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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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416 Squadron Crest
19.04.1945 416 Squadron (RCAF) Spitfire XVI RR256 Fl/Lt. 'Webb ' Harten

Operation: Armed Reconnaissance

Date: 19th April 1945 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 416 (RCAF City of Oshawa Squadron-Lynx)

Type: Spitfire Type XVI

Serial: RR256

Base: Diepholz, Germany

Location: Kiebitzreihe, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Lt. ‘Webb’ John Wilbert Edmund Harten J/16665 RCAF Age 27. Killed


In early 1945, the Allied Armies were rapidly advancing against the retreating Germans. Moving eastwards from Belgium and into Germany, 416 Squadron were tasked with patrolling the front and attacking ground targets.

On April 19th Fl/Lt. Harten spotted a moving freight train near the village of Wilster. Leading his flight, he dove down for the low level attack when his Spitfire was hit by a burst of flak. The aircraft stayed airborne for a short distance before crashing near the village of Kiebitzholz.

Fl/Lt. John ‘Webb’ Harten was on his second tour in Europe when he was killed after spending several months as an instructor at 61 OTU. Just three weeks prior to his death, Fl/Lt. Harten had confirmed victories over a pair of Fw190’s. He and his flight were also credited with the destruction of numerous ground targets during his command with 416 Squadron. On his first tour with 421 Squadron, Harten also shared in the destruction of three other enemy aircraft.

In 1970 Harten Lake in northern Ontario was named after Fl/Lt. Harten.

Burial Details:

Fl/Lt. John Wilbert Edmund Harten. Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium. Grave Reference XI C 7. Son of Robert Forest Harten and Aimee May (nee Herring) Harten, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. With thanks to V.A.C. via Phil Miller for photo of Fl/Lt. Harten.

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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Last Modified: 07 January 2016, 13:19

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