19/20.02.1944 No. 419 Moose Squadron (RCAF) Halifax II JD114 VR-V Fl/Sgt. Douglas Kenneth MacLeod
Date: 19/20 February 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 419 Moose Squadron (RCAF) - Motto "Moosa aswayita".
Badge: A moose attacking. The moose, representing the squadron's nickname acquired from its first commanding officer, is a ferocious fighter and is indigenous to Canada. The motto is in the Cree language.
Authority: King George VI, June 1944.
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham
Pilot: P/O. Douglas Kenneth MacLeod R/130234 RCAF later P/O. J/19971 Age 22 - Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Martin Benedict Leboldus R/613333 RCAF Age 31 - Killed (2)
Nav: F/O. John Ralph (Jack) Piper J/21569 RCAF Age 27 - Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: WOII. John Leslie Beattie R/112661 RCAF Age 22 - Killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Gettings 1561517 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): P/O. Donald Clifford Lewthwaite J92323 RCAF Age 21 - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. Alfred Harvey Hackbart R183946 RCAF Age 21 - Killed (7)
We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our HELPDESK
Aircrew Remembered would like to thank Dan Logan of 419squadron.com for granting permission for us to include the photograph of the nose art of Halifax JD114. Further details can be seen at http://www.419squadron.com/JD114.html
REASON FOR LOSS
Taking off at 23:12 on this operation to bomb Leipzig Halifax JD114 VR-V had an ETA at the target of 04:12 and an estimated time of return of 07:07. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft after take-off and its failure to return to base was presumed to have been due to enemy action. Despite all subsequent extensive enquiries nothing more was discovered regarding the fate of the aircraft or its crew.
This was the pilot's 6th mission and the crew's 5th.
Special Equipment on board: Gee, H2S, Monica see abbreviations
Bomb Load: 24 x 30lb IB, 729 x 4lb 2B, 81 x 4lb 'X' Type
Route briefed: Base - 5400N/0400E - 5240/0810E - 5237N/1152E - 5200N/1255E - LEIPZIG - 5100N/1200E - 5240N/0810E - 5315N/0400E - Flamborough Head.
No. 419 Squadron lost another aircraft on this operation, Halifax II W327 VR-A Captained by F/O. J.T. Lucas J22145 RCAF was shot down by night-fighter(s) in the area of the target. The pilot and three crew members survived and were made prisoners of war; the other three crew members were killed.
A total force of 823 aircraft comprising 561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes and 7 Mosquitoes was sent on this long distance bombing raid on Leipzig. As well as being an important railway intersection Leipzig was home to the Erla Maschinenwerk that produced the Messerschmitt Bf109 under license at three locations in the city namely Heiterblick, Abtnaundorf and Mockau. Diversionary attacks were made by Mosquito aircraft on Berlin, Stendal and Mindon together with a minelaying operation in Kiel harbour.
German night fighters were assembled in the Hamburg area and lay in wait for the minelayers that were moving towards the Danish coast but attacks on the Dutch airfields probably deterred the fighter controllers from diverting the whole force to Kiel and those that were diverted were quickly recalled.
The result was that the bomber stream was met by almost 300 night fighters soon after crossing the enemy coast and continued to be harassed all the way to the target and for a good deal of the homeward journey. The problem was further compounded by winds not being as forecast thus causing some aircraft to arrive early over the target and having to orbit whilst waiting for the pathfinders to arrive.
The target was covered in 10/10ths cloud; there was a quarter moon and visibility was described as fair. The sky-marker flares were at first well concentrated but later became more scattered and the subsequent bombing was spread over a wide area.
Zero hour was at 04:00 hrs and at Zero-2 30 Primary Blind Markers and 55 Supporters commenced the attack. 14 Blind Markers, 11 Special Blind Markers and 25 Visual Backers Up were spread throughout the main force that continued the attack until 04:19hrs. 650 aircraft reported bombing the target and dropped a total of 2300 tons of bombs.
Active opposition from ground defences was encountered outward at Emden, Bremen, Hanover Frankfurt and Rotterdam as well as over the target itself. Flak accounted for at least 20 bombers and 27 were known to have been brought down by the night fighters. Most of the other 31 losses were also thought to have been due to night fighters. The 78 aircraft lost represented an extraordinarily large 9.5% of the total force and a further 70 aircraft aborted the mission. 420 aircrew were killed and 131 captured.
During the afternoon of the same day more than 200 American Flying Fortresses attacked the aircraft factories of Leipzig with great accuracy and much of the damage revealed in the reconnaissance photographs taken later in the week must be attributed to them. A total of 970 people were killed by the two raids most of them by the British night raid.
A MOST DESPICABLE ACT
Considering that the loss of a child is without doubt the hardest and cruellest pain that any parent can be forced to bear, it is beyond comprehension that anyone would contrive to compound such grief and why? One wonders just what type of person might do such a thing.
In September 1945 Mrs Lena Piper, the mother of F/O. Jack Piper, wrote to RCAF Headquarters Casualty Branch as follows:
I am writing this letter to you at the suggestion of Denton Massey* who was contacted as a result of my enquiries concerning a telephone call I received. This is an account of what happened as nearly as I can remember.
Last Friday night Sept. 14 around quarter to twelve midnight we had a phone call which I answered myself.
A man asked if this was me 4980 it was and he said Malton Airport was calling and he had just come over from the States on a Secret Mission and found a message left with his commander with my phone number. He went on with a lot of talk about how did I know etc and telling me he had the Bell Telephone check my calls. I finally got angry and suggested he had left his brains in the States. Since my husband, my daughter and I were at supper when the supposed call was made, he wanted to speak to my husband and asked who else used the phone. He seemed exasperated and again asked my name, I countered by asking his which he gave as Steel of the United States Army Air Corps, he again spoke of Malton and I remarked I thought it might have been someone inquiring about my son as he had trained there. I gave him my name and he asked my son's rank and initials and insisted my son was not dead but was in hospital in England and had been there for the past three weeks. I naturally inquired why my son didn't let me know himself or the Government, he said my son couldn't as the Government were keeping it secret and when I asked how long before I would be informed he said in about a week.
This man stated that he had received an injury which put him in hospital in England and going through one of the wards he saw my son Jack. This all seems sort of fantastic but he insisted he was not fooling.
I asked about what injuries my son was supposed to have had and the reply was he was badly scratched and had a wrenched knee.
Now all this sounds so far-fetched but I inquired around and an RCAF man told me that sometimes men are found in the underground very ill and for fear they may die because of malnutrition their relatives are not notified and if he dies eventually nothing is said because they are already presumed dead.
We have been rather upset over the whole affair and in case this is some sort of racket I would like if you would investigate thoroughly and let me know.
My son F/O. John Ralph Piper J21569 has been missing since the raid over Leipzig, Germany Feb-19-29 1944. The file in the Estates Branch is HQ J21569 FD349
* Denton Massey was a well-known Canadian engineer, Anglican priest and politician (Member of the Canadian Parliament).
In response to Mrs Piper's allegation an Investigation Report by RCAF Provost and Security Service dated October 17 1945 stated that:
"On September 15 1945 Det. White, H., Toronto City Police arrested one John F. Copses, 19 years of age, residing at 39 Poplar Plains Road, Toronto and charged him with "creating a Mischief", on complaint of Mrs George E. Hunt, 2422 Queen Street East, Toronto. The charge reads that the accused represented himself as Major Steel, USAA, Malton Airport, and he did state that a relative of Mrs. Hunt's, who had previously been listed as missing, presumed killed, was now alive and well in England. Detective White stated that the accused admitted to him that he had done the same thing with 15 or more people".
"On September 17 1945 John F. Copses appeared in Police Court "A" and was remanded to October 23 1945. As it is probably that the accused is the same person mentioned in the above allegation, the writer has informed Mrs Piper of this arrest".
In its Conclusion of Case Report dated 22 November 1945 the RCAF Provost and Security Service stated that:
"On October 31, 1945 John Copses appeared before Mag. Bigelow, "A" Court and found guilty and bound over for the sum of $200.00 to keep the peace".
DID MR LEBOLDUS HAVE A PREMONITION OF HIS SON'S DEATH?
A letter written by John Leboldus senior less than seven weeks prior to losing his third son Martin.
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) P/O. Douglas Kenneth MacLeod was born on 6 December 1921 at Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada the son of Kenneth MacLeod (a Miner born in Stornoway, Scotland) and Elsie Macleod nee Robar (born Nova Scotia, Canada). Douglas had two sisters Katherine born 1919 and Charlotte born 1923): the family later lived at 112 Mountjoy Street, Timmins, Ontario. After taking a 3 year Electrical Course Douglas he was employed at Hollinger Gold Mines in Timmins as an Electrical Helper from 1939 until enlisting in 1941. When he enlisted at North Bay, Ontario on 30 October 1941 he was 5' 10" tall weighing 159lbs with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He declared that he played basketball and enjoyed swimming but otherwise had no hobbies. After initial training he undertook pilot training at No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Windsor Mills, Ontario and No. 5 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Brandford, Ontario, he was awarded his Pilot's Badge on 18 December 1942. The following month he embarked for the UK where he arrived and was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth on 5 February 1942. He was posted for further training to No. 14 Pilot (Advance Flying Unit) at RAF Banff, Aberdeenshire, No. 22 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire, No. 1659 Conversion Unit at RAF Topcliffe, North Riding of Yorkshire and No. 1664 Conversion Unit at RAF Croft, Co. Durham he joined 419 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George on 24 October 1943.
Promoted to Flight Sergeant on 18 June 1943 and Warrant Officer Class II on 18 December 1943 he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 5 February 1944. In his recommendation for a commission on 4 September 1943 he was described as "A very keen, above average pilot"
(2) Sgt. Martin Benedict Leboldus was born on 10 February 1921 at Vibank, Saskatchewan, Canada the son of John Leboldus (a Hardware and Implement Dealer) and Regina Leboldus nee Wiesbeg. Martin was the 10th of 12 children born to his parents who had both been born in Russian but were now Naturalized Canadians. He attended Vibank Elsas Public School (1926-1935) and Elsas High School (1935-1937) after which he attended Balfour Technical School, Regina, Saskatchewan where he studied Aeronautics and Aircraft Mechanics under the Dominion-Provincial youth training program from 1 December 1939 to 31 March 1940. He enlisted in the RCAF at Regina on 1 May 1940 when he was described as being 5'6" tall weighing 130lbs with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He stated that he played hockey and baseball. After Initial Training he began training as an Aircraft Mechanic. On 21 June he was posted to No. 1 Technical Training School at RCAF St. Thomas, Ontario and on 30 October to No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Mossbank, Saskatchewan. He embarked for the UK on 1 May 1942; on arrival 14 May he was posted to 3 PRC and then to 418 Squadron on 11 June 1942. Martin was no doubt delighted to be reunited with his brother F/O. John Leboldus who was a Navigator with 418 Squadron. Sadly John was killed on an intruder operation to France on 13 February 1943 (see below for further details). Martin is said to have helped his brother into his parachute harness prior to his fateful flight.
On 2 June 1943 he was remustered after applying for flying duties and was posted to No. 4 School of Technical Training (4S of TT) at RAF St. Athan, South Wales for training as a Flight Engineer. He successfully completed the course with a 60.9% pass rate and was awarded his Flight Engineers Badge on 27 September 1943. Now Sergeant Leboldus, he was posted to 1664 CU on 2 October 1943 and to 419 Squadron on 24 October 1943.
Two of Martin's brothers were also killed in action with the RCAF. Flying Officer Peter John Leboldus J/15034 was killed on 13 February 1944 whilst flying as Navigator of Boston AL766 of 418 Squadron RCAF and Captained by F/Sgt R.R. Jackson (see http://aircrewremembered.com/jackson-robert.html) and F/Sgt. John Anthony (Johnny) Leboldus R/155568 was killed on 25 November 1943 whilst flying as Air Gunner of Wellington LN566 of 142 Squadron and Captained by F/Sgt. Reginald Charles Tyas (see http://aircrewremembered.com/tyas-reginald.html)
In 1955 their mother, Regina Leboldus, was selected by the Royal Canadian Legion as that year's National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother. On 11 November at the National Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa she laid a wreath at the National War Memorial on behalf of all mothers who have lost a children in the service of their country.
The memory of the three Leboldus brothers was honoured by the Province of Saskatchewan with the naming of Leboldus Channel, adjoining lake, and islands in the lake. Leboldus Channel, named after John Anthony Leboldus connects Leboldus Lake , named after Peter John Leboldus with Frobisher Lake in north western Saskatchewan. The Leboldus Islands in the lake are named after Martin Benedict Leboldus.
(3) F/O. John Ralph (Jack) Piper was born on 28 October 1916 at 22 Hemlock Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada the son of Robert Charles Piper an Inspector, Rubber works, born Coburg Ontario) and Lena Annie Piper nee Wells (born Margate England) He had two sisters Dorothy Mac Piper born 1914 and June Louise Piper born 1927.
He attended Carlton School from 1922 to 1929 and Western High School of Commerce from 1929 to 1933. After leaving school he worked for Shell Oil as a Clerk until 1936 when he transferred to its subsidiary company Colas Roads Ltd rising to Assistant Accountant. He enlisted in the RCAF on 6 October 1941 when he was described as 5'9¾" tall weighing 152lbs with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. Jack Piper was clearly a very athletic man; his sporting activities were listed as baseball, hockey, rugby, swimming, basketball, tennis, skiing, skating and paddling (canoe and sailing club).
At this time he was living with the family at 350 Winona Drive, Toronto; the family later moved to 43 Mount Royal Avenue Toronto
After initial training Jack was posted to No. 20 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Oshawa, Ontario for pilot training but when he failed to achieve the required standard he transferred for observer training in May 1942 at RCAF Trenton at Quinte West, Ontario. He was posted to No. 1 Air Observer School (AOS) at RCAF Malton, Ontario on 16 August 1942 where on 4 December 1942 he was awarded his Observers Badge and commissioned as a Pilot Officer. On 12 January 1943 he arrived in the UK and the following day was posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre. On 25 May 1943 he was posted to No. 3 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) at RAF Bobbington, Staffordshire. Promoted to Flying Officer on 4 June 1943 he was later posted to 22 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire, 1659 Conversion Unit at RAF Topcliffe, North Riding of Yorkshire and No. 1664 Conversion Unit at RAF Croft, Co. Durham before joining 419 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George on 24 October 1943.
(4) WOII. John Leslie Beattie was born on 10 November 1921 at Nelson, British Columbia, Canada the son of David Beattie (born Scotland) and Cecilia Ellen Jessie Beattie nee Ronald (born Chelsea, England). He had five older brothers and one younger sister; a further brother had died in 1913 and another sister died in 1936. The family later moved to Vancouver where they lived at 1166 Nelson Street and later at 1312 East 41st Street, Suite 6. John Beattie attended Nelson Public School (1927-1935) and Nelson High School (1935-1940) before commencing an Honours Course at Upper Canada College, Toronto. He played Hockey, Lacrosse and enjoyed Swimming. 5' 7½" tall weighing 123lbs he had a toned complexion with brown eyes and hair.
He enlisted on 17 June 1941 and was posted to RCAF St. Hubert, Quebec. He later undertook pilot training. but when he failed to reach a required standard was posted to 6 Air Observer School (RCAF Prince Albert, Ontario) 8 Bombing and Gunnery School (RCAF Lethbridge, Alberta) and 2 Air Observer School (RCAF Edmonton, Alberta) where he was awarded his Air Bomber badge on 19 February 1943.
Arriving in the UK from New York on 17 March 1943 he was posted to 9 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Llandwrog, near Caernarfon, Wales, to 22 OTU on 16 June, 1659 CU on 9 September, 1664 CU on 29 September and finally to 419 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George on 24 October 1943.
He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 19 August 1943 and Warrant Office Class II on 19 February 1944.
Above: A half-finished letter started by John Leslie Beattie on the 18th February 1944. He never had the chance to finish it.
The memory of John Leslie Beattie was honoured by the Province of British Columbia on 27 October 1998 by naming Mount Beattie after him. Mount Beattie is a 6,084 ft. / 1,854 m mountain peak in West Arm Park, 10km east of Nelson, British Columbia the birthplace of John Leslie Beattie.
(5) Sgt. Thomas Gettings was born in 1923 at Dundee, Scotland the son of Thomas Gettings and Ann Paton Gettings nee McLanders of 27 Flemings Gardens South, Dundee.
Sgt. Thomas Gettings is commemorated on the City of Dundee Roll of Honour and the Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.
(6) P/O. Donald Clifford Lewthwaite was born on 2 May 1922 at Banff, Alberta, Canada the son of Clifford Alexander Lewthwaite (an Accountant) and Irene Margaret Lewthwaite nee Smith of 411 Muskrat Street, Banff. He had only one sibling, his brother and fellow RCAF officer F/O. John Robert Lewthwaite J/24275 born 1919.
Donald attended Banff Public School (1928-1937) and Banff High School (1939-1942) and enlisted 28 July 1942 at Calgary. He was 5'7½" weighing 140lbs with a medium complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair.
He was experienced at woodworking and skiing and had spent the previous two winters as a ski instructor. Experienced in drafting and fishing he also played golf, hockey and was a pole vaulter. After initial training he trained as an air gunner at 2AG RCAF Trenton, Ontario and 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF MacDonald, Manitoba where he was awarded his Air Gunners Badge on 25 June1943. He embarked for the UK on 16 July 1943 and arrived in the UK on 22 July. Eventually posted to 22 OTU on 3 August he was later posted to 1659 CU, 1664 CU and finally to 419 Squadron on 24 October 1943.
(7) Sgt. Alfred Harvey Hackbart was born on 7 February 1923 at Wellesley Township, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada the son of Albert Hackbart (a Farmer) and Maria Ann Hackbart nee Zinkan. He had six siblings, Carl born 1915, Frieda in 1916, Margaret in 1918, Marie in 1920 Herbert in 1924 and Kenneth in 1926.
Their father died in 1928 and their mother also died in 1932 leaving the seven children orphaned with Carl, the eldest, still only sixteen.
How and by whom the other children were looked after is not known but their Uncle Harvey Hackbart is named in RCAF documents as Alfred's Guardian. Alfred lived with his Uncle and Aunt Delilah lived at 68 Joseph Street, Kitchener, Waterloo. Harvey and Delilah later lived at 61 Gaukel Street, Kitchener.
Educated at Crosshill School he left in 1939 at the age of 16 and went to work as a Bakelite Press Operator at the Dominion Button Company in Kitchener. He only worked there a short time for in 1940 he became employed by the Canada Skate Company as a Sheet Metal Polisher and worked there until he enlisted in the RCAF at Kitchener on 3 September 1942.
He was described as 5'7" tall weighing 145lbs with brown eyes and dark brown hair and stated that his hobby was playing Baseball. After initial training he trained as an Air Gunner at No. 2 Air Gunners Ground Training School at RCAF Trenton, Ontario and was later posted to No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF MacDonald in Manitoba where he was awarded his Air Gunners Badge on 11 June 1943. He embarked for the UK on 23 June and arriving on 1 July was posted first to 22 OTU followed by 1659 CU on 9 September, 1664 CU on 29 September and to 419 Squadron on 24 October 1943.
BURIAL DETAILS AND EPITAPHS
P/O. Douglas Kenneth MacLeod - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 251
Sgt. Martin Benedict Leboldus - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 255
F/O. John Ralph Piper - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 247
WOII. John Leslie Beattie - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 254
Sgt. Thomas Gettings - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 230
P/O. Donald Clifford Lewthwaite - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 251
Sgt. Alfred Harvey Hackbart - Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 255
In all 106 airmen from 20 different crews representing 25% of those killed were lost without trace on this raid and are similarly commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - August 2016
With thanks to the sources quoted below.