13/14.07.1943 No. 428 Squadron Halifax V DK228 NA-D Fl/Lt. William G. Weeks
Date: 13/14th July 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 428 Squadron
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Middleton St. George
Location: Mesnil-St-Blaize, Belgium
Pilot: Fl/Lt. William George Weeks J/15549 RCAF Age 25. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Stephen Zayets R/56703 RCAF Age 25. Killed (1)
Nav: F/O. Ernest Drever Robertson J/10178 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Walter Ferguson Stewart J/16779 RCAF Age 22. Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O II James Richard Goodfellow R/90240 RCAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Archibald Douglas Dawson 1813538 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Harold Bramley Ward J/11359 RCAF Age 26. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from Middleton St. George at 23.38 hrs to attack the German town of Aachen with devastating results. Over 1000 people on the ground were either killed or injured and many cultural buildings destroyed including the cathedral and the town theatre. Over 16,000 flats or apartments were destroyed - following this raid over 18,000 people fled the town.
The German night fighter force were extremely active, enjoying very good visibility, the result being 20 aircraft shot down (15 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling) The number of casualties from the Allied losses was 93 killed, 8 known injured, 39 Prisoners of War and 8 evading capture.
Above left to right: Fl/Lt. W.G. Weeks, F/O. W.F. Stewart and W/O II J.R. Goodfellow (courtesy Mike Harrison)
Halifax DK228 NA-D was one of three 428 Squadron aircraft lost on this night. Shot down by German night fighter ace Oblt, Willhelm Herget (3) of Stab1./NJG4 who engaged at 6,000 mtrs. at 02.40 hrs over Mesnil-St-Blaize, Belgium with the loss of all crew. Also lost from 428 Squadron - Halifax EB209 NA-C flown by F/O Ross RCAF shot down by flak over the target area (all this crew survived - 5 being made PoW and 2 evaded capture with the assistance of the Comet line. Halifax DK257 NA-Q flown by Fl/Lt. Morgan RCAF was shot down by another German night fighter pilot Ofw. Richard Launer from 10./NJG4 at 02.0 hrs over North Genderen. The two Air Gunners were killed but the remaining 5 survived - 4 made Prisoners of War and 1 evading capture.
(1) The younger brother of Sgt. Stephen Zayets was killed later in the war. Twenty one year old Sgt. Peter Zayets (Air/Gnr) was killed during a training exercise on 29th February 1944 when the Halifax II dived into the ground near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire killing all 7 crew members (6 being Canadian) Unit 1666 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit)
(2) The brother of F/O. Walter Stewart was killed only a few days previously which, when they received the news of this loss as well, must have devastated his family. Sgt. Lorne Glen Stewart (Air/Gnr) was killed on an anti-shipping patrol over the Bay of Biscay whilst with 10 OTU.
Oblt, Willhelm Herget (courtesy Tom Kracker Archives)
(3) The "Ace" Oblt, Willhelm Herget survived the war (no further details - 72 to his credit) after being shot down during a transit flight by US anti aircraft fire on the 2nd May 1945. At the time he was flying the new jet - the Me 262
Crash site of Halifax DK228 (Courtesy Mike Harrison)
Florennes Communal Cemetery (courtesy Erin McMillen)
Fl/Lt. William George Weeks. Florennes Communal Cemetery Row 4. Grave 48. Son of Charles Dufferin Weeks and Cora Weeks, of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, husband of Elsie Louise Weeks, of Medicine Hat, Canada.
Sgt. Stephen Zayets. Florennes Communal Cemetery Row 4. Grave 51. Son of Alexander and Maria Zayets of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
F/O. Ernest Drever Robertson. Florennes Communal Cemetery Row 4. Grave 52. From Stratford Perth, Ontario, Canada. Husband of Leita May (née Leyj) Born 1910.
F/O. Walter Ferguson Stewart. Florennes Communal Cemetery Row 4. Grave 53. Born on December 31st 1920. Son of Alex and Margaret (Peggy) Stewart, brother of Lorne Glen Stewart of Oxbow, Saskatchewan, Canada.
W/O II James Richard Goodfellow. Florennes Communal Cemetery Row 4. Grave 54. Son of Victor P. and Sally L. Goodfellow, of London, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Archibald Douglas Dawson. Florennes Communal Cemetery Row 4. Grave 50. Son of Archibald Douglas Dawson and Beryl May Dawson, of Battersea, London, England.
F/O. Harold Bramley Ward. Florennes Communal Cemetery Row 4. Grave 49. Son of Alfred Harold Ward and of Winifred Ward (nee Bramley), husband of Ida Orbell Ward, of Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, Scotland.
Researched for Lee and Erin McMillen, relatives of F/O. Walter Stewart dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. With thanks to sources quoted. Also to Jack Brook for pointing out an error with another Squadron Halifax code lost on this operation, that of EB209 NA-C.
(1) Zayets Creek which flows north west into the Mukutawa River in Manitoba is named after Sgt. Zayets
(2) Stewart Channel in Saskatchewan is named after F/O. Stewart