15/16.03.1945 No 431 Squadron Lancaster X KB815 SE-K Fl/Lt. Haw
Date: 15/16th March 1945 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 431 Squadron
Type: Lancaster X
Base: RAF Croft, Yorkshire
Location: Perwez, Belgium
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Robert Roy Haw J/85451 RCAF Age 26. Killed
Fl/Eng: P/O. Alfred Charles Harris 187961 RAFVR Age 35. Killed
Nav: Fl/Lt. Albert Gordon Edwards J/13417 RCAF Age 33. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. George Henry Davis J/35097 RCAF Age 34. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Joseph Lucien Viateur Morin J/37326 RCAF Age 26. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Peter Paul Repsys J/93258 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert Ernest Horne J/95283 RCAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Lancaster X KB815 SE-K was first assigned to 419 (B) Squadron in October 1944 and re-assigned to 431 (B) squadron in November 1944. Diverted to Metherington on 28/29th January 1945 due to weather at base. On 7/8th March was hit by flak and forced to land at Boscombe Down owing to fuel shortage.
Took off at 16:21 from Croft as one of 15 aircraft of 431 Squadron on an operation to bomb the railway yards at Hagen. The route to the target was uneventful and a quiet trip was experienced, however, the return journey would prove to be a much different story as the bomber stream was attacked by Luftwaffe night-fighters all the way from the target area back to England.
Of the 14 Lancasters put up by this squadron 14 attacked the primary target but Fl/Lt. Haw and crew failed to return, it is not known whether they reached the target and there were reports of light flak. All remaining aircraft returned to Croft.
According to the latest edition of the Night Fighter War Diaries (Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2) they were 'probably' shot down by Hptm. Gerhard Raht (1) of Stab I./NJG2 between 21:09 hrs and 21:14 hrs.
Crashed at Perwez (Brabant) some 29km SSE from the centre of Leuven.
All are buried in Perwez Churchyard, their graves being near that of Fl/Lt. John Lewis Sullivan 37643 RAF of 607 Squadron whose Hurricane P2621 was shot down on the 14th May 1940.
In 1948, wreckage was discovered in Belgium. In May 2012 a monument and dedication service was arranged by G.A.P.E.P. and held at the site of the crash and attended by Bill Heron, LeAnne Taylor, (niece of Flight Lieutenant Haw) and her daughter and Maureen Hansford, daughter of Pilot Officer Alfred Harris.
(1) This was the 58th claim for Hptm. Raht who went on to claim a total of 60 aircraft by war end. He survived the war and died in January 1977 at Reinfeld, Germany.
Fl/Lt. Robert Roy Haw. Perwez Churchyard, Belgium. Military Plot. Row A. Collective grave 5. Further information: Son of George Arthur and Annie (née Howell) Haw.
Husband of Wilhelmina Haw of Glenlake Avenue,Toronto. Robert attended the Western Technical School,Toronto and worked as a printer before enlisting.He is remembered on a plaque there. He married his childhood sweet heart Wilhelmina ten days before he left for England, having served overseas as an Instructor in the RAF and then a pilot. On the day of his death he was on his 35th and final operation.
Waiting anxiously at his fathers hobby farm for news of the crew, in November his father received the letter stating that the crew were presumed dead. It was a devastating blow, as Robert and his father were very close as his mother had died just before war began and Robert was the baby of four siblings and eighteen years younger than his oldest brother.
P/O. Alfred Charles Harris. Perwez Churchyard, Belgium. Military Plot. Row A. Collective grave 5. Son of Alfred and Edith Harris and husband of Caroline Amelia Harris of Chichester, Sussex, England. Grave inscription: "Deep In Our Hearts He Is Living Yet, We Loved Him Too Dearly To Ever Forget"
Fl/Lt. Albert Gordon Edwards. Perwez Churchyard, Belgium. Military Plot. Row A. Collective grave 5. Born on the 28th of July 1917, the son of Edward Thomas and Leveno (née Armstrong) Edwards and husband of Norma Rosetta Edwards of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Born in West Bromwich, Birmingham, England but the family emigrated to Canada where his father farmed at Bolton,Ontario. Albert worked as a University Instructor prior to enlisting.
F/O. George Henry Davis. Perwez Churchyard, Belgium. Military Plot. Row A. Collective grave 5. Son of George Lily Davis of Springhill, Nova Scotia and husband of Jean Davis of Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada. Grave inscription: "He Lives With Us In Memory And Will For Evermore".
F/O. Joseph Lucien Viateur Morin. Perwez Churchyard, Belgium. Military Plot. Row A. Collective grave 5. Born on the 17th October 1919 in St. Gabriel De Brandon. Son of Victoria and Camille Morin of 5559 Rue Laurendeau, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
P/O. Peter Paul Repsys. Perwez Churchyard, Belgium. Military Plot. Row A. Collective grave 5. Born on 17th April 1923 in Kaunas, Lithuania, Peter Repsys was fluent in English, French and Lithuanian and worked as a shop clerk prior to enlisting. He did his training at No 3 B and G School at MacDonald, Manitoba. Son of Stepos and Kaze,”Charlotte”, Repsys and brother of Charles of 742 Beatty Avenue, Verdun, Quebec. Charles served in the Navy and when the news came through of Peters death, his mother got in touch with the authorities and had Charles taken out of the Navy. At the time of his death Peter was dating an American girl, Violet.
Fl/Sgt. Robert Ernest Horne. Perwez Churchyard, Belgium. Military Plot. Row A. Collective grave 5. Son of Robert and Martha Horne of Hamilton, Ontario. Husband of Dorothy Horne of Hamilton, Canada. Grave inscription: "Gone from our midst But not from our memory".
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew by Linda Ibrom. Many thanks to Bill Heron, author of “A Yorkshire Squadron, the history of 431 Squadron 1942-1945”. Bill provided a wealth of knowledge and information. Special thanks to Tyler Boyle, great-nephew of Pilot Officer Peter Repsys for information and photographs. Special thanks to LeAnne Haw Taylor, niece of Flight Lieutenant Haw, Bev Haw and family for sharing photos and personal information. Also the Toronto Star newspaper.