06/07.08.1941 11 OTU Wellington Z8807 Flt.Sgt. James A. Walker
Date: 06/07th August 1941 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: 11 OTU (Operational Training Unit)
Type: Wellington IC
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire
Location: Stougiesdijk near Greup, 3 km. South East of Oud-Beijerland, Netherlands
Pilot: Flt.Sgt. James Atholl Walker R/56262 RCAF PoW No: 60. Camp: Stalag Mühlberg
Pilot 2: WO. Ronald Charlesworth 1064497 RAFVR PoW No: 66. Camp: Stalag Thorn
Obs: WO. T. Humphrey 928491 RAFVR PoW No: 61. Camp: Stalag Thorn
W/Op/Air/Gnr: WO. Ronald Charles Mackenzie AUS/402465 RAAF Age 23. PoW No: 73. Camp: Stalag Thorn
W/Op/Air/Gnr: WO. L.E. Sparks 924227 RAFVR PoW No: 84. Camp: Stalag Thorn
Air/Gnr: WO. Stanley J. Pryor 1200275 RAFVR PoW No: 59. Camp: Stalag Thorn
On September 19th 2013 families of the Dutch villagers erected a memorial in their memory - Full story of the Dutch villagers who were executed by the Germans - The Stichting 5
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire at around 22.00 hrs on a nickel (propaganda leaflet dropping operation) with another Wellington X9314 piloted by Sgt Bennett and his 5 crew from ‘C’ Flight. The operation involved dropping leaflets F.50/16 x 150,000, F./102 x 42,000, F./103a x 163,500, F./107 x 184,00 over Le Blanc, Doual, Tours, Vendôme area.
Area of operational loss
Above left: WO. Charlesworth Right: Pictured at Stalag Thorn - WO. Charlesworth 2nd right, middle row (courtesy Diane Gollop)
Above left: WO. T. Humphrey and right: WO. R.C. Mckenzie (courtesy Diane Gollop)
Above: One of the many types of RAF propaganda messages dropped
Sgt. Bennett and his crew returned safely, landing at 03:15 hrs. RAF Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire. Command last heard from Z8807 at 06:15 hrs with a radio fix, placing them somewhere over Rotterdam.
Z8807 photographed after the crew had set fire to the aircraft (courtesy Karsten Schaper)
Karsten Schaper also sent a series of photographs found in his Grandfathers possessions along with the Wellington - we are trying to establish if this was perhaps the unit that claimed Z8807! (His Grandfather is shown in the last photo - guarding his camouflaged Transport Unit Base in Holland.
The Wellington was hit twice by the many flak batteries placed in the area, but the crew managed to force land on a muddy field Stougiesdijk near Greup. The crew set fire the aircraft by firing a flare into the fuel tanks whilst Dutch citizens watched curiously. Bastiaan Arie Barendrecht shook hands with the pilot and took the crew to the farm near the field. They are provided with civilian clothes and food by many of the villagers.
Despite the brave efforts from the Dutch villagers the crew were soon captured by the huge German presence and the many search parties.
This was the first aircraft from the Operational Training Units to be lost over enemy territory of the war.
Fourteen Dutch citizens are arrested and interrogated for trying to assist the RAF crew to escape and were sent for trial.
Above: Arie van der Stel, Joris de Heus, Pieter Wouter Kruijthoff, Arie van Steensel, Bastiaan Arie Barenrecht.
Some were acquitted due to their young age, some were given life sentences, 5 were sentenced to be executed. They were shot on the morning of the 19th September - the place of execution is unknown, their bodies were never found. On Thursday, September 19th 2013 the families of the ‘Stichting 5’ unveiled a memorial to the group.
Above photograph taken on the 20th May 1945 - anyone recognise the two to the right of WO. Charlesworth (courtesy Diane Gollop)
Left: Ronald Charlesworth and his wife, taken in 1940 (courtesy Diane Gollop)
None, crew survived the war, Dutch bodies not found (pictured above in the sequence described below)
Arie van der Stel. Born 18th April 1881. Farmer. Age 60.
Joris de Heus. Born 11th November 1888. Farmer. Age 53.
Pieter Wouter Kruijthoff. Born 26th November 1911. Farm hand. Age 30.
Arie van Steensel. Born 6th September 1915. Farm hand. Age 26.
Bastiaan Arie Barendrecht. Born 18th September 1919. Farm hand. Age 22.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Karsten Schaper who’s grandfather held these photographs of the wreck, Diane Gollop daughter of WO. Ronald Charlesworth, R.A.F. Commands Forum, Stichting 5 van Greup, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries'.