Halifax DT804 was one of twenty-one No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Wuppertal on the night of the 29th / 30th May 1943.
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Ronald Hoos (Pilot)
- John Gerard Kennedy (Navigator)
- Ronald William Hodge (Air Bomber)
- John Davidson (Wireless Operator)
- Alexander Munro Taylor (Air Gunner)
- Alexander Tannock (Air Gunner)
- Ernest Bell (Flight Engineer)
The route to and from the target was as follows: 5134N 0330E, 5059N 0626E, Wuppertal, 5120N 0721E, 5033N 0723E, 5038N 0600E, 5122N 0320E
DT804 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing; No message was received”
Wartime activities relating to the loss
On 30th May 1943 the squadron informed Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that the aircraft and crew were missing.
A telegram, along with a follow up letter from the Commanding Officer, was sent to the next of kin of each crew member advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations on 29th / 30th May 1943″
The crew’s kit and personal belongings were removed from their lockers and catalogued; kit was returned to stores and personal belongings sent to the RAF Central Depository at RAF Colnbrook.
The Air Ministry Casualty Branch, which was responsible for investigating, monitoring and reporting on the status of missing aircraft and airmen, subsequently published the following information regarding the crew:
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 332 (Flight 13/01/1944) reported R Hoos, JG Kennedy, RW Hodge, A Tannock, AM Taylor and E Bell “previously reported missing” as “now presumed killed in action”
Note: Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings could then be sent to next of kin, along with any monies due.
No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:
- 19/08/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that Sgt Davidson, missing on 29th / 30th May 1943, is a prisoner of war; also that the remainder of the crew, consisting of the following, were killed: P/O Hoos, Sgt Hodge, Sgt Kennedy, Sgt Tannock, Sgt Taylor and Sgt Bell
Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned
J Davidson survived the crash and was captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
His POW Liberation Questionnaire, which was completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, shows the following details:
- J Davidson
- Captured: 3.5 miles NNW of St Trond 30/05/1943 (Injured)
- Hospitalised: Brussels May-43 Jun-43
- Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Jun-43
- Hospitalised: Frankfurt Jun-43 Jul-43
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Heydekrug Jul-43 Jul-44
- Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Thorn Jul-44 Aug-44
- Imprisoned: Stalag 357, Fallingbostel Aug-44 Apr-45
- Repatriated: May-45
Post War search for the missing crew members
After the war, an investigation officer from the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was tasked with locating the remains of the missing crew member(s).
Original German documents, burial records and eye witness accounts were utilised to establish the location of the crash site, the cause of the loss and the initial fate of the crew; information was recorded in a MRES Investigation Report.
As part of the process, any remains that were located were exhumed, identified (wherever possible) and concentrated (reinterred) at one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Cemeteries in the country that they fell, in accordance with Government policy at the time.
Graves were marked with a simple wooden cross, which was replaced by the familiar CWGC headstone during the 1950’s.
Missing airmen who could not be found, or formally identified, had their names commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, which was unveiled in 1953.
CWGC records show that the remains of R Hoos, JG Kennedy, RW Hodge, A Tannock, AM Taylor and E Bell were located at Brusthem St Trond Cemetery.
St Trond Cemetery
Their remains were exhumed, formally identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 11th March 1947 at HEVERLEE WAR CEMETERY as follows:
- HOOS, RONALD, Flying Officer ‘49586’ Grave 4. C. 5.
- BELL, ERNEST, Sergeant ‘548837’ Grave 4. C. 6.
- TAYLOR, ALEXANDER MUNRO, Sergeant ‘1561460’ Grave 4. C. 7.
- TANNOCK, ALEXANDER, Sergeant ‘1361367’ Grave 4. C. 8.
- KENNEDY, JOHN GERARD, Sergeant ‘1083975’ Joint grave 4. C. 9-10.
- HODGE, RONALD WILLIAM, Sergeant ‘1097285’ Joint grave 4. C. 9-10.
Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)
Nightfighter Claim: Lt. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, Stab.II./NJG1, 1.2 km E Budingen, 7km NW St Trond (Belgium) (Lurch), 6500m, 01.43
WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)
Shot down by nightfighter crashing at 01.43 at Duras (Belgium).