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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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76 Squadron Crest
12/13.05.1944 No. 76 Squadron Halifax III MZ575 MP-W F/O. Jack Newcombe MiD

Operation: Hasselt, Belgium

Date: 12/13th May 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 76 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ575

Code: MP-W

Base: RAF Holme-On-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire.

Location: Hadschot, nr Geel, Belgium

Pilot: F/O. Jack Newcombe MiD 135399 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (1)

Nav: Sq/Ldr. Nathaniel Leslie Shove DFC 67050 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Fl/Eng: F/O. Alan John Crouch DFM 149983 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (2)

Air/Bmr: F/O. Charles Hume Stewart DFC 138825 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Harold Downs Reeder DFC 978731 RAFVR Age 21. Injured PoW (3) 

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Roy Reading 988635 RAFVR Age 22. Evaded. (4)

Air/Gnr: F/O. Christopher William Saunderson 157140 RAFVR Age ? Killed (5)

A memorial to this crew was erected on the 27th September 2014. Belgium historian/researcher, Mr. Benny Ceulaers together with his group 'Planehunters Recovery Group' assisted by locals and the family arranged this fitting tribute. In November the family 'Maes', whose property the Halifax crashed on, sent us photographs.


Took off from RAF Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire at 22:25 hrs on the 12th May 1944.

The operation, commanded by Sq/Ldr. Nathaniel Shove DFC (2nd Pilot of MZ575 and navigator), was to attack the railway marshalling yards at Hasselt, Belgium. 111 aircraft took part in this raid with 9 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost. The resulting bombing was classed as poor, with many of the bombs landing in open fields.


Above L-R: Sq/Ldr. Shove DFC, F/O. Crouch DFM, F/O. Stewart DFC, F/O. Reeder DFC (see credits)

Halifax MZ575 was shot down by a night-fighter, piloted by Oblt. Frederick Tober (6) of 8/NJG2. Combat taking place at 3,800 mtrs. time: 00:37 hrs. 

The aircraft crashed near the hamlet of Hadschot, nr Geel, Belgium. Those who died were first buried at Antwerpen-Deurne Cemetery on 15th May 1944 then later reburied in Schoonselhof Cemetery.

Above: Reenacting crew of the "Erfgoedgilde" society. The uniforms are police and Gendarmerie uniforms of the WWII period (courtesy Camille Vanhove)

L-R: Speech of the eye- witness and the owner of the place of the crash Mr. Frans Maes, translated in English by Dirk Vanhove chairman of the "Erfgoedgilde”, inauguration by Mrs. V. Celis, mayor of the city of Geel and a member of the council - Mr. Julliams (courtesy Camille Vanhove)

L-R: Mrs. M. Maes, sister of Mr. Frans Maes, children of  Vanhove family honouring the crew (courtesy Camille Vanhove)

Left: The Weston Morning News 16th March 1945

(3) F/O. Harold Reeder DFC flew with P/O. Stockton Gowland Rawlings DFC. on his previous operations.

The citation for the award of the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) as per London Gazette state: P/O. H. D. Reeder RAFVR. No 51 Squadron

P/O. Reeder has completed a number of bombing sorties and 21 anti-submarine patrols in day-light. As wireless operator his technical skills has on more than one occasion ensured the safe return of his aircraft when navigational difficulties have been encountered.

Left: Escaper and Evaders report 2599 TNA WO208 TNA number 3324

(4) Fl/Sgt. Roy Reading born on the 13th November 1921 and married in 1951. Roy Reading died in April 2001 

(6)Oblt. Frederick Tober survived the war with 6 night / 1 day claims. MZ575 was the last claim attributed to him during the war.

The beautiful memorial with thanks to the Camille Vanhove family (photo courtesy Mr Bart Julliams of Geel Council and of course to Benny Ceulaers of the tremendous Belgian Recovery Team)

Above: Sq/Ldr. Nathaniel Leslie Shove DFC and right, with his wife, Grace (see credits)


Above: Some of the crew graves (courtesy Benny Ceulaers)

Burial details:

F/O. Jack Newcombe MiD. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.E. 36-42. Son of Frederick William and Beatrice Margaret Newcombe, of Torrington, Devon, England (1) Jack Newcome (Torrington Senior) won a scholarship to Barnstaple Grammar School as reported in the North Devon Journal, May 26th 1932

North Devon Journal-Herald. January 25th 1945. Torrington Flying Officer. Believed killed on Operation

Flying Officer Jack Newcombe only son of Mr and Mrs F Newcombe, of Station House, Torrington who had previously been reported as missing after a raid on enemy territory, is now officially listed as "believed killed in operations." Flying Officer was piloting a Halifax bomber, one of a number sent to attack selected targets. Two of the crew were known to be safe, the wireless operator being safe and well in a prisoner of war camp, and an air-gunner being hidden by partisans until the arrival of our Forces in their push into Belgium and Holland. For a while hopes were high that others of the crew were safe, but it is now believed that they lost their lives. 

F/O. Newcombe who was 22, was an Old Boy of Barnstaple Grammar School, and became articled to the Divisional Engineer, Southern Railways, Exeter. For over 12 months he was a member of the 22nd Devon (SR) Battalion of the Home Guard at Exeter. He volunteered for the RAF in March 1941, and after training in Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme he joined Bomber Command early in 1942. Starting with the first 1,000 bombing raid on Cologne, he took part in operational sorties over principal targets of the Ruhr and North West Germany, as well as those over the Alps to targets in Northern Italy. It was on one of these latter raids that the aircraft came down in the North Sea 80 miles from the English coast, and the crew spent several hours in a dinghy before being rescued by naval craft. 

After a tour of operations, Flying Officer Newcombe was posted for instructional duties, during which time he was mentioned in despatches. He remained there for fifteen months, being recalled for operational duties shortly before the opening of the Second Front. The sympathetic thoughts of many friends, especially in railway circles, will be with his parents and sister in their great loss.

Sq/Ldr. Nathaniel Leslie Shove DFC. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.E. 36-42. Son of Nathaniel and Edith Shove, husband of Grace Lilian Shove, of Goodmayes, Essex, England.

F/O. Alan John Crouch DFM. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.E. 36-42. Son of Henry Ernest and Evelyn Jessie Crouch, husband of Joyce Mabel Crouch, of New Eltham, London, England (2) The citation for his DFM as per Flight Global 26th August 1943 "Sgt. A. J. CROUCH, No. 10 Sqn.—Despite the fact that his aircraft was on one occasion attacked simultaneously by three enemy night fighters, and on three other occasions has been heavily damaged by anti-aircraft fire when over the target, Sgt. Crouch has continued to display an admirable and unflagging enthusiasm for operations" 

F/O. Charles Hume Stewart DFC. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.E. 36-42. Son of George and Margaret Ann Stewart, of Glasgow, husband of Agnes Stewart, of Dennistoun, Glasgow, Scotland.

F/O. Christopher William Saunderson. Schoonselhof Cemetery. Collective grave IVa.E. 36-42. Son of Captain William Robert and Mrs Saunderson of Rosebank, Cushendall Road, Ballymena. Christopher is remembered on the monument at Saint Mary's Church of Ireland, Anglesea Road, Donnybrook, Dublin

Sq/Ldr. Nathaniel Leslie Shove DFC at his desk (see credits)

Researched by Neil, 51 Squadron historian for Aircrew Remembered. Additional research by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. For further details our thanks to the following, the family of Sq/Ldr. Shove including his nieces, Ruth and Sally, the family of F/O. Charles Stewart, Benny Ceulaers and the 'Planehunter Recovery Group', Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', 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), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Bomber Command Database.

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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