15/16.10.1944 No. 424 Squadron Halifax III MZ901 QB-N Fl/Lt. Robert D. Guild
Operation:Gardening (Mine laying in the Kattegat)
Date:15/16th October 1944 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit:No. 424 Squadron (RCAF-Tiger)
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Skipton on Swale, Yorkshire.
Location: Simonstrup, Denmark.
Pilot:Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild J/18064 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Fl/Eng: P/O. Norman Alfred Smith J/89362 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Nav: Fl/Lt. Jack Griffin Lee DFC. J/9311 RCAF Age 30. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Virgel Lee Riley J/35063 RCAF Age 33. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. John Peter Grace J/35251 RCAF Age 20. Killed (1)
Air/Gnr: F/O. William Edward Jory J/22936 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran J/41353 RCAF Age 30. Killed
Update December 2017: A Danish family have started a tradition of remembering this crew every Christmas eve by placing candles on the graves. The local school also places flowers on the graves every year on May 5th , the daughter of the same family has been one of those attending.
Relatives of Sgt. Norman Smith would very much like contact with other relatives of the crew and the pilots family, Hptm. Johann “Hans” Dreher of 6/NJG-3 who claimed this loss. Please contact us in the first instance and your details will be forwarded.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from its base at 18:22 hours, Halifax MZ901 was intercepted over Denmark by a night fighter flown by Hptm. Johann “Hans” Dreher (2) of 6/NJG-3. Witnesses observed the bomber taking evasive action while exchanging fire with the German aircraft before it was hit, crashing into the ground and exploding on farmland near Simonstrup. Engagement took place at 20:50 hrs. at 4,400 mts. This was his first of two kills this night - the second a Lancaster from 207 Squadron NG143 fell later at 22:40 hrs.
Rear: L-R: F/O. William Edward Jory, F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran, P/O. Norman Alfred Smith, F/O. John Peter Grace. Front: Ed Matus (not on flight), Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild, F/O. Virgel Lee Riley.
The crew members all perished and were initially buried near the crash site by the occupying German forces. After the war their remains were retrieved and reburied in the churchyard at Idom where seven grave markers now stand together with a memorial cross made from wreckage of the aircraft.
Fl/Lt. Guild and his crew were very experienced having flown together on numerous missions with the exception of the navigator, on this, their last operation.
For this sortie, the navigation duties were undertaken by the Squadron Navigation Officer Fl/Lt. Jack Lee, filling in for their regular navigator who was unable to fly due to illness.
Two days after the loss, it was announced that Fl/Lt. Lee had been awarded his DFC for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.” Fl/Lt. Lee also served as an instructor at No.2 ANS Pennfield before being posted for operations in the Middle East and subsequently to England.
(1) Grace Island in Lake St. Joseph, Kenora, Ontario, is named after F/O. John P. Grace.
(2) Hptm. Dreher - killed on the night of the 3/4 March 1945 during a ground strafing attack when he hit trees at Sutton near Derwent, Yorkshire. 7 abschüsse to his credit - making him an "ace".
Right: P/O. Norman Alfred Smith (courtesy Gordon Hoyle)
Fl/Lt. Robert Douglas Guild. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of John Herbert Guild and Jennie Winnifred Guild (nee Armstrong), of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
P/O. Norman Alfred Smith. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Alexander James Smith (1893-1958) and Florence Essex Smith (neé Hooper 1893-1977) Brother to Douglas, Dorthy, Irene, Enid and Una. Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Norman worked in his fathers garage (Smith Garage) before he was called to duty.
Fl/Lt. Jack Griffin Lee DFC. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark. Joint Grave 2. Son of Edward and Ethel Geraldine Lee; husband of Mary Jean Lee, of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.
F/O. Virgel Lee Riley. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Arthur S. and Annie I. Riley; husband of Ivy K. Riley, of Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada.
F/O. John Peter Grace. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of William and Barbara Grace of Renfrew, Ontario, Canada.
F/O. William Edward Jory. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Son of Phillip Henry and Emma Jane Jory, of Midland, Ontario, Canada.
F/O. Hugh Joseph Loughran. Idum Churchyard Cemetery, Denmark, Collective Grave 270-276. Belfast, N. Ireland. No further details, are you able to assist?
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to Gordon Hoyle, son of Una the sister of P/O. Norman Smith who contacted us in December 2015. Also to Peter Richter and family who visit the graves every year and place candles.