28/29.06.1944 No. 102 Squadron Halifax LW143 Fl/Sgt. Nigel D. Campbell
Operation: Railway yards, Blainville, France,
Date: 28/29th June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 102 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Location: Gisors-Gournay area, France
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell AUS/426774 RAAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt Donald E. Leslie 628603 RAFVR PoW No: 8101 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Nav: Sgt. A. Douglas Eagle 1580682 RAFVR PoW No: 8086 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Air/Bmr: P/O. Jack Wilson J/90298 RCAF Age 22. Killed
W/Op: Fl/Sgt. Noel Albert Pardon AUS/419211 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald L. Levington 1254416 RAFVR PoW No: 8102 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Reg W.I. Joyce 1850911 RAFVR PoW No: 8100 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
REASON FOR LOSS:
Part of a group made up of 202 Halifaxess and a further 28 Pathfinder Lancasters to attack railway yards at both Blainville and Metz. Both targets were hit. LW143 had been claimed by the commander of II./NJG2 a Major Paul Semrau (night fighter ace with over 39 kills to his credit by the time of his death on the 8th February 1945. He was killed after being attacked by Fl/Lt Sleep from 402 Squadron in a Spitfire.)
LW143 was shot down over Gisors-Gournay at a height of 3,000 mtrs. at 00.45 hrs on the 29th June. (This is claimed as a possible - information extracted from Theo Bolton's Night fighter War Diaries Vol 2. 2008 edition)
A further 4 were also lost from this Squadron on this raid. Tragically MZ644 was lost after being shot up by another Halifax possibly from 10 Squadron when that was carrying out a violent corkscrew. MZ644 crashed in the Foret de Wssy and three of that crew perished. 2 other 102 Squadron Halifaxes were also claimed by Major Semrau: LW159 and NA502.
Uffz Heinz Siebert 2./NJG5 (!0 kills before being wounded on the 16th March 1945 in a crash landing at Beyreuth airfield on returning from an operation) claimed to have shot down MZ646, Obstit. Gunther Radusch of NJG2 (66 kills by the end of the war - he survived) shot down LW159.
Photographs taken of the Blainville railway station and yard - target for this raid on 28/29th June 1944 by Jeff Boyling June 2009
Left to right above: Jack Wilson, Nigel Campbell and Noel Pardon
Mr Jeff Boyling contacted me in June 2009 as he had been planning a trip to find the crash site of this aircraft. Jeff's father was cousin to Fl/Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell the pilot of this aircraft. He contacted me with an appeal to locate the exact spot where Halifax LW143 came down.
We did manage to find some further details and we decided that perhaps Jeff would also like to place a plaque at the spot during his visit. This was made just in time for his departure and off Jeff went. He had also managed to speak with Nigel Campbell's brother a Mr. Burns Campbell 85, who lives in Australia and a memorial wreath was also requested be placed at the grave. He also wanted plaques for some of the other 102 Squadron aircraft that were lost on this raid. We were proud to be able to assist him with this.
This trip marked as the 65th anniversary - almost to the day, of the loss of Halifax LW143.
Mr Jeff Boyling with French Forestry worker Msr. Jean Meschberger and the plaque made by webmaster left at the crash site in June 2009 - 65 years on.
Photo of undercarriage plate discovered at the crash site by Pierre Madray in 1995 (Photo courtesy of P. Madray)
Jeff managed to carry out some fine detective work and with some very generous assistance from a local forestry worker managed to find the exact location.
Jeff takes up the story:
"On doing more research I was told that the aircraft had come down near Lyons-de-Foret to the west of Beauvais. On making further enquiries I narrowed it down to Les Greniers, a little hamlet in the forest. On visiting Les Greniers I met a forestry worker, Jean Meschberger, who had known the old man of the hamlet. The old man had seen where Nigel’s bomber came down."
It would appear that the aircraft, obviously in trouble, passed over Les Greniers and crashed in a field just beyond Goupiliere. What happened to the rest of the crew - Sgt. Leslie, Sgt. Eagle, Sgt. Leverington and Sgt. Joyce? Approximately 2 to 3 kilometres through the forest was an abbey and it would appear that the French Resistance came to their rescue and they were taken there initially. The forestry worker showed me this cottage beside the abbey and on the wall were two plaques as shown below".
The plaque on the cottage of the heroine of the French resistance who tried to assist the remainder of the crew and the plaque the crew members left in thanks.
This series of amazing crash photographs were sent to Mr Jeff Boyling by the brother of the pilot, Mr Burns Campbell. Right: Major Paul Semrau - commander of II./NJG2 (courtesy Kracker Archives)
In the letter sent to Jeff he wrote:
"A few months after the war, my mother received a couple of letters from Nigel's surviving air crew who visited the crash site. The photos show the wrecked fuselage and I remember the letters said that two of the crew were dead in the aircraft before the others parachuted.They said that Nigel kept control of the aircraft for the four to exit and parachute but by the time Nigel got out there was insufficient height for his parachute to save him and he landed in a tree which had to be cut down to retrieve his body."
The words on the wreath are as follows:
In loving memory of my brother, Flt Sgt Nigel Douglas Campbell, Pilot RAAF and Captain of Halifax LW143 DY-O of 102 Squadron RAF who with his crew mates. Pilot Officer Jack Wilson RCAF and Sgt Noel Pardon RAAF made the supreme sacrifice, June 1944. Burns Campbell and Family of Sydney, Australia
(The reverse) On the 65th anniversary, this wreath was laid by Jeff Boyling, son of Keith Boyling (dec) of Brisbane Australia. Keith and Nigel were cousins and both served in the RAAF. They gave their today for our tomorrow.
We now have positive identification, thanks to the chap who took the photograph, the flight engineer Sgt Donald E. Leslie. So, from left to right: Fl/Sgt. Noel Albert Pardon, Sgt. Ronald L. Levington, Sgt. A. Douglas Eagle, P/O. Jack Wilson, Fl/Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell and finally Sgt. Reginald W.I. Joyce.
With thanks to Jeff Boyling for a great deal of information supplied and the recent photographs. Thanks also to a Mr David Blais from Ontario, Canada, for contacting the flight engineer in July 2013. Mr. Donald Leslie who at 91 still plays 3x18 hole rounds of golf a week.
Fl/Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell. Marissel French National Cemetery Grave 265. Son of Walter and Jessie Campbell, of Toowoomba. Queensland, Australia
P/O. Jack Wilson. Marissel French National Cemetery Grave 264. Son of William and Kathleen Wilson husband of Edith Claire Wilson, of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Noel Albert Pardon. Marissel French National Cemetery Grave 263. Son of Albert Alexander and Charlotte Alice Valerie Pardon, of Trentham, Victoria, Australia.
With thanks to the sources quoted below.