27/28.04.1944 431 Squadron Halifax III LK842 SE-N 1st.Lt. Earman
Date: 27/28th April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 431 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Croft, Yorkshire
Location: Houthalen, Belgium
Pilot: 1st.Lt. John Miller Earman O-886185 AAF Age 25. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. James Graham 1875912 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: Fg.Off. William G. Dudley J22237 RCAF Injured - PoW No: 7159 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (1)
Air Bmr: Fg.Off. Hubert William Pond J28355 RCAF Age 20. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Fg.Off. Douglas M. King J24073 RCAF PoW No: 4462 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (2)
Air Gnr: Sgt. John Francis Lloyd Perry R112020 RCAF Age 25. PoW No: 621 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland), near Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland) (3)
Air Gnr: Sgt. John Joseph Cooke R193500 RCAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Croft in Yorkshire at 23:28 hrs on an operation to bomb the the rail yards at Montzen, weather conditions described as good.
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 the 06th June 1944.
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.
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.
Above as described (courtesy Paul Perry)
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!
Above and below as described (courtesy Paul Perry, son of Sgt. John Perry and Patricia Smith, daughter of Sgt. James Graham)
The night fighters continued to attack the bomber stream all the way back - claiming a further 14 aircraft. The allied 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.
Intercepted and shot down ‘probably’ by the Luftwaffe nightfighter ace Oblt. Georg Hermann Greiner of 11./NJG1 at 01:41 hrs. Sgt. Perry along with Fg.off. Dudley managed to evade capture for a few months before being captured on Saturday the 5th August and made PoW.
The Squadron lost 4 crews during this operation, the others:
Halifax III MZ536 SE-F Flown by 23 year old, Plt.Off. John Gilson J88963 RCAF from Saskatchewan, Canada - killed with all 7 other crew.
Halifax IIII MZ529 SE-E Flown by 32 year old, Plt.Off. William E. Woodrow J19650 RCAF from Ontario, Canada - killed with 3 crew, 2 evaded capture and 2 taken PoW.
Halifax III MZ522 SE-U Flown by Flt.Lt. Jack M. Hill RCAF - evaded capture with 5 other crew, 2 taken PoW.
Halifax III LK842: Fitted with Hercules VI Engines: SS16104M/A383084, SS20603M/A389601, 90079/346872, SS19519M/A388517.
(1) Fg.Off. William Dudley from 903 Greenwood Avenue, Toronto, Canada.
(2) Fg.Off. Douglas King from 486 Basswood Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
(3) Sgt. John Francis Lloyd Perry from R.R. No. 2, Tignish, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Passed away in May 1977.
(4) This was the 22nd claim for Hptm. Georg Hermann Greiner who survived the war with 47 confirmed claims. Following the end of the War, Greiner and close friend Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer were arrested illegally crossing the German-Swiss border attempting an escape to Argentina. Both Greiner and Schnaufer were detained in an Allied prisoner of war camp and released in 1947. Greiner went on to study law and returned to service in the West German Luftwaffe in 1957, retiring with the rank of Oberstleutnant in 1972. He died on the 22nd September 2014. (information and photograph courtesy Kracker Archives on this website)
Memorial to the crew lost unveiled in November 2004 at Houthalen Communal Cemetery, Belgium. Also remembered on this memorial:
51 Squadron Whitley V Z6479 MH-M: on an operation to Köln: Sgt. Thomas James Mason 754477 RAFVR from Northumberland, England, Plt.Off Cecil Ernest Crichton 61989 RAFVR from, California, USA, Sgt. James Leonard Evans 974425 RAFVR, Fl/Sgt. Douglas John Jefferis 902482 RAFVR from Bristol, England. (1 crew member, P/O. K.M. Holland survived as a PoW.
15 Squadron Stirling I BF448 LS-T: On an operation to Köln: Plt.Off. William Alexander McLean Archibald 125650 RAFVR, Flt.Lt. Owen Cecil Chave 82955 RAFVR from Southampton, England, Sgt. James Falshaw Cook 524567 RAF from County Durham, England, Sgt. Lewis Lee Gladwin R/103897 RCAF from Alberta, Canada, Plt.Off.John Neville Macmillan Muir 124744 RAFVR from Elham, Kent, England, Sgt. James Ernest Nicholls 927758 RAFVR from County Down, Northern Ireland, Sgt. Alfred Arthur Self 1449163 RAFVR from Hertfordshire, England, Sgt. Thomas Frederick Stocks 1544089 RAFVR from Lancashire, England.
429 Squadron Wellington X HF457: On an operation to Mülheim. Flt.Sgt. James Oliver Hills R176395 RCAF from Saskatchewan, Canada, Sgt. James Theodore Hindley 1058762 RAFVR from Derbyshire, England, Plt.Off. William Alfred Sneath J17777 RCAF from British Columbia, Canada.
1st.Lt. John Miller Earman. Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial. Plot B. Row 12. Grave 7. Son of Rush Nicholas and Sally Laird Earman (née Huffman) of 68 Shenandoah Avenue, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. 6 operations completed with 35 hours over enemy territory. On detachment from 12th Replacement Depot, United States Army. Completed the following operations: 09/10th April 1944 Lille - 5.10 hrs, 18/19th April 1944 Noisy Le Sec - 5.30 hrs, 20/21st April 1944 Lens - 5.36 hrs, 22/23rd April 1944 Dusseldorf - 5.52 hrs, 24/25th April 1944 Karlruhre - 6.26 hrs, 26/27th April 1944 Essen - 5.13 hrs, 27/28th April 1944 Montzen - KIA.
Sgt. James Graham. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 6.A.18. Son of James and Sarah Graham and husband of Maureen Graham, of Notting Hill, London, England. Grave inscription reads: “Constant Is My Love For You. Always, Dear, I Think Of You Your Loving Wife”.
Fg.Off. Hubert William Pond. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 6A.19. Son of Harold William and Ethel Jean Pond, of 346 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “In Loving Memory Of Our Devoted Son”.
Sgt. John Joseph Cooke. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 6A.17. Son of Richard Patrick and Mary Cooke, of 89 Francis Street, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “His Memory Is As Dear Today As In The Hour He Passed Away”.
Researched for Paul Perry, son of Sgt. John Francis Lloyd Perry and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Doc Wilson, Marcel Rosvelds for grave photographs. With many thanks also to Patricia Smith who contacted us in May 2018.