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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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Bomber Command Crest
30/31.08.1943 No. 427 Squadron Halifax V LK629 ZL-F Fl/Sgt. Buxton

Operation: Münchengladbbach

Date: 30/31st August 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No: 427 Squadron

Type: Halifax V

Serial: LK629

Code: ZL-F

Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire.

Location: Aartselaar, near Antwerp, Belgium.

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Bernard John Buxton 1034932 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Norman Jones Huxley 820050 RAF (Auxillary) Age 26. Killed

Nav: W/O.2 John Robertson R/103625 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: W/O.2 Clement Bernard Cahill R/102903 RCAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O.2 Harold Cruse Pithie R/101308 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr. (M/U): Sgt. William John Breen R/58998 RCAF Age 24. Killed (1)

Air/Gnr. (Rear): Sgt. Robert Anton Fraser R/176127 RCAF Age 20. Killed (2)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off from RAF Leeming, Yorkshire at 23.58 hrs along with 14 others from the Squadron. Part of a 660 string force to bomb Münchengladbach, (3) Germany.

Visibility was good this night and the pathfinders mission was classed as almost perfect. The bombing was very concentrated and although German reports are limited a total of 1,059 buildings were destroyed - 171 industrial, 19 military, 869 domestic with 117 people killed on the ground.

Some of the crew with W/O.2 Pithie 3rd from the left, back row. Fl/Sgt. Buxton front right, Sgt. Breen front row on extreme left (remainder unidentified as yet - can you assist?) of Halifax LK629. RAF Leeming July 1943 (courtesy Joseph Sullivan)

Left: Pilot of LK629 Halifax Fl/Sgt. Bernard John Buxton, June 1943 (courtesy Joseph Sullivan)

Bomb load:

1 X 2000 Lb (General Purpose)
56 x 30 lb IBS (Incendiary)
530 X 4 lB IBS (Incendiary)
4 Lb ‘X’ Type IBS (Incendiary)

25 aircraft were lost on this raid - 8 Halifaxes, 7 Lancasters, 6 Stirlings and 4 Wellingtons.

It is thought ‘possible’ that LK629 was shot down by Lt. Walter Schön of Stab 1./NJG1 who engaged LK629 at a height of 4,200m and the aircraft crashed at 03:50 hrs 10 KM. South West of Antwerp.

Lt. Schön who was already a Luftwaffe night fighter ace at this time (A total of 9 before his death) was killed on the 20/21st October 1943 at Gross-Ballersetd near Stendal airfield after air combat.

It was claimed by the allies that the bombers shot down 8 Luftwaffe night fighters during this raid and that they were attacked a further 33 times after the raid had been completed and on their return leg.

(1) Breen Island in Burntwood Lake, Manitoba is named after Sgt. Breen

(2) Fraser Lake in Saskatchewan is named after Sgt. Fraser

(3) München-Gladbbach became Münchengladbach in 1960.


Burial Details:

Fl/Sgt. Bernard John Buxton. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave. IVa, B.17. Son of Charles F. and Dorothy N. M. Buxton, of Seaton Ross, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Norman Jones Huxley. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave. IVa, B.28. Son of Richard Ikin and Nellie, of Altrincham, Cheshire, England.

W/O.2 John Robertson. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave. IVa, B.29. Son of Warrender Henderson and Isabella Taylor, of Banff, Alberta, Canada

W/O.2 Clement Bernard Cahill. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Special Memorial. Grave. IVa, B.26. Son of Clement Joseph and Catharine Cecilia, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

W/O.2 Harold Cruse Pithie. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Special Memorial. Grave. IVa, B.25. Son of Alexander Taylor and Annie Maria (Née Cruse) of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sgt. William John Breen. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Special Memorial. Grave. C.IVa, B.17. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Breen of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Sgt. Robert Anton Fraser. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Grave. IVa, B.27. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Fraser of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

With thanks to Jim Henderson, second cousin to Harold Cruse Pithie for further information and corrections, Joseph Sullivan for much of this information and photographs. Also to Robert Breen, step brother to Sgt. William Breen who contacted us in December 2016 with corrected details. Other sources as shown below.

KTY 18.12.2016 - New details added on Sgt. Breen plus new map.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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