Halifax JB787 (25/07/1943)

Halifax JB787 was one of twelve (reduced from twenty one) No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Essen on the night of the 25th / 26th July 1943.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Douglas Milmine (Pilot)
  • Norman Alfred John Pearce (Navigator)
  • Reginald Ernest Bates (Air Bomber)
  • Thomas Price (Wireless Operator)
  • George Murray Galbraith (Air Gunner)
  • Stuart Henry Piper (Air Gunner)
  • Donald Eddie Killick (Flight Engineer)

The route was 53°00N 03°32E, Egmond, 51°53N 06°28E, Essen, Noordwijk, 52°40N 03°05E

JB787 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft is missing, nothing being heard of it from time of take off”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 26th July 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 25th / 26th July 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. 284 (Flight 23/09/1943) reported NAJ Pearce, T Price, GM Galbraith and DE Killick as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 369 (Flight 13/04/1944) reported NAJ Pearce, T Price, GM Galbraith and DE Killick “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:

  • 04/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Bates and Sgt Piper, missing on 25th / 26th July 1943, are prisoners of war
  • 20/09/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that F/O Milmine, missing on 25th / 26th July 1943, is a prisoner of war
  • 27/10/1943: Information received from Air Ministry that Sgt Pearce, Sgt Price, Sgt Galbraith and Sgt Killick, missing on 25th / 26th July 1943, were killed

Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned

D Milmine. RE Bates and SH Piper 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:

  • D Milmine
    • Captured: Didams? (01/08/1943)
    • Imprisoned: Stalag Luft III, Sagan Aug-43 to Jan-45
    • Repatriated: May-45
  • RE Bates (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg
    • Repatriated:
  • SH Piper (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
    • Captured:
    • Imprisoned: Stalag IV-B, Muhlberg
    • 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.

CWGC records show that the remains of NAJ Pearce, T Price, GM Galbraith and DE Killick were located at Dusseldorf North Cemetery (Nordfriedhof) (Graves 201 – 204)

jb787-concentration

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at REICHSWALD FOREST WAR CEMETERY on 10th October 1946 as follows:

  • KILLICK, DONALD EDDIE Sergeant ‘928731’ Grave 6. C. 6.
  • GALBRAITH, GEORGE MURRAY Sergeant ‘1574286’  Grave 6. C. 7.
  • PRICE, THOMAS Sergeant ‘1210898’ Grave 6. C. 8.
  • PEARCE, NORMAN ALFRED JOHN Sergeant ‘1237466’ Grave 6. C. 9.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachjagd Combat Archive)

Hit in the tail unit just after bombing by 3. & 5./schw. Flak Abt. 445 and 1.,3. & 4./schw. Flak Abt. 471; crashed west of Kirchhellen (Germany) at 00.45hrs. Note; there were 22 other flak battery claims for this aircraft 

Bomber Command Loss Card

The Bomber Command Loss Card suggests that the aircraft was hit by AA fire, with the crew baling out north of Essen.

Original Burial Records

The following is an extract from the original burial records:

JB787 Burial Record.JPG

[Courtesy of Matthias Hundt]

Halifax W1147 (25/07/1942)

Halifax W1147 was one of eight No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Duisburg on the night of the 25th / 26th July 1942.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • John Edward Maple (Pilot)
  • Clarence Ernest Evans (Observer)
  • John Francis Day (WOP / AG)
  • Douglas Macrae Ross (WOP / AG)
  • Haddo Eric Von Bruce (Air Gunner)
  • William Arthur Allsopp (Air Gunner)
  • John Thomas Bennett (Flight Engineer)

Halifax W1147 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “Took off from Linton to attack Duisburg; nothing was heard from this aircraft after take-off and it failed to return”.

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 26th July 1942 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 25th / 26th July 1942”.

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. 162 (Flight 08/10/1942) reported JE Maple, CE Evans, DM Ross, JF Day, WA Allsopp and HEV Bruce as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 224 (Flight 29/04/1943) reported JE Maple, CE Evans, DM Ross, JF Day, WA Allsopp and HEV Bruce “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:

  • 22/12/1942: Information received from the Air Ministry that P/O Maple, P/O Day and Sgt Allsopp were all killed on the night of 25th July 1942

Crew members who survived the crash, evaded capture and returned to the UK

JT Bennett survived the crash and evaded capture as follows:

  • Evasion Route: Holland / Belgium / France / Spain / Gibraltar (Comet 41)
  • Repatriated: Whitchurch (14/09/1942)

It is understood that he was initially captured with injured leg, but escaped

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 DM Ross, CE Evans and HEV Bruce were located at Uden

w1147-concentration-1

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 21st June 1946 [Ross and Evans] and 2nd July 1946 [Bruce] at UDEN WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • ROSS, DOUGLAS MACRAE, Flight Sergeant ‘R/76228’ Joint grave 4. A. 10-11.
  • EVANS, CLARENCE ERNEST, Flight Sergeant ‘R/91535’ Joint grave 4. A. 10-11.
  • BRUCE, HADDO ERIC VON, Pilot Officer ‘J/15668’ Grave 4. A. 13.

The CWGC records show that the remains of JE Maple, JF Day and WA Allsopp were located N. of S. Hertogenbosch (GSGS 2541)

w1147-concentration-3

Their remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) on 4th December 1947 at JONKERBOS WAR CEMETERY as follows:

  • MAPLE, JOHN EDWARD, Pilot Officer ‘110870’  Joint grave 18. E. 7.
  • DAY, JOHN FRANCIS, Pilot Officer ‘J/8099’ Joint grave 18. E. 7.
  • ALLSOPP, WILLIAM ARTHUR, Sergeant ‘411063’ Grave 18. E. 8.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

P4 Casualty Branch File

The following Casualty File is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/15980 Sergeant D M Ross (RCAF), Flight Sergeant C E Evans (RCAF), Pilot Officer H E V Bruce (RCAF), Pilot Officer J F Day (RCAF), Pilot Officer J E Maple, Sergeant W A Allsopp (RAAF): killed; Sergeant J T Bennett: missing now safe; Halifax W1147, 35 Squadron, aircraft failed to return from an operational flight over Duisburg, Germany, 26 July 1942.

Bomber Command Loss Card

Extract from MRES Prelimanary Report (26th July 1946)

Aircraft was shot down by flak, burnt out and disappeared partially into the ground

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Nightfighter Claim: Oblt. Kurt Loos, 1./NJG1, 3km N S-Hertogenbosch (Holland) (5B), 3000m, 02.26

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

Crashed 02.30hrs near S-Hertogenbosch (Holland)

Evasion Report Numbers (National Archives)

WO208/3310/854 JT Bennett

Citation for DFM award (JT Bennett)

JT Bennett was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his efforts. The recommendation, but not the final citation, reads:

This airman was a member of a crew of an aircraft shot down over Holland on 25th July 1942 while returning from an attack on Duisberg.  Unable to escape from the scene of his landing through a leg injury sustained while baling out, he was arrested by the enemy and imprisoned. Applying an old stratagem, he soon succeeded in breaking out and, escaping from the neighbourhood, went into hiding. During this period he endeavoured to rescue other British airmen who had baled out nearby, and also avoided detection from no less than four searches of his place of concealment. He ultimately reached Belgium by crossing a bridge at the Dutch-Belgian frontier, pausing a while to offer cigarettes to the enemy sentries.  Passing through Belgium and France he reached Paris to find himself suspected and shadowed by a Gestapo agent.  He lured his would-be captor into an air raid shelter where he overpowered and killed him. Sergeant Bennett then continued his adventurous journey into Spain, whence he was repatriated on 13th September 1942.  This airman displayed the greatest courage, coolness and resource in carrying out his escape from the enemy.


Notes:

  1. WA Allsopp’s service file is digitised in the Australian Archives; there are no details regarding the loss

Halifax L9507 (25/07/1941)

Halifax L9507 was one of two No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 25th / 26th July 1941.

Its seven-man crew comprised:

  • Ernest Ronald Peter Shackle Cooper (Pilot)
  • John Milne Rigg Cruickshank (2nd Pilot)
  • Robert Victor Collinge (Observer)
  • Albert James Heller (WOP / AG)
  • Douglas James Mennie (WOP / AG)
  • Reginald Arthur Bates (Air Gunner)
  • Ernest Short (Flight Engineer)

L9507 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “This aircraft was not heard of again and is now officially reported missing”

Wartime activities relating to the loss

On 26th July 1941 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 25th / 26th July 1941.

AIR 81/7893 (0123)

A copy of the follow up letter sent out by the Air Ministry Casualty Branch

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 Communique No. 79 (Flight 18/09/1941) reported RV Collinge and DJ Mennie as “missing, believed killed in action”. Also RA Bates, ERPS Cooper, JMR Cruickshank, AJ Heller and E Short as “missing”
  • Air Ministry Communique No. 123 (Flight 09/04/1942) reported RV Collinge and DJ Mennie “previously reported missing, believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”
  • Air Ministry Communique No. 126 (Flight 23/04/1942) reported RA Bates, ERPS Cooper, JMR Cruickshank, AJ Heller and E Short “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 returned to the 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:

  • 16/08/1941: Information received, passed on from International Red Cross Society, that F/S Collinge and Sgt Mennie of PO Cooper’s crew, missing on operations 25th/26th July 1941, were killed

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.

German Record for RV Collinge

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 all members of the crew were located at Doberitz Standortfriedhof

l9507-concentration-report

Their  remains were exhumed, identified and concentrated (reinterred) at BERLIN 1939-1945 WAR CEMETERY on 29th October 1946 as follows:

IDENTIFIED

  • HELLER, ALBERT JAMES Flight Sergeant ‘552112’ Grave 8. Z. 1.
  • COLLINGE, ROBERT VICTOR Flight Sergeant ‘581204’ Grave 8. Z. 2.
  • SHORT, ERNEST Sergeant ‘567019’ Grave 8. Z. 3.

COMMUNAL GRAVE

  • MENNIE, DOUGLAS JAMES Sergeant ‘940550’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.
  • BATES, REGINALD ARTHUR Flight Sergeant ‘751214’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.
  • COOPER, ERNEST RONALD PETER SHACKLE Pilot Officer ‘87050’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.
  • CRUICKSHANK, JOHN MILNE RIGG Sergeant ‘1051632’ Coll. grave 8. Z. 4-7.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)

Hit by unidentified Berlin-based Flak and crashed near Brieselang, 7 km. NE Wustermark, time unknown.

P.4 (Cas), Casualty Branch Files

The following casualty file is available at the National Archives:

AIR 81/7893 Pilot Officer ERPS Cooper, Sergeant JHR Cruickshank, Sergeant Collinge, Flight Sergeant AJ Heller, Sergeant DJ Mennie, Flight Sergeant RA Bates, Sergeant E Short: killed; aircraft shot down and crashed near Wustermark, Germany, Halifax L9507, 35 Squadron, 26 July 1941

It provides the following information:

“The Halifax aircraft took off from its base at 10.45 on 25th August 1941 to attack a target in Berlin and failed to return. A telegram from the International Red Cross Committee in Geneva quoting information from Berlin states that six men were killed in a Halifax machine on July 26th, the names of two members of the crew (Mennie and Collinge) being given. As the crew consisted of seven, one man remains unaccounted for”

Bomb Explosion at RAF Graveley (25/07/1943)

On 25th July 1943 a 1,000lb GP bomb exploded during the fusing operation in a Fuzing Shed at RAF Graveley.

The RAF Graveley Operations Record Book shows that seven station personnel were killed, A McAllan, RM Williams, JW McKenzie, W Mitchell, RW Castell, ES Mulcahy and LA Saunders.

The bomb dump was declared unsafe, with five 1,000lb fuzed bombs still lying in the area.

On 26th July 1943, armament staff from the Air Ministry, together with armament officers from HQ No. 8 (Path Finder Force) Group and RAF Station Wyton, visited the bomb  dump and rendered the fuzed bombs safe.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s records show the following burial details:

  • CASTELL, RONALD WILLIAM, ‘1152895’, CAMBRIDGE CITY CEMETERY Grave 14531.
  • MITCHELL, WILLIAM, ‘952826,’ ARBROATH WESTERN CEMETERY Compt. D. Grave 502.
  • MULCAHY, EDWARD STEPHEN, ‘1468681’ PLUMSTEAD CEMETERY Sec. Q. Grave 1515.
  • McALLAN, ALEXANDER, ‘525353’ CLUNY CHURCHYARD EXTENSION Grave 264.
  • McKENZIE, JOHN WILLIAMSON, ‘950891’ SUNDERLAND (MERE KNOLLS) CEMETERY Ward 28.B. Grave 5260.
  • SAUNDERS, LESLIE ALBERT, ‘1627455’ CAMBERWELL NEW CEMETERY Square 91. Col. grave 7840. Screen wall. Panel 11.
  • WILLIAMS, RONALD MAYHEW, ‘541394’ CAMBRIDGE CITY CEMETERY Grave 14332.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

GLIMLAMP ARTICLE

Jack Brewe was working within 50 yards of the fuzing point sheds and recalled the events in an article in Glimlamp

The drama of the first bomb dump explosion at Graveley began on the evening of the 24th July 1943. All squadron aircraft were fully bombed up and fuelled, and queuing for take off.  When it came to S Sugar something went wrong half way down the runway. The pilot tried to abort take off, was unsuccessful, the undercarriage gave way and there was an almighty pile-up at the Offord end of the airfield boundary.

All aircraft that night were carrying a Long Delay 1000 lb bomb fused with a No. 37 pistol. This one had a 12 hr delay. Armourers were quickly on the scene and, knowing exactly the position of the bomb, they were soon at work, hacking their way into the bomb bay, keeping their fingers crossed that all being well they were OK until 9.00 hrs the following morning. With the use of ropes and levers they finally got the bomb clear of the a/c and onto a trailer which Sammy Marshall, the bomb dump tractor driver, took to a remote spot at the far end of the drome where it was left to await the course of events.

The following day, just as the bomb dump armourers were preparing to go to dinner, a lorry load of 500 lb bombs arrived and had to be unloaded straightaway. Cpl Jack Brewe was in charge of “A” fusing team and Cpl Mitchell in charge of “B” team. One team had to stop and unload so the coin was tossed. Cpl. Mitchell won and elected to take his team to dinner, the “A” team going to a late dinner. When they returned, Cpl Mitchell and his team were in the fusing shed, so the “A” team went to the dump to send the bombs up to be fused. During the afternoon there was a large explosion and Jack Brewe remembers thinking to himself that it was the Long Delay 1000 lb bomb from the previous day finally going up. Then corrugated sheeting etc. started raining down. He dived under the Coles crane he was standing beside until the commotion had subsided. On standing up he realised it was the main fusing shed. He and two others dashed over to a scene of complete carnage. There were no survivors from the fusing shed.

The group armament officer was on camp at the time over the previous night’s crash and after the already prepared bomb loads had been moved on to the perimeter track, he sealed off the bomb dump for 48 hrs, in case of sympathetic explosions; it wasn’t known if amongst the rubble there were more delays that were not marked with the code letter for the delay time. Sammy Marshall and Jack Brewe drove a tractor apiece and got all the loads for that night out to the aircraft concerned for a Maximum Effort.

Seven armourers were killed and four injured. Jack Brewe was the only NCO to survive.