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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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51 Squadron crest
25/26.06.1943 No. 51 Squadron Halifax II JD261 MH-J F/O. Derek H. Davies

Operation: Gelsenkirchen

Date: 25/26th June 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 51 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JD261

Code: MH-J

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire

Location: 1 km. East of Wanroij, Holland

Pilot: F/O. Derek Henry Victor Davis 127541 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Jack Roberts 1008845 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Albert Henry Hawes 1578211 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Derek George Howse 133877 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alexander Duncan McFarlane 1242821 Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alfred William Fairmaner 1602476 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Keith Robertson Wood R/91595 RCAF Age 21. Killed (note)


Taking off from RAF Snaith, Yorkshire at 23.40 hrs to bomb Gelsenkirchen - some 473 aircraft taking part in this operation. The Luftwaffe were slow to intercept due to the cloud, described as 7-10/10ths with no moonlight - a half moon appeared later in the morning at 03.00 hrs but most of the bombers had already left for their homeward bound flight.

Halifax IIJD261 was intercepted and shot down by Maj. Gunther Radusch (1) of Stab II./NJG3 on detachment from 1./NJG1 at 01.58 hrs. 

F/O. Derek George Howse shown on extreme right - are you able to identify the others? (courtesy Johan Van Dijk - see credits)

31 allied aircraft were lost, with 3 others returning with fighter damage two of the lost were from 51 Squadron, the other:

Halifax II HR731 MH-C Flown by Sgt. Anthony Osmond, 22 years old from Pinnner, Middlesex. Missing after the Halifax was shot down by Oblt. August Geiger (2) of 7./NJG1, crashing into the IJsselmeer with 4 other crew, the remaining 3 were killed and buried at various cemeteries. The Dutch Airforce Recovery Team recovered the remains of this aircraft in 1967.

Maj. Gunther Radusch, Stab II./NJG3 (courtesy Tom Kracker)

(1) Maj. Gunther ‘Fips’ Radusch survived the war with 66 victories. He died in Nordstrand, Schleswig-Holstein on July 29th 1988 age 75 of natural causes.
(2) This aircraft had been attacked and claimed twice, firstly by Hptm. Sigmund and secondly to Oblt. August Geiger, who was finally awarded the abschüss, his 34th of the war. Later shot down and killed by W/Cmr Bob Braham from 141 Beaufighter squadron after a fierce dogfight on September 29th 1943. (total of 49 abschüsse).

Our friends in Belgium, Joop Hendrix and the 'Planehunters Recovery Team' (see credits) contacted us explaining that they had researched the actual crash location and recovered pieces from the aircraft, some are shown below:

Above: Joop Hendrix from the Planehunters, Belgian team.

Crash site of Halifax JD261 (courtesy Joop Hendrix)

Burial details:

F/O. Derek Henry Victor Davis. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot EE. Grave 19. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. Jack Roberts. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot EE. Grave 33. Son of Henry and Alice Roberts, of Leeds, Yorkshire, England. Husband of Elizabeth Nora Roberts.

Sgt. Albert Henry Hawes. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot EE. Grave 23. Son of Henry Elijah and Eliza Ann Elizabeth Hawes, of Loughborough, Leicestershire, England. His grave is inscribed: Sleep beloved, take thy rest, we love thee well, but Jesus loves thee best.

F/O. Derek George Howse. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot EE. Grave 20. Son of George Henry Howse, and of Mary Howse, of Harborne, Warwickshire, England.

Sgt. Alexander Duncan McFarlane. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot EE. Grave 24. Son of Alexander and Rebecca McFarlane, husband of Doris Irene McFarlane, of King's Heath, Birmingham, England. His grave is inscribed: Our Hero.

Sgt. Alfred William Fairmaner. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot EE. Grave 21. Son of Arthur Alfred and Annie Elizabeth Fairmaner, of Ilford, Essex, England. His grave is inscribed: A dear son, and true friend, with a constant thought for others.

Fl/Sgt. Keith Robertson Wood. Grosbeak Canadian War Cemetery. Grave XV.F.5. Son of Reverend and Mrs Wood of Stoney Mountain, Cypress River, Manitoba, Canada.

For further details our thanks to the following, Johan Van Dijk and his wife who is the niece of F/O. Derek George Howse. Joop Hendrix and Planehunters Recovery Team, Belgium. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page.

(note) Wood Creek which flows southeast into Lewis Creek, Canada was named after Fl/Sgt. Keith Wood in 1995.

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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Last Modified: 26 October 2014, 11:53

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