Halifax HR799 (21/06/1943)

Halifax HR799 was one of nineteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Krefeld on the night of the 21st / 22nd June 1943.

Its seven-man crew (plus 2nd Dickie) comprised:

  • William Henry Hickson (Pilot)
  • Henry John Krohn (2nd Dickie)
  • Allan Delamere Hutchinson (Navigator)
  • Patrick Norman Croft (Air Bomber)
  • James Harrison Graham (Wireless Operator)
  • Joseph Francis Dowsing (Air Gunner)
  • William Gordon Leslie Brown (Air Gunner)
  • Fred Shaw Maltas (Flight Engineer)

The route was 5210N 0137E, Krefeld, Nordwijk, Happisburgh.

HR799 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing and nothing was heard from it after taking off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 22nd June 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 21st / 22nd June 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. 273 (Flight 02/09/1943) reported HJ Krohn and WGL Brown as “missing”

No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:

  • 06/08/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that Sgt Dowsing, missing on 21st / 22nd June 1943, is a prisoner of war; also that Sgt Graham was killed [Note information on Graham was incorrect]
  • 02/09/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that Sgt Maltas, missing on 21st / 22nd June 1943, is a prisoner of war
  • 27/09/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that P/O Hickson, missing on 21st / 22nd June 1943, is a prisoner of war
  • 07/10/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that Sgt Graham, missing on 21st / 22nd June 1943, is a prisoner of war
  • 17/10/1943: Information received from the Air Ministry that P/O Croft, missing on 21st / 22nd June 1943, is a prisoner of war
  • 12/01/1944: Information received from the Air Ministry that P/O Hutchison, missing on 21st / 22nd June 1943, is a prisoner of war

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

WH Hickson,  AD Hutchison,  PN Croft,  JH Graham,  JF Dowsing and FS Maltas survived the crash and were captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Their POW Liberation Questionnaires, which were completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre (RAF Cosford) in 1945, show the following details:

  • JH Graham
    • Captured: Venlo Area 22/06/1943 (Injured)
    • Hospitalised: Amsterdam Jun-43 to Aug-43
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Aug-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg Aug-43 to May-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • WH Hickson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III
    • Repatriated:
  • AD Hutchinson (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Stalag Luft III
    • Repatriated:
  • PN Croft (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured: Paris (07/08/1943)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg
    • Repatriated:
  • JF Dowsing (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:
  • FS Maltas (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft VI, Stalag 357
    • Repatriated:

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.

Original Burials

CWGC records show that the remains of HJ Krohn and WGL Brown were located at Mook British Cemetery.

hr799-concentration

Post War Concentration

After the war, their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 3rd December 1947 at JONKERBOS WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • BROWN, WILLIAM GORDON LESLIE, Pilot Officer ‘155006’  Grave 7. H. 8.
  • KROHN, HENRY JOHN, Flight Sergeant ‘34017’ Grave 7. I. 1.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Maj. Gunther Radusch, Stab II./NJG3 (det. 3./NJG1), Klein-Oirlo NNW Venlo (Holland)(Himmelbett), 5500m, 01.34 (Note: also claimed by Flak of Flak Regt. 24 (8.-9., 14.-18. and 22./z.b.V. 5707 ‘Halifax Straelen 01.35hrs’) victory Maj. Radusch confirmed 19/12/1944)

WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)

Shot down by a nightfighter and crashed at 01.34 at Valkenburg. Sgt Krohn left the aircraft but died due to the failure of his parachute to fully deploy

Bomber Command Loss Card

Aircraft hit by flak over Holland; starboard engine caught fire

Notes:

  1. Digitised record for HJ Krohn available in Australian Archives (as at July 2017)