24/25.06.1943 419 Squadron Halifax II JD147 VR-C Fl/Lt. Burton N. Jost D.F.C.
Date: 24/25th June 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 419 RCAF Squadron (Moose)
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Middleton St.George, County Durham
Location: Roermond, Netherlands
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Burton Norris Jost DFC. J/7433 RCAF Age 31. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Julius Bjorn Johnson R/71026 RCAF Age 27. Killed (2)
Nav: Sgt. Ernest Bailey Pope 1069568 RAF Prisoner of War (PoW) No: 346 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Ashley William Alfred Bruce NZ/412786 RNZAF PoW No: 647 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert Oscar Evans Goodwin J/15706 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Lesley Barker 1379386 RAF Pow No: 11027 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air/Gnr: F/O. Robert Edward Austin 545864 RAF PoW No: Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
REASON FOR LOSS:
After taking off from its base at 20:40 hours, Halifax JD147 was intercept to the target over the Netherlands by a night fighter flown by Obw. Reinhard Kollak of 7/NJG-4. Kollak’s first attack missed its mark and he narrowly avoided being hit by return fire from the tail gunner Austin.
Bringing his Me110 back around behind and further below the Halifax he made sure of his aim. Canon shells ripped into the starboard wing and outer engine starting a fire which soon spread to the fuselage despite all efforts by Fl/Lt. Jost and his crew to extinguish the blaze.
Left to right, top row: Fl/Lt. Jost DFC (courtesy Gordon Drysdale), Sgt. Johnson (courtesy Johann Johnson), Sgt. Pope (courtesy Betty Pope) - Left to right, lower row: Fl/Sgt. Bruce (courtesy Mavis Bruce), Fl/Sgt. Barker (courtesy Margery Barker), F/O. Austin (courtesy Robert Austin) All photo's graciously supplied via Roerstreek Museum, Netherlands
Seeing that their aircraft was doomed, the crew jettisoned the bomb load and prepared to bale out. Fl/Lt. Jost and the Flight Engineer Sgt. Julius Johnson wrestled with the controls trying to maintain height and a level flight path for the others to jump. Witnesses on the ground saw flares being fired from the crippled Halifax as Jost tried desperately to find open ground in an apparent attempt to make a crash landing.
The navigator, Sgt. Ernest Pope, bomb aimer Fl/Sgt. Ashley Bruce and the gunners Fl/Sgt. Barker and F/O. Austin all made successful landings. The last to jump was the wireless operator F/O. Goodwin but by this time the Halifax was very low and heading for the town of Roermond. Staying at the controls, Jost and Johnson managed to turn the burning aircraft, which was now starting to break up in mid air, 180 degrees away from the town.
Large pieces of the aircraft and incendiary bombs were scattered over a wide area causing several fires to be started. Finally the cockpit and a large section of the fuselage crashed on to the Hammer Feld between the village of Herten and Roermond.
After the local firemen had arrived and extinguished the blazing wreckage, the bodies of Jost and Johnson were found in the remains of the cockpit. The body of F/O. Goodwin was not found by the German military until fourteen days later having succumbed to the injuries he sustained after his parachute failed to open.
Sq/Ldr. Jost (promoted posthumously) was a natural leader and pilot who, only one year after gaining his wings, had completed his first tour of 31 operations against the enemy. In the London Gazette Supplement published on November 6, 1942 it was announced that he had been awarded a DFC.
Fl/Lt. Jost (2nd from right) being introduced to King George VI, June 12, 1942. (courtesy National Defence Image Library of Canada PL-7816 UK-1598)
After leaving school Jost graduated in engineering from Dalhousie University and afterwards, when his family moved to Dover, Delaware, he attended Penn State University. On his return to Canada he went to work in the gold mines of northern Ontario. When war broke out he tried to enlist in the RCAF as a pilot but was rejected several times due to his age. His persistence however, paid off in the end as he graduated and gained his commission as a pilot officer from No.6 SFTS, Dunnville, Ontario, on September 14, 1941.
Not far from where the burning cockpit came to rest with Jost’s body still at the controls is a quiet street named Burton Jostweg in his honour.
Johnson like Jost worked in the mines prior to enlisting in the RCAF in 1940 and was sent to England to train as a flight engineer in 1942. He had completed twenty sorties against the enemy before he was killed.
F/O. Goodwin the radio operator was married shortly before he was posted to England in June of 1941. He was not reinterred after hostilities ended at the request of his wife and still lies in a quiet cemetery at Roermond.
Wellington II Z1572 VR-Q flown by Sq/Ldr. Jost on the 1000 bomber raid to Cologne, earlier in May 30/31st 1942 (courtesy Lawrence J. Hickey collection)
Ashley Bruce, who bailed out, hid in a cornfield until the next day. After walking a short distance he was spotted by a farmer who gave him a change of clothes and some food. That night the farmer contacted the underground who helped him to cross into Belgium and then into France. However, upon reaching Bordeaux, he, along with twelve others, was captured and interrogated by the Gestapo before spending the rest of the war in a PoW camp. While at the camp, Bruce contracted a virus which tragically led to him becoming blind two years after his release. He died in New Zealand at the age of 50 in 1971.
Fl/Sgt. Les Barker broke his back upon landing and was captured soon after. Due to the seriousness of his injuries he spent the next five months in the hospital at Roermond before being transported to Germany. After his release he underwent several more operations for his injuries and was able to return to the hospital in Roermond in 1952 to thank the doctor’s and nurse’s who had taken care of him. Barker though, continued to be in poor health as a result of his ordeal and never fully recovered. He died in 1964.
Ernie Pope, who was studying to be an accountant before the war, was captured the next day after he bailed out and sent to a PoW camp. While at the camp he had his wife send him his accounting text books so that he could continue his studies. Shortly after his release and return to England in 1945 he got a job as an accountant with the Shell Oil Company in London. Ernest Pope died of a heart attack in 1978.
Robert Austin, after his release and return to England, continued to serve in the RAF until 1957 after which he emigrated to New Zealand and transferred to the RNZAF.
Above left to right: Reinhard Kollak (courtesy Frau Kollak) and his Borfunker Hans Herman (courtesy Hans Herman) All photos graciously supplied via Roerstreek Museum, Netherlands
Reinhard Kollak was the highest scoring non commissioned nachtjagd pilot who, together with his Bordfunker Hans Herman, was credited with 49 victories. After the war Reinhard found it difficult to adjust to civilian life working at a number of administrative jobs for several years before he rejoined the newly founded Bundeswehr and his beloved Luftwaffe in 1956. On 6 February 1980 he died at age 65 and was given full military honours with his Ritterkreuz adorning his pillow.
Hans Herman joined the Luftwaffe in 1938 at the age of 19 and served as Kollak’s Bordfunker until wars end. Upon his release after the German surrender, he got a job in September of 1945 with the German Federal Railroad, a position he held until his retirement.
Above left to right, The street named after Sq/Ldr Jost in Roemond - the television mast in the background is where large pieces of the tail plane and wings landed. Monument erected at the crash site on the Hammerveld (All courtesy of Rob Wolters)
(1) Jost Lake in the Northwest Territories is named after Sq/Ldr. Jost DFC.
(2) Johnson River in Manitoba is named after Sgt. Johnson
Above graves left to right: Fl/Lt. Jost DFC Sgt. Johnson (Both courtesy Frans van Cappellen), F/O. Goodwin (courtesy CWGC.)
Sq/Ldr. (posth) Burton Norris Jost. Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands, Grave 8 G 6. Son of Arthur C. and C. Victoria L. Jost, of Guysborough, Nova Scotia, Canada. B.A. (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia); B.Sc. (University Penn State, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.).
Sgt. Julius Bjorn Johnson. Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands, Grave 8 G 7. Son of John B. and Josephine Johnson, of Gimli, Manitoba, Canada.
F/O. Robert Oscar Evans Goodwin. Roermond (Kapel in ‘t Zand) Roman Catholic Cemetery, Netherlands, Plot 23 Grave 1. Son of William E. Goodwin and of Lulu Goodwin (nee Young) of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, husband of Vera May Goodwin
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for Polli Jost Turner and family and all the relatives and friends of the crew of Halifax JD147.
Aircrew Remembered would like to thank Mr. Theo Van der Steen, Rob Wolters, The Roerstreek Historical Society and The Air Force Museum of New Zealand for generously providing information for this article.
We would also like to thank Mr Barney Stevens for sending us the comprehensive report on this loss. Barney is the nephew of the flight engineer, Sgt. Julius Johnson. His 90 page report maybe available from us via Barney if you contact us. (permission will have to first be obtained)