21/22.06.1944 50 Squadron Lancaster I LL840 Sqn Ldr. Thomas B. Cole DFC
Operation: Gelsenkirchen Oil Refineries, Scholven-Buer, Germany
Date: 21st/22nd June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: 50 Squadron
Type: Lancaster l
Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Location: Oene, Holland
Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Thomas Bernard Cole DFC 104459 RAFVR Age? PoW No: 6497 *
Flt Eng: Flt Sgt. Kenneth Herschel Callender Ingram MiD 1400819 RAFVR Age 21. Evader/Murdered (2)
Nav: Fg Off. Jack Craven DFC 127012 RAFVR Age? Evader (3)
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Arthur George Beresford 1576595 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 291 **
WOp/Air Gnr: Plt Off. Eric James Blakemore DFM 169156 RAFVR Age? Evader (4)
2nd WOp/Air Gnr: WO. John Frederick Lane 1376435 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Frederick Henry Shorter 1880037 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Paul Francis Hayes 1875976 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 221 ** (5)
* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
** Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).
We would appreciate any relatives or friends to contact us regarding this loss – in order to inform them about this fantastic memorial erected by our Dutch friends.
REASON FOR LOSS:
LL840 took off at 23:17 hrs. from Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire to attack the synthetic oil plants at Scholven-Buer. 123 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitoes took part. The target was cloud covered and heavily defended with flak over the target area. Just after leaving the target area, a night fighter attacked and badly damaged the aircraft.
LL840 or 106 Sqn Lancaster LL955 was claimed as a possible by Hptm. Ernst-Wilhelm Modrow, his 25th Abschuss and the forth of four claims this night, from 1./NJG1, north of Deelen at 3.000m at 02:01 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten)
Modrow survived the war as a Major with 34 Abschüsse from 259 combat sorties of which 109 were as a night-fighter pilot. He passed away on the 16th September 1990.
LL840 crashed at Oene, Gelderland, 5 km east of Epe. in Holland. WO. Lane and Sgt Shorter were either killed in the fighter attack or perished in the crash. Both are interred at the cemetery at Epe.
(1) Sqn Ldr. Cole was awarded the DFC as a Fg Off. whilst with 50 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on 12th January 1943.
(2) Fg Off. Craven was awarded the DFC whilst with 61 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 10th September 1943.
Fg Off. Craven evaded the Germans with the help of local residents and was hidden at 5 Frieslaan in Apeldoorn until he and other evaders made their way to Allied lines.
(3) Flt Sgt. Ingram evaded capture with the assistance of the Dutch resistance. However, the family who were sheltering him in Apeldoorn was betrayed by a Dutch collaborator which resulted in their home being raided by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) on the 30th September 1944. Flt Sgt. Ingram, Sgt. Robert W. Zercher, the Ball Turret Gunner from B-17G “Karen B” along with eight members of the Dutch resistance were arrested, two of whom were Mrs. Bitter-van der Noordaa and Narda van Terwisga.
It was reported that on the 2nd October 1944, Flt Sgt. Ingram and Sgt. Zercher along with six of the Dutch resistance members were shot by firing squad, without a trial, upon the orders of SS Hauptsturmführer Karl Fielitz the Commander of the Sicherheitspolizei and Sicherheitsdienst (Sipo-SD) garrisoned at the Willem III Kazerne barracks in Apeldoorn. The two women were sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp where Mrs. Bitter would lose her life but Narda van Terwisga survived her ordeal.
The bodies of the murdered men were displayed around the village for several days each with a sign inscribed with the word “Terrorist”. Flt Sgt. Ingram and Sgt. Zercher were eventually interred at the general cemetery in Ugchelen-Heidehof.
There is documentary evidence that a case was made to prosecute the prime suspect, Hauptsturmführer Karl Fielitz, and other named killers of the two airmen and six Dutch resistance members, but no records have been found that reports that the perpetrators were brought to trial for this war crime.
Flt Sgt. Ingram was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) on the 13th June 1946.
(4) 914262 Sgt. Blakemore was awarded the DFM whilst with 9 Sqn. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 23rd December 1941. He was commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. with effect 25th November 1943 and to Fg Off. with effect 25th May 1944. After returning to the UK he was promoted to Flt Lt. with effect 15th November 1945.
Plt. Off. Craven evaded the Germans with the help of local residents and was hidden at 5 Frieslaan in Apeldoorn. He was liberated on the 10th March 1945.
(5) It appears that Sgt. Hayes bailed out almost over the target.
Sgt. Hayes wrote a diary and the following is his description of the events from first joining 50 Sqn through to the night of the 21st/22nd June 1944:
"Having been posted to No. 50 Squadron I was allocated to flying with the leader of the flight Squadron Leader Cole (Old King Cole). The crew were all older than me and all had completed a “tour of duty” and must have been apprehensive about having to rely on me as air gunner if the aircraft was attacked. I did manage to allay their fears to some extent when flying over enemy territory when the wireless operator identified an aircraft was coming straight at us from behind closing rapidly and asking me to open fire. I had always been taught to identify your target before opening fire. It was black and I couldn’t see anything and I was still being told to open fire. Just them the pilot lost some altitude as the other aircraft gained some altitude and I was able to see that it was one of our own, a Lancaster. When we returned the skipper said it was a “good show”.
Later in my first tour of duty we were to attack the synthetic oil refinery at Gelsenkirchen, Germany which was still operating. It was heavily defended and we knew it was not going to be “a piece of cake”. Another bad omen was that we had an extra one more airman that night as he needed one more op to finish his tour of duty. Odd bods as they are regarded are “bad luck” but the skipper was duty bound to take him. This was to be our last op. As we flew to the target are all hell broke out with heavy flak over the target area. We managed to drop our bombs on target and on leaving the target area the night fighters were waiting.
We were an easy target due to the glare of the fires, searchlights and all sorts of pyrotechnic displays that night which made it easier for them to attack. The aircraft was badly damaged and on fire. The skipper told us to “bail out” and I crawled out of the turret and made way to where the airmen were, and about to step out of the door.
I landed with my chute over a wall with me on the other side. I’d landed near a reservoir and I started towards the water, but it soon became apparent that people were around; (in fact it was troops who were guarding the reservoir). I hid of course. I did not know this at the time until one shouted “hands hoch” and a rifle being fired. I was escorted to a dug-out a short distance away and later collected by a German policeman."
Paul Francis Hayes passed away on the 31st October 2009
Flt Sgt. Kenneth Herschel Callender Ingram. Apeldoorn (Ugchelen-Heidehof) General Cemetery, Netherlands. Plot 4. Grave 299. Birth registered in 1st Qtr of 1923 in Leicester. Son of Herschell Frank and Elizabeth (née Callender) Ingram of Fratton, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.
His mother predeceased him in September 1928 in Portsmouth.
On the grounds of Heerenloo Midden-Nederland (formerly Groot Schuylenburg, previously the Apeldoornsche Bosch) there is a simple marble plate with eight names which was unveiled on the 2nd October 1969 (Revised on the 2nd September 2006 to correct Sgt. Robert W. Zercher’s details). It is accompanied by a glass plate with the name of Mrs. Bitter-van der Nooraa, which was added on the 3rd October 2011. (Credit: Mr. Jelle Reitsma)
WO. John Frederick Lane. Epe Cemetery, Netherlands. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 705. Son of Frederick Manuel and Gertrude Amy Lane, of Battersea, London, England.
Sgt. Frederick Henry Shorter. Epe Cemetery, Netherlands. Plot 2. Row 10. Grave 704. Born on the 23rd January 1920 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. Son of John and Matilda Catherine (née Brooks) Shorter of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England.
Two Dutch researchers – Jan Kiesbrink and Teunis Nooteboom found the crash site and erected a memorial on behalf of the crew relatives. Sadly not all the relatives could be traced and we would like to appeal for the relatives of the following: Sqn Ldr. Cole, Fg Off. Craven, Plt Off. Blakemore, WO. Lane and Sgt. Hayes to contact us in order that they can be informed of the memorial.
Top left: Jan Kiesbrink and Teunis Nooteboom. Right: Michael Allman and his wife who painted the picture for presentation to the two Dutch researcher's shown below. (Courtesy Michael Allman)
The Dutch researchers have also written a book about this loss and memorial with information received from people who lived in the area at the time of the crash. The publication is hard back and 197 pages – in Dutch only, currently out of print.
Michael Allman has played a large part in the tracing of these crew members and should be congratulated on his efforts to date.
Originally researched by Michael Allman, Kate Tame, Linda Ibrom and various other parties in order to trace missing relatives for Aircrew Remembered. Acknowledgments: "Broken Wings" from the Netherlands. Reviewed by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.