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You Are To Carry On, Good Luck Z-Zebra

CHAPTER 10 

Aftermath


The bodies of the four members of the crew who were killed were buried at Uden War Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Their grave details and epitaphs are as follows: 


F/O. Charles Harrison. Grave number 5.H.1.  

Our darling boy,

Never forgotten,

We miss you so,

Sorrowing mum, dad, sis, Flo.


Sgt. William Alfred Blackwell. Grave number 5.H.4. 

In life we will remember him,

May he rest in peace,

Mother, father and family.


Fl/Sgt. John Alexander Grant. Grave number 5.H.2.  Also commemorated on the Roll of Honour at Petersham, New South Wales, Australia. 

Dearly loved husband

Of Elsie

And father of baby Carole


Fl/Sgt. Ernest John Kerr. Grave number 5.H.3. 

His duty nobly done

Ever remembered

 


  Courtesy Carol Morgan


Fl/Sgt.Charles Richard Stanley Morris was probably promoted to Flight Sergeant whilst a prisoner of war. 

Fl/Lt. Colin Campbell Bates remained a member of the RAAF until his discharge on 22 September 1949 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant and a changed serial number of 051985. His last posting was at RAAF Station Pearce, Western Australia.


                                                                                                 

 W/O. William Guthrie Schrader

                                                               

                                                                         

                                                                                            W/O. William Guthrie Schrader in 1945

                                                                                                           Courtesy Mr John Schrader


After an absence of over three and a half years Bill Schrader's homecoming must have been quite a family celebration and after his discharge from the RAAF he settled down to civilian life in his home town of Walcha, New South Wales, with his wife Barbara. However, on 12 November 1945 Bill's mother sadly died but at least she had lived to see him return safely to Australia and his family.  

Bill returned to his pre-war occupation of Wool Classer as well as working as a Sheep Shearer and Shed Builder. In 1947 Barbara gave birth to their daughter Jenny followed in 1951 by a son William John.    

The Soldier Settlement scheme introduced by the Australian Government after the Great War was repeated after The Second World War. Crown land and large properties or stations purchased by the government were sub-divided into what were termed 'living area farms'. The land was allocated by ballot and Bill, after entering several such ballots, was finally successful in 1956 and was allocated a farm at Forbes, New South Wales. He was granted a Closer Settlement Lease requiring him to make an annual lease payment that would, over time, repay the value of the farm. John was to join his Dad in running the farm in the early 1970s. 

                                                              

                                                                            Bill Schrader the farmer (Courtesy Mr John Schrader)

In 1975 Bill had heart surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve after which he lived a further 12 years. He died on 15 October 1987 at the age of 72 and was buried at Forbes. His wife Barbara was to live on for another 24 years, dying in 2011 at the age of 99. 

                                                                     

                                              Bill Schrader's Plaque on the Memorial Wall at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, Australia

                                                                                                            Courtesy Mr John Schrader




May Ellen Harrison (Mother of F/O. Charles Harrison)

 

(Left) Charlie's Mum and Dad photographed during his last leave in April 1943. His Mum proudly wears the wings awarded to him in the U.S.A and which his sister Florence still has today.  She also recalls her Dad was told off by Mum for not wearing his false teeth for the photograph. 

Courtesy Mrs Florence Morgan.





Whilst thinking about the war years, Charlie's sister Florence remembered that their Mum had written an account of events surrounding the loss of her dear son and has very kindly granted permission for Aircrew Remembered to reproduce it here exactly as her mother wrote it. In the account May Ellen refers to her sister Florence as Flo and her daughter Florence as Florry.






'Eventually the time came for my son to leave school and as he was very keen on drawing he applied to a well known engineering firm and received a satisfactory reply. He was told that he would have to work for 6 months in the workshop so as to obtain a little information as to what he was handling etc. To our delight during the 4th month he came home all very pleased with himself and produced a letter from his pocket which stated he would be working in the drawing office from the following Monday.

He was a very conscientious boy and whatever he undertook had to be completed perfectly. 

Well he made wonderful strides and naturally we were very proud of him.

About this time there was very uneasy talk about Hitler which we all know too well ended in war. When shall we ever be able to erase that fearful word? This caused the death of my dear mother.

As the firm in which my son worked was considered one of national importance, he could have obtained exemption for a time....

I shall never forget that awful Bank Holiday Monday when his papers arrived, result being that he joined the R.A.F. After a little training in this country there was the inevitable trip to America for 9 months further training.

We were one of many mothers and fathers whose hearts must have ached and been sick with worry knowing the sacrifice these fine young youths would have to make.

I well remember the shock I received one Saturday afternoon in November 1942. I was in the house by myself when the doorbell rang, I thought my husband had forgotten his key and ran down the stairs to give him a piece of my mind, I opened the door there was my son dressed in PO uniform.  I could not speak he looked really wonderful. I think I must have stood in the hall with my arms round his waist and he towering above me for a long time. I eventually came to my senses by hearing my two girls shouting "It's Charlie", they had let themselves in and nearly knocked Charlie and I over. You may well imagine his 2 weeks leave went all too quickly.

By this time we were getting a very good share of the bombing and I had some very anxious moments for my husband and two girls who were all working in different parts of London. I felt I could "carry on" with more heart knowing that Charles was in this country....how wrong I was.

By now my eldest girl (May) had joined the Women's Land Army and was stationed at Alton RAF Station in Buckinghamshire. She seemed to be enjoying every minute of it and asked for her bicycle to be sent so that she could enjoy the countryside during her off duty time. She was fortunate enough to be given time off each weekend and neither her dad nor I enjoyed Sunday evenings very much when she had to return to Alton, but we knew she was happy and that was a big thing in those very dark days.

We received news from Charles each week and one letter was telling us he would be home for another 14 days leave in June.

I seemed to feel especially pleased with the world on this particular Friday. I worked round the house with extra zest and when I went shopping I called in to see my sister Flo who unfortunately had to retire from her work after 30 years on account of a severe illness.

This did not deter her usual happy self and the knowledge of being able to see Charles again soon gave her much pleasure. I left her house feeling happier than I had for a long time because I had worried that the effect of losing our dear mum would not have improved Flo's illness.

I reached our house, opened the door, a telegram was lying on the mat. Little did I dream of the contents which read "Your son missing from operational flight May 27/28". How I managed to get to my next door neighbour I do not know, all I remember is laying my head on her shoulder and sobbing and saying it must be a mistake. She brought me to my senses by reminding me that my youngest daughter Florry would be home soon for lunch and should she come in with me? I went back by myself and waited for poor Florry... She did not cry but what she said about the Germans I couldn't repeat here. After she had pulled herself together we decided to phone the dreadful news to my husband. He came straight home and I suppose men show more sense regarding their boys. He was very shaken but the news wasn't surprising knowing that Charles must have been flying bombers as soon as he arrived back from the States. This thought had never crossed my mind.

The news of dear Charlie following so soon after my mum seemed to knock me all to pieces. I was ill for a very long time and this episode was the saddest of my life and will always leave its mark. It seems as though none of the family ever got over Charles' tragic death. My husband never really came to terms with the loss of his son, he would put on a brave face to help us, but many times he would break down and sob. Sadly he passed away in 1952.

May had to leave the W.L.A on medical grounds and Florry was distraught at losing her dear brother. Like so many we had to carry on and make the best of a dreadful business. 

A good many years have passed since that nightmare.

My two daughters are happily married and I am the proud Grandma of 4 grandchildren. Three of them are with their parents abroad and I am looking forward to seeing them shortly as they are coming home on leave for six months. During their stay they would like to take me to Germany for a few days ------ to me this seems ironic. Maybe I shall come in contact with a parent of a son who shot down Charles plane and perhaps one whose family suffered through our bombing and yet knowing the human race we shall both be sorry for one another. We are really strange people who inherit this wonderful world......

After our few days in Germany, Florry and her husband would like to visit Uden in Holland where Charles is buried. It is now 19 years since that very sad time and Florry in particular would like to see where her dear brother lies, I could not deny her that'.

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                       

                                                                                             


                                                            

                                                         

                                                                                 Letters to Charlie's parents regarding Charlie's death                                                                                                                                                                                     Courtesy Mrs Florence Morgan

   

Charlie's sister, Florence Morgan (Florry) now 90, told Aircrew Remembered: 

Mum could never accept that Charlie had died and although she was with us when we first visited Uden she preferred to sit in the car. Certainly before the end of the war, she believed Charlie wasn't dead, but had been taken in somewhere and was suffering from amnesia. The fact that there was never a funeral meant there was always hope. 

And then, just after the war, Florence's mum had a visitor. Florence recalled that:

'One day she was in the house alone when there was a knock at the door, she went to answer it and could see through the glass panel a blue uniform and a peaked cap-------her heart stood still, she opened the door to find not Charlie but a stranger in Air Force uniform. W/O Schrader released from a German P.O.W camp had returned to England and came to see mum. He told her about the night of May 27/28 1943 and that Charlie after giving the order to bale out had stayed to make sure everyone able to was out and then he jumped himself. The plane apparently exploded soon after and Charlie was caught in the blast, according to W/O Schrader there was not a mark on him when he was found.'

Although mum was very upset to hear this first hand view of that night, she was extremely grateful to him and praised his courage in paying her a visit.

We always wondered if his view of that night was correct or if he had tried to make it easier for mum. 

May Ellen Harrison died 17 June 1987 three days before her 95th birthday but Florence never forgot her mother's words and like mum always wondered whether Bill Schrader had been totally honest about how Charlie had died or had he witheld the truth to spare mum from more distress. Many years of doubt followed before Florence's daughter Carol took up the search for some evidence that might bring peace of mind to her mum. But despite her best efforts Carol was unable to find any record of how her Uncle Charlie had died. 

By coincidence and with some difficulty, Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock had made contact with Carol shortly after contacting John Schrader. As a result John kindly provided details from his father's log that confirmed the story he had told to Charlie's mother all those years ago. 

After more than seventy years Florence finally had the proof that confirmed the circumstances of her brother's death.

                                                                           

Looking somewhat pensive this was the last photograph of Charlie. It was taken in the garden of the family home at 27 Elsiemaud Road just before he returned to Binbrook on either Mon 12 or Tues 13 April 1943.  His sister Florence recalls that it was taken moments before the two of them walked up to Crofton Park.

'I remember I walked with him to Crofton Park, where he caught the tram to London.  As the tram left we waved each other goodbye'. 


                                                    

                                                                              Contents                                                           Conclusion

RW 04.10.2015

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon

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Last Modified: 05 October 2015, 17:23