27/28.09.1943 428 (Ghost) Squadron RCAF Halifax V LK915 NA:V Flt Lt. Michael G. Whalley
Date: 27th/28th September 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Middleton St.George, North Yorkshire
Location: Hulshagen, west of Hanover, Germany
Pilot: Flt Lt. Michael George Whalley J9748 RCAF Age 21. PoW No.2932. Camp: Stalag Luft 3 Sagan and Belaria
Flt Eng: Sgt. John Ivor Jones 929585 RAF Age 21. Missing
Nav: Fg Off. Charles Merton Butcher J22487 RCAF Age 33. Killed
Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. William Basil Lorraine Higgins J22863 RCAF PoW No: 2916 Camp: Stalag Luft 3 Sagan and Belaria
W Op/Air Gnr: Sgt. (Jack) Frank Charles Jackson 1337232 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. John Murray Morrison R184515 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Edgar Smith Driscoll R169017 RCAF Age 27 Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Over the course of the Second World War the city of Hanover and the surrounding environs were targeted 88 times. The city itself, being an important road and rail logistical centre, received heavy damage and by the end of hostilities 90% had been destroyed and over 6,000 inhabitants killed.
Around the city were clustered numerous industries producing weaponry and other supporting materials for the war effort.
Above L-R: LAC. Michael Whalley (taken during training), Sgt. (Jack) Frank Jackson, Sgt. John Jones (pictured here, aged 18) (see credits)
At Stöcken to the north lay the AFA works producing batteries for submarines. On the east side a major oil refinery at Misburg and to the west the M.N.H. tank factory at Badenstedt, the Hanomag military vehicle plant at Linden and the Continental rubber factory at Limmer.
The attacking force of 678 aircraft was comprised of 312 Lancasters, 231 Halifaxes, 111 Stirlings, 24 Wellingtons and 5 B-17’s. In total 47 aircraft were lost, 38 over or en-route to or from the target and nine crash landing in England.
According to RAF reports after the raid, the Pathfinders had used incorrect wind forecasts which blew the target markers away from the city centre. Reconnaissance photographs taken after the raid showed that the majority of the bombs fell in a concentrated area consisting of villages and open country some five miles to the north.
Area of loss - with detailed map supplied by Dirk Hartmann
LK915 was claimed by Oblt. Martin Drewes, his 8th Abschuss, from 11./NJG1 over Hülshagen at 4.400 m at 23:30 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 September - 31 December) 1943 Part 3 - Theo Boiten).
A letter sent from the pilot to the family of Sgt. Jones on October 19th 1945 describing the events.
'The aircraft was badly damaged I ordered the crew to bale out. The Bomb-Aimer, WO. Higgins was the first to jump. Again a night fighter attacked at a very close range. I was unable to take evasive manoeuvres due to airframe damage and that the remainder of the crew were probably killed during this part of the action.
The aircraft was on fire and the right wing had blown off. I survived the attack due to heavy armour in my area, managed to evacuate the aircraft through a hole in the side of the fuselage.'
The pilot, Fg Off. Michael Whalley and the Bomb Aimer Fg Off. William Higgins survived and spent the remainder of the war as PoW at the notorious Stalag Luft 3, the scene of 'The Great Escape.'
Above: Michael Whalley, fishing in more peaceful times. (see credits)
Newspaper clippings regarding Fg Off. Whalley (see credits)
Michael Whalley was born and raised in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Upon graduating from Sydney Academy he joined the R.C.A.F. at the age of eighteen rising to the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After his release and return to Canada, he attended Mount Allison University gaining his undergraduate degree, after which he studied Law at Dalhousie University where he received his LLB being admitted to the Bar of Nova Scotia in 1949. In General Practice for five years, he then served five years as Supernumerary Magistrate and then as City Solicitor for the City of Sydney from 1959 – 1987 being appointed QC in1974. Michael was devoted to his wife Meryl whom he married in 1950, and his children Anne, Clement, Patricia and John. In his spare time he was also an avid fly fisherman and gardener. Michael George Whalley QC, died at the age of 86 in September 2009.
The other survivor, Fg Off. William B.L. Higgins, was the son of Basil Higgins of 199 Dunn Avenue, Toronto. He was born on the 21st September 1914 to Basel Higgins and his wife Helen Francis MacCallum. He married Camille Pierrette on 2 March 1946 and had at least one daughter also named Camille. According to a border crossing card issued on 8 April 1952 he was a salesman. He died on 15 March 1975 in Toronto.
Graves of four of the crew - Sgt. Jones has no ‘known’ grave.
Sgt. John Ivor Jones. Runnymede Memorial Panel 155. Son of William Edward and Margaret Patricia Jones of 5 Brynna Road, Brynbryddam, Cwmavon, Glamorgan, husband of Doreen (nee Davies) Jones of Cwmavon, Wales. This was his third operation.
Fg Off. Charles Merton Butcher. Hanover War Cemetery, Grave 12 A 19. Son of Charles Seymer Butcher and Jessie Clara (née Thoms) Butcher of Bittern Lake, Alberta, Canada.
Sgt. Frank Charles (Jack) Jackson. Hanover War Cemetery, Grave 12 A 16. Son of Charles and Constance (née McGowan) Jackson of Homerton, London, England.
Sgt. John Murray Morrison. Hanover War Cemetery, Grave 12 A 13. Son of Wilbert George and Alice May (née Davis) Morrison of Lakefield, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Edgar Smith Driscoll. Hanover War Cemetery, Grave 12 A 17. Son of William James Driscoll and Hannah (née Bailey) Driscoll of Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew. Extensive research has also been carried out by Dirk Hartmann, together with eye witness reports. With thanks to the family of M.G. Whalley Q.C. - Cape Breton Post. All other photos and news clippings courtesy of John Whalley. Sgt. Frank Jackson photo courtesy of Colin Humphrey. Thanks to Gina Heinbockel-Bolik from the National Air Force Museum of Canada for the NoK details for Fg Off. Higgins (Jun 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jun 2021).