27/28.04.1944 No. 432 Squadron Halifax III MZ588 QO-W F/O. Laurie D. Deloughry
Date: 27/28th April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 432 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Serial: MZ588 (note)
Base: RCAF East Moor (Reverted back to RAF in 1945)
Location: Verviers, Belgium
Pilot: F/O. Laurie Daniel Deloughry J/26804 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. James Shearer 1823667 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: F/O. John Milton McLay J/26324 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Gordon Hewlett Parker J/28688 RCAF Age 26. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Richard Lincoln Small R/128561 RCAF Age 28. PoW No: 3712 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)
Air/Gnr: P/O. Harry Walter Davis J/90062 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. John William Kerr C/18588 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Garnet Farrell R/189316 RCAF Age 22. PoW No: 3820 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)
Note: The Squadron's Operational Records do show this aircraft as LW682 (see below) - but this is a mistake and comprehensive research by David McLay in conjunction with the RCAF Museum in Trenton, Ontario confirms this. LW682 was shot down with the loss of all eight crew whilst with 426 Squadron on the 13th May 1944.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The official report taken from the Bomber Command report on the nights operations:
Damage was mostly confined to the eastern half of the yards, which includes the reception and storage sidings, engine sheds, custom sheds and goods depot. All were severely damaged. Tracks and rolling stock in this area were seriously affected.
Very little flak was encountered. The first wave of bombers reached the target without fighter opposition but later waves were attacked as they crossed Holland and Belgium.The first part of the return route was free of opposition, but several encounters occurred from St. Trond to half way across the North Sea. A Halifax destroyed a Ju. 88.
15 aircraft (10.4 per cent) were lost, nearly all to fighters. Only one was seen destroyed by flak, S. of Liege. Fighter losses were reported as follows: 3 between Asch and Maastricht, 3 over the target, 3 between St. Trond and E. of Antwerp and one over the Dutch coast.
Taking off at 23:30 hrs in a newly delivered Halifax to the Squadron from RCAF East Moor in Yorkshire to bomb the rail yards at Montzen.
144 aircraft made up with 120 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitoes joining the operation.
The Montzen mission and many raids like it were part of what was called the “Transportation Plan”.
The plan’s objective was to disrupt and destroy rail networks and marshalling yards in western France and Belgium. This was necessary to prevent the Germans from transporting troops, armour and supplies to the Normandy front in response to the D-Day invasion.
The “Transportation Plan” was just part of an overall Allied air campaign to completely destroy the transportation system in France and Belgium. The campaign was highly successful. The German military’s transportation capability was severely degraded by D-Day on June 6,1944. John’s crew dropped their bombs on target and headed back to base.
At 01:40 hrs in the morning of the 28th April at 5,400 mtrs. fate tragically brought together Major Heinz Wolfgang Schnauffer (1) of Stab IV/NJG1 with his Messerschmitt 110 nightfighter and Halifax MZ588.
Schnauffer was a veteran nightfighter pilot with 60 kills to his credit. The crew of MZ588 had no experience in aerial combat. Schnauffer attacked and easily destroyed Halifax MZ588.
It was reported that Halifax MZ588 exploded after the attack and crashed near Verviers, Belgium. This crew was on their first combat mission together and 6 were tragically lost.
A terrible night of losses from Bomber Command who carried out 3 main operations to Friedrichshafen, Aulnoye and Monzen. Another 159 OTU aircraft took part in a diversionary sweep over the North Sea. 18 Lancasters were lost on the Friedrichshafen raid, 1 lost on the Aulnoye raid with 14 Haifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost on this Montzen operation. 35 aircraft lost this single night!
The night fighters continued to attack the bomber stream all the way back - claiming a further 14 aircraft. The allies had the misfortune that several night fighter aces had gathered for a meeting at St. Trond the previous day were scrambled against the forces it passed overhead on its return track.
The Squadron lost two 3 crews during this operation, the others:
Halifax III LK807 QO-J Flown by Fl/Sgt. G. Millar who evaded capture with 3 other members of his crew, 2 were made PoW, the rear gunner, 20 year old Sgt. Royce Desmond Aubrey Harmsworth 1608330 RAFVR from Andover, Hampshire, England was killed. The only airman buried in the Hanneche Churchyard in Leige, Belgium.
Halifax III LW592 QO-A Flown by P/O. H.H. Whaley who also evaded capture with 3 other crew members. 1 was taken PoW. His navigator, 26 year old F/O. John Woollatt Burrows J/22599 RCAF from Quebec in Canada was killed along with his rear gunner, 20 year old P/O. Paul Edward Driver J/85612 RCAF from Toronto, Canada. Both buried at the Heverlee War Cemetery, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium.
The Montzen raid on April 27/28, 1944 resulted in one of the highest loss rates among RCAF bomber squadrons. In May to June 1944 the average loss rate was less than 2 per cent, the Montzen loss rate was 10.4 per cent. 144 aircraft dispatched, 15 reported missing/failed to return. 432 Squadron dispatched 14 Halifax's on the Montzen raid. Three failed to return giving a loss rate of 21.4 per cent.
(1) Hptm. Schnauffer survived the war with a total of 121 confirmed claims. Schnaufer was taken prisoner of war at Schleswig-Holstein by British forces in May 1945. After his release a year later, he returned to his home town and took over the family wine business. He sustained injuries in a road accident driving his Mercedes 170 convertible in a collision with a Renault 22 truck on 13 July 1950 during a wine-purchasing visit to France, and died in a Bordeaux hospital two days later. (See Kracker Archive within this site)
This page has been researched and submitted by David McLay who’s father was a cousin of F/O. John Milton McLay:
"I began researching this story some years ago. I knew about P/O J.M McLay from my Father’s stories about him. I didn’t know much, just that he was a navigator in the RCAF and he served in a bomber squadron, he was killed in 1944. Fortunately I had his full name John Milton McLay. He was my father’s cousin.
John was born June 1919 and grew up on a farm near Lion's Head Ontario. His parents were John George McLay and Katherine McIver. He had four brothers and two sisters. His brothers were Emerson, Alex, George and Wallace. Sisters were Shirley Anne and Doris. John attended Public School SS#1 from 1925 to 1932 and Lion's Head Continuation School from 1932 to 1936 earning his Junior Matriculation. He then spent three years helping out on the family farm. In 1939 John left the farm and moved to Galt Ontario where he enrolled in the Galt Aircraft School. There he studied Mechanical and Aero Engine Mechanics for six months. He was judged a good candidate for aircraft engine maintenance on graduation.
John enlisted in the RCAF in March 1940. He was sent to Manning Depot in Toronto for basic training. Manning Depot was located in the Horse Building at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. After Manning Depot AC (aircraft man) McLay was sent to No 1 Technical Training School in St.Thomas. This school taught engine mechanics, aircraft fitting, instrument mechanics and electricians. The school was located at the Ontario Psychiatric Hospital Complex and trained 2000 students at a time. John wanted to be a pilot, but was trained as a navigator. John was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on May 14, 1943. His embarkation to the UK was in June 1943. After finishing his navigational training in Britain he was promoted to Flying Officer November 14, 1943. He was transferred to 432 Squadron April 11,1944."
Initially buried at St. Truiden on the 1st May - reinterred after the end of the war.
F/O. Laurie Daniel Deloughry. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.18. Son of Daniel Samuel and Myrtle Ivy Deloughry, of Kentville, King's Co., Nova Scotia, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 15.35 hrs. 2 previous operations. Grave inscription reads: “Though The Years Be Many Or Few We’ll Always Be Thinking Dear Laurie Of You.”
Sgt. James Shearer. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.16. Son of Robert Shearer, and of Agnes Black Shearer, of Edinburgh, Scotland. Operational flying hours logged: 0 hrs - his first operation. Grave inscription reads: “Unseen By The World He Stands By My Side And Whispers Death Cannot Divide.”
F/O. John Milton McLay. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.19. Son of John G. and Katharine McLay, of Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 0 hrs - his first operation. Grave inscription reads: “All He Had Hoped For, All He Gave To Save Mankind. Himself He Scorned To Save.”
F/O. Gordon Hewlett Parker. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.20. Son of Richard Hewlett Parker and Gertrude Parker, husband of Helen Fraser Parker, of Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 0 hrs - his first operation. Grave inscription reads: “If We Love One Another God Dwelleth In Us. And His Love Is Perfected In Us.”
P/O. Harry Walter Davis. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.17. Son of Walter Thomas Davis and the former Margaret Lena Moore, born Stratford, Ontario, 11 January 1924. Enlisted RCAF 20 October, 1942 at Stratford. Graduated No. 9 B and G School, Mont-Joli, Quebec 3 September, 1943. Departed Halifax for UK, 8 October, 1943. No. 22 OTU, 16 November 1943; No. 61 Base, 24 Feb 1944; No. 432 Sqn 11 April 1944. Operational flying hours logged: 6.30 hrs. 1 previous operation.
F/O. John William Kerr. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.15. Son of William and Margaret Kerr, of Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 6.30 hrs - 1 previous operation. Grave inscription reads: “He Died That We Might Live.”
Richard Lincoln Small - Passed away on the 31st July 2009. Born on the 8th October 1916 in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada but brought up in Wynyard, Saskatchewan and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The youngest of four children. Married to Eleanor father of Sandra and Richard. Post war employed by Stanley Brock Ltd where he became a director. (With thanks to the Speers funeral and cremation services for information/photograph)
George Garnet Farrell - Passed away on the 15th December 2006. Born in 1922 the husband of Elizabeth and father to Joanne and John. Lived in Vancouver, Canada. Post war worked as a salesperson within the food industry. (With thanks to the Vancouver Sun for information/photograph)
This page has been researched and submitted by David McLay who’s father was a cousin of F/O. John Milton McLay. Photograph of F/O. McLay courtesy of and with permission from Alan Bartley from his book "The Proud People" - published by the Brucedale Press (B000YOCHIA). The photo of the pilot, F/O. Deloughry courtesy Ancestry.ca. Further detailed information kindly sent in by Mr. David Champion - October 2016 with further photographs.