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    Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong       page 34a    

Hudson and Ventura bomber losses in 1942 (2)

Texel & Den Helder

 

D

Leeuwarden Airfield

Schiermonikoog

Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar

Ameland

Vlieland

Terschelling

St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

 

 

320 (Netherlands) Squadron

Following the German invasion of Holland, in May 1940, eight twin-engine Fokker T.VIII airplanes of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service flew to England.

On June 1st 1940, at RAF Pembroke Dock in South Wales, they formed the basis of 320 (Netherlands) Squadron.

Eventually lack of spares meant that those aircraft had to be retired and the personnel were re-equipped with Ansons in August 1940, and re-located in early 1941 to RAF Silloth and RAF Carew Cheriton.

The squadron moved to RAF Leuchars in Scotland on 1st October 1941, and was equipped with Hudson IIIs to fly patrols and carry out anti-shipping attacks in the North Sea.

On 24 April 1942 they moved to RAF Bircham Newton, near Norwich in Norfolk, which was the home of RCAF 407 Squadron. A satellite airfield nearby, RAF Docking, was also used by the Hudson squadrons.

 

A Fokker T.VIII seaplane from 320 Squadron at Pembroke Dock in 1940

 

 

Heye Schaper was born at Joure in 1906 the son of Johan Schaper and Wietske van der Zee. He joined the Netherlands Royal Navy in 1926 and completed his training as an Observer in 1933.

On the evening of 16th October 1940, Fokker T-VIIIW of 320 Squadron (AV961) flew from Felixstowe to Lake Tjeuke in the Netherlands, from where it was due to pick up four special agents.

An attempt had been made by Lt Heye Schaper and his crew (observer Sub Lt Willem Ritte and gunner Kpl Klasinus van Tongeren) the previous night, but on arrival over Vlieland a thick mist had descended and the operation was aborted.

This unfortunately put the Germans on 'full alert'.

On the following night the weather over the pick-up zone was better and Schaper landed on the lake.

As soon as the Fokker touched-down, a small boat opened fire on it with a machine-gun, while searchlights swept the area. The Germans had positioned the vessel in the middle of the lake, after capturing the planned passengers earlier in the day.

The banks were also occupied by more armed German troops.

Van Tongeren returned fire with the Fokkers machine-gun and silenced the boat's weapon.

Lt. Schaper opened the throttle and zigzagged across the lake, while Kpl Tongeren continued to return fire, causing the Germans to lose ten of their soldiers.

Fortunately the pilot was able to get airborne and escape from the area safely.

On reaching Felixstowe in the UK, the Fokker again came under fire - this time from a local Home Guard patrol.

The riddled seaplane was then successfully beached, after which 40 bullet holes were counted in the fuselage and wings although, luckily, none of the crew were hurt.

It was later learned that the Dutch agents had been betrayed.

Heye Schaper was awarded a MWO4 and a Netherlands DFC on November 14th 1940, 'for acts of courage, tact and loyalty in the face of the enemy in wartime, by having flown on October 19th, 1940, in our aircraft R 7, which he commanded, to the northern part of occupied Holland and having landed on one of the lakes in order to fulfill a task, important for the secret service; afterwards having succeeded in taking off with the aforementioned aircraft, which had been fired at by the enemy from close range, and having flown it safely back to England at night.' Royal Decree no. 3 dated 5 November,1940.

Squadron Leader Schaper's luck ran out on the evening of May 30th 1942 when he led his squadron in Hudson AM939 (E) to attack another convoy near Terschelling.

His aircraft had to make a forced landing in the sea after damage by anti-aircraft fire. The crew all made it safely to their dinghy but were soon picked up by the Germans and made prisoners of war.

After the usual interrogations, Schaper ended up in the POW camp Stalag Luft III near Sagan in Upper Silesia, 160 kilometers southeast of Berlin.

Together with another Dutch pilot, he made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from the camp in March 1943 and was punished with 14 days in solitary confinement.

He was also involved in "The Great Escape" from Stalag Luft III on March 24, 1944.

As one of the few German-speaking prisoners his task was to distract camp guards at the barracks which stood near the entrance to the tunnel.

Unfortunately the entrance to the tunnel was discovered by the Germans before he could escape.

In early 1945 the camp was evacuated and the prisoners began a long hike to the northwest, which eventually ended near Lubeck, where Schaper and his fellow prisoners were liberated by British troops in May 1945 .

He became a Lieutenant General after the war, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force between 1956-1961, and State Secretary of Defense from 1966-1967.

He died on 26th May 1996 aged 89.

 

 

Hudson Mk.III AE525 NO-H from 320 Squadron and the Terschelling mission.

On May 15th 1942, two formations of Hudsons left RAF Bircham Newton detailed to carry out a strike on enemy shipping, previously spotted by a Beaufighter off Terschelling at 6.15pm, and proceeding north.

The first formation of nine were from RCAF 407 Squadron and led by RCAF F/Lt Ralph MacLaren Christie, took off between 8.20 pm and 8.39 pm. The second consisting of three aircraft from 407 Squadron, and six from the Dutch 320 Squadron, took off between 8.45 and 9pm.

The second formation, which included the 3 crews of Pilot Officer Kay, Pilot Officer Patterson, and Sergeant Doehn, from 407 Squadron, and the six Hudsons from 320 Squadron, were the first to attack the Terschelling convoy.

407 Squadron's RCAF F/Lt R. M Christie, and RCAF P/O F. A Kay, leading two formations of the Demons accompanied by another group of Hudsons of the Royal Dutch Naval Air Service, ran into a convoy of ten ships accompanied by a strong escort.

P/O F. A. Kay was the first to make contact and as he flew in to attack from mast height his aircraft was repeatedly hit and severely damaged. Despite the fact that Kay was wounded in the hand, he completed his run and released his bombs. The Hudson was again hit, this time in both engines-and the pilot received another wound in the arm. Regardless of his injuries and the damage to his aircraft, Kay was able to nurse his machine along until he reached the English Coast, before his engines failed completely. The pilots’ persistence in the face of such damaging fire had thoroughly infuriated the Nazis and, by the time Christie’s formation were ready for their run, they were peppered with even more intense fire which riddled the leader’s aircraft, put the instruments and hydraulic system out of action and wounded the observer. But Christie’s bombs reached their mark and caused a terrific explosion and fire on the stern of a medium-sized ship. Four of the Hudsons were shot down in this engagement, but one of these was seen to bomb an enemy ship before crashing into the sea; a second made a direct hit on its target before being shot down in flames while a third crashed in flames on the deck of one of the enemy vessels. The Hudson losses were heavy, but three merchant vessels had been hit and left burning, two more received direct hits and a sixth was damaged by near misses.

Christie whose instruments were entirely shot away, his observer wounded in the foot, and a non-functioning undercarriage, was compelled to crash-land at RAF Docking.

A fourth damaged 407 Squadron Hudson, AM864 (R), piloted by RCAF P/O James (Wally) Creeden DFM, made it back to the UK, but crashed at RAF Coningsby, around 50 miles from Bircham Newton, killing all on board. He had earned the DFM with his crewmates, for their bravery in a low level attack on the Scharnhorst on the 12th February 1942.

In Christie's 407 Squadron formation was Hudson AM614 (N) piloted by 23 year old RCAF Warrant Officer Joseph William (Bill) Daubner.

His aircraft was apparently shot down by a Me110 night-fighter and all crew lost.

Alongside was 22 year old RCAF Pilot Officer William Alfred (Billy) Haliburton, from Halifax, Nova Scotia in AM679 (B). This Hudson made a direct hit on the stern of the vessel it was attacking, and then burst into flames and plunged into the sea. Also killed were all his crew. The wireless operator was - F/Sgt Leighton Ogilvie Scott, observer - P/O Lloyd Newton Skinner from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; and gunner Sgt. Ashton James Wilton Pottle, from Moose Jaw SK. There are no known graves.

The two leaders of the Hudson formations were decorated for their gallantry in this action, F/Lt. Christie receiving the D.S.O. and P/O Kay the D.F.C.

The two ships sunk in this action were the Norwegian Selje of 6696 tons and the 464 ton the naval patrol trawler (‘Vorpostenboot’) VP-2002 ‘Madeleine-Louise’.

RCAF Pilot Officer Frank Albert Kay in Hudson AM906 'O' from 407 Squadron, who led the Dutch formation, received severe wounds to his the hands while going in for the attack.

The report relates; 'A destroyer and M/V were lying close together and he picked his target, attacking from mast height. Results were unobserved. The aircraft was badly shot-up with both engines being partially damaged. Pilot brought aircraft to base but before landing could be made, both engines failed completely. The Hudson crash-landed. The observer was killed and the wireless operator and air-gunner badly hurt.'

The remainder of P/O Kay's crew were all sent to the RAF Hospital at Ely in Cambridgeshire. The skipper had gun-shot wounds and a broken ankle, Sgt. Thorneloe spine injuries, and Sgt. Sadesky, a broken clavicle.

Frank Kay was awarded the DFC on June 12th 1942 for his bravery on this mission.

His observer, 25 year old RCAF Pilot Officer Angus Lloyd Kippen, is buried in Great Bircham churchyard.

Flying in 407 Squadron's Hudson AM812 'S' in this formation, was 22 year old Flight Sergeant Norman Clifford Doehn. He was observed dropping bombs that struck the port side of one ship but his aircraft appears to have been shot down shortly after. All his crew were lost and he is buried in Sage Military Cemetery.

Alongside 'S' was Hudson 'M' piloted by RCAF Pilot Officer William Smith Patterson. He attacked the same 3/4000 ton vessel and observed a 'very brilliant explosion' which was reflected in his cockpit, and the resulting shockwaves caused the aircraft to lift. They made it back to base safely at  2 minutes after midnight.

Pilot Officer Patterson and his crew were all killed when crashing into the sea during a training accident on June 13th 1942. They were flying from RAF Thorney Island, carrying out a dummy attack on a partly submerged ship at Selsey Bill, when their aircraft struck the ship's mast.

 

Hudson aircrew from 407 Squadron in early 1942. L to R - Sgt. Larry O'Connell, Sgt. Wally Creeden DFM, Sgt. George Hancox DFM, and Sgt. Peyton.

 

Leading the Dutch flyers of 320 Squadron in the same formation, was 36 year old Frieslander, Squadron Leader Heye Schaper in AM939 (E).

The other pilots were - D.Schroder in V9041 (X),  Pilot Officer Johannes van der Loon in V9058 (L) ,Warrant Officer P. van der Meer in V9083 (F) , Flying Officer 2nd Class Tys de Groot in V8982 (D), and  23 year old Flying Officer 2nd Class Johannes Stork in AE525 (H). 

Flying V9041 (X) was D.Schroder with 24 year old Simon (Siem) du Porto from Texel as navigator. He later reported -'Sighted convoy in position 53.30 N, 05.20 E but delayed attack owing to other aircraft in immediate vicinity. At 23.00hrs attacked M/V 3000 tons freighter type in position 53.40 N, 05.20 E. No further details observed owing to intense FLAK. Attacked from mast-height ; dropped 4 bombs. Observed 2 heavy orange flashes amidships; encountered heavy and light FLAK. Plane damaged; 2 petrol tanks punctured. Port wheel U/S. Port navigation lights U/S. Two shell hits in tail of aircraft. No casualties to personnel. 23.50. Made landfall 00.40 over Docking. 01.15 crash-landed at Docking. Nobody injured.'

V9041's crew with navigator/2nd pilot Simon du Porto on left, and pilot D. Schroder, third from left

 

In Hudson V9058 (L) Pilot Officer Johannes van der Loon reported, 'At 22.27 was followed by enemy aircraft, type unobserved, carrying yellow headlight. Jettisoned bombs. Circled convoy. Flak to heavy to estimate damage of general attack. Landed at Docking 00.15hrs.'

In AM 939 (E), Squadron Leader Heye Schaper reported, 'Aircraft flying along Frisian islands in a N.E direction; keeping 8 miles from the coast. 22.30 in position 53.32' N, 05.10' E sighted flak. 22.42hrs observed aircraft explode in the air. 22.48hrs flew around position of convoy and from the landside attacked a heavily laden 2500 tons M/V in position 53.32' N, 05.30' E. low in water and carrying a deck cargo. All bombs were released from 40ft, and 2 hits estimated amidships. Rear gunner saw explosion on ship, and crew of aircraft felt the shock of the explosion. Experienced intense light flak; red, blue, yellow and white tracer. The white accurate (flak) was chiefly from Destroyer. Convoy comprised of approximately 12 M/Vs and Destroyer. 00.03hrs landed at Docking.'

In V9083 (F), Warrant Officer P. van der Meer, reported, 'Commenced Patrol along convoy route 22.48hrs in position 53.30' N, 05.10' E, sighted convoy comprising 11 M/Vs; to N E approx. 5/8 miles. Selected and attacked 1 M/V about 3000 tons from mast-height, dropped 4 bombs of 250lbs. Air gunner observed violent flash amidships, and vessel immediately caught fire. Experienced intense heavy and 'light' accurate flak. Starboard wing was damaged by shell hit. 00.25hrs landed at base.'

The pilot of Hudson V8982 (D) Flying Officer 2nd Class Tys de Groot, reported, '22.33hrs In position 53.30'N, 05.20'E, sighted convoy comprising 10 M/Vs and 1 Destroyer carrying 4 balloons at 400ft. Circled convoy, selected and attacked 1 M/V heavily laden; about 2/3000 tons; coal burning Tramp, long funnel, high poop,. Attacked from SW, experiencing extremely heavy flak and dropped bombs from mast-height. Observed two hits, 10 seconds after attack; ship was in flames approx. 1 minute after explosion was seen Red flames issuing to about 100 ft. Aircraft damaged by flak through rear of fuselage. Cannon shell entered cockpit and W/Op received wounds in back. 22.45 aircraft for base after evasive action was taken. 00.30 hrs landed at Docking.'

In Hudson AE 525 (H) the crew were, pilot, RDNAS 2nd Officer Vlgr. J.H Stork, Observer, RDNAS 2nd Lieutenant Vlgr. J.M Mulder, Wireless Operator, Vglt. Tel. A.L Sens, and Air Gunner, Mariner 1st cl. Egbert de Weerd.

The aircraft was suddenly intercepted and downed by a Luftwaffe night-fighter, from nearby Flgh. Leeuwarden, which was guided by radar station ‘Tiger’ at Terschelling.

The fighter was flown by the well known German fighter ace, Hauptman Helmut ‘Bubi’ Lent and his crew of unit Stab II / NJG. 2. It was his 37th claim.

The Hudson crashed in the North Sea offshore from Terschelling island in Friesland.

The next morning, as soon as daylight came (sunrise around 05.30 hrs.), the Msrb. ‘Nicolaas Marius’ from the NZHRM lifeboat station at ‘Paal 8’, West-Terschelling, was launched for a SAR rescue in the area, (later archived as mission 665).

The Dutch rescuers were searching for survivors of a ‘British airplane fallen in the sea’.

They didn’t know of course it was a completely Dutch bomber crew this time. Unfortunately no survivors or bodies were recovered. They were simply more than six hours too late!

The pilot, 23 year old 2nd Officer Vlgr. Johannes Hendricus Stork, was born at Amsterdam in October 1918, the son of Pieter and Wilhelmina Stork.

He was one of a number of MLD pilot trainees who were evacuated from Holland to England in May 1940, and then posted to the world's largest sea-plane base at Morokrembangan, Java, in November 1940.

There he received advanced flight training before leaving to join 320 Squadron in England, via the MS Jagersfontein, which sailed from Sourabaya to San Francisco, in October 1941.

The observer, 22 year old 2nd Lt. Johannes Martinus Mulder, was born on 16th June 1919 at the University city of Leiden.

He was also sent in 1940 to be trained at the Morokrembangan, Java, seaplane base.

He is later listed with 29 other Dutch airmen, sailing from Batavia (now Jakarta) on the MS Tabian via the Panama Canal, to New York.  They berthed at New York on 24th July 1941. The group were then sent to Canada, en route to England.

Johannes Mulder's name can be found on the Honor list 1940-1945 (page 1638) in the Dutch Parliament Building at the Hague.

The wireless operator was 20 year old Vlgt. Telegraphist Alphonsus Leonardus Sens. He was born in the city of Surabaya, in the former Dutch East Indies, on March 10, 1922. His parents were Aloysius Alphonsus J. Sens and Petronella W. Sens - née Brouwer.

In 1939,when aged 17  he left South-East Asia and went to Canada for a time, but later returned to Surabaya, where he enlisted in the Dutch Navy.

Alphonsus was one of 30 Dutch naval personnel, mainly wireless operators, on board MS Zaandam, which sailed from Batavia in October 1941, arriving at San Francisco on 13th November, en route to England via Canada.

The gunner, Marine 1st Class Egbert de Weerd, was the 25 year old son of farm-worker Hendrik Egbertsz de Weerd and his wife, Tjitske Kerstd. de Weerd - née van der Meulen, who were married in 1912.

Egbert, who was born in November 1916, had three siblings, an older sister Hiltje (b 1912), an older brother Kerst (b 1915), and a younger brother Albert (b 1921).

The family lived at Tjitske's home town of Oosterzee until 1919 when they moved to 50 Dorpsstraat, at the village of Haule in the Gem. Opsterland.

After completing primary school, and until he was fifteen, Egbert worked as a farmhand for a local farmer, Jan Martens Hof.

He then followed his older brother Kerst, who had moved across the Zuiderzee to work near the city of Alkmaar.

Egbert found employment on a farm at Koedijk. Being unhappy with the long hours and poor, low paid working conditions, he soon came into contact with young men who enjoyed a much better lifestyle. Some had motorcycles, and others small cars. They were serving in the navy and stationed at Den Helder.

On a visit home to see his family, he confided in younger brother Albert, about his intention to join up.

After medical examinations and initial training, he signed on for six years with the Korps Mariniers, agreeing that at least two of those years would be served in the Dutch East Indies, and with a final posting to the Dutch colonies at Curaçao, and Aruba, in the Caribbean. A great adventure for a farmhand from Friesland.

Unfortunately the German invasion in 1940 were to alter those expectations, and Egbert had to wave goodbye to his home and country and endure an uncomfortable and stressful trip to the seaplane base at RAF Pembroke Dock in the UK.

Though in a strange and unfamiliar country, he soon made himself 'at home', was popular with the locals, and apparently had several Welsh girl friends.

More gunnery training followed and he became part of an air-crew.

His squadron was moved to RAF Leuchars in Scotland on 1st October 1941, and equipped with Hudson IIIs to fly patrols and carry out anti-shipping attacks in the North Sea.

On 24 April 1942 320 Squadron moved south to RAF Bircham Newton, near Norwich in Norfolk.

There were four crew members in a Lockheed Hudson. The first pilot, the second pilot who also acted as navigator and bomb aimer, the wireless operator, and an air gunner. Egbert was seated in the gun turret, which was likened to an egg sitting on the top of the aircraft's fuselage. His job was to keep a watch-out for enemy shipping and aircraft, often in very poor light and extreme weather conditions.

The aircraft's 'blind spot' was immediately below its belly and it is believed that was where the German night fighter launched his attack on the night Hudson AE525 was fired on and then exploded..

Egbert has no known grave. His father, Hendrik, was buried at Haule in 1969, and his mother, Tjitske, in 1981.

Egbert is remembered there with a brass plaque mounted on the cemetery's War Memorial.

 

The two ships lost on this raid

Both of the lost vessels were built in the north-east of England.

The cargo ship ‘Selje’, was delivered in April 1930 by Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd., of Jarrow & Hebburn-on-Tyne, to the Norwegian shipping company A/S. Rederiet Oldfell, in Bergen.

She was 6698 tons and measured 448.3ft x 59.2 x 27.7, and powered by a 576 n.h.p triple expansion engine.

The vessel was requisitioned by the Norwegian government in April 1940, and used as a ‘blockade ship’, to protect the port of Stavanger against a German seaborne attack.

' In 3 hours the crew lay their ship from the harbour with the stern part on the rocks and the foreship held steady by her 2 anchors'.

It was later captured after the 1940 invasion, repaired by the Germans and used to transport ore and coal between Norway and Germany.

In early 1942 Selje had been at a yard in Rotterdam for around 2 months for installation of extra armament.

She left the port on May 15th with a cargo of coal for Norway. The Selje had a crew of 40 Norwegians, and 22 German Navy personnel on board, and was now part of  a convoy with 3 other ships (2 Swedish, 1 Danish) and shielded by 8 German escort vessels, and four barrage balloons.

In the first attack by the Hudsons of 407 and 320 Squadrons, she was hit by three bombs in her side, but no sailors were hurt.

The lifeboats were made ready for launching, but then a second attack occurred and this time Selje was hit by several bombs amidships and on its boat-deck, and three of the lifeboats were destroyed.

After the attack was over, four men were dead and nine wounded, while five were not to be found. They were apparently blown overboard by the explosion on deck.

Selje stayed afloat and was taken in tow by one of the escort vessels.

The four most seriously wounded seamen were moved to a cabin to be taken care of, but then the ship took on a heavy list to starboard and the decision was made to transfer the crew to one of the German vessels that came to assist.

While the captain and steward were in the cabin organising the evacuation of the four wounded, Selje suddenly capsized and sank, taking all six down with her.

Those who were on deck, including the German gunners, were able to jump overboard and then were picked up by a German escort vessel.

The men lost, in addition to the skipper, Captain Karl Johan Karlsen, were
Deck Boy Frank Malvin Andersen, Stoker Eugen Kristoffer Bjerke, Mate Olav Bremnes, Engineer Tor Engø, Donkeyman Adolf Robert Hansen, Able Seaman Karl Kumle, Stoker Alf Malvin Larsen, Stoker Norvald Larsen, Engineer Harald Kornelius Lillebø, Junior Ordinary Seaman Oddvar Henning Ommundsen, Cook William Solheim, Mess Boy Karel Andreas Thomassen, Stoker Trygve Tørrisen, and Steward Ragnvald Otelius Weddegjerde.

 

The patrol boat V 2002 was the Madeleine-Louise. A British-built (1933) ex French fishing trawler of 464 tons, it was requisitioned  from the French Marine Nationale by the Kriegsmarine in 1940.

After conversion to an outpost boat she was armed with 8.8cm and 10.5 cm guns, plus several 20 mm AA guns, and carried a crew of around 35.

It is reported that this vessel was sunk but there is apparently no record of the number of casualties.

 

 

Hudson III - AM878 - RR-‘B’ - from 407 (RCAF) Squadron.

At around 4 am on April 18th 1942, two Hudsons took off from RAF Bircham Newton on a strike against enemy shipping off the Dutch coast.

Squadron Leader Douglas and crew who were in 'K', reported enemy fighters in the target area, and due to the fact that dawn was breaking, returned to base, arriving at 6.10 am.

Warrant Officer Girardot and his crew, in Hudson 'B', failed to return.

Because radio silence had been ordered, no reports were received of any engagement with the enemy.

The all-Canadian crew were,  Warrant Officer Edmond David Girardot - pilot,   Flight Sergeant  Donald Stewart Kennedy the observer, Flight Sergeant  Bruce Wilbert Weaver air gunner/wireless operator, and Flight Sergeant  Edward George Alexander the second air gunner.

In addition there was a radio technician on board, Flying Officer Robert Arthur Conrad Draper, who wanted to test the equipment under operational conditions. The aircraft is believed to have crashed into the North Sea 16 kilometres west of  IJmuiden harbour, in the Province of  Noord-Holland.

The body of the pilot was found washed ashore at Ameland near marker 14, on the morning of July 11th. He was buried at Nes General Cemetery the same day.

The body of one of the gunners, F/Sgt Weaver, was found washed up ‘somewhere’ on the coastline of  N.W. Friesland, most likely in the Koehoal - Tzummarum area, and transported by the Germans to Franeker; where he was interred on the 12th of July, 1942 in the ‘Algemeene Begraafplaats’ (General Cemetery).

 

The areas where the three bodies were recovered

 

The body of the radio technician, F/O Draper, was found almost 3 months after the crash, on Sunday 12th July 1942, and recovered from the flood mark area of the ‘bûtendyks fjild’ (outerdike / reclaimed land, close to the sea) near Ferwerd village. He was buried at Hallum village (Ferwereradeel) in the cemetery of Protestant  St. Maarten church on Monday 13th July.

The bodies of their two crew-mates were never recovered, and they are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

On the day after the crash, news arrived at RAF Bircham Newton of Warrant Officer Girardot's promotion to Pilot Officer.

Warrant Officer Edmond Girardot, second from right, pictured with his crew. (Radio technician Pilot Officer Draper would not be in this group.)

 

Pilot Officer Edmond David Girardot was the 20 year old son of Francis & Jayne Girardot of Toronto, Ontario. Windsor born Francis Raymond Girardot met American, Jayne Kathryn Rogan, from Dunkirk, New York, on Armistice day, November 11, 1919.They were married two weeks later on November 26, at Detroit, Michigan, when both were 24 years old.

The couple had six children, Francis (1920), Edmond (1921), Patricia (1923), Gerald (1926), Marianne (1928), and Aileen (1930).

In 1942 the family home was at 23 Balsam Avenue, Toronto.

 

Edmond's father, Francis Girardot, and his two brothers, were World War 1 Royal Flying Corps fighter pilots.

Previously employed as a civil servant with the Department of Pensions, Francis had rejoined the service in 1940, and served with RCAF's No.1 Squadron, based at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which was equipped with Hawker Hurricane fighters.

Edmond's father Francis, and his brothers David (left), and Alfred (right), in 1918.

 

He was posted with the squadron as Equipment Officer when it relocated to RAF Middle Wallop, in Hampshire, UK, during June 1940.

The Hurricanes were non-operational until mid-August when they moved to RAF Northolt near London.

During the Battle of Britain, the pilots of No 1 Squadron had their first encounter with the enemy on August 23rd, 1940, and took part in the hazardous action until October 8th. Francis returned to Canada and left the RCAF in1941.

 

From a Catholic family, Edmond Girardot was a graduate of Assumption College and also attended Ottawa Technical School. After graduation he was employed as a bank clerk with the Bank of Canada.

He enlisted in the RCAF in July 1940, and, after initial training and pilot instruction, was posted to the UK as a sergeant pilot in August 1941.

Three months of air-crew instruction followed with No.1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit located at RAF Silloth in Cumbria.

Edmond was then posted to an operational unit, RCAF 407 Squadron, based at Bircham Newton, on 27th November 1941.

His older brother, Francis A Girardot, was already in the UK. He was an RCAF technician at the highly secret RAF experimental radar development centre at Worth Travers, on the South Coast near Swanage in Dorset.

A

 

Edmond’s body was recovered from the sea near Ameland on July 12th and he was buried two days later in the Nes / Ameland General Cemetery, plot D,  row 2, grave 2

His name is remembered in the Book of Remembrance (WW2), page 76, at the Memorial Chamber Peace Tower, located in the Parliament Building at Ottawa.

 

The Hudson's observer was 20 year old Flight Sergeant Donald Stewart Kennedy. His father was bank accountant Daniel Howard Kennedy (1882-1940) from Ottawa, who had married Grace Graves (1882-1945) at Winnipeg in June 1913. The couple had three sons, Wilfred Graves Kennedy (1914-41), Donald Stewart Kennedy (1920-42) and William Howard Kennedy (1927).

Donald had been employed as a telephone installer with the Northern Electric Company when he enlisted in the RCAF at Ottawa in October 1940.

After initial and technical training he was awarded his observer's wings and sergeant's stripes in September 1941.

He embarked for the UK in November and was posted to 59 Squadron at RAF Detling on December 30th 1941. After some instruction on Hudson aircraft he was sent on February 15 1942 to RCAF 407 Squadron at Bircham Newton.

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial and at the Peace Tower in Ottawa.

His older brother, 27 year old Wilfred Graves Kennedy, had lost his life while Donald was being trained in Canada.

He was employed as a civilian radio officer with RAF Ferry Command who were at that time ferrying recently manufactured Hudson bombers, from the Lockheed works in the United States, via Canada, to the UK.

On August 10th 1941 he was a passenger on Liberator AM261 returning ferry pilots and radio officers from Ayr in Scotland  to RCAF Gander in Newfoundland.

A total of twenty-two personnel were on board the aircraft, five crew and 17 passengers.

The Consolidated B24 Liberator LB-30A AM261 crashed into the hillside of Mullach Buidhe 2,366ft, near Brodick on the Isle of Arran and all aboard were killed. The conditions at the time were described as, overcast with low visibility and rain. The crash was recorded as a navigational error.

The wreckage was discovered the following afternoon by a shepherd at a height of 2500 feet and the bodies brought down by Royal Navy personnel on August 12th.

All the crash victims were laid to rest in Kilbride Old Churchyard.

His mother Grace had only recently been widowed. Her husband Daniel had died a year earlier. One cannot imagine her further grief when her second son, Donald, was killed in 1942.

She died at her birthplace, Harrowsmith, Ontario, in 1945.

Her only surviving son, William Howard Kennedy, was born in 1927. He married Maureen Theresa Cluffe at Ottawa and was the father of five daughters.

 

The radio mechanic, testing equipment on board the Hudson, was Flying Officer Robert (Bob) Arthur Conrad Draper, the 20 year old son of English born Post Office worker, Arthur Draper and Ada Adlam, who were married at Regina in 1913.

The couple had four children, Herbert George Draper (1914), Raymond John Draper (1920), Robert Arthur Draper (1921), and Nora Frances Draper (1923). The family lived at 1065 Cameron Street, Regina.

Robert was born on Nov. 23, 1921. From 1935 he attended Scott Collegiate Institute and graduated in 1939. From college he was apprenticed as a machinist with Rogers Machine Works but left in April 1941 when he enlisted in the RCAF to be trained as a radio technician.

 

 

Bob Draper's grave, together with the last resting place of Scottish born 21 year old RAF Sergeant David Thomson Stanners, wireless operator/gunner on Wellington DV935 from 15 OTU, lost on the Bremen raid 25/26 June 1942.
The grave on the left, is of an unknown RAF airman (dated 27th June 1940).
They are situated on the East side of the very old and beautiful St. Maarten church, just inside the wrought iron fence. 
Last May 4, during 'Dodenherdenking' in the evening, fresh flowers were laid once again, by local school children etc., and the brass band was playing the 'Last Post'.    Willem

 

Following his initial training and a radio course at the University of Saskatchewan, he became a radio mechanic and was commissioned as a pilot officer on 12th September 1941. His posting to the UK quickly followed, arriving at 3 PRC (Reception centre) RAF Bournemouth on November 11th.

After further technical training he joined 407 Squadron, Bircham Newton, as a radio mechanic, on 31st March 1942.

It was not a required part of his employment, but he took off with Warrant Officer Girardot's crew on April 18th to test the aircraft's radio equipment under operational conditions.

His body was found almost 3 months after the crash, on Sunday 12th July 1942, and recovered from the flood mark area of the ‘bûtendyks fjild’ (outerdike / reclaimed land, close to the sea) near Ferwerd village.

He was buried at Hallum village (Ferwereradeel) in the cemetery of Protestant  St. Maarten church on Monday 13th July.

His brother, Raymond John Draper (1920), joined the RAF in the UK. In 1942 he was a Sergeant serving with 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington. Ray received his commission to Pilot Officer in July 1943.

When his sister Nora died in 1994, he was living in Argentina.

Their sister Nora Draper (1923) joined the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS),also known as the "Wrens", and served at a number of stations around Canada during World War 2.

She met and married Elmer Thomas of Three Hills in 1948 and together they raised five children on their farm in the Ghost Pine district near Three Hills.

 

The wireless operator/air gunner, Flight Sergeant Bruce Wilbert Weaver, was the 21 year old son of Wilbert Clinton Weaver (born 1894, in Williamsburg, Ont.) and Ethel Mae Thurlby, who were married on 20th November 1918, at Frontenac, Ontario. His father, Wilbert, had recently returned from serving with the 154th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War One.

The couple had two sons, Bruce (1921) and Douglas (1923), both born at Morrisburg, near Kingston, Ontario.

On the 1921 census, Wilbert, who was employed as an accountant, recorded that his ancestors originated from Holland.

The family moved to Newboro, where Wilbert worked as a bank manager in the 1930s.

Bruce attended Newboro Public school between 1927 and 1935, and Athens High School from 1935 till 1940, where he is remembered for his hockey expertise.

The family were still living at Newboro when Bruce enlisted in the RCAF at Kingston on October 16th 1940, but had moved to nearby Merrickville at the time of his death in April 1942.

After initial training, he was posted to No. 4 Bombing & Gunnery School near Fingal, Ontario. (Course 18 - May 26 - June 22, 1941) where he received his air gunner's badge and was promoted to Sergeant.

Bruce was then posted to the UK, arriving at 3 PRC (Overseas Reception Centre) RAF Bournemouth, on August 30th.

After further gunnery and wireless operator training, and some service with 279 Squadron, he was posted to 407 Squadron at Bircham Newton, on March 6th 1942.

According to a letter dated July 30, 1942, written by the mayor of  Franeker city, Mr. Marius Gerhard de Cruijff, and sent to the director of the information office of the ‘Nederlandsche Roode Kruis’ (the Dutch Red Cross) in the Hague, his body was found washed up ‘somewhere’ on the coastline of N.W. Friesland, most likely in the Koehoal - Tzummarum area, and transported by the Germans to Franeker; where, after a successful identification by the Germans as ‘Uffz. Airman  B.W. Waefer - Can. R 67233'   he was interred on the 12th of July, 1942 at Franeker (Frjentsjer) Friesland General Cemetery, plot K, row 1, grave 1.

The family's text at the bottom of his tombstone says: "Love in life and living yet in the hearts of those who cannot forget."

Today his name can still be found in his parent's home village of Merrickville on the local War Memorial inside the Holy Trinity (Anglican) Church, and his picture and name is published in a memory book about the 45 local casualties of WW1, WW2 and the Korean War, ‘Merrickville Remembers’

He is also named on the Newboro War Memorial and his parent's grave-stone.

 

Newboro War Memorial

 

The Mayor of Franeker, together with local people, placing flowers on the Commonweath graves on 4th May 2014.

 

The three graves at Franeker. On the left is the burial place of Bruce Weaver. The centre grave is that of an 'unknown' Canadian buried the next day. Both the Germans and CWG officials were unable to identify the airman. Was it Bruce's crewmate, Sgt Alexander or Donald Kennedy?
Here is a situation where today's DNA technology would help.
The third grave is of 22 year old RAF Sergeant John Robertson Rennie from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. He was the wireless operator/gunner on Halifax W1179 from 158 Squadron, piloted by Flying Officer R J Skelly, which was on a raid to bomb the Vulkan U-boat yard at Vegesack when it crashed into the Wadden Sea between the Dutch mainland and Terschelling and all the crew lost.

 

 

 

The other air gunner was 20 year old Flight Sergeant Edward George Alexander, the son of Scottish migrants Edward Smith Alexander and his wife Ruth Dennis who lived at 131 Monkland Boulevard, Saint Laurent Borough, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The couple had migrated to Canada shortly after his release from the British army at the end of World War One.

Their son Edward was born at St. Laurent on May 18th 1921. He appears to have had only one sibling, a sister, Ruth Alexander, who married airman Harvey Thurston (1921-2011).

Their father's occupation in 1940 was given as 'General Store keeper.'

After initial training at 2 M D Brandon, Edward was posted to 3 SFTS Calgary on December 31st, and to No.2  Wireless school on March 3rd 1941.

After completing his training he received an air gunner's badge and sergeant's stripes on August 18th 1941.

He was soon posted to the UK, arriving at 3 PRC  (RAF Bournemouth) Overseas Reception Centre on October 7th.

On 28th October, Sergeant Edward Alexander joined RCAF 407 Squadron at RAF Bircham Newton.

He has no known grave and is commemorated on panel 102 at the Runnymede Memorial in the UK, and in the Remembrance Book at the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa.

A newspaper tribute related - "The memory of your valiant sacrifice is an ever-flowering poppy in our hearts."  Ruth Thurston, sister (MTL), Walter Coombes (Squadron Leader RCAF) and Philip McLeod, boyhood chums.

 

 

 

 

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