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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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16/17.06.1944 No.434 Squadron Halifax III LW433 P/O Frederick J. Haldenby

Operation: Sterkrade

Date: 16/17 June 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 434 RCAF Squadron (Bluenose)

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LW433

Code: WL-W

Base: Croft, North Yorkshire

Location: Rucphen, North Brabant, Netherlands

Pilot: P/O Frederick James Haldenby RCAF PoW No.299 Stalag Luft 7 Bankau - Kreulberg

Flt/Eng: Sgt. Peter Dennis Victor Ager 1874688 RAFVR Age 18 Killed

Nav: P/O Edmund James Downing RCAF PoW No. 450 Stalag Luft 7 Bankau - Kreulberg.

Air/Bmr: P/O John Hanham Dougherty RCAF PoW No. 388 Stalag Luft 7 Bankau - Kreulberg

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O William Adrian Good J/89736 RCAF Age 21 Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Inverarity R/184515 RCAF Evaded

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Edward Charles Boehner C/87869 RCAF Age 19 Killed


One of 321 aircraft dispatched to bomb the Hoechst synthetic oil factory at Sterkrade/Holten in the Ruhr valley, Captain Haldenby and crew took off from Croft at 22:54 hours.

The attacking force consisted of two waves, one crossing the Dutch coast to the north of Rotterdam and the other to the south. It was here that four patrolling Heinkel 219’s of 1./NJG1 from Venlo made contact with the bombers bringing down ten aircraft on the outward leg of the raid.

The first of the ten casualties was the Halifax of Captain Haldenby and crew.

Engaged by Uffz. Hugo Oppermann, the bomber was hit with several bursts of canon fire and set ablaze at 00.53 hours at a height of 20,000 feet near Brielle on Oostvoorne Island, LW433 finally crashing at Rucphen.

The two teen aged members of the crew, flight engineer Sgt. Peter Ager and gunner Sgt. Albert Boehmer, along with the wireless operator P/O William Good, were all killed during the combat.

The other four crew members all managed to bale out as the stricken aircraft quickly lost height and plowed into the ground.

Haldenby, Downing and Dougherty were all captured and spent the rest of the war as PoW’s. Tom Inverarity of Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan, perhaps inherited some of the luck of the name of his home community and evaded capture spending the remainder of the war hidden by the resistance.

As for the success of the raid itself, upon reaching the target the attacking force found it to be covered by heavy cloud which obscured much of the Pathfinder markings. As a consequence, much of the bombing was scattered inflicting only minor damage to the production facilities.

In total, 31 aircraft were lost, with probably 21 shot down in mid air combat and ten by the flak defences.

Note regarding Halifax LW433.

This aircraft was first assigned to 424 Squadron based at Skipton on Swale, Yorkshire.

On the night of 19 February 1944, eight of the squadrons’ aircraft were detailed for operations to Leipzig. As the bombers were being taxied out to the runway, Halifax HX316 ran into the rear turret of LW433 the rotating propellors killing the rear gunner P/O Gerard Bottrell.

P/O Bottrell was estranged from his father Lawrence Bottrell, his birth mother, Elizabeth Chaweth, having died in 1935. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Gerard was raised in Parry Sound, Ontario by his Uncle Nelson and Aunt Annie.

He enlisted on 19 October 1942, and trained as an air gunner at No.4 Bombing & Gunnery School, Fingal, Ontario and at No.9 Bombing & Gunnery School, Mount Joli, Quebec.

Arriving in the UK in July of 1943 he was posted to No.23 OTU, Pershore and then to No.1666 HCU, Dalton, prior to joining 424 Squadron on 23 December, 1943.

Nineteen year old Gerard was embarking on his first operational trip when the accident occurred.

Burial Details:

Sgt. Peter Denis Victor Ager. Grave 1, Zundert Protestant Churchyard. Son of Horace Victor and Winifred Alice Ager, of Ongar, Essex.
Further details see: BBC Peoples War Flt. Sgt. Peter D.V. Ager

P/O William Adrian Good. Bergen Op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Grave 7 G 11. Son of James Arthur Boyd Good and Julia Adella (nee Wager) Good; husband of Edna Sophia (nee Godfrey) Good, of Mountain Grove, Ontario.

Further details: William enlisted in July 1941 at the age of 19. He previously lived and worked on his fathers’ farm at Parham, Ontario. In Canada, he trained at No. 1 Wireless School, Montreal, No.1 Bombing & Gunnery School, Jarvis and No.1 Air Observers School at Malton. During his time at Malton he married Edna Godfrey in October 1942 at Mountain Grove, Ontario. In May of the following year, he landed in the UK and was posted to No.9 (Observers) Advanced Flying Unit and then to No.23 and No.24 OTU’s at Pershore completing his training at 61 Base Dalton Battle School. Posted to 434 Squadron on 9 May 1944, P/O Good was on his eighth operational sortie when lost. He would never meet his daughter, Dawn Evelyn, born in August 1943. His wife Edna did not re-marry and died in 1994.

Sgt. Albert Edward Charles Boehmer. Bergen Op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Grave 7 G 10. Son of Herman A. O. and Gertrude (nee Bate) Boehmer, of Ottawa, Ontario.

Further details: Prior to enlistment in January 1941, Albert worked in a clerical position with the War Supply Board in Ottawa. Initially stationed at No.7 Service Flying Training School, MacLeod, Alberta and then at No.2 Flying Instructors School, Vulcan, Alberta for general clerical duties, he eventually became an Equipment Assistant. Arriving in the UK in March 1943, he was assigned to RCAF Head Quarters in St. Johns Wood, London. In July 1943, Albert remustered to aircrew and was posted to No.14 Initial Training Wing and then No.1 Elementary Air Gunners School, Bridlington and finally to No.1 Air Gunners School at Pembury, Wales. Upon graduation he was sent to No.24 OTU, Dalton Battle School and 1664 Conversion Unit, joining 434 Squadron with the rest of his crew on 9 May 1944.

P/O Gerard Alphonse Bottrell, J/88402 Age 19. Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery Section F Row A Grave 15. Foster son of Nelson and Anne E. (nee Ross) Bottrell, of Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada.

Bottrell Island in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, Ontario is named after P/O Bottrell

Researched and written for Aircrew Remembered by Colin Bamford and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew of Halifax LW433 and to the family of P/O. Bottrell.

Additional sources: P/O Good photograph, Veterans Affairs Canada website. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

CHB 17 Mar 2016

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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