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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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429 Squadron Crest
29/30.12.1943 No. 429 Squadron Halifax II JD318 AL-F P/O. A.L. Merkley

Operation: Berlin, Germany

Date: 29/30th December 1943

Unit: 429 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JD318

Code: AL-F

Base: RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire

Location: Albergen, Overijssel, 7km ENE of Almelo, Holland

Pilot: P/O. A. L. Merkley RCAF Age ? PoW No: 5989 Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Barrie Stanley Ranson 1850117 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: F/O. R. O. Marrion RCAF Age ? PoW No: 3266 Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Air/Bmr: F/O. Charles Willcox Peasland J/23633 RCAF Age 22. Killed

W/Op: Fl/Sgt. Edward Norman Parker 1129440 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Richard James Hartland Walsh R/225386 RCAF Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Gordon Innes R/155366 RCAF Age ? Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 16.59 hrs from RAF Leeming joining 457 Lancasters, 251 other Halifaxes and 3 Mosquitos - 712 aircraft in all. 20 aircraft - 11 Lancasters and 9 Halifaxes - were lost, representing 2.8% of the force.

Above L-R: P/O. Merkley, Sgt. Ranson, F/O. Peasland, Fl/Sgt. Parker, Sgt. Walsh, Fl/Sgt. Innes

A long approach route from the south, passing south of the Ruhr and within 20 miles of Leipzig, together with Mosquito diversions at Düsseldorf, Leipzig and Magdeburg, caused the German controllers great difficulty, leaving Berlin defended by few fighters. Bad weather on the outward route also hindered German fighters finding the bomber stream.

Berlin was cloud-covered. The Bomber Command report claiming a concentrated attack on sky-markers is not confirmed by the local report. The heaviest bombing was in the south and south-eastern districts, but many bombs also fell to the east of the city. 388 houses and other mixed properties were destroyed. 182 people were killed, more than 600 injured and over 10,000 bombed out.

JD318 was hit at 19,000ft in the vicinity of Hengelo by a night-fighter that approached from astern and slightly below. There was a fierce exchange of fire which left the Halifax very difficult to control, and the order was given to bale out. It crashed 7 km ENE of Almelo at Albergen, Overijssel, Holland. We are unable to identify the Luftwaffe night-fighter who engaged JD318.

Burial details:

Sgt. Barrie Stanley Ranson. Tubbergen Roman Catholic Cemetery, Albergen, Overijssel, the Netherlands, Grave 6. Son of Stanley Harold and Winifred Annie Ranson of Hove, Sussex, England.

F/O. Charles Willcox Peasland. Tubbergen Roman Catholic Cemetery, Albergen, Overijssel, the Netherlands, Grave 5. Son of Albert George Peasland and of Williamina Peasland of Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Fl/Sgt. Edward Norman Parker. Tubbergen Roman Catholic Cemetery, Albergen, Overijssel, the Netherlands, Grave 4. Son of Harold and Majorie Victoria Parker of Rodley, Yorkshire, England.

Sgt. Richard James Hartland Walsh. Tubbergen Roman Catholic Cemetery, Albergen, Overijssel, the Netherlands, Grave 3. Son of Mrs. B. Walsh of Newcastle-On-Tyne, England. Formerly of Montreal, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Arthur Gordon Innes. Tubbergen Roman Catholic Cemetery, Albergen, Overijssel, the Netherlands, Grave 7. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

The churchyard in Albergen stands 50m south of the church. The graves are to be found on the western side of the cemetery, near the boundary hedge. In total there are 7 Allied airmen buried here, 4 from Britain and 3 from Canada. The two graves of airmen not from this aircraft are those of 2 British Air Gunners from 57 Squadron who fell in May 1943.

Researched by Jeremy Nicholson. With thanks to the following For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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