworth (age 21).  The observer was S/Lt. Victor John Dyke (22) and the wireless operator/air gunner Robert Joseph Jackson (25). It was Luftwaffe fighter pilot Gefr. Heinz zur Lage, of 3./JG.51 - flying from Flgh. Leeuwarden - who claimed the shooting down of this Albacore, at 16.02 hrs., North of Texel island (He did not recognise the aircraft. He thought it was a Havilland plane , or maybe even a French craft).

The crew of the Albacore were all captured. The pilot, S/Lt (A) W. S. Butterworth survived as a prisoner of war, observer S/Lt V. J. Dyke died of his wounds and Leading Airman R. J. Jackson, the wireless operator/gunner, died as a POW on 18 January 1945.

  

The crash site

S/Lt. Peter Butterworth reported later:

"On the way to the target our plane was intercepted by the enemy, attacked by 3 Me.Bf-109’s. Soon the engine was damaged, so it was necessary to make a belly-landing on the island beach, at about 16.00 hrs., and my observer Vic was hit! Robert and I climbed out of the wreck after the crash landing and we laid down Vic on the sand beach, because he was badly injured.

A civilian, who was nearby relaxing before, reading a book till our smash (!), was sent by us to get help for our patient. We were waiting next to Vic, trying to cheer him up, to the moment an ambulance was coming; then we were hiding in the dunes (in those early times there was not yet something like an Atlantikwall).

Suddenly a girl came to us over there, speaking in English, that she had seen our landing and hiding and…. that she knew a beach hut 3 miles to the N.E., near the lighthouse being a better place to hide. Maybe this was a perfect chance, so we followed her, and about half an hour later she came back with a first aid kit, because of our wounds. She told us the Germans had destroyed and stolen many boats - and it was forbidden to go to the mainland; the only way to leave the island was via the regular ferry, controlled by the soldiers of course. But, with help of some other people, she was making a plan to escape (…..?). After waiting again, maybe for 3 hours, another girl came - her English wasn’t so good alas - but she would take us to her father, who had also seen our landing, and with refuge in their home, a farmhouse, for the coming night.

While we were walking cautiously to this new address, via a country road, we suddenly found a bunch of Jerries were waiting there for us ! Our first reaction was "run for your life", and each of us was going another way, but…..those bastards were shooting in the air and shouting "HALT" and all kinds of unpleasant words, and they aimed lower and lower !!! We gave up, also for the safety of that girl….."

They were taken to the temporary German HQ on the occupied island, for some food and sleep etc., locked in a room for the night with an armed guard. The next day, after some interrogation, they were transported by car and ferry to Den Helder, to the mainland….. Germany, the interrogation and POW camp were waiting!


   Peter Butterworth as a prisoner of war. 

 

L to R (back row)  Michael Ormond, John G., Frank Day, D.Barratt, Norman S, Hugh ..

(Front row) Group Captain Kellett, Peter Butterworth, Gordon ..  

Taken Feb. 1943 in the Old Camp, Room 8 Barrack 67. Stl/Luft 3

 

After being captured Peter Butterworth became POW No. 622. During his time in captivity he escaped from Dulag Luft with Roger Bushell (Of Great Escape fame) and 16 others in June 1941. Peter covered 27 miles (43 km) over three days but was apparently recaptured by a member of the Hitler Youth and sent to Stalag Luft 1 (Barth) and then on to Stalag Luft L3 (Sagan).

Whilst at Stalag Luft III he met Talbot Rothwell, who later went on to write many of the Carry On films. Rothwell and Butterworth formed a duet and sang in the camp shows, where booing and catcalls covered the sounds of an escape tunnel being dug by other prisoners.

Butterworth was one of the vaulters covering for the escapers during the escape portrayed by the book and film The Wooden Horse. Butterworth later auditioned for the film in 1949 but "didn't look convincingly heroic or athletic enough" according to the makers of the film.

Butterworth's association with the Carry On series started in 1965 in Carry on Cowboy where he played the part of "Doc". He was put in touch with the creator of the series, Peter Rogers, by his friend Talbot Rothwell, the writer of Carry On Cowboy and who had written the previous four films.

 Out of the actors who were considered to be the Carry On team, he was the sixth most prolific performer in the series, making sixteen film appearances, two Christmas specials, the television series in 1975 and the west end theatre productions which also toured the country, alongside Sid James, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Connor.

He married the actress and impressionist Janet Brown in 1947 at St. Mary's Church, Bryanston Square, Marylebone after being introduced to one another by Rothwell. Janet Brown later became famous for her impersonations of Margaret Thatcher on TV during the 1970s and '80s. Their son Tyler Butterworth is an actor and married to the actress Janet Dibley. Peter Butterworth died in 1979 at the age of 59.

 

The attempted rescue of the crew of Bristol Blenheim IV, V6258 XD-‘L’

Bristol Blenheim IV, V6258 XD-‘L’ piloted by Sgt Kenneth Fenton of 139 (Jamaica) Squadron together with four other Blenheim’s of the same squadron. took off from Horsham St. Faith, Norfolk at 08.48 hours on 1st July 1941. His crewmates were observer, 20 year old Sgt Alan Andrew Fuller, and wireless operator, Sgt R (Robbie) W McDonald. Their mission was daylight raid on bomb Oldenburg, Germany.

The targets were the local central railway station and its marshalling yards, the power station and barges in the canal. All aircraft appear to have bombed the target between 12.48 Hours and 13.21 Hours.

 

LAC John Kinnane (left) receiving his wings after training in Canada and the 7 Squadron memorial window at All Saints Church in Longstaton

 

At about 14.00 hours V6258 reported by radio that they had been damaged over Oldenburg near Bremen and were going to ditch in the North Sea, North-West of Terscheling Island. It was intercepted 60km NW of Vlieland, and shot down by Fw. Friedrich-Karl “Frika” Bachmann from 3./JG.52 -Leeuwarden, flying a Messerschmitt Bf- 109E fighter. The Blenheim was forced to ditch into the sea and the crew fortunately were able to deploy their dinghy.

Around 4pm, an RAF aircraft spotted them and circled over their small rescue craft. It was Stirling N6013 (MG-‘A’) of 7 Sqdn., from RAF Oakington and flown by Australian F/O. J. Kinnane. He had joined the squadron on 8'" April from No 11 OTU. John Kinnane was returning with two other Stirlings from a successful air raid on the seaplane base at Borkum island in Germany.

 

 

Stirling MG-'A' of  7 Squadron at RAF Oakington - Is this N6013 of F/O Kinnane's crew?

 

The Stirling quickly sent an SOS-message which was received in the UK. This was followed half an hour later by a second message that F/O Kinnane’s aircraft was being attacked by two aircraft. That was also witnessed by the other returning 7 Squadron Stirling's who recorded this attack at 15.11 hours.

HSL 108 lifeboat of 24 AirSea Rescue Unit was launched from its base in Gorleston - Great Yarmouth (Norfolk). RAF 100 class High Speed Launches had joined the RAF fleet in 1937. Built by The British Power Boat Company at Hythe, the 100 class HSLs were designed by Fred Cooper. The class were a stretched version of the 60ft MTB hull and the prototype was the format on which the RAF based their decision for a new type of high speed launch. The dimensions of the launch were 64ft long with a beam of 14ft 6in, and powered by a trio of Power Napier Sea Lion engines. The range was 500 miles at a speed of 35 knots.

The problem was that the rescue launch with 8 men aboard (a skipper, wheelman, engineer, 2 gunners and 3 sailors)had to travel more than 250 km! (155 miles). Therefore four Blenheims of 248 Squadron from RAF Bircham Newton, near Docking in Norfolk (UK), were sent out to provide cover for the lifeboat as well as the Blenheim crew's dinghy. Visibility during that rescue and cover mission, and in the direction of the occupied Dutch coast, was ‘moderate to good’; further on it was more cloudy with light and variable winds over the open sea. Unfortunately those 248 Squadron Blenheims were apparently unable to locate the crash site.

The Stirling, remained in the area as long as possible; but unfortunately too long! Suddenly they were under attack by two German Arado Ar.196 seaplanes, based in Schellingwoude, near Amsterdam city in occupied Holland. They had discovered the circling RAF bomber already from a large distance westwards and observed the ‘strange flight behaviour’ of that large 4 engined aircraft.

 

HSL 107, a similar type of launch to HSL108 and German Arado Ar.196 seaplanes

 

Their own fire power was not heavy enough to ‘finish the job’, as they soon learned; therefore ‘Flugzeugführer’ (pilot) Hptm. Smidt and his ‘Bordfunker’ (also air gunner), together with the crew of the 2nd Arado (Oblt. Stav and Ofw. Stürtz) were signaling the ‘highest alarm’, to nearby Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe units in Holland.

At least two Messerschmitt Bf-109F’s of 1./JG.52 were scrambled from Texel airfield ‘De Vlijt’, one of them was flown by Uffz. Georg Brey, and shortly after four Messerschmitt Bf-110D’s, of unit 5./ZG.76 (part of the ‘Haifisch Geschwader’) from Flgh.‘De Kooy’ near Den Helder. Although the crew of Stirling N6013 were bravely fighting back, they were seriously outnumbered.

The bomber was seen by another 7 Sqdn Stirling crew for the last time upside down in the water before it sunk…. and all the crew were killed. They were RAAF F/O J Kinnane, (Pilot), RAF Sgt F G Taylor (Flight Engineer), RCAF P/O J G  Elliott,  RAF P/O T E Bolton,  RAF F/Sgt B Nicholls, (Wireless Air Gunner),  RAF Sgt W G Marsh, and RAF Sgt K Huntley.

The bodies of F/O Kinnane, Sgt Taylor and F/Sgt Nicholls were washed ashore onto the Danish coast between 11th July and 18th August 1941 but the other crewmen were never recovered.  F/O Kinnane, Sgt Taylor and Flt Sgt Nicholls are buried in the Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery, Denmark.  F/O Kinnane’s body was washed ashore at Ribe and he was buried on 11/7/1941. Sgt Taylor’s body was washed ashore at Visby and he was buried on 18/9/1941. Flt Sgt Nicholl’s body was washed ashore at Darum and he was buried on 18/8/1941. It was presumed that the remaining four crew members had lost their lives at sea and their names are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, near Windsor Castle.

 

27 year old Pilot Officer Thomas Everest Bolton from Yeadon, Yorkshire, was married to Winifred Alice Bolton. Their home address after he died was given as 9 Sydenham Terrace, Sunderland.

 

But that was not the end of the story, because two more returning 7 Squadron Stirlings - one of them N6005, and skippered by F/O. D.T. Witt - were passing the scene, and the crews of those also came under attack by the enemy fighters. Stirling N3655 piloted by Sgt B. K. Madgwick, was attacked by a fighter and hit by flak but managed to return safely to their base at RAF Oakington with N6005.

 

Sgt Frederick George Taylor, (1919-1941)from Burgess Hill, Sussex, the flight engineer on Stirling N6013,joined the RAF at the age of fifteen and a half to become an aircraft apprentice and three years later passed out at RAF Halton (30th Entry). The Mid-Sussex Times reporting his death in 1941 stated that Frederick was a crewman in the first RAF bomber to fly over Germany after the outbreak of the war.
After serving with other units he joined 7 Squadron at Oakington on 21st April 1941.
He was married and his wife gave birth to a child in May 1941. Frederick's first operation with 7 Squadron was as flight engineer for Squadron Leader Seale on 11th May against targets over Ham In Germany although they had to drop their bombs over Emden when their aircraft developed technical problems. His second operation on 18th June was flying with Wing Commander Graham, who flew as Captain and Flying Officer John Kinnane as Second Pilot to a target over Brest In France. His third operation was on 21st June and was again with Wing Commander Graham where they flew over the North Sea searching for a missing aircraft.
On 1st July Aurich and Cuxhaven were selected as the targets and two loose formations of three aircraft, three each from 7 and 15 Squadrons, were airborne from Oakington at noon. The three aircraft from 15 Squadron turned back to base when the cloud cover disappeared. 7 Squadron's aircraft headed by Pilot Officer D T Witt, with Sergeant Bolton as second pilot, pressed on in broken cloud with a base of less than one thousand feet. When that ceased to give cover they proceeded to their secondary target, the seaplane base at Borkum.
Flak ships and six Messerschmitt Me Bf 109 fighters fiercely responded as the aircraft approached. The navigator of Witt's Stirling, Deyell then released their bombs from nine hundred feet above the target as a fighter closed In on them. Flight Engineer aboard this Stirling was Sergeant John T Prentice, an original member of 7 Squadron from its early days when based at Leeming and one of the RAF's first flight engineers, known until early 1941, as Fitters II/Air Gunners. He recalled "When six Bf 109's first attacked I was acting as Fire Controller. During the course of the engagement I was rapped on the shoulder by Flying Officer L A Mills, the rear gunner, who had been shot in the arm and was unable to continue. I took over his position in the turret and remained there until we reached the base".
Pilot Officer Witt had meanwhile thrown the aircraft about, taking evasive action to shake off the Messerschmitt's, as Deyell and Sergeant Savage, the wireless operator, looked after Lionel Mills. Sergeant Prentice had raced back to the rear turret, which he reached just as a Bf 109 was coming in to attack the Stirling. During the engagement he damaged one German fighter. Once they were able to reach cloud cover Lionel Mills was given morphine and bandaged until the badly shot up Stirling N6005 safely landed. (from Burgess Hill Roll of Honour)

 

The Air Sea Rescue Memorial at Gorleston. Gorleston Air Sea Rescue service was accredited with the rescue of more than 700 airman.

 

Meanwhile that RAF High Speed Launch (HSL108) was also racing to the scene while the Messerschmitts were in combat with the RAF heavy bombers. The Arado seaplanes then attacked the rescue launch before it could give any help to the Blenheim crew who were still waiting helplessly in their dinghy.

Stirling N6005, flown by Flying Officer D T Witt DFM, DFC, was attacked four times, but its brave rear gunner, Pilot Officer L. A. J Mills, although wounded in the arm and bleeding seriously, managed to damage at least one of the enemy aircraft.

The Luftwaffe had no losses from this encounter but two of the Bf.109's of 1./JG52 were damaged enough to force them to crash-land when returning to Texel. Lionel Mills from Islington, London, was awarded the DFC and promoted to Flying Officer. Tragically, after being posted to 97 Squadron a few months later, he was killed on 21st September 1941 when returning from his first op' with the squadron after bombing Bremen in Manchester L7462.

Those airmen in the dinghy could do nothing but observe the ‘complete chaos’ around them. Minutes later most aircraft were gone, fighters as well as bombers, Germans and British, but the two Arado seaplanes were still diving and shooting, again and again, till there was no return fire from the rescue boat which had now suddenly stopped. HSL 108 was later tugged by the Kriegsmarine to Den Helder habour in NW Holland and the seven surviving crew taken POW and flown by 2 Heinkel He. 59 rescue aircraft to ‘Water vliegkamp’ Amsterdam / Schellingwoude.

The 8th crewman from the launch, 20 year old RAF Aircraftsman William Guilfoyle, was found dead aboard when the Germans arrived. The sailors of the Kriegsmarine gave him a short ‘funeral service’, a seaman’s grave; so his human remains were not transported by them to Den Helder. (Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial)

Note: That repaired RAF HSL 108 lifeboat was later on in use by the Germans too, in their own Kriegsmarine fleet, and mainly operating near the Dutch coast, till some date in 1942 when RAF Coastal Command Beaufighters attacked the vessel and it is believed to have been was sunk.

 

A Heinkel He.59 seaplane and the military funeral of F/Sgt B Nicholls at Fovrfelt cemetery, Esbjerg, Denmark on 18/8 1941

 

The Blenheim crew was eventually rescued by a Heinkel He.59 DB-MV seaplane from 4 Seenotflugkommandos based at Nordeney which took them to the Air-Sea Rescue base at Schellingwoude, North of Amsterdam. DB-MV was piloted by Fw Unterspann with crew members Uflz Barwitzki, Flieger Fischer and Flieger Rhase.

The RAF had learned another hard lesson on that day. Daylight operations against Germany and the occupied coastline, and in particular without fighter escorts, were sometimes successful, but very risky, and even deadly. More and more actions in the future would be flown in the dark.

 

Schellingwoude -Heinkel He.59 floatplane takes off & German Dornier Do.18 flying boats & Heinkel He.115 seaplanes (1940-1941)

 


 

 

 

Texel island 1941- Me.Bf.-109F of 1.JG.52.                  The launching of an Arado Ar.196 floatplane

 

 

 

Some names of pilots operating in 1./JG.52 (1st Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 52), also via 'Flugplatz De Vlijt' on Texel island:  

Oblt. Helmut Bennemann Lt. Hans-Reinhard Bethke,  Uffz. Georg Brey - the pilot who made a crash-landing after combat with the Stirling bombers 1 July 1941 on 'De Vlijt'.  Uffz.Berthold Grassmuck,  Uffz. Karl Hammerl, Uffz. Walter Kuhn, Oblt. Karl-Heinz Leesmann (Stab 1, thus commander there), Lt. Siegfried Mikosek, Fw. Robert Portz, and Lt. Karl Weber. Some of them were fighting over England in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

 

 

 

 

The type of dinghy used by the 3 men from Blenheim V6258 and the control bunker at Texel airfield

 

 

 

Occupied Den Helder harbour

 

 

Den Helder harbour under RAF attack in the later stages of the war. On the right a Beaufort from 455 Squadron RAAF of the Anzac Strike Wing.

 

 

 

Wellington MF577 from 524 Squadron - Coastal Command

 

When the RAF did agree to Wellingtons being assigned permanently to Coastal Command, it was to prove a most effective maritime patrol and attack aircraft. Its long range capability enabled it to fly long patrols and it was easily adapted for new weapons and equipment. In its later service, the Coastal Command Wellington was equipped with powerful radar and under-wing rockets, in addition to Leigh light searchlights and depth bombs in the internal bomb bay.

 

 

524 Squadron was formed into its maritime reconnaissance role at Davidstow Moor on 7 April 1944. It was equipped with Wellingtons and its role was to undertake patrols to locate E-boats, which were then targeted by other squadrons.The squadron relocated to RAF Bircham Newton on the East Coast in July 1944 in order to undertake similar operations along the Dutch coast.

 

Wellington MF577 of 524 Squadron, took off from Bircham Newton , Norfolk, at 6.35pm 2nd October 1944, on an armed reconnaissance patrol off the Dutch Coast. Routine signals were received from the aircraft at 8.20pm. and again at 9.20pm. When it was obviously overdue at 11.18pm, contact was attempted by R/T and W/T, but without success...The weather was mainly fine, with a moon... Nothing further was seen or heard of the aircraft, or crew. 

If it was a night-fighter that brought it down, the aircraft did not come from Flgh.Leeuwarden (NJG.1), because about 2 weeks before, that airfield was badly damaged by the RAF during ‘Market Garden'. Also,there are no German claims for NJG.1 that night. It is much more probable that they were a victim of the 'accurate flak' from the convoy escort vessels described by two other 524 Squadron Wellington crews that night.

The seven crew members were :- Pilot - F/Lt. A. R. Brown,  2nd Pilot - W/O. H. J. Keenan, Navigator - F/O. J. C. Chesters, W/Op.Air-gunner - W/O. S. C. Shutt R.N.Z.A.F, W/Op.Air-gunner. - Sgt. A.W. Levick  W/Op.Air-gunner. - Sgt. J. R. Jones, and  W/Op.Air-gunner - F/Sgt. J. Kilpatrick.

During this period a German convoy (Geleitzug 1291) with a strong escort of small ships (Vp and R-boote) was sailing from Rotterdam and the Hook of Holland, via Den Helder, towards Borkum,to take back to Germany three "Neubau" (unfinished ships) under tow. 

I found a little more about that convoy Wellington MF577 was searching for. Not only was the 11.R-Flottille involved, but also the 13.R-Flottille was giving escort. The whole convoy was larger and longer than I originally thought. The following Kriegsmarine ships were there -  M3824, M3827, M3832, M3838 and MFL675,  and also Vorposten-boats V1217 'Gross Hans', V1219 'Adolf Hitler' (ex 'Seefahrt'), V1301 (Name unknown), V1310 'Diester', V1313 'Nordlicht' and V1317 'Wilhelm Michaelsen'.  The 'Adolf Hitler' (V1219) was later on in the war bombed by the RAF (Coastal Command?) and badly damaged. They tugged that boat to the shallows, somewhere in the Scheldt mouth in Zeeland/SW Holland, so it would not sink totally,  but.. 'Adolf 's feet were wet!' Willem

This convoy was attacked during the night of the 1st by Royal Navy MTBs. Heavy return fire from Kriegsmarine ‘Vorposten- und Raum-boote’ of the 11.R- Flottille (under the command of Kapitän Leutnant Rosenow), then escorting the convoy, repulsed an attack in which two of the RN MTBs (no. 360 & no. 347) were seriously damaged..

Later during the night of the 2nd-3rd October, one of the Neubau was hit by 6 rockets during an air attack and was sunk by the escort at 53.33 N 05.43 O.

At various times between 6.35pm and 1.20am on this fne moonlit night of the 2nd October, four Wellingtons from 524 Squadron at RAF Bircham Newton, took off to seek out the convoy.

Wellington MF577 "X" was first to leave at 6.35pm. Routine signals were received from the aircraft at 8-20pm and again at 9-20pm. When it was overdue at 11-18pm, it was called by R/T and W/T but there was no reply. It is presumed that the Welligton was either hit by marine flak or downed by an enemy aircraft and crashed into the North Sea. No bodies were recovered and the crew are all commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Wellington  "C", piloted by P/O J W Schofield, which took off from Bircham Newton at 9pm, reported its radar detecting the convoy at 10.02pm and sighting it four minutes later. It attacked at 10.30pm from 2800 feet with six 500 lb bombs and reported seeing heavy smoke from one of the vessels. The aircraft came under what it described as 'heavy and light accurate flak' and received damage to its hydraulics and port wing. It reported seeing another convoy at 10.55pm but decided to return to base early because of mechanical problems. On landing, the port undercarriage collapsed but fortunately no one was injured.

Wellington "Q",  piloted by Warrant Officer N W T Beetham, took off at 10.25pm. They spotted a convoy of at least 15 vessels at two minutes after midnight. Thirteen minutes later it attacked from 2500 feet with six 500 pound bombs. The crew reported that no results were observed due to having to take evasive action from heavy and light accurate flak. This aircraft sustained damage to both wings and fuselage so the captain decided to return early. Wellington "M", piloted by F/O A Crabtree, left base at 1.20am. At 2.27am four 'blips' within 5 miles range were detected on the radar but two minutes later they were forced to take evasive action and jettison their bombs when approached by an enemy aircraft. They managed to shake off the pursuit by using cloud cover. At 3am, in position 5310N 0435E they witnessed a vessel burning fiercely.

 

 A Royal Navy MTB on patrol, and Kriegsmarine Vorposten-boats in convoy

 

The pilot of Wellington MF577, F/Lt Alexander Ronald Brown, was the 28 year old son of John Bertram & Susie Brown who lived at 'Glengarry', Portsmouth Avenue, Thames Ditton in Surrey. Their home was not far from the Greater London Thameside towns of Kingston and Hampton Court. As well as being commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial he is also named on the the local Thames Ditton War Memorial. He had received his commission on 26th March 1940.

The Flight Engineer /2nd Pilot was P/O Hugh Joseph Keenan (DFM). He was the 34 year old son of James & Cecilia Keenan and husband of Margaret Dolores Keenan, of Topsham, Devon. His Gallantry Awards included the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1944, Mentioned in Despatches King’s Birthday Honours List - 11th June 1942, and Mentioned in Despatches King’s Birthday Honours List - 8th June 1944. He was promoted from Warrant Officer to Pilot Officer on 12th September 1944. Born in early 1911 he had married Plymouth born Margaret Dolores Fleischmann-Allen in the summer of 1939 in Devon.

 

A letter written by W/O Hugh Keenan to a mate less than a month before he died and a few days before receiving his commission.

 

The navigator, F/Lt. John Christopher Chesters (DFM), was the 32 year old son of Philip & Frances Chesters, and husband of Winifred Irene Chesters, of Lincoln.  An RAF Regular, he was promoted from Warrant Officer to Pilot Officer in October 1942 and to Flight Lieutenant in September 1944. John was an Old Haltonian (RAF Apprentice), and therefore his name is mentioned in their Roll Of Honour. His name is also on the local War Memorial at Lincoln, and in the Roll Of Honour annex.  

F/Sgt. John Roberts Jones was one of the wireless operator/gunners. He was the 22 year old son of William John and Myfanwy Jones of Denbigh, North Wales.

F/Sgt. Alfred Walter Levick  was also a wireless operator/gunner. He was the 22 year old son of Alfred & Harriett Levick of Islington, Middlesex. He married Sheila J Haygarth at Westmorland in early 1944.

Another wireless operator/gunner was F/Sgt. James Kilpatrick who was the 27 year old son of William & Ellen Kilpatrick of Dumbarton, Scotland and married to Louisa Alice Kilpatrick, of Shepperton, Middlesex.

His name does not appear on the Shepperton War Memorial, which is situated in the centre of a busy roundabout, and was in the news recently when their district council's 'health and safety' officials would not permit the local Woman's Institute to maintain a flower arrangement on the roundabout because of the heavy traffic. His name is inscribed on the Dumbarton War Memorial in Levengrove Park.

The only member of the crew who was not from the UK was (RNZAF) Warrant Officer Stanley Clifford Shutt the 32 year old son of Wirral, UK migrants William and Amy Shutt, and husband of Clare Francis Shutt, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand who he had married in 1936. Our photo appears to show him as an LAC receiving his 'aircrew wing' before being promoted to sergeant.The devoted couple who lived at 183 Opawa Road, Christchurch had four children and Clare was expecting a fifth when her husband was killed. This was his 10th mission.

Stanley's widow, Clare Frances Shutt, who had never remarried, died on the 17th of January 2011, aged 96 years.

The Citizens' War Memorial, located at Cathedral Square in Christchurch, commemorates the sacrifice of the thousands of its inhabitants lost in two World Wars.

 

 

 

Aircrew officers of 524 Squadron in 1944

 

 

 

 

(1) Lincoln War Memorial where John Christopher Chesters (DFM) is remembered, (2) Thames Ditton War Memorial with the pilot, Alexander Ronald Brown, inscribed, and (3) Christchurch (NZ) Citizens’ War Memorial where Stanley Shutt is among those commemorated.

 

Lancaster JA972 OL-D from 83 (Pathfinders) Squadron

 

Lancaster JA972 OL-D of Pathfinders 83 Squadron took off from RAF-station Wyton at 18.55pm on 3rd of October 1943 on a bombing mission to Kassel. The primary targets were the Fieseler aircraft and rocket plant and the Henschel works. Henschel was a major German industrial company manufacturing locomotives, engines, and trucks. A subcamp from Dachau was established nearby to supply workers to Henschel.Taking part In this raid were 547 aircraft - 223 Halifaxes, 204 Lancasters, 113 Stirlings, 7 Mosquitos.

 

 

 

Fieseler Fi-103 V-1 Marschflugkorper The Fieseler Fi 103 was the first military used cruise missile. It was one of the " wonder weapons "in the Nazi propaganda of the Second World War also V1 ( retaliation weapon called 1). The development of Gerhard Fieseler-Werke in Kassel, was the code name FZG 76 for Flakzielgerät 76.
The first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944, one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landing in Europe. At its peak, more than one hundred V-1s a day were fired at south-east England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. This caused the remaining V-1s to be directed at the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last site was overrun on 29 March 1945.

The V1 rocket      wikimedia

 

On 3rd of October 1943, between 6.30pm and 7pm, 11 aircraft from 83 Squadron took off from RAF Wyton to lead a 547 aircraft raid on Kassel. 1,500 tons of bombs were dropped but because of a mapping error, most missed, falling on the countryside and nearby small towns.

24 year old F/Lt Maurice Chick DFC, of 83 Squadron, who was piloting JA677 - "U", had the unfortunate experience of being bombed by another aircraft. He successfully dropped his bomb-load at 9.14pm and returned to Wyton shortly after midnight with a four pound incendiary lodged in a petrol tank. The bomb was still alive when the ground crew gingerly fished it out.

Unfortunately Lancaster JA972, piloted by Squadron Leader John E R Hayter, did not reach its goal, and help to bomb the factories of Kassel. While the aircraft was approaching the Dutch coast line, north of occupied and heavily defended Vlieland island, it came under fire and was hit by radar-guided German Marine-FLAK. The direct hits by 10.5 cm. gun batteries set the Lancaster on fire. At between 21.13 and 21.14 hrs the damaged aircraft turned southwestwards, into the direction of neighbouring Texel isle.

The crew jettisoned their incendiary bomb load but only 2-3 minutes later the out of control aircraft suddenly exploded and came down in four large and still burning parts in front of the Texel beach and on the beach itself, between beachmarkers (strandpaal) 21-22.  None of the 7 crew survived.

The crew were - Pilot - Sqdn. Leader John Edward Ross Hayter, navigator - F/Lt. Frank Charles Webb, flight engineer -  F/Sgt. Garth Shearly Taylor, bomb aimer - F/Sgt. George John Thomas Horton, wireless operator/gunner - F/Sgt. John Kenneth Prudhoe, air gunner - F/O. Albert James Ellis and air gunner - F/Lt. Frank Richard Heeley. The bodies of two of the crew, Frank Webb and George Horton, were never recovered and they are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

 

The pilot, Squadron Leader John Edward Ross Hayter DFC, was born near Farnham, Surrey in the summer of 1919.

His father was Brigadier Ross Hayter CMG, DSO, ADC, (1875-1929), a serving officer in the British Army.

Brigadier Hayter had distinguished himself in World War One, and was still a serving officer when he died of appendicitis at London in 1929. He is buried at Aldershot Military Cemetery.

Young John Ross won a scholarship to the prestigious Wellington College in 1932.

The college, named in memory of the Duke of Wellington, was originally opened in 1859 to educate the sons of Army officers. It was generally assumed that, from there, most pupils would also go on to serve as officers in the armed forces.

Described by his college as being "of outstanding ability", John Ross was no exception. He passed out third in his year and was just over 17 when he was enrolled at the RAF College Cranwell to train as an RAF officer.

After graduation and flying training he was posted to RAF Coastal Command and was a pilot on flying boats. When John was awarded the DFC in November 1941 he was said to have been " continuously employed on operational flying since the war began, and to have completed nearly 1,800 flying hours."

During 1942  he served as an experimental test pilot carrying out trials with advanced navigation.

Later that year, eager to be on operational flying again, he volunteered for the recently formed Pathfinders and was first posted to 405 (RCAF) Squadron. He then moved to 83 Squadron at RAF Wyton on 16th September 1943, replacing Sqdn Ldr G D Sells who had completed his tour. 

Frank Webb, Garth Taylor and George Horton had been regular crewmates with Sqdn Ldr Sells on Lancaster ED908. John Hayter's first flight as a captain with 83 Squadron was on 27th September 1943 and it was on his 3rd mission that he lost his life. There was no doubt, said his Group Captain, of his " extreme bravery."

That was perhaps the least of his gifts for he also possessed to a very high degree both intellectual power and the capacity for leadership. During the war years he married Audrey Hunter Godwin from Cranleigh in Surrey.

A newspaper making the announcement of John's death in May 1944 gave their home address as Cartref, Hill Head, Fareham, Hampshire. CWG records show his mother, Edith's home as being in South Africa, so I guess she moved there after the war. He is buried at Den Burg General Cemetery plot K, row 5, grave 108. John is also named on the Wellington College Roll of Honour 1939-1945, and, although he had no apparent links with South Africa other than his widowed mother living there after the war, he is on the database of the South Africa War Graves Project.

 

 

 

As promised, here is the picture of my uncle and his crew. Garth Shearly Taylor is the third from the right - the others I do not know, although I may be able to find out.  Scott Macewen

This Christmas 1942 photo is unlikely to be JA972's crew. It was taken before Garth's arrival in mid 1943 at 83 Squadron. Tom

A

I have some information regarding the picture I had sent you of my uncle and his (you're quite correct) former crew.

FL15097   Left to right:  Sgt. F. E. Johnston, Verdun, Quebec, Sgt. W. M. Garnett, Toronto, Ontario, Sgt. R. H. Hill, Montreal, Quebec, Sgt. Keith MacEachern, Cumberland, Ontario, Sgt. G. S. Taylor, Montreal, Quebec.  Sitting on the fin is: Sgt. C. J. Sebastian, Timmins, Ontario, and Sgt. B. W. Turner, New Albany, Indiana, USA. 

All members of a top scoring bomber squadron overseas. This is an RCAF photo.  Scott

 

Notes : Both Sgt C J Sebastien and Sgt. Keith MacEachern finished the war as PoWs.  Tom http://www.419squadronbewarethemoose.com/JB912.html      

http://www.cths.ca/documents/The%20Caboose%20-%20March%202009.pdf

 

 

Bomb and incendiary load of an 83 Squadron Lancaster

 

Coincidently, one of the two airgunners on his crew also had his birth registered at Farnham, Surrey. He was F/Lt. Frank Richard Heeley who was born there in 1907. He was the son of John & Gertrude Heeley of Farnham, Surrey and husband of Mary Elizabeth Heeley, of Chorley, Lancashire. He married Mary Davenport at Alton, Hampshire in 1939. They had one daughter Barbara who was born at Chorley in 1941. His name is on both the Farnham War Memorial and the Chorley War Memorial, at Astley.

In February 2012 and also before, there was a email exchange between Mr. Søren C. Flensted, living in ‘Lego city’ Billund (Denmark) and myself, about this crash & crew, in particular about F/Lt. Heeley. He was mailing me more details and a map of ‘Peter Meyers Sand’ near Fanø island, where the body of Frank was recovered on New Year’s Eve 1943 (31 Dec.). His remains were buried, after an ID-check by the German authorities, in nearby Esbjerg - Fovrfelt,on 4 January 1944. - Willem. See the splendid website “Airwar over Denmark” - www.flensted.eu.com/19430104.shtml

F/Sgt. Garth Shearly Taylor (RCAF), the flight engineer, was the 21 year old son of Albert Josiah & Agnes Shearly Taylor, of Montreal, Province of  Quebec, Canada. His body was washed ashore on Terschelling's Northern beach on 4th January 1944, 3 months after the crash. He was  buried on 6th January at Longway (West-Terschelling village), in the Allied plot - grave 111. His name is also written in the W.W.2 Book of Remembrance, at the Memorial Chamber (Peace Tower) in Ottawa. His father died in 1970, his mum in 1987 and his younger sister, Orian Taylor (born in 1931)  passed away in 1997, all at Montreal.

Flying Officer Albert James Ellis (RCAF) one of the air-gunners,was the 23 year old son of Charles George and Lillian Esther Ellis, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He attended the No.6 Bombing & Gunnery School at Mountain View in December 1941.The Mountain View aerodrome opened June 23, 1941, to host No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School (6 B&GS), one of eleven bombing and gunnery schools that opened across Canada under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the Second World War. Aircraft used included the Anson, Battle, Lysander, Bolingbroke, and Nomad. The station was later designated RCAF Station Mountain View when No. 6 B&GS was renamed the Ground Instruction School and merged with the Air Armament School at RCAF Station Trenton. Albert Ellis was buried in Texel (Den Burg) Cemetery, plot K, row 5, grave 110.

F/Sgt. John Kenneth Prudhoe (RAF), the wireless operator, was buried at  Den Burg (Texel), General Cemetery, (plot K, row 5, grave 112). No further family info is recorded by the CWGC and his age is unknown.

F/Sgt. George John Thomas Horton (RAF) the bomb aimer, was the 20 year old son of George & Isabel Horton, of Walthamstow, Essex. The Town Hall Cenotaph in Forest Road at his hometown Walthamstow,Greater London, remembers the losses from both World Wars. With no known grave, George is commemorated on panel 137 of the Runnymede Memorial near Windsor.  

F/Lt. Frank Charles Webb DFM (RAF), the aircraft's navigator, was the 23 year old son of Frank & Isabel Webb,of Holloway, London. His name is recorded in the Islington Online Book of Remembrance. Completed in 2009, it commemorates over 13,000 men, women and children of Islington who died as a result of war at home and abroad. Their records run from 1899, the beginning of the Boer War, to the 1950s.

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial - panel 122.

 

John Hayter at Den Burg (Texel), Frank Heeley in Denmark, and John Prudhoe at Den Burg

 

 

The two Canadian crewmates. Albert Ellis at Texel (Den Burg) Cemetery, and Garth Taylor at Terschelling.

 

Frank Heeley is named on two memorials. On the left his birthplace, Farnham, Surrey, and right his wife's hometown at Chorley.

 

On 3rd of October 1943, between 6.30pm and 7pm, 11 aircraft from 83 Squadron took off from RAF Wyton to lead the raid on Kassel.  F/Lt Maurice Chick, who was piloting JA677 - "U", had the rare experience of being bombed by another aircraft. He returned to base shortly after midnight with a four pound incendiary lodged in a petrol tank. The bomb was still alive when the ground crew gingerly fished it out.

 

Our grateful acknowledgement for all the information from Søren C. Flensted, living in Billund (Denmark)

 

 

The Pathfinders

The Pathfinders' motto was "We Guide to Strike". Pathfinders were the leaders of Main Force, the Mosquitos and Lancasters flying at the head of the massive bombing stream which contained perhaps 400-700 aircraft when it swarmed out from Britain on a raid.

Such raids took place at night because it was suicidal to fly them in the day. In the darkness the huge force swamped the defences; safety lay in numbers and the bomber stream was meant to keep together as compactly as possible, but the extreme difficulties of navigation with comparatively primitive aids meant that mistakes of judgement were all too easily made.

The Pathfinders were the guides to the Main Force, not only as route-markers on the long hazardous trip to the target but also over the target itself, where, with their better navigational techniques and technology, they had the task of pinpointing the areas where the bombs should be released.

The Pathfinders were critical to the success of the bombing raids, which were planned to the most minutely exact timetable. They had to reach the target despite all the difficulties of navigation - changing weather conditions, variable winds, German nightfighters and flak defences - within a tolerance of only one minute. They had to drop their target indicators on exactly the right spot even though the whole scene might be enveloped in dense cloud and high winds might shift the flares miles off target.

Pathfinder crews were not a hand-picked elite. Crews reached 8 Group by different routes, about two-thirds coming with considerable experience from Main Force squadrons, the rest from Coastal Command, the Middle East, or any other place where good crews could be found, including directly from the training units with no operational experience.

When they volunteered for the PFF, crews would have been aware that, if accepted, they would be signing on for a tour of 45 operations without a break (Main Force flew a first tour of 30 and a second tour of 20).

The compensation for this dangerously extended tour was being one step higher in rank than in Main Force, with attendant increase in pay, but a much more compelling motive was the exclusivity, honour and glamour of belonging to the Pathfinders. This privilege was symbolised by the Pathfinder badge. Though valueless in itself, the small hovering gold eagle was an emblem of very special status, and what it represented so secret that it was never worn on operations.

In August 1942, 83 squadron was transferred to the No 8 Group Pathfinder Force at RAF Wyton, operating as a marker unit for the main force of Bomber Command and carrying out target marking duties for the remainder of the war.


Blenheim V6339 from 18 Squadron

 

 

Blenheim IV  V6339 WV-C from 18 Squadron, based at Horsham St. Faith near Norwich in Norfolk, took off at 12.30 in the afternoon of 16th September 1941 with two other aircraft to patrol Squealer Beat B. ( A Squealer beat was against German trawlers which were equipped with intelligence-gathering equipment, listening to radio frequencies, etc.... These "spying trawlers" were called "squealers", and attacks against them used that name.)

The crew were, Pilot - Sgt (Chas)Charles Alfred Tracey the 24 year old son of Charles & Violet Tracey from Handsworth, Birmingham, observer - P/O Jack Hartley Rodgers, the 25 year old son of John & Ada Rodgers from Sheffield and the wireless operator/gunner - Sgt Albert Henry Higgs the 25 year old son of George & Ethel Higgs of Smethwick, Staffordshire, and husband of Ida Marjorie Higgs.

No enemy ships were seen during this beat by any of the patrol but Sgt Walker, who was piloting V6431 (N), saw V6339 hit the sea and disappear. He made a note of the position and radioed it to base.

Air Sea Rescue Service sent out aircraft and launches but nothing was seen. Squadron Leader Smith from 18 Squadron in R3843 took off at 5.15pm to also search the area but found no trace of the aircraft or crew. Only Sgt Tracey's body was later recovered and he was buried at Den Burgh General Cemetery - plot K, row 4, grave 83. His two crewmates have no known grave and are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.

 

Four days earlier on the 12th September 1941, four 18 Squadron aircraft were detailed to patrol the northern section of Shipping Beat 15. They came across a convoy of 6 or 7 motor vessels. Sgt Nickleson in R3945 (F) attacked one of the vessels and scored a direct hit. Pilot Officer Pryor in V6339 (C) and Sgt Tracey in V6393 (H) attacked another. C's bombs narrowly missed, but aircraft H, with Sgt Tracey at the controls, was confident of a direct hit. Both aircraft saw black smoke enveloping the ship after the attack.

 

 

 

'B' Flight of 18 Squadron in August 1941

 

 

 

On 19th August 1941, whilst en route to a target in Northern France, one of 18 Squadron's Blenheims (R3843 "F-Freddy") dropped by parachute, to St. Omer airfield, a box containing a spare right artificial leg to Wing Commander Douglas Bader, the fighter ace, who had been shot down and taken prisoner 10 days earlier. The crew of Blenheim R3843 were Sgts Nickleson, Meadows & Pearson. They were all to die in the same aircraft when it was shot down off Zandvoort.

On a mission with seven other 18 Squadron Blenheims on the 20th September 1941 to attack shipping off the Dutch coast, R3843 (F) bombed a convoy off Zandvoort. The aircraft was hit by Flak and was seen to crash into the sea with its starboard engine burning. All three crew were killed. The pilot, 19 year old F/Sgt John Murray Nickleson from Toronto, Canada, has no known grave. The observer, 26 year old Sgt Walter Meadows was a native of Yorkshire and is buried at Bergen op Zoom War Cemetery, and the gunner, 25 year old Sgt John Edward Pearson, from Birmingham, UK, is buried at Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery.  Newspaper clip about the death of John Nickleson.

 

   RCAF Flying Officer William Parmenas Cameron and Lancaster JA714 from 625 Squadron

 

625 Squadron was formed on 1 October 1943 at RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire from 'C' flight of 100 Squadron. It was equipped with Avro Lancasters, and was part of No. 1 Group RAF Bomber Command. 

Fourteen crews from 100 & 101 Squadron were posted in on the 13th of October, and three days later, seven recently trained crews were added to their number from 1656, 1662 and 1667 Heavy Conversion Units.

The squadron's very first operational mission was on October 18th 1943 when 9 aircraft were dispatched to bomb Hanover.

On this occasion Lancaster JA714 was being flown by P/O J R Clarke and his crew. The weather was fair to fine, visibility was moderate, and wind S.S.E, 10mph.

ED938, with F/O Bill Cameron as second pilot, took off from RAF Kelstern at 17.36hrs.

The Lancaster returned safely to base at 22.24hrs, its captain reported a quiet trip, having bombed the target from 21,000ft, and observed large red explosions several minutes before.

RAF Kelstern dispersal area in 1944

 

On this raid, three of the squadron's new crew captains had been attached to experienced crews as second pilots. RCAF F/O W.P Cameron with W/O T C Cunningham in ED938, RCAF P/O Rob McSorley in W5009 with F/Lt J.C Day, and F/Sgt J.G Blackwood with F/Sgt R G Bowden in ED814.

All three would be killed before the end of November. RAF F/Sgt John Blackwood and crew in ED321 during a mission to Dusseldorf on November 3rd, and 22 year old RCAF P/O Rob McSorley and his crew on 26th of November, when Lancaster ED809 was brought down near Apeldoorn, Holland, on a Berlin raid.

 

The squadron's second mission was on the 20th of October when twelve aircraft left Kelstern to bomb Leipzig.

JA714 took off at 17.47hrs with its crew on their first mission with 625 Squadron.

The pilot was RCAF Flying Officer William Parmenas Cameron, RAF Sergeant Leonard Wild, Navigator, RAF Sergeant John Wilson Diggle, Flight Engineer, RAF Sergeant John Henry Hawkins, Wireless Operator, RCAF Flying Officer Albert Vernon Snook, Bomb Aimer, RCAF Flying Officer Clifford Wallace McFarlane, Air Gunner, and RAF Sergeant Frederick Allan Porter, Air Gunner.

The aircraft was brought down, apparently by flak, at 19.18hrs, near the coast of the Dutch Frisian island of Texel.

* According to the German records of that date, thus via their own information written down in the so called ‘ Lagebericht ‘ (daily message from the frontline) this RAF bomber was downed ‘durch Nachjäger' - thus by night-fighters !!!! (if correct, whose claim was it then...?)  Willem

 From local ground reports about JA714 - "It was a tremendous fireball, of which some parts were gliding down, also burning. The flying machine was falling down many feet in height, before it came under control again for a while. The frightening light of this inferno in the dark night was intense, because of the fact that the craft was loaded with fire bombs, which all started to burn. Then the plane was ‘ rising up ‘ for one last occasion, before everything was finished."

The Lancaster came down on the mud flats of the Wadden Sea, about 3 km (± 1.8 miles) east of Oosterend village on Texel island. According to the Dutch Dept of Defence, the crash location is: 58' 75 N and 04' 53' 10 E.

Crews of bombers spotted the downed aircraft while it was laying in the mud and described how it was burning for some time. The incendiaries were spread around the wreckage of the plane, and were still spitting fire. Others observed that it was still burning on their return journey.

From that crew of seven men, all were killed, and only one body, that of the Canadian Air Bomber, F/O Albert F. Snook, was recovered. He was washed ashore on Terschelling Island and it was at the cemetery there that he was buried.

When the remaining eleven aircraft returned to Kelstern most reported an uneventful trip with poor visibility due to the heavy cloud over the target area.

The exception was Lancaster ED951, piloted on his first operational mission by RAF Sgt J.D Aspin.

He reported being attacked by enemy night-fighters. In the first incident on his way to the target, and near the Dutch coast, he was attacked by one aircraft and took successful evasive action.

Near Texel he was taken on by two more fighters. His report claimed shooting down one ME110 at 19.19hrs and damaging a JU88.

That Lancaster went on to bomb the target at 21.09hrs. During its return to base, the aircraft was again attacked and hit by a fighter near Brunswick and the cockpit perspex shattered. The pilot was later awarded the DFM for his determination and skill.

London Gazette 23rd November 1943. 1239065 Sergeant James Desmond ASPIN, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 625 Squadron. One night in October, 1943, this airman piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig. On the outward flight his aircraft was attacked by 2 enemy fighters. Coolly and skilfully, Sergeant Aspin out-manoeuvred the attackers, enabling his gunner to shoot one of the enemy aircraft down and drive the other off. Although the rear turret became unserviceable, Sergeant Aspin flew on and executed a successful bombing attack. On the return journey, the bomber was hit by machine-gun fire from another fighter but Sergeant Aspin flew clear and was able to reach base. This airman displayed outstanding skill, courage and resolution.

James later received a commission and was Pilot Officer J D Aspin DFM when he and his crew were killed over Belgium in Lancaster ME588 during another trip to Leipzig on 20th February 1944.

 

Flying Officer William Parmenas Cameron, the skipper of Lancaster JA714, was the 20 year old son of Henry and May Cameron of 1079 Sherburne Street, Winnipeg. He had recently served as an apprentice with the Canadian Pacific Railway when he enlisted in the RCAF.

His first posting was to the Initial Training Site (ITS) at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on March 1st 1942.

Learning to fly on Tiger Moth bi-planes, he received his wings as a solo pilot at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, on July 7th.

After further training on the twin-engined single wing Cessna Crane, he earned his Pilot's flying badge and was promoted to Pilot Officer on December 4th 1942. This was followed by 20 days leave. It would be the last time his family saw him.

The troop ship Queen Elizabeth in war-time New York. It once carried a record number of 15,028 troops in one single trip. The Cunard liners Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary were both used as troop transports during the war. Their high speeds allowed them to outrun hazards, like German U-boats, and also allowed them to travel without a convoy. During her war service as a troopship Queen Elizabeth carried more than 750,000 troops, and sailed around 500,000 miles.

 A three day train journey on the Canadian Pacific Railway took him to his next posting, AFU (Advance Flying Unit) at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he was subjected to a two and half hour session with oxygen masks in a decompression chamber to simulate flying at 35,000ft.

After another long train journey he arrived at New York on January 3rd 1943. There he boarded the 'Queen Elizabeth' Cunard liner, now converted to a troop-ship, at 6.25am on January 6th. He disembarked at Greenock in Scotland six days later.  

His next train journey was from Glasgow to Dorset in the south of England. On arrival he was sent to RAF Bournemouth on January 14, 1943, where he, and his buddy from pilot training, Mike Spack, were billeted at the Carlton Hotel. At RAF Bournemouth, they attended lectures, received dinghy training, and spent some time on a Link trainer (flight simulator). On January 24th they were allowed two weeks leave and used the opportunity to visit London and Southampton.

On 16th March, the 19 year old was posted to RAF Church Lawford AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) base near Rugby where he was trained on the Airspeed Oxford twin-engine bomber.

His next posting, on May 25th,1943, was to 81 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Sleap, 12 miles north of Shrewsbury. There he learned to fly Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley bombers.

Soon after arrival he was told to start picking his own crew, (a Navigator, Bombardier, Wireless Operator, and two Gunners).

On 4th June 1943 he received his promotion to Flying Officer, and by 7th June he had five new crewmates. (Their flight engineer, RAF Sgt John Diggle, would be later added to the crew at 1662CU.)

His crew's next posting, for heavy bomber training, was on 4th August, to 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit based at RAF Blyton, in Lincolnshire. There, Bill began by piloting Halifax bombers while his crew attended ground school.

His first flight in a Lancaster was on September 19th, and after a few weeks training with his now complete crew, he was posted to 625 Squadron at RAF Kelstern on October 15th, 1943.

(Information from Mike Spack's memoirs and Ancestry.)

 

(RCAF) J22065 Flying Officer Albert Vernon Snook, JA714's air-bomber, was born on August 11th, 1920, in the small agricultural village of Lestock in Saskatchewan, Canada. Lestock is situated on Route 15 between the Quill Lakes and Regina, the Province's capital. Its population at the time of the 2006 census was 138.

Willem has discovered this text : ‘It has been said that Lestock is in the middle of nowhere, but on the way to everywhere!

He was the son of Albert & Doris Snook, who originally came from Frotenac County, in Eastern Ontario. Albert Jnr had two brothers, Bill and Glen, who both served with the RCNVR, (the Navy), and survived the war.

Before enlisting in the RCAF at Regina in early 1941, he helped out on his parent's farm, and was later employed as a clerk in a large Canadian department store, the Robert Simpson Company, at Regina.

About 6 months before he was posted overseas, he married Marjorie Eileen Mills from nearby Kindersley. An office worker, it was three days after the crash that she heard the tragic news that he was missing in action.  

In May, 1943, he had been trained for aircrew with 81 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Sleap, 12 miles north of Shrewsbury. It was there he joined Bill Cameron's crew and went on with him to 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit for their final training in Lancaster bombers.

The funeral took place on the 30th of November 1943 at Longway,Terschelling, and he was buried in grave 110. That grave was adopted, and has been cared for, by Mrs. Marijke Weewer and her husband Mr. Bauke Weewer from West Terschelling village.

Albert's name is remembered on the Saskatchewan Virtual War Memorial website, and in the Book of Remembrance, at the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower, in the Canadian Parliament Building, at Ottawa.

 

Sgt. Frederick Allan Porter, the 21 year old air-gunner, was born at Llanishen, near Cardiff, South Wales, on 9th May 1922. He was the youngest son of Charles Henry & Anna Porter. Charles Porter, a painter and decorator, had married Derby born, Anna Musto in the Newport, Monmouthshire area, in 1906. They moved into Newlands Cottage on Fidlas Road. That building has since been demolished but is believed to have been in an area opposite the Baptist Church.

Their first child, Alfred Charles, arrived in 1908, followed by three daughters, Edith (1911), Mona (1916), and Margaret (1920). C.H Porter's business adverts in the local parish magazine indicate the family's presence in the village till the 1960s.

 

Frederick Porter appears to have had a wide range of interests, including the Scout movement, and was also a soccer player with Cardiff Cosmopolitan AFC at Rhiwbina.

He joined the RAFVR in November 1941.  In May, 1943, he was being trained for aircrew with 81 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Sleap, 12 miles north of Shrewsbury. It was there he joined Bill Cameron's crew and went on with him to 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit for their final training in Lancaster bombers. His name is remembered, together with two of his Rover Scout pals, on their memorial plaque in the St. Aisle-Lady Chapel at Llanishen's St. Isan Parish Church.

He is also commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial, near Windsor, on panel 162.

Thanks to the Llanishen Local History Society for the information about Frederick's family, and two parish magazine adverts.

RCAF Pilot Officer Clifford Wallace McFarlane, JA714's air-gunner, was born on June 12th, 1921, the son of William Guthrie McFarlane and Irene May Williams, of 84 Merrill Avenue, Toronto.  

Clifford's father William, who was of Scottish descent, was born in Tornto during 1889, and his mother, Irene Williams, at Brighton, UK in 1895. They were married in 1916 and became the parents of three children.

We do not have any details of Pilot Officer McFarlane's service record, except that we know that in May, 1943, he was being trained for aircrew with 81 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Sleap, 12 miles north of Shrewsbury. It was there he joined Bill Cameron's crew and went on with him to 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit for their final training in Lancaster bombers..His name is recorded in the WW2 Book of Remembrance, located in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower, at the Parliament Building in Ottawa, and on panel 176 of the Runnymede Memorial in the UK.

 

Sgt. John Wilson Diggle, the 20 year old flight engineer, was the third child of Joseph and Alice Diggle from Halberton, a village near Tiverton in Devon.

Joseph (1871-1945) was born in the Bury, Lancashire area. His father, Wilson Diggle, was a mule spindle manufacturer supplying the local cotton mills, and employed 6 people in 1881.

Joseph Diggle mainly worked in the cotton and wool processing industry in the mills of Lancashire, but was single and in his late forties when moving to the West Country in 1919, where he married Alice Mary Coles at Taunton.

The couple moved to Halberton in Devon, and went on to raise a family of eight children, Joseph Coles (1920), Alice Marie (1921), John Wilson (1922), Ethel W (1925), Esther K (1926), Ruth (1927), James (1928) and David (1931).

Employed as a clerk with the Great Western Railway, Joseph was a staunch Liberal, a regular worshipper at St Andrew's parish church, and described in his obituary as 'a man of high principles whose word could be depended upon'. He also served on the committee of the War Memorial Institute.

Willem was recently fortunate in making contact with the Halberton History Group. Their secretary, Joy Wooding, whose brother is a friend of one of Joseph Diggle's sons, has forwarded a newspaper clipping of Joseph's 1945 funeral. It reveals that at least two of John's siblings were in the armed forces. Joseph Coles Diggle was serving with the Royal Navy in the Pacific, and Alice Marie, as a driver in the Army with the women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. Another sister, 18 year old Ruth, was in the Women's Land Army.

We know nothing of John Wilson Diggle's service record except that he joined Bill Cameron's crew at 1662 HCU at RAF Blyton. His body was not recovered but he is remembered on panel 147 of the Runnymede Memorial. There is also a cube shaped memorial stone vase in Halberton cemetery with his name inscribed on one side, and that of his father, Joseph, on the other.

Photo from Philip Townsend's collection.

 

Sergeant Leonard ' Len ' Wild, the navigator on JA714, was the 23 year old son of Richard Ogden Wild and Isabella Hodson, mill-workers who married at Oldham, Lancashire in 1913. The couple had seven children born at Oldham between 1914 and 1926, which was the year their twins Freda and James S Wild arrived. It is not at present known when the family moved south to the Berkshire Reading/Early area, but Earley was their home in 1943 when they received the sad news that Leonard was missing in action.

We know little about Len's service record. In May, 1943, he was being trained for aircrew with 81 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Sleap, 12 miles north of Shrewsbury. It was there he joined Bill Cameron's crew and went on with him to 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit for their final training in Lancaster bombers. We have, so far, been unable to trace his name on any local  memorials, but he is remembered at the Runnymede Memorial on panel 169.

 

Sgt John Henry Hawkins, the wireless operator/gunner, was the 25 year old son of William and Sarah Hawkins, of Greenock in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Unfortunately we know very little about his service history or the family. In May, 1943, he was being trained for aircrew with 81 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Sleap, 12 miles north of Shrewsbury. It was there he joined Bill Cameron's crew and went on with him to 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit for their final training in Lancaster bombers.

His name is remembered in the ‘Honour List of War Dead 1939-1945’ of the Burgh of Greenock which includes all servicemen lost, and 280 civilians.

All the Greenock dead from both World Wars, are remembered on Greenock war memorial which stands in front of the entrance gates of Wellpark in Regent Street, Greenock.

The Greenock Blitz is the name given to two nights of intensive bombing of the town of Greenock, when the  German Luftwaffe attacked on 6–7 May 1941.

Over those two nights 280 people were killed and over 1,200 injured. From a total of 18,000 homes nearly 10,000 suffered damage and 1,000 were completely destroyed. John Hawkins would most likely have known, and gone to school with some of those war victims.

In the very early stages of the raid a stick of high explosive bombs struck the Ardgowan Distillery and fired a warehouse containing about three million gallons of whisky. It was later recalled that whisky was running down Bakers Brae on fire, following an army of fleeing rats.

 

The 1941 bombing of Belville Street, Greenock, and the war memorial at Wellpark.

Coincidentally, Greenock was the first UK town that his skipper, Mike Cameron, saw when disembarking from the 'Queen Elizabeth' troop ship on January 12th 1943.

 

 

The other two Rover scouts on the Llanishen parish church memorial

John Iorwerth Palmer Morgan was born at Mill House, Tongwynlais in 1921. His father Thomas Harold, who had previously taught at Caerphilly, married Frances Palmer at Cardiff in 1919. He moved to Llanishen, a village on the outskirts of Cardiff, when John was a child, to become a teacher at the local school, and later, its headmaster. The school was at that time located in the old building next to the church.

The Llanishen History Society records that Mr Morgan revitalised the school, allowing the children to watch the hounds and horses of the hunt, which met on Friday mornings outside the Church Inn.

He also took great interest in the welfare of his pupils and introduced a variety of sporting activities including rounders, and also setting up a football team.

When a young boy, his son, John I P Morgan joined the Llanishen Scout Group, and as a teenager, went on to be a Rover Scout.

After the outbreak of World War 2, he enlisted in the RAFVR and trained to be a navigator. His final posting was to RAF Elvington with 77 Squadron as a member of the crew of a Handley Page Halifax bomber.

He and his crewmates had a narrow escape on the evening of 3rd April 1943 when on an operational flight to Essen, in Germany. They released their bombs over the target but were hit from the ground by anti-aircraft fire. All were extremely lucky to return to base safely, considering the twelve holes in their Halifax!

 

They were not so fortunate when flying Halifax JB892 on 13th/14th May 1943, as part of a force of 442 RAF aircraft targeting Bochum in Germany.

Their aircraft was shot down on its homeward journey over Holland by a fighter flown by 25 year old German Luftwaffe ace, Oberstleutnant Hptm. Herbert Lütje of 8./NJG 1.

He recorded the shooting down of six British bombers that night, taking his total to 28 victories.

John’s aircraft crashed into woods known as Sleenerzand near Sleen, in Northern Holland, and all six airmen died.

After the bodies were removed, the local Dutch people hid the plane wreckage. All the crew were then buried in Sleen General Cemetery.

After the war, a memorial was erected around the metal of the aircraft's fuselage. The names of the six dead airmen were engraved onto the metal, including that of Sergeant Morgan.

The memorial is currently cared for by year 6 children from the local school, and every year, at the end of April, a service of Remembrance is held for the 6 airmen.

 

 

Flying Officer Leonard George Gill, was the 25 year old son of gardener Leonard G Gill, and his wife Annie Louise Evans, who were married in the Cardiff area in 1914 and lived at 14 Kimberley Terrace, Llanishen.

In World War 2, Len was trained as a fighter pilot and flew with RAF's 3 Squadron from West Malling in Kent.

In January 1943, Wing Commander Peter Townsend, CVO, DSO, DFC and Bar, was made Commanding Officer of RAF West Malling where he served until appointed equerry to King George VI in 1944.

Peter Townsend is best known for his romantic involvement with the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, in the 1950s.

During February 1943, 3 Squadron was equipped with the Hawker Typhoon for fighter-bomber and anti-shipping strikes, and operated out of RAF West Malling, near Maidstone, Kent, from May 14th.

That airfield had made the news a month earlier.

On 16 April 1943, twelve Fw-190-A4's, painted with lampblack, were insinuated into the RAF bomber stream returning from raids on Pilsen and Mannheim in Germany.

This German squadron had previously made two very successful intruder attacks on London, but on this occasion although they all dropped their bombs, there were no casualties, and only minor damage to a sewerage plant and a children's playground.

At RAF West Malling, a single-engined aircraft was heard approaching the airfield. The plane circled twice, then landed.

Station staff, assuming it was an RAF Defiant low on fuel, sent 2 WAAFs in a special van to guide it in to the tarmac and meet the pilot.

On reaching the aircraft, they discovered it was a German Focke-Wulf 190, Yellow H of 7./SKG 10. The pilot, Feldwebel Otto Bechtold, had become lost and spotted West Malling’s lights through the haze, and believed he was in France. He immediately gave himself up to the ground crew.

A second aircraft, this one from 5./SKG 10, and flown by Leutnant Fritz Sezter, landed, but realising his mistake, attempted to take off. He was chased by a field patrol Beaverette armoured car. Its gunner, Aircraftsman Sharlock, fired, and caused the Fw-190 to burst into flames. The pilot jumped out to have his burning clothing smothered by those nearby, while at the same time, the aircraft exploded.

A third Fw-190 undershot the runway, crashing into an orchard, writing off the aircraft, with the pilot having to be treated for concussion, and the pilot of a 4th was killed when his plane crashed at Staplehurst.

 

 

The remains of one of the Fw-190s after crashing at Henhurst Farm, Staplehurst

 

Otto Bechtold's serviceable aircraft was flown to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough the next day for detailed examination, and was eventually repainted in RAF livery. It was then designated a prototype or experimental aircraft and during tests its performance compared with equivalent RAF fighters.

 

At 6.05am on the 18th of May 1943, eight Hawker Typhoons left West Malling, and led by Squadron Leader Leo de Soomer, attacked the airfield at Poix in Picardy. They each released their 227kg bombs on the first pass.

Flak over the area was intense and one Typhoon, R8979 QO-N, piloted by 21 year old Flying Officer Douglas Ross (Eppie) Hall DFC from Auckland, New Zealand, was brought down.

The remaining seven were due to regroup, when they were jumped by Fw-190s, resulting in the loss of four aircraft.

Five pilots, including 25 year old Flying Officer Leonard Gill in Typhoon R8835, QO-M, were killed. He was buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery.

Another Welshman who lost his life was 21 year old Flying Officer Robert Inwood DFC flying DN598, QO-Z. The squadron's ace, he was already credited with five or six victories. Bob was from Blaina in Monmouthshire, and is remembered on the war memorial there.

 

THE RAID ON POIX AERODROME, MAY 18TH 1943 by Lefty Whitman

Eight Typhoons all ready, R and Rs complete.

Bathed in misty moonlight With all the world asleep.

We dress with apprehension, Will this show be the last?

And if it comes on this one, Please - make it clean and fast.

Pockets all are emptied, of trinkets, cards or cash.

Sprint to your kite and wait, for the Verey pistol's flash.

Eight Typhoons are airborne, flying just as one.

And then, too soon, our escort leaves with 'bandits' in the sun.

Suddenly, it's all over, and daylight floods the sky.

The world awakes, and five are gone. Three left to wonder why.

 

In memory of: Vic Bailey, Len Gill, Eppie Hall, Bob Inwood DFC and Ken Whitall.

 

The loss of Hudson AE614 from 206 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command.

On June 11th, 1941, the Polish 300 Squadron sent nine aircraft on a mission to bomb targets in Düsseldorf.

Taking off at 23.06 hrs, Wellington W5666 BH-H with its crew of six was one of them.

The aircraft was manned by: F/O S. Sedzik (pilot); Sgt L. Maciej (second pilot); P/O W. Sojka (navigator); Sgt Z. Chowanski (wireless operator); Sgt W. Weinberg (gunner) and Sgt S. Kruk-Schuster (rear gunner).

Their twin-engined Wellington was hit by flak at 17000ft over Dusseldorf and their starboard engine disabled.

At 3.20am they were forced to ditch 120 km W of Den Helder and five of the crew made it successfully to their inflatable dinghy. The aircraft's Mayday signal was received in England and its position fixed at 52.30N, 03.00E.

The same morning, at 5.45am on June 12th, 206 Squadron's Hudson AE614 VX-J took off from RAF Bircham Newton to search for the Wellington crew at their new position of 52.58N, 02.53E. The squadron at that time was flying from both St. Eval in Cornwall and Bircham Newton.

Flown by Pilot Officer Hayston and his crew it returned to base at 10.25am having only observed a Dutch fishing vessel and two floating mines.

A 206 Squadron Hudson being intercepted by a BF109

 

On a second attempt to find the Wellington's survivors, AE614 VX-J took off at 4.45 pm. The crew were, pilot - Pilot Officer A.F Sharp, observer - Pilot Officer A.L Gordon, gunner - Sergeant K.C Bisson, and the 2nd gunner - Sergeant J.A Oxley.

Around 7pm they found, and flew above, the Wellington's dinghy.

To the horror of those previously excited Polish survivors, two Messerschmitt BF109 fighters appeared and proceeded to attack and destroy the 206 Squadron Hudson. There were no survivors.

The victory was claimed by Fw. Metzler of I/JG52 based at Texel.

See the Polish crew's story.   

 http://www. polishsquadronsremembered.com/ 300/Maciej%20W5666.html


A 206 Squadron Hudson being loaded with bombs at Bircham Newton

Another tragedy for 206 Squadron quickly followed. At 4.30am on June 13th, Hudson AE612 - O, piloted by 24 year old Pilot Officer Anthony F George, was sent out from Bircham Newton to search for the crew of AE614. They unfortunately encountered another I/JG 52 Messerschmitt, this one piloted by Oblt. Karl-Heinz Leesmann, and were shot down into the North Sea at 6.17am 140 km West of Texel. All the crew were lost and have no known graves.


Hudson VX-Q, taking its pigeons on board at Bircham Newton.

The pilot of Hudson AE614, Pilot Officer Andrew Fanshawe Sharp, was the 20 year old son of coal merchant Harold Sharp (1876-1952) and Margaret Leighton (1876-1959) who were married at Birkenhead in 1902. He was born at Conisbrough, near Doncaster, on November 14th 1920, the youngest son from a large family of seven boys and one girl. His older brother, Flight Lieutenant John Francis Sharp, who was born at Conisbrough in 1913, and served as a pilot with 106 Squadron based at Coningsby, lost his life with all his crewmates only a few weeks later on 3rd July, while on a bombing raid to Duisberg. His Hampden AD873 crashed at Grosskonigsdorf, 4km NNW of Frechen, on the railway line between Duren and Koln.

He and his crew are buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery, near Koln. John Sharp had previously served with 214 Squadron at RAF Feltwell in Norfolk, from July 1938, and that same year married Dinah Lloyd, who was from Porlock in Somerset, at nearby Thetford.

Both brothers are remembered on the Conisbrough War Memorial.

 

Another brother, Squadron Leader Charles Geoffrey Sharp (1907-2001), also enlisted in the RAF several years before the outbreak of World War 2, and fortunately survived.

Their eldest brother Richard Leighton Sharp (1904–1950) moved to the London area and was employed as a sound engineer, and later a broadcaster, with the BBC. His home was at Cricklewood, Middlesex when he 'died at sea' in 1950.

 

Flying as observer on the Hudson was 21 year old RAF Pilot Officer Alexander Lindsay Gordon. He was born at Knock, a part of Belfast in Northern Ireland, on January 8th 1920, the son of an engineer, Alexander Gordon, and Ellen Lee, who were married at Belfast in 1919.

Alex was privately educated at Belfast's Campbell College until July 1937.

He has no known grave, is commemorated on Panel 32 of the Runnymede Memorial, and also remembered on the college's war memorial.

 

Campbell College, Belfast

 

One of the gunners on Hudson was RAFVR Sergeant John Alan Oxley. He was the 21 year old son of John Arthur Oxley and Maria Salmons who were married at Basford, Nottinghamshire in 1912. The couple settled in Sutton-in-Ashfield, near Mansfield, and had three children. John was their youngest.

He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 49 of the Runnymede Memorial. His home town of Sutton-in-Ashfield remembers him on their War Memorial and on a plaque mounted on the gate into the churchyard of St Mary's.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2nd gunner was 1164540 Sergeant Keith Cecil Bisson. He was the 19 year old son of Cecil John and Mary Helen Bisson of St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, in the Channel Islands. He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 39 of the Runnymede Memorial. He is also remembered at St. Peter Port, Guernsey, where his name is on the Bailiwick War Memorial, and on the Parish War Memorial inside St. Stephen's Church.

Bailiwick War Memorial, Guernsey

 

Jagdgeschwader 52 (52nd Fighter Wing) of the Luftwaffe, was the most successful fighter-wing of all time, with a claimed total of more than 10,000 victories over enemy aircraft during World War II. It was the unit of the German Air Force's top three scoring flying aces, Erich Hartmann, Gerhard Barkhorn and Günther Rall. It flew exclusively with the various versions of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 throughout the war.

Originally, JG 52 was involved in the air combat during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain.

 

JG52 emblem Earlier emblem of 1 Gruppe 1 Gruppe from summer of 1941  Emblem of 2 Gruppe
   

Initially only a 2 Gruppe unit (each equivalent to a Wing in the RAF), a Gruppe consisted of three or four Staffeln (squadrons) of 12-16 aircraft, as well as their ground support crew.  By the end of 1940, the unit had chalked up 177 claims, but suffered high losses. During the Battle of Britain 53 pilots were killed or made prisoner.

After the ‘debacle’ in the Battle of Britain, the remaining aircraft and crew were withdrawn from the frontline stations in N.W. France.

Gruppe I was transferred back to Germany on 31st October 1940 - to Krefeld, in Nordrhein-Westfalen, and then, soon after Christmas 1940, their new motto became: ‘Einsatz in die besetzten Gebiete der Niederlande’! (efforts in the occupied areas of the Netherlands!).

 

'Flugplatz' Katwijk and its defence tower there, a look out post plus light Flak.

 

The whole of 1 Gruppe moved into Holland to ‘Flugplatz’ Katwijk (aan Zee) - and later, to Marine Vliegkamp ‘Valkenburg’ in Zuid-Holland.

From that time the unit was upgrading its 3 ‘Staffeln’, the smaller units of 12 fighters, while the planes and crew of their ‘Stab’ (Staff) were spread out over more airfields in the whole coastal area, and even outside Holland on the German Fresian  Borkum island. 

 

JG52 at Borkum

 

In fact it was now ‘refreshment-time’ for them. A period to complete the training of the young pilots who were coming in, to prepare all the men for the coming battle in the Soviet Union, and also to switch to the newer, better version of the Messerschmitt Bf.-109 fighter, the ‘Friedrich’.

They also scrapped the 'running boar' emblem for a more appropriate design showing a black hand grasping a red Spitfire above a map of their area of operations.

The total strength of the Gruppe was around 40 planes in that period, and still was when their Me-109’s were leaving, the last of them on September 27th 1941, for Ponjatowka at Smolensk, in western Russia.

One of their ‘Staffels’, the 3rd, where most airplanes and crew of the ‘Stab’ (Staff) was situated in the centre of the coastal area on the North Sea, at ‘Fliegerhorst’ Leeuwarden, from 29th April to 6th July (1941), while another Staffel, the 1st, found its temporary station at ‘Flugplatz’ Eelde (near Groningen city) and on the nearby German island of Borkum.

 The guns on the Bf 109 were placed in the nose for minimum drag. In later versions an MG 17 was added to each side of the wings.

 2nd Staffel of I. / J.G. 52, and this is very important to help us understand better the story of the loss of 206 Squadron's  Hudson AE614 on June 12th, was in daily action from out of Texel island, via ‘Flugplatz’ De Vlijt, from 29th May 1941.

From the beginning, in April 1941, there was also an ‘Ausbildungs-Kompagnie’ (Training-Company) inside the unit, as part of the 2nd Staffel, 1st Gruppe of J.G. 52, and stationed at Texel / De Vlijt.

The flight commander of 1 Gruppe - although settled in the Leeuwarden HQ, was many times with his men ‘in the field’. He was the well known Hptm. Karl Heinz Leesmann; and would be their ‘chief’ until June 13, 1942.

The main commander on Texel island, based at Flpl. De Vlijt, the ‘Staffelkapitän’ of the 2nd Staffel there, was Oblt. Robert Göbel.

 

A JG52 Group 1 aircraft waiting for action

 

And now something about the results of all these Luftwaffe activity over N.W. Holland then, in particular extra info related to June 12, 1941. 

Gruppe I claimed 18 ‘victories’ in that period, but we learn also, that 5 of their own fighters were lost in those months, and that at least one pilot, Uffz. Kurt März, was MIA (presumed killed). From at least 3 incidents more details are known: Fw. Fridolin(?) ‘Fritz’ Volkmer (2. / J.G. 52) - 20.05.1941 - ditched in the North Sea off Texel; Ofw. Willi Gosse or Gossen ? (Stab / J.G. 52) - 27.06.1941 - crash landed near Leeuwarden; Ltn. Hans - Reinhard Bethke (1. / J.G. 52) - ditched in the North Sea, nearby S’-oog / Borkum; but they all survived (Bethke was rescued by a ship).

Uffz. Fritz ‘Fuchs’ Metzler, who claimed the downing of Hudson AE614, had started together with Ofw. Munz, from out of Texel.

This was Fritz Metzler's first of 7 'kills'.

His second was on the 2nd of July when he brought down Blenheim Z6171 from 248 Squadron 90 km NW of Texel, and the third, Blenheim V5502 of 105 Squadron, 100km N of Den Haag on 7 July, 1941. On September 18th three Blenheims from 88 Squadron attacked a tanker sailing near the Belgian coast. They were pounced on by escorting Luftwaffe fighters and two, V6380 RH-G and Z7488 RH-F were brought down, one by Obfw. Wilhelm Roth, and the other by Fritz Metzler.

His first known Soviet victory, was an I-61 on 24 May, 1942.

He lost his life on 19 June, 1942, when shot down by his own flak on the Russian front at Woltschansk.

 

Ofw. Karl Munz (1915-1992), a pilot of Gruppe 1/ J.G. 52, was among those ‘alarm-started’ on the afternoon of 12th June 1941. Although stationed officially at Flgh. Leeuwarden, his mission began from nearby Texel isle / De Vlijt airfield.

Involved in the attack and shooting down of 206 Squadron's Hudson AE614, he was himself later brought down by the ack-ack gunners of RN destroyer HMS Worcester.  Apparently the cooling system of his engine was totally damaged, and he was forced to ditch the Messerschmitt.

He went on to float in his ‘Schlaugboot’ (dinghy) for about 16 hours! After the rescue he was confined in hospital and found himself sharing the isolation ward with Sgt Maciej, one of the Polish crew of Wellington W5666.

Karl “Fuchs” Munz was born on 29 April 1915 at Gottwollshausen in the Schwäbisch-Hall region of Württemberg. He served with JG 52 from summer 1940. He was assigned to the Stabsstaffel of I./JG 52, and recorded his first victory over the Channel front, when he shot down a RAF Blenheim twin-engine bomber on 25 May 1941. His second victory was also a Blenheim.

Having accompanied I./JG 52 to participate in the invasion of Russia, by 23 August 1942, he had accumulated 13 victories. He recorded his 21st and 22nd victories on 22 July 1943. On 1 June 1944, Munz recorded his 30th and the 2,000th victory for I./JG 52, and his 52nd victory on 2 September.

On 25 January 1945, Munz was appointed Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 52. He had also received promotion to officer rank and was transferred to III./EJG 2 on 7 April 1945, to fly the Me 262 jet fighter.

He recorded three victories with the jet, including a USAAF four-engine bomber.

He was finally credited with 60 victories in 600 missions, six over the Western front, including 13 Il-2 Sturmoviks, two four-engine bombers, and three flying the Me 262 jet fighter.

He survived the war and died in 1992.

Hptm. Karl  Heinz Leesmann was born on May 3rd, 1915, at Osnabrück, Germany. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1936.

After completing his training, Karl was assigned to serve with Gruppe I of Jagdgeschwader 52, and was a pilot with that unit at the beginning of World War 2.

His first aerial victory came during the French Campaign , and on the 27th August 1940, after leading a series of missions against the RAF in the Battle of Britain, he was named Staffelkapitän of 2 Gruppe /JG 52.

He was awarded the Luftwaffe Honor Trophy on 5th October 1940, and by the 26th of that month his tally was 15. 

In the spring of 1941, Leesmann was based on the Dutch coast where, facing the RAF attacks, he downed seven British bombers. Two of those were on 30th June, his 21st and 22nd victories.

He was awarded the Knight's Cross on 23 July 1941.

On 27th September 1941, the group moved to the eastern front, where he scored 10 victories in a short time.

On November 6th, Leesmann was seriously injured in a dogfight when his Bf 109 F-2 ( werknummer 9181) was shot down. He was unfit to fly for many months. and it was not till 6th May 1942 when he returned to his unit.

Karl-Heinz Leesmann was shot down and killed on 25 July 1943, when attacking a B-17 bomber.

During his career he was credited with 37 aerial victories, 27 on the Western Front and 10 on the Eastern Front.

 

 

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!

3a

Wirdum Remembers

15b

Terschelling 2

28a

Destroy the Scharnhorst!

4

Schiermonnikoog

16

Sage War Cemetery

29

12 Squadron

4b

Schiermonnikoog  part 2

16b

RAF Topcliffe & 424 Sqdn.

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 and Venturas

9

Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group

21

Shipdham & USAF 44th

34a

Hudsons and 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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