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    Friesland wartime history     by Willem de Jong     <   page 8   > 

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


Texel & Den Helder




Leeuwarden Airfield


Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar




St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

     12 Squadron Losses
     Sink the Scharnhorst!
    Runnymede Memorial



428 (RCAF) Squadron's Sergeant Leonard Franklin Williamson, CGM, from Regina, Canada


This photo from 'Flight' magazine in June 1943 shows Wellington HE239 NA-Y from 428 Squadron after its return to the UK on the 9th of April 1943.
Official description -  "Damage to Vickers Wellington Mark X, HE239 'NA-Y', of No. 428 Squadron RCAF based at Dalton, Yorkshire, resulting from a direct hit from anti-aircraft gun fire while approaching to bomb Duisburg, Germany on the night of 8/9 April 1943. Despite the loss of the rear turret and its gunner, as well as other extensive damage, the pilot, Sergeant L F Williamson, continued to bomb the target, following which it was found that the bomb doors could not be closed because of a complete loss of hydraulic power. Williamson nevertheless brought HE239 and the remainder of his crew back for a safe landing at West Malling, Kent, where this photograph was taken."
RCAF Sergeant Leonard Franklin Williamson was awarded the
Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.
Lancashire born 23 year old  RAF Sgt. Lorenzo Bertrand was the unfortunate rear-gunner and is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.
Our wartime cartoon illustrates the popular WW2 conception about the durability of the 'Wimpey'.


The Crew Of Halifax JD271 from RCAF 428 'Ghost' Squadron


Took off at 23.56 hrs from R.A.F. Middleton St. George. County Durham (then North Yorkshire) to attack the city of Leipzig together with 822 other aircraft (561 Lancaster's, 255 Halifax's. 7 Mosquitoes).  Crashed in the IJsselmeer off Andijk.  F/Sgt Stewart was found near Andijk on the 29th April 1944 and buried there in the Eastern General Cemetery at the beginning of May 1944. On 17th June, the body of F/O Woolverton was washed ashore; he is buried in Enkhuizen General Cemetery. 

One other crew member, F/Sgt Lister, was taken from the water and until 1984 he was buried in Wervershoof Protestant Cemetery. His grave is now located in the Groesbeek Canadian Cemetery. The rest have no known graves.


Alan Whamond Woolverton was born (1921) in Penticton, British Columbia (B.C.), West-Canada (Vancouver - area); but brought up in Winnipeg, more to the East, near the U.S. border. 

He had a brother Ralph, who related - " He considered Winnipeg as his home town. And he was a real pre war RCAF - man, officially an Air Force photographer, in Camp Bordon. He retrained as a pilot and went overseas to the European Theatre in 1943."


Halifax JD 271 was intercepted and shot down by Lt. Friedrich Potthast (1) from 12./NJG1 at 3,700 mtrs  at Ijsselmeer 15 km South East of Medemblik at 06.30 hrs. 

He was a Luftwaffe night fighter ace (this was his 6th confirmed claim of the war) and went on to make a total of 8 night victories and a further 3 daylight confirmed claims - he was killed on the 21/22 May 1944 in a crash near Sourbrodt (Malmedy) after an air combat. 


On this raid the Halifax loss rate was 13.3 per cent of those dispatched and 14.9 per cent of those which reached the enemy coast after 'early returns' had turned back. The Halifax IIs and Vs were permanently withdrawn from operations to Germany thereafter.

The crew were 


Pilot - F/O Alan Whamond Woolverton - RCAF - age 23. Son of John & Alice Woolverton of London, Ontario.

Navigator F/O Gerald Alfred Smith - J / 21556 - RCAF - age 21 -  Runnymede Memorial, panel 248 

Flight Engineer - Sgt Arthur William Gotham - 1275643 - RAF(VR) - age 22 - Runnymede Memorial, panel 230   

Wireless Operator/AG - F/Sgt  Herbert Sutton Lister-RAAF - age 24. Son of Frederick Lister of Hill End, NSW 

Air Gunner - Sgt  Cecil William Sherratt - 1577535 - RAF(VR) - age 22 -  - Runnymede Memorial, panel 237   

Air Gunner - Sgt.  Edward Charles Webb - R / 180232 - RCAF - age 20 - - Runnymede Memorial, panel 256   

Air Gunner - W/O Neil Mcintyre Stewart - R /161156 - RCAF - age 21


Two other planes of 428 Sqdn. returned early, in that "night of the falling stars", due severe icing (the extreme cold indeed, as you can see in the weather report). And another couple of Lancasters of the Ghost squadron returned damaged, after fighter attacks of a Fw-190 and a Ju-88 over Germany. They landed safely without injuries of the crew, on another (emergency?) base on the coast.



Neil McIntyre Stewart was from Paris, Ontario, Canada. He was born in 1923 in Compeer, Alberta. He had six brothers and four sisters. His family moved from a family farm to Paris, Ontario during the depression in the 1920's. Neil attended Central public school and Paris High School both in Paris. He was very much a sportsman, especially in hockey and golf. He was working for Sanderson and Harold Company Ltd, when he enlisted in to the RCAF in May 1942.

Australian crew member Herbert Lister was recovered and first buried at Wevershoof, but is now buried at the Canadian Military Cemetery in Groesbeek, near Nijmegen. F/O Woolverton is buried at Enkhuizen General Cemetery.  Photo shows IJsselmeer dike where the body of W.O. Neil Stewart was recovered







Aircrew & Groundcrew of 428 Squadron RCAF in front of Lancaster KB760 in August 1944








The Canadian Military Cemetery at Groesbeek. 

These photographs and the one of Herbert Lister's grave were taken by Willem's brother in law Henk van Groningen of Duiven and his son Freek









1st Photo - JD271 - wreckage of the a/c., partly taken out of the IJsselmeer water, Sept. 2007. 


Some Dutch civilian "collectors", operating by boat and with help of a winch, tried to save a part of the mid-wing-section of the plane; they didn't succeed, because of the weight of that wing construction (with water and mud of the former seafloor in it). But they know now, since Sept. 2007, the exact crash-location, near Andijk (Noord-Holland).

2nd Photo shows smaller wreckage of the a/c., lifted out of the water and safely laying in the boat; it seems to be part of a wing rib.   

Every time when I hear or read about such "adventures" - this time via Google - I wonder if they are knowing what they are doing, because, like as in this case, there can be still remains of the crew (max. 4 men) inside the wreckage ! In fact this is a war grave site..... it must be protected better by law I think !!! And in other cases, there can be still explosives / bombs aboard.....  Willem

And further: one of these Dutch collectors, trying to save part of that wing construction of the aircraft, was Cees Broere; they found also a 24 Volt alternator in the IJsselmeer waters, part of the electrical system of the bomber. And they contacted some Canadian and Dutch authorities in that time (Sept. 2007) telling them what they have found -  a H.P. (English Electric build) Halifax Mk.II.


Willem's Introduction


Ameland in war-time


Wartime Texel  & Den Helder 


Friesland War-time Crashes


Ameland,166 & 75 Squadron




Friesland Cemeteries


Ameland Graves


Destroy the Scharnhorst!


Leeuwarden area




Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2


Wirdum Remembers


Terschelling 2


Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3




Sage War Cemetery


12 Squadron in World War 2


Schiermonnikoog  part 2


RAF Topcliffe & 424 Squadron


The Runnymede Memorial




Vlieland Cemetery


Vuren at war


Kallenkote Cemetery




Makkum Cemetery


Wartime Occupied Harlingen


Hampden AE 428, & Koudum


RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron


Willem's War-time photographs


Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group


Shipdham Airfield


101 Squadron


408 Squadron's Leipzig raid


68th Squadron's Casualties


Friesland radar


Rottum Island or Rottumeroog


Lancasters DS776  & JA921


Bergen General Cemetery


back to 626 Squadron










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