78 Squadron Halifax III LW291 EY-M Loss of crew.
Date: 20/21st January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire.
Location: 2 km north of Großmutz, Germany.
Pilot: WO2 Frank Reagh Moffat R/138175 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. Noel Legg 1603547 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: Fg.Off. Walter Roy McGregor J/20233 RCAF Age 31. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fg.Off. Robert Gilroy Selman J/23155 RCAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt Harold Herbert Bennett 1320112 PoW No: 1171. Camp: Stalag Kopernikus - Stalag Luft Heydekrug. (1)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Angus Stewart 1822847 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry William Rudelhoff 1890442 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 16:40 hrs from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire joining 768 other aircraft to bomb the Reich's capital - this was to be the heaviest attack up to this date of the war.
The bomber stream was detected at 17.09 hrs when it was still 160 km out over the North Sea over Terschelling by MS Togo - a Wurzburg-Reise radar equipped ship (2). This ship was also equipped with direct link communication equipment to German night fighters.
Weather conditions were extremely poor and only the most experienced night fighter crews took off to intercept. 10 aircraft were shot down before they reached the target.
Over the target the weather was clear, no moon but excellent visibility resulting in another 21 aircraft shot down. A further four were claimed on the home run.
LW291 was a probable claim by Lt Manfred Tischtau 8/NJG 5 at 1937/2008 Hrs (Local) (Nachtjagd War Diaries Vol 1 - Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten) and crashed 2 km north of Großmutz, NW of Löwenberg (Brandenburg)
Those who perished were initially buried in Großmutz Parish Cemetery on the 22nd January 1944. Row 1 to the left of the East Entrance. Sgt Bennett landed at Buberow where he was taken prisoner.
The city reported nothing of this raid and the damage caused is unknown to this specific night. The Allies lost a staggering 174 crew killed with a further 71 taken as PoWs. 10 others evaded capture.
78 Squadron Halifax and landing at R.A.F. Breighton, Yorkshire (courtesy IWM)
(1) We are in contact with the family of Harold Bennett and hope to have additional information available. Sgt. Bennett originated from Southampton, England. We are pleased to now be able to reproduce some extracts and drawings from his PoW days. To read his story click here.
(2) The Togo survived the war and claimed by Norway as a "War prize". She was wrecked off the Mexico coast in November 1984. Her name was then MS Topeka. (shown right and insert the radar set up)
Portrait of EY-M, painted by Ivor Berryman which can be purchased in various formats from World Naval Ships.
Above is a video on Bomber Command experiences of another RCAF Moffatt which illustrates the random dangers that waited these brave crews at every turn.
Understood to have been initially buried in the Parish Church at Grossmutz before being exhumed and moved to the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery after war ended.
WO2 Frank Reagh Moffat. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.F. 1-6. Son of William Jarding Moffat and Carrie Ethel Moffat, of White Rock British Columbia, Canada.
Sgt. Noel Legg. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.F. 1-6. Son of Harold and Sophie C. Legg, of Parkstone, Dorsetshire, England.
Fg.Off. Walter Roy McGregor. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.F. 1-6. Born on the 21st November 1912. From Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. No further details available are you able to assist?
Fg.Off. Robert Gilroy Selman. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.F. 1-6. Son of Gordon Samuel Selman and Laura Gilroy, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Sgt. James Angus Stewart. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.F. 1-6. Son of John M. Stewart and Lilian A. Stewart, of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Sgt. Henry William Rudelhoff. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 9.F. 1-6. Son of Henry and Frances Rudelhoff, of Walthamstow, Essex, England.
Researched and dedicated to all relatives of the crew. With thanks to Claire Shepherd for additional details on Sgt. Bennett. Also thanks to Sue Ann Selman, Granddaughter-in-law of Gordon Rex Selman, brother to Robert Gilroy Selman. Other sources as quoted below.