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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 51 Squadron Halifax II JD261 MH:J Fg Off. Derek H. Davis

Operation: Gelsenkirchen

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

Unit: 51 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JD261

Code: MH:J

Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire

Location: 1 km east of Wanroij, Holland

Pilot: Fg Off. Derek Henry Victor Davis 127541 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Jack Roberts 1008845 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

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

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Derek George Howse 133877 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alexander Duncan McFarlane 1242821 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

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

Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Keith Robertson Wood R91595 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Left to Right: Unknown, Flt Sgt. Wood, Unknown, Fg Off. Howse. (Credit: Johan Van Dijk)

Left: Fg Off. Davis (Courtesy of Sorrel Marks), right: Flt Sgt. Wood

REASON FOR LOSS:

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 claimed by Maj. Gunther Radusch, his 26th Abschuss, from Stab II./NJG3 on detachment from 1./NJG1 at 01.58 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 June - 22 September) 1943 Part 2 - Theo Boiten)

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

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.

31 allied aircraft were lost, with 3 others returning with fighter damage. Two of the lost were from 51 Squadron, the second being:

Halifax II HR731 MH:C Flown by Sgt. Anthony Osmond, 22 years old from Pinnner, Middlesex. Missing after the Halifax was attacked twice by the same night-fighter the aircraft 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.

Oblt. August Geiger from 7./NJG1 claimed HR731 twice, once at 02:00 hrs and a second time at 02:09 hrs. The victory was confirmed as his 34th/35th Abschuss on the 20th December 1944. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 June - 22 September) 1943 Part 2 - Theo Boiten)

Oblt. Geiger was later shot down and killed by the Beaufighter of Wg Cdr. Bob Braham from 141 Sqn after a fierce dogfight on 29th September 1943. He had 49 Abschüsse to his credit.

Our friends in Belgium, Joop Hendrix and the 'Planehunters Recovery Team' 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:

Fg.Off. Derek Henry Victor Davis. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery. Plot EE. Grave 19. Born during 1924 in Wandsworth, London. Son of Stella and Jack Davis of Balham, London.

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".

Fg Off. 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".

Flt 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.

Wood Creek which flows southeast into Lewis Creek, Canada was named after Flt Sgt. Keith Wood in 1995.

For further details our thanks to the following, Johan Van Dijk and his wife who is the niece of Fg Off. Derek George Howse. Thanks also to Lorelei Fisher, a relative of Flt.Sgt. Keith Robertson Wood, for identifying him in the picture. Thanks to Sorrel Marks, the niece of Fg Off. Davis, for his NoK details and photograph (Sep 2020).

RS 20.10.2021 - Correction to night fighter claim

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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Concept of Colonial Discrimination  •  Unauthorised First Long Range Mustang Attack
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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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