Halifax HR833 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:
- James Livingstone Lee (Pilot)
- George Arthur Jones (Navigator)
- William Abbotson Tetley (Air Bomber)
- Herbert John Ross (Wireless Operator)
- Frank Morley Traynor (Air Gunner)
- Victor Stanley Platt (Air Gunner)
- John Charles Goodson (Flight Engineer)
The route was 5134N 0330E, 5059N 0626E, Wuppertal, 5120N 0721E, 5033N 0723E, 5038N 0600E, 5122N 0320E
HR833 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″
Extract from the letter sent to the family of HJ Ross
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. 267 (Flight 19/08/1943) reported JL Lee, WA Tetley, HJ Ross, VS Platt and FM Traynor as “missing, believed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 333 (Flight 20/01/1944) reported WA Tetley, VS Platt and FM Traynor “previously reported missing, believed killed in action” 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:
- 14/07/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that F/S Ross, missing on 29th / 30th May 1943, was killed
- 30/07/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that W/O Lee, F/L Tetley, Sgt Platt, and Sgt Traynor, missing on 29th / 30th May 1943, were killed; also that P/O Goodson is a prisoner of war
Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned
JC Goodson survived the crash (wounded) and was captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
GA Jones evaded until 3rd September 1943; following his capture he was 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:
- JC Goodson
- Captured: Antwerp 30/05/1943 (Wounded)
- Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Jun-43 to Feb-45
- Imprisoned: Stalag XIII-D, Nürnberg Feb-45 to Apr-45
- Imprisoned: Stalag VII-A, Moosburg Apr-45 to May-45
- Repatriated May-45
- GA Jones (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
- Captured: Brussels (03/09/43?)
- Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg
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 do not show where the remains of JL Lee, WA Tetley, HJ Ross, VS Platt, FM Traynor were located; however, the MRES report shows that they were buried at Schoonselhof, Antwerp as follows: JL Lee (Row G Grave 1). WA Tetley (Row F Grave 12), HJ Ross (Row F Grave 13), VS Platt (Row G Grave 3) and FM Traynor (Row G Grave 2).
CWGC Records show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at Schoonselhof Cemetery as follows:
- Lee, James Livingston, Warrant Officer ‘R/68499’ Grave II. F. 18.
- Tetley, William Abbotson, Flight Lieutenant ‘81378’ Grave II. G. 3.
- Ross, Herbert John, Flight Sergeant ‘405233’ Grave II.G.2
- Platt, Victor Stanley, Sergeant ‘1384338’ Grave II. F. 20.
- Traynor, Frank Morley, Sergeant ‘1055872’ Grave II. F. 19
Bomber Command Loss Card
Attacked by nightfighter near Antwerp and exploded.
WR Chorley (Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War)
Shot down by a nightfighter and exploded, crashing at Hoogstraten, near Antwerp, Belgium
Footprints in the Sands of Time
Suggests that the aircraft was blown up when its bombs exploded
MRES Report [Australian Archives]