12/13.05.1944 No. 158 Squadron Halifax III HX334 NP-C Fl/Sgt. John Evans
Operation: Hasselt, Belgium
Date: 12/13th May 1944
Unit: No. 158 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Lissett, Yorkshire
Location: Bokrijk, Belgium
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. John Haydn Evans 658281 RAFVR Evaded capture
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Les E. Board 1604551 RAFVR Evaded capture
Nav: F/O. Danny J.B. Daniels 136357 RAFVR Evaded capture
Air/Bmr: F/O. Bill "Robbie" Robertson J/24485 RCAF Evaded capture
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Doug A. Lloyd 158587 RAFVR Evaded capture
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Dick V.G. Colledge AUS/426826 RAAF PoW No: 12 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank J. Tait AUS/426928 RAAF PoW No: 60 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 21:56 hrs. to attack the railway yards at Hasselt, Belgium. 111 aircraft took part in the raid made up from 96 Halifaxes, 20 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitoes. Not classed as a successful raid as the majority of the bombs issued the target and landed in open fields - a few hit the railway yards. 8 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster were lost. The bomber force did not encounter many enemy attacks on the outward leg. Attacks came after the raid and on their home run. A total of 41 crew members were killed, 7 were made PoW and a further 6 evaded capture and returned. 2 Aircraft within this total crashed on either take off or landing with 3 injured.
Back Row (L-R): Dick Colledge, Doug Lloyd, 'Danny' Daniels, Frank Tait, Front Row: Les Board, John Evans, Bill 'Robbie' Robertson. (courtesy of Fl/Sgt. John Haydn Evans and David Mole who supplied this photo of the crew taken at RAF Lissett)
Halifax HX334 was shot down by a night fighter flown by Oblt. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer of Stab IV./NJG1 who was already an ace at this time with 64 kills. The combat took place at 00:36hrs. at 2,300 mtrs. with the aircraft coming down in Bokrjik 12 km East North East of Hasselt.
Oblt. Schnaufer went on to obtain a total of an amazing 121 to his credit. He survived the war but was killed in a car accident in France in 1945. (See Kracker Luftwaffe Archive on this site)
Above: Halifax HX334 as depicted by Gary Eason and reproduced here with his permission. The picture itself has been reduced in size in order to fit within the page and the quality has been reduced. Gary takes commissions for other subjects of this nature and full details can be found by either clicking on the picture or searching his website.
The evaders were hidden in the forests of the Ardennes by the "Comet line" until the area was over-run by the advancing allies.
L-R; Lt. Rumpelhardt (radio operator), Hptm Schnaufer (pilot), Ofw. Gänsler (gunner)
(see Kracker Luftwaffe Archives on this site)
With the help of the citizens of Genk, Zonhoven and Heusen- Zolder and members of the escape routes Evasion and Komeet from Hasselt and Luik they were able to survive their perilous adventure and return home safely. This memorial plaque was established in February 2013 by the community of Bokrijk in gratitude to their courage.
The memorial is inscribed:
“In the night between the 12th and the 13th of May 1944 this is the place where the Halifax H334 with Side code NP-C of the 158th squadron crashed. The plane had participated in the bombings of the railway station of Hasselt but was shot down by the fighter aircraft Heins Schnauffer. Ail of the crew were able to save themselves using their parachutes."
The pilot, Fl/Sgt. John Haydn Evan’s brother Douglas wartime experience is well detailed, but while Douglas had a less dramatic time it was no less notable. He started training as a flight mechanic, but was then selected for crew training and finally flew 32 missions with 10 Squadron between September 1943 and May 1944 for which he was later awarded the DFC. He spent the rest of the war as a Halifax flight instructor. After demobilisation Doug worked in civil aviation, but not much later found himself back in worrying operations flying the Berlin Airlift of 1948, making 84 flights into Berlin, mainly carrying fuel.
Burial details: None - all survived.
Researched by David Mole for Fl/Sgt. John Haydn Evans dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. Also thanks to Hugh Jenkins who sent in the memorial photo September 2016. Thanks also to Gary Eason for submitting the image of Halifax HX334 - December 2016.
Left - front and rear cover of the book detailing the story of Fl/Sgt. John Haydn Evans amazing escape with the assistance from the "Comet Line" - we recommend that you invest in this book. Written by Greg Lewis ‘Airman Missing. ISBN: 978-0955869907. Published by Newman Books (April 2008)
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