24/25.06.1944 9 Squadron Lancaster I LL853 WS:W Flt Sgt John Edward 'Eddie' Halshaw
Operation: V1 Flying Bomb site, Prouville, Somme, France
Date: 24th/25th June 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 9 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire
Location: Coulonvillers, Somme, France
Pilot: Flt Sgt. John Edward "Eddie" Halshaw 1450069 RAFVR Age 21 Killed
Flt Eng: Sgt. David Arthur Keith Davison 1891953 RAFVR Age 22 Killed
Nav: WO2. Herbert Blaydes R162329 RCAF Age 28 Killed
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Norman Wells Brown 1323802 RAFVR Age? Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Richard William Agg DFM 1260468 RAFVR Age 23 Killed
Air Gnr (Mid Upper) Sgt. Stanley James Abbott 1880551 RAFVR Age 20 Killed
Air Gnr (Rear) Sgt. Henry Garratt 1591218 RAFVR Age? PoW 359 Camp Stalag Luft VII - Bankau (1)
2nd Air Gnr (Rear) Sgt. William Wilson 533348 RAFVR Age? PoW No 377 Camp Stalag Luft VII - Bankau (1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
One of sixteen aircraft from the Squadron that took off for this operation. Lancaster LL853 took off from RAF Bardney at 22.51hrs for an operation to attack a V1 flying bomb site at Prouville. The aircraft encountered considerable opposition and Lancaster LL853 may have been hit by flak or attacked by a enemy night fighter and crashed at Coulonvillers, Somme on the main road leading to Doullens 15 km ENE of Abbeville. Three aircraft from the Squadron were lost with a further three returning without dropping their bombs.
LL853 was a possible claim by Obstlt Helmut Lent Stab NJG3 - St Pol/Doullens (QE-PE): 2,700m at 00:25. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten)
Lancaster I aircraft (courtesy Imperial War Museum) V1 site and rocket, France (Aircrew Remembered archive)Map showing the area of the crash. Coulonvillers, Somme, France
An investigation by No 1 Missing, Research and Enquiry Unit on the 29 October 1946 reports: 'Whilst investigating a Gendarmerie Report which stated that a British fighter aircraft had crashed at Cramont, Somme, on 20.6.44, I visited the Mairie of the town. There I was told that a British aircraft had crashed on 24.6.44, in a wood, in the territory of Coulonvillers, Somme. This was said to be the only British aircraft which fell in the district. The aircraft is said to have caught fire and exploded in mid-air and fallen into the wood at about midnight. I was referred to Coulonvillers for further information.
I visited the scene of the crash and found the aircraft serial number to be LL853, Lancaster. A propeller was found, a fragment of engine nose casting and part of the gear housing. I visited the mayor of Coulonvillers, who told me that the case had been investigated several times by American and British services. The airmen were buried in the communal cemetery at Coulonvillers by the villagers. I visited the cemetery and found the graves registered and the crosses marked as above'
Prisoners of War
Stalag IIIA, Luckenwalde, Germany (courtesy Australian War Memorial) British prisoners of war bringing soup to be distributed. May 1945. Newspaper cutting (courtesy Hamilton Spectator, 13 February, 1945 from Democracy at War, Canadian War Museum)
(1) Both Sgt. Garratt and Sgt. Wilson were held in Stalag Luft VII - Bankau, Poland. The camp opened on 6 June 1944, and by July held 230 prisoners, all RAF flying crews. They were joined by members of the Glider Pilot Regiment captured at the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. By 1 January 1945, the camp held 1,578 British, American, Russian, Polish and Canadian troops. There is a great deal written about the forced march that these prisoners of war undertook between Bankau to a camp near Berlin - Stalag IIIA (Luckenwalde) in 1945.
Sgt. H. Garratt is mentioned in the Nottingham Evening Post, Thursday, January 18, 1945. (courtesy British Newspaper archive)
'Messages About Local Men. The Mayor of Nottingham (Coun. F. Carney) has received the following communication from Wt-Off. Greene, the "Man of Confidence" at Stalag Luft 7, Ober/Schles, Germany, and dated October 25th last year'.
'I have been asked by the president of the Midlands Club of this prisoner of war camp (Flt Sgt P. H. Cartwright) to forward you the following list of names and members and the accompanying letter. I hope you accept his letter as a token of esteem of your interest in prisoners of war, both for the past and for the future. In the process of formation, at this prisoner of war camp for NCOs of the Royal Air Force in Germany, is a club, the policy of which is to assist the social welfare of the prisoners who have resided in the Midlands prior to enlist during their stay in captivity and also during the post-war period'.
'The writer, knowing the interest shown by your worship towards the material welfare of prisoners, takes this opportunity of forwarding a list of members by name, and also the districts and counties in which their homes are situated, in the hope that you may publicly notify the townships and counties concerned. Lincolnshire: .....F/Sgt Garratt, Westfield, Branston Heath'.
Sgt. William Wilson was listed on the aircraft loss card for LL853 as a second Rear Air Gunner. He was not however listed aboard the aircraft in the Squadron Operations Order Book (ORB) for this mission. No further details have been found.
Flt Sgt. John Edward "Eddie" Halshaw. Coulonvillers Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 5. Son of Charles W. and Margaret E. Halshaw of Bacup, Lancashire
John was born in 1923, Bacup, Lancashire. One of eight children he was educated at Northern Primary school in Bacup. John "Eddie" was posted to No. 9 Squadron in May 1944 and was 2nd "Dickie" to Sqr/Ldr Pooley on an operation to Tours 19 May 1944. His first flight as Captain was 21 May 1944. Eddie completed 12 operational flights before being killed.
Above:Sgt Davison is remembered on the Lindisfarm College War Memorial (courtesy of Alexander Philip Kapp)
Sgt. David Arthur Keith Davison. Coulonvillers Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Son of Arthur Clifford and Esme Innes Davison of Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
Above: Plt Off. Blaydes from his service record (credit John Jones)
Plt Off. Herbert Blaydes. Coulonvillers Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of Herbert Ingram and Claudia (née Jenkins) Blaydes. Husband to Marguerite Maria (née Thompson) Blaydes of St. James, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Herbert was born 4th May 1916 in Winnipeg. Enlisted 20th April 1942 in Winnipeg. Herbert arrived in the UK in June 1943 to continue his training and was posted to 9 Squadron 11th May 1944. He was posthumously commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. with a Service No of J88416 with effect 23rd June 1944.
Flt Sgt. Norman Wells Brown. Coulonvillers Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. No further details. Are you able to assist?
WO. Richard William Agg DFM. Coulonvillers Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 5. Son of John Richard Agg and Florence Eva Agg.
Richard William Agg was born in 1921 and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal as per Supplement to the London Gazette, 29 September 1942.
Citation reads: '1260468, Sergeant Richard William Agg, No, 214 Squadron, 1357708, Sergeant John McGown, No. 214 Squadron:
One night in July 1942, Warrant Officer Johnson and Sergeant Agg and McGown were captain and air gunners respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Saarbrucken. Before the target was reached, the aircraft was engaged by a Messerschmitt 110. Sergeant Agg and McGown met several attacks with resolute fire and succeeded in destroying the attacker. The skilful airmanship of Warrant Officer Johnson contributed materially to this success.
On another occasion in August, 1942, this air crew were detailed to attack Nuremberg. On the outward flight, whilst still a considerable distance from the target, their aircraft was intercepted by an enemy fighter. Skilful manoeuvring by Warrant Officer Johnson enabled his gunners to deliver their fire from a favourable position and destroy the attacker. Despite damage sustained to his aircraft, Warrant Officer Johnson continued his mission, located his target and bombed it. These airmen have displayed praiseworthy determination to achieve their purpose'.
Richard William Agg was also credited with a 'kill' having shot down a Me110 on the night 29/30 July 1942. '.....The destruction of the enemy aircraft tends to be confirmed by the report of the Captain of Stirling L/214 who, when at a position 20 miles S.E. of Charleroi at 01.29hrs, height 10,000 ft, saw an aircraft burst into flames and dive through cloud and explode on the ground'.
Sgt. Stanley James Abbott. Coulonvillers Communal Cemetery. Grave 4. Son of Sidney Thomas Abbott and Olive Agnes Abbott of Somersham, Suffolk.
Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Simon Carey great nephew of John Edward "Eddie" Halshaw. Also Michel Beckers for information/photographs WO. Richard William Agg DFM from his collection. Thanks to John Jones for the German night-fighter claim details and other information (May 2021)