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RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

 

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Leeuwarden Airfield

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

 

A
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

14

Ameland in war-time

25

Wartime Texel  & Den Helder 

1

Friesland War-time Crashes

14b

Ameland,166 & 75 Squadron

26

Hindeloopen

2

Friesland Cemeteries

14c

Ameland Graves

27

Destroy the Scharnhorst!

3

Leeuwarden area

15

Terschelling

28

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2

3a

Wirdum Remembers

15b

Terschelling 2

28a

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3

4

Schiermonnikoog

16

Sage War Cemetery

29

12 Squadron in World War 2

4b

Schiermonnikoog  part 2

16b

RAF Topcliffe & 424 Squadron

30

The Runnymede Memorial

5

Harlingen

17

Vlieland Cemetery

31

Vuren at war

6

Kallenkote Cemetery

18

Jacobiparochie

32

Makkum Cemetery

7

Wartime Occupied Harlingen

19

Hampden AE 428, & Koudum

8

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

20

Willem's War-time photographs

9

Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group

21

Shipdham Airfield

35

101 Squadron

10

408 Squadron's Leipzig raid

21b

68th Squadron's Casualties

11

Friesland radar

22

Rottum Island or Rottumeroog

12

Lancasters DS776  & JA921

23

Bergen General Cemetery

 

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 email-address:  w.jong1@upcmail.nl

 

 

 

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