Halifax HX167 (02/12/1943)

Halifax HX167 was one of fifteen No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 2nd / 3rd December 1943.

It was equipped with API, Monica, IFF, Gee, Nav Aid Y (H2S) and carrying 10 x 500lbs MC and various flares / target indicators. Its designated Path Finder role was Primary Blind Marker

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Gunnar Høverstad (Pilot)
  • John Cameron McDougall (Navigator)
  • Stuart Vincent Brazier (Air Bomber)
  • Arthur George Briggs (Wireless Operator)
  • Phillip John Williams (Air Gunner)
  • Wilfred John Cooke (Air Gunner)
  • Arne Storm (Flight Engineer)

The route was Haisborough, 5250N 0330E, 5235N 0440E, 5238N 1004E, 5236N 1220E, Berlin, 5230N 1350E, 5255N 1350E, 5238N 1004E, 5235N 0440E, 5250N 0330E, Haisborough

HX167 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard from it after take off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 3rd December 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 2nd / 3rd December 1943”.

An example of the telegram that was sent

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 provided No. 35 Squadron with the following information regarding the crew:

  • 12/01/1944: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Brazier, P/O McDougall, Sgt Briggs, Sgt Williams, Sgt Cooke and Sgt Storm, missing on 2nd / 3rd December 1943, are prisoners of war; also that Lt. Høverstad was killed.

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

SV Brazier,  JC McDougall,  AC Briggs,  WJ Cooke,  PJ Williams and A Storm 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:

  • JC McDougall (*) Book suggests that he had an injured leg
    • Captured: Near Celle, Germany 03/12/1943
    • Interrogated: Dulag Luft Oberursel, Frankfurt Dec-43
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Dec-43 to Apr-45 (Liberated 23/04/1945)
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • PJ Williams
    • Captured: Near Celle 03/12/1943
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Dec-43 to Apr-45 (Liberated 23/04/1945)
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • SV Brazier
    • Captured: Near Hanover 03/12/1943 (Slightly twisted left knee)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Dec-43 to Apr-45 (Liberated 23/04/1945)
    • Repatriated May-45
  • AC Briggs
    • Captured: Near Celle 03/12/1943
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Dec-43 to Apr-45 (Liberated 23/04/1945)
    • Repatriated May-45
  • WJ Cooke
    • Captured: Near Celle 03/12/1943
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Dec-43 to Apr-45 (Liberated 23/04/1945)
    • Repatriated May-45
  • A Storm
    • Captured: 03/12/1943
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Mulhberg Dec-43 to Apr-45 (Liberated 23/04/1945)
    • 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.

The situation was slightly different with non Commonwealth airmen, as the families were given the option of having the remains concentrated (reinterred) at one of the Commonwealth War Cemeteries in the country that they fell or repatriated.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has no record of a burial for Gunnar Høverstad and no records can be found for a grave in Europe or Norway. It is therefore assumed that his remains were not located or could not be formally identified (further research required).

His name is however commemorated on the memorial at Akerhus Festning, Oslo

All at Akershus festning 2 [disnorge.no]

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Multiple Nighfighter and Flak Claims:

  • Hptm. Leopold Fellerer, 5./NJG5, Hannover (Wesendorf), 5500 m. 19.36
  • Hptm. Paul Szameitat, StabII./NJG3, 30 km. E. Celle, 5700 m. 19.45
  • Also claimed by Flak of R.A.D. Flakbatt. 6./801 and 1., 3., 4. & 5./schw. Flak Abt. 181 (o) (‘Lancaster nr. Ummern, 24 km. E. Celle 19.30 hrs, in co-operation with Nachtjagd’).
HX167 Map

Map showing place of capture

Bomber Command Loss Card

Briggs reported “G Høverstad was last seen in the aircraft just before I baled out”

(*) Flightpath to Stalag IVB

A book entitled “Flightpath to Stalag IVB” written by Audrey James tells the story of Arthur Briggs