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1943-11-26 The Loss of Mitchell FR146 NO-O (Kok)

Crash site: Tréauville, near Le Pont Sorel, 1.8005W/49.5285N, Manche, France

Crash cause: direct hit by enemy Flak

Aircraft of 320 (Dutch) Squadron RAF Bomber Command, crashed on November 26th, 1943, at Le Pont Sorel, about 800m ESE of the center of the hamlet of Tréauville, Manche, F. US ACOB serial Nr. 42-32277.

Squadron flew from RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB. Target was a railway construction site at Martinvast, S of Cherbourg. Actually at Couville near Martinvast. Some concrete remains in 2004 of this target. Aircraft shot down by Flak on the way out after bombing the target. The aircraft received a direct hit in the starboard engine, setting the aircraft ablaze. Two of four crewmembers KIA, two got out OK, one taken POW, one evaded captivity and reported back in England on 10/4/1944.

320 Squadron Mitchells in line astern prior to take-off from RAF Dunsfold Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50, JPK collection 7-5-5


1. Crew details

Name

1. Kok, Johannes Antonie (Jan)

JA Kok Source SLH Grebbeberg 050514 Kok J

J.A. Kok at the controls of a Mitchell. Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50


Rank

Res Sgt Vl, Sgt., Pilot

RAF VR 21076

Decorations

None known

Born

3/6/1918

Place

's-Gravenhage, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

40/117

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C FR146 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on railway construction site at Couville, Manche, F

Status

KIA, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak

age

25

Killed

26/11/1943

Place

Le Pont Sorel, Tréauville, Manche, F

Buried

Initially on 30/11/1943 at Cherbourg Communal Cemetery, grave 6/F/7 (the Cherbourg Register states 6/F/5).

Source: Cherbourg Cemetery Register; letter Préfect Dépt. Manche 24/3/1954

Reburied by OGS on 7/12/1949 at ereveld Grebbeberg, grave 8/7

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. F/Sgt. R. Overwijn, Copilot/Nav - evaded capture, got back to GB

3. Sgt Vltg Telegr J.H.H. de la Haije, Wop/Ag - KIA

4. Cpl. D.J. Koning, Ag - POW

Remarks

His body was found outside of the aircraft wreck.

It is unclear how his body was identified by the Germans, leading to a grave with the name of J.A. Kok. Perhaps Cpl. De Koning has assisted the Germans to identify the casualties. The MR&ES Exhumation Report, dated 02/07/1946, notes that no identifying items (disk, documents) were found. The body was identified as Dutch RAF. One other body, evacuated from the same crash site, was identified as a Dutch RAF airgunner, which was J.H.H. de la Haije. So Kok's identification by the MR&ES was the result of logics.

Memorial

In village of Tréauville

GB arrival

31/5/1940 with Dutch vessel 'Batavier II' from Cherbourg, France, after an escape from Holland on 16/5/1940. Detached KL to KM. Send from England to NEI 1/9/1940 for military flying training


Name

2. Overwijn, Reginald

Courtesy Yann Perrotte

Rank

F/Sgt., Copilot/Nav

RAF VR 16709

Decorations

Vliegerkruis, Kruis van Verdienste

Born

5/2/1920

Place

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C FR146 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on railway construction site at Couville, Manche, F

Status

Survived, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak

age

23

Shot down

26/11/1943

Place

Le Pont Sorel, Tréauville, Manche, F

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Res Sgt Vl J.A. Kok, Pilot - KIA

3. Sgt Vltg Telegr J.H.H. de la Haije, Wop/Ag - KIA

4. Cpl. D.J. Koning, Ag - POW

Remarks

Evaded capture, got back to GB

Kruis van Verdienste, 21/12/1944

Na op den 25sten November 1943, als waarnemer van het vliegtuig FR 146 van het 320e Squadron R.D.N.A.S. van Onzen Marine Luchtvaartdienst in het Vereenigd Koninkrijk bij een bomaanval op een doel in Normandië te zijn afgeschoten, met zijn parachute behouden den grond weten te bereiken en er in geslaagd met behulp van de bevolking aan gevangenneming door den vijand te ontkomen; bij zijn tocht door Frankrijk naar Gibraltar, moed, volharding en plichtsbetrachting betoond, waardoor het hem is gelukt op 10 April 1944 wederom te bereiken.

Vliegerkruis, 20/10/1944

Gedurende geruimen tijd bij het 320e Squadron R.D.N.A.S. van Onzen Marine Luchtvaartdienst in het Vereenigd Koninkrijk, in oorlogsvluchten tegen den vijand blijk gegeven van moed, bekwaamheid, volharding en plichtsbetrachting.

He baled out and touched ground near Couville, actually also the target area, 10 km NW of the crash site. He was helped by locals with food, blankets, and civilian clothing. He walked over 10 km to Cherbourg, and then another six to Bretteville, East of Cherbourg. There he was found by the Resistance, and spirited away along an escape route. The journey to Gibraltar took 4,5 months.

Overwijn's escape report, classified as top secret at the time. Source PRO WO 208-3319, via Claude Archambault.

'RAF evasion reports always end with the sentence 'From this point I was helped on my journey'. What happened after this was consigned to appendix A & C which are not included in this report sadly. In these appendices the evader mentions the names of the people who helped him or the underground networks he was in contact with. This information was classified as the people involved could be useful if a new War would happen in Europe.'

Source: Mickaël Simon, 16/5/2005

Overwijn's escape from captivity directly after he landed by parachute, was no doubt helped by the extensive brushwood in Normandy, still present but more abundant sixty years ago, that provided good opportunities to hide from sight.

Mr. Overwijn survived the War. He died 25/11/2003, exactly 60 years after this fateful mission.

An excellent Facebook page exists to honour Reginald Overwijn with many fine images and additional information, developed by Yann Perrote, who was kind enough to contact us August 1 2022

GB arrival

31/5/1940 with Dutch vessel 'Batavier II' from Cherbourg, France, after an escape from Holland on 16/5/1940

Memorial

In village of Tréauville

Data confusion

Geldhof (3) mentions Sgt Vl A. Stuurman in place of F/Sgt. R. Overwijn


Name

3. Haije, Johannes Henricus Hubertus (Jo, Joop) de la

J.H.H. de la Haije Source: SLH Orry-la-Ville 050702 De la Haije

Left the portrait photo taken shortly after Jo de la Haye joined the Royal Dutch Navy. Right a photo taken in 1943. Source both pictures:@St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Left: The initial grave of J.H.H. de la Haye in Cherbourg Communal Cemetery. The original wooden cross, placed during the War and marked with "unknown", was exchanged by the IWGC with an iron cross in 1946, carrying De la Haije's name. This grave was relocated by OGS to Orry-la-Ville in 1956. The Allied graves that remained in Cherbourg were given a standard CWGC headstone, replacing the iron crosses.

Right the 'bidprentje' (prayer card)

Source both pictures:@St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Cherbourg Communal Cemetery burial slip, issued to OGS.Source:@St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50

Rank

Sgt Vltg Telegr, Wop/Ag

RAF VR 14809

Decorations

Vliegerkruis

Born

27/5/1920

Place

Hoensbroek, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C FR146 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on railway construction site at Couville, Manche, F

Status

KIA, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak

age

23

Killed

26/11/1943

Place

Le Pont Sorel, Tréauville, Manche, F

Buried

Initially buried on 30/11/1943 at Cherbourg Communal Cemetery, grave 6/F/6, as an unknown airman.

Source: Cherbourg Cemetery Register; letter Préfect Dépt. Manche 24/3/1954

Reburied by OGS on 13/6/1956 at Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave A/1/4

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Res Sgt Vl J.A. Kok, Pilot - KIA

2. F/Sgt. R. Overwijn, Copilot/Nav - evaded capture, got back to GB

4. Cpl. D.J. Koning, Ag - POW

Remarks

His body was found outside of the aircraft wreck. When, how and by whom his body was identified, has yet to be uncovered. We assume that Cpl. De Koning has assisted the Germans with the names of the casualties, leading to a grave with the name De la Haije. The MR&ES, when exhuming the body in 1946 in Cherbourg, confirmed the body to belong to a Dutch RAF airgunner.

Vliegerkruis, 28/5/1942

Het gedurende geruimen tijd op oorlogspatrouillevluchten van het 320e Squadron R.D.N.A.S. van Onzen Marine Luchtvaartdienst blijken geven van moed, bekwaamheid, volharding en plichtsbetrachting.


Memorial

In village of Tréauville

GB arrival


Name

4. Koning, D.J. (Dick)

Rank

Cpl., Ag

RAF VR 20605

Decorations

None known

Born

Place

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C FR146 NO-O

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid on railway construction site at Couville, Manche, F

Status

POW, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak

age

Shot down

26/11/1943

Place

Le Pont Sorel, Tréauville, Manche, F

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Res Sgt Vl J.A. Kok, Pilot - KIA

2. F/Sgt. R. Overwijn, Copilot/Nav - evaded capture, got back to GB

3. Sgt Vltg Telegr J.H.H. de la Haije, Wop/Ag - KIA

4. Cpl. D.J. Koning, Ag - POW

Remarks

He got out by parachute, and descended near Les Pieux. A citizen of that village took him to the Ortskommandatur, the local German police. He was taken POW. He survived the War. In the map below it becomes evident that he managed to get out of the aircraft in the last minute only. He came down 2 to 3 km SW of the crash site.

POW camp Stalag IVb Muhlberg-Elbe

Memorial

In village of Tréauville


GB arrival

2. Local eyewitness reports

Report of the local Gendarmerie. Source: via Claude Archambault

Translation:

Cherbourg, November 27th 1943. Report by Captain Wahart, Commanding Officer, on aircraft crashes. On November 26th, close to 16.00 hours, three aircraft of unknown nationality have fallen in flames in the Tréauville (Manche) area. One has fallen in the hamlet of 'La Chauvinerie', 80 meters from the farm of Mr. Lecacheur, 1.500 meters NE of the village Pieux. The aviators must have been carbonized.

A second one has fallen 100 meters from the farm of Mrs Sarchet in the hamlet of 'La Giotine'. Two of the aircraft crew had been killed. Two others must have been carbonized.

A third one has fallen at a place called 'Le Pont Sorel', 500 meters East of the village Tréauville. Two of the aircraft crew had been killed. A third had descended to the ground, and was taken to the German police in Les Pieux by a citizen of that village. A fourth crew member, who also succeded in reaching the ground, has escaped. He is being searched by the French police.

These three aircraft have fallen in the fields without causing any casualties amongst the civilians.

Copies to the German police in St. Lo, the German district police in Cherbourg, and the German Secret Servive in St. Lo. In handwriting a French authority has been added, the Préfet of the Département Manche in Cherbourg.

Note that four aviators were killed but not carbonized, and that the police report does not give any identification of these four, or of the one who was arrested by a civilian from Les Pieux, and delivered to the German police.

Below recent eyewitness accounts, interviews held by Mickaël Simon:

Témoignage de M. Louis Leboisselier, la Gioterie, Tréauville, janvier 2004.

M. Leboisselier avait 19 ans et a assisté à la chute des trois avions. Il habitait à La Couture, non loin de la Gioterie et il se trouvait dans la cour de la maison avec sa sœur ainsi qu'une dame de la commune.

Pour l'avion du Pont Sorel : Il l'a vu arriver de loin car il y avait des flammes à l'extrémité de l'aile droite. Il a vu deux parachutistes sauter de l'avion, peut-être un troisième, mais il n'en est pas très sur. L'aile s'est ensuite détachée de l'appareil et il y a eu des flammes et un bruit énorme.

Translation:

Testimony of Mr. Louis Leboisselier, January 2004. Mr. Leboisselier, at the age of 19, helped out after the crashes of the three aircraft. He lived at La Couture, not far from the Gioterie, and he was ouside next to the house, with his sister and another woman from the town.

Regarding the aircraft at Le Pont Sorel: he saw the aircraft come down from a large distance because there was fire at the right wingtip. He saw two men parachute out of the aircraft, possibly a third, but he is not too sure about that. The wing broke away from the aircraft, and there were flames and an enormous noise.

Témoignage de M. Pierre Hébert, La Nation, Tréauville, janvier 2004 :

Pierre Hébert qui avait 16 ans à l'époque revenait de Siouville avec ses chevaux après une réquisition, il devait être dans les 14H00 et il n'avait pas mangé. Il est entré dans la maison et a entendu que cela bombardait sur Couville, alors il est sorti par la porte de derrière pour voir et il a assisté à la chute de l'avion qui était en feu et qui tombait. L'avion est passé bas au-dessus de La Nation et le temps de traverser la maison pour ressortir par l'autre porte, un morceau d'aile s'est détaché et est tombé directement devant la porte en arrachant la gouttière. Il fallait l'enjamber pour sortir, il fessait environ 4 mètres de long.

L'avion est tombé juste avant le Pont Sorel, à sa droite. Il a pu se rendre sur place et il a pu constater que deux aviateurs étaient morts. Ceux-ci n'étaient pas défigurés. Ils sont restés tel quel plusieurs jours, puis les allemands sont arrivés avec des cercueils pour les emmener. M. Hébert se souvient parfaitement de l'arrogance que certains allemands montraient devant la population face à cet événement. Les morceaux de l'avion ont été enlevés beaucoup plus tard. Il ne sait pas ce qu'est devenue le morceau d'aile.

Translation:

Testimony of Mr. Pierre Hébert, January 2004. Mr. Hébert, aged 16 at the time, returned with his horses from Siouville, a transport requisitioned by the Germans. It had passed 14.00 hours and he had not yet eaten. He entered his house, and heard a bombardment in the direction of Couville. Then he went out of the back door to see what was going on. He saw an aircraft fall out of the sky burning, and went to assist at the crash site. The aircraft came in low over La Nation, and in the time it took him to re-enter the house to leave via the front door, a piece of wing broke away from the aircraft and fell right in front of his door, tearing away the gutter. He had to step over the part, that was about 4 meters long.

The aircraft came down directly in front of Le Pont Sorel, to his right. He was able to go over there, and he could establish that two aviators were killed. The men were not disfigured. They lay where they had fallen for several days, before the Germans came with coffins, and took them away. Mr. Hébert clearly remembers the arrogance towards the citizens displayed by certain Germans, as a result of this occurrence. The wreckage of the aircraft was removed much later. He does not know what became of that section of wing.

The section of the farm that Mr. Hébert refers to. The outer wing section of FR146 came down in front of the door, grazing the gutter. The veranda was build after the War. Tréauville 050623-10

Témoignage de Mr. Michel Branthonne, le Bourg, Tréauville, janvier 2004 :

M. Branthonne était très jeune à l'époque. Il est allé avec un voisin au Pont Sorel et s'est fait refoulé par les gendarmes. L'avion est tombé près du Pont Sorel à cheval sur une haie. Une moitié reposait dans un champ qui lui appartient maintenant et il se souvient d'un trou important à cet emplacement. Le point de chute était moins marqué de l'autre coté de la haie. Il a retrouvé par la suite une plaque de fabrication ainsi qu'un petit mousqueton qu'il a donné à des gens de Cherbourg.

Translation:

Testimony of Mr. Michel Branthonne, January 2004. Mr. Branthonne was still very young at the time. He went with a neighbour to Pont Sorel, but was chased away by the police. The aircraft had fallen close to Le Pont Sorel, on both sides of a hedge. Half of the aircraft lay in a field that belongs to him now, and he remembers that there was a sizeable hole in the ground. The point of impact was less marked at the other side of the hedge. Later he has found a type shield and a small carabine hook, which he gave to people in Cherbourg.

Le Pont Sorel over La Gilette brook at Tréauville. Possibly named after the Sorel family living nearby. Tréauville 050623-11

In conversations with Mr. Michel Branthonne and Mr. Pierre Hébert, held on 23/6/2005, we learn the locations of where the two bodies were found into the soft Normandy winter mud. One was found about 15 meters to the left of the wreck, when looking into the direction of the flight path, the other about 25 meters to the right, just across the La Diélette brook. As the bodies were outside of the aircraft, it has been suggested that the bodies were thrown clear upon impact. We consider that to be against basic laws of physics, and therefore unlikely. The momentum of the aircraft, and everything in it, was towards Earth, not away from it. There was no explosion on the ground, that could have launched the bodies. It rather suggests that Kok and De la Haije jumped clear of the aircraft in the very last second. They were flying the damaged aircraft, until it lost the starboard engine & wing, which left them with nothing to fly, at an altitude too low to parachute to safety. They avoided being crushed in the wreck upon impact, but they did not survive the fall. This would also explain why their bodies were not grossly disfigured.

The distance between Couville, the target area where the aircraft was hit, and Tréauville is 7 km. At an estimated airspeed of 350 km/h that would be a flight of a bit more than a minute. The airframe came down about 150 meters from where the wing had fallen. This suggests that the aircraft was already very low when it passed over Mr. Hébert's farm, in accordance with his statements. About 500 meters earlier in the flight path, the starboard engine came down. 500 meters at an estimated airspeed decreased to 300 km/h means that the wing was lost about 6 seconds after the engine fell away. Two seconds later the aircraft crashed. This suggests that Kok and De la Haije were on their way out of the aircraft directly after the engine was lost. But there was no time and no altitude left.

The aircraft was trailing smoke when it passed over the roof of Mr. Hébert's house, but the wreck did not burn at the crash site.

Cherbourg Cimetière Ancien 'Pieux', plot 6. The second row as seen from the Monument is row F. Left of the joint graves there are two open spaces, where De la Haije and Kok were buried in 6/F/6 and 6/F/7 respectively. Cherbourg Cem 050623-1

3. Identification of Kok and De la Haije

The crash site was investigated by the Germans on the day of the crash. The two bodies were covered up where they had fallen. The bodies were collected four days later, for burial in Cherbourg Communal Cemetery, De la Haije in grave 6/F/6, or nr. 73, and Kok in 6/F/7, or nr. 74.

In Cherbourg the graves received wooden crosses. The name of Kok was on a cross, that was placed in error on grave 72, as the MR&ES would conclude in 1946. De la Haije was initially buried as unknown.

Source: No. 1 MR&ES Unit report, signed by Major F. Nabors, undated but shortly after 11/04/1946, via Mickaël Simon

Kok must have been identified by the Germans. No report has been found in which it is stated how this was done. We have to assume that the body had some means of identification; the Germans cannot have invented the name. This was either the RAF Form 1250 Identity Card, or the standard issue RAF identity disks, or both. The Allied aviators were not allowed to carry any other personal effects on missions above occupied territory. These means of identification were not found during the forensic exhumation done in 1946 by the MR&ES. So, if such means of identification existed, it was taken by the Germans, not left with the body. The MR&ES report does not mention German documentation, such as the Totenliste, so we assume that this was not found by the MR&ES either. We were also unable to find an appliceable Totenliste or any other relevant German document, and we assume that such materials may not have survived the War.

In the case of Kok, Cpl. D.J. de Koning, who was taken POW, may have helped the Germans in the identification of the two bodies found next to the Mitchell wreck at Tréauville. However, that would most likely have led to the identification of De la Haije too. As De la Haije was not identified by the Germans, we consider it unlikely that De Koning was asked to give, or has given, help here.

The fact that two bodies were found, some 10 meters away from the wreck, would suggest that these bodies were not destroyed beyond recognition by fire or the forces of impact, which also means a better survivability of the means of identification. This is important for both the Form 1250 ID Paper, as the ID Disks made of Bakelite-like material. Neither the paper nor the disks could withstand an aircraft fire.

J.A. Kok, grave 74, could not be identified by the MR&ES. Evidence was found via the remains of a uniform, that the body was a Dutch RAF airmen. There was confusion here, as an earlier report stated that Kok was buried in grave 72. In fact, the cross on 72 carried the name of Kok. The MR&ES found parts of two bodies in grave 72, and a Dutch RAF aviator in grave 74. Therefore, the MR&ES decided that an error had been made, and that the remains in grave 74 had to be those of Kok. This decision was reached via the logical process of elimination, after the identification of De la Haije, see below.

Grave 73 was marked as "unknown". The body in grave 73 belonged to the Kok crew, considering the date of burial. Evidence was found that this was a Dutch RAF airgunner. As two of the four crew of this Mitchell were accounted for, it followed that this body had to be wireless operator/airgunner J.H.H. de la Haije. With that, Kok was considered to be identified too.

4. Crash site data

There is confusion over the crash site. It is reported as:

1. Biville by De Haan & Geldhof (3)

2. Cherbourg by OGS for De la Haije

3. Martinvast by Bosch & OGS for Kok

4. Beaumont-Hague by F. Huard, and finally the proper one:

5. Le Pont Sorel, 800 meters ESE of Tréauville, by M. Simon & C. Archambault

Map 47. Map showing the confusion over the crash site of Mitchell FR146 (Kok)


Map 48. Actual crash site of Mitchell FR146 The site of the crash is on the private property of Mr. Michel Branthonne.


Michel Branthonne (left) and Mickaël Simon at the site of the crash, SW side of the hedge. Little remains to be seen of where 60 years ago a Mitchell airframe crashed down into the winter mud. Tréauville 050623

5. Monument for the fallen

Mr. Mickaël Simon has been the driving force in erecting a Monument in the center of the hamlet of Tréauville, commemorating the three Mitchells that came down here on 26/11/1943. All eight crew of the other two Mitchells were KIA. They were, and still are, buried at Cherbourg Cimetière Ancien 'Pieux'. The Monument was revealed on 8/5/2004.

Unveiling of the Monument with Mr. Bill Painting. Bill's brother was killed in the tragedy and he came from Australia for the ceremony. Bill is himself a 320 Squadron veteran, flying 59 missions as a tail gunner. Text: Mickaël Simon, photo Jacques Langevin.

6. FR146 parts retrieved

The town of Tréville has preserved a Mitchell engine, that is strongly believed to belong to FR146. The engine was recovered in the early 1990's. In summer the engine is displayed at the Monument.

Mitchell engine found 500 meters NE of the crash site of FR146. Most likely the starboard engine Tréauville 050623-4 (top) & 5

Engine carried shield with text: AIR CORPS OR BUREAU N° 42-47440.

Photograph: Mickaël Simon.

Gerben Tornij, email 15/1/2005:

'Het serial van de motoren van een vliegtuig is in de regel wel terug te vinden in de onderhoudsadministratie. Het is natuurlijk wel de vraag of die onderhoudsadministratie nog bestaat. In het geval van 320 Sq werd deze administratie bijgehouden door het No. 6320 Service Echolon. Althans voor het reguliere onderhoud. Groot werk werd uitgevoerd door Reid & Sigrist of vergelijkbare contractors. Ik zal eens nagaan wat er nog voorhanden is aan administratie van het No.6320 SE.'

Prudent Staal, email 17/1/2005:

'Ik heb inderdaad gegevens van 6320 SE, maar helaas wordt daar geen woord gerept voor s/n van verwisselde motoren of andere onderdelen. Dus dat is niet meer te controleren, jammer.'

The outer section of one of the wings of FR146 has been used locally as the roof of a cow shelter for 50 years.

Outer wing section of FW146, found in the nineties at a local scrapyard. Source: Mickaël Simon.

The part has been recognized by Mr. Coert Munk, email dated 1/5/2005, as belonging to a Mitchell.

Mickaël Simon, 28/4/2005:

'The story of the wing is quite unusual, as follows:

When my friends interviewed people in the early 90s concerning the 26 November 1943 tragedy, one witness told them that one wing of a shot down fighter was still used as a roof for a small shed in the parish of Benoistville, in the village of La Rue. This little shed was localized in a small field and was in fact a little shelter for a cow.

When they came to the spot, they found nothing. But they met the owner who told them that he gave the wreck to a scrap merchant only few days before! This was amazing, the wing was used for some 50 years without interest from anybody, but when my friends came, it had 'flown away' only days before!

Anyway they managed to go to the scrap merchant, named Dauphin I believe, and found the wing as you can see in the pictures. They wanted to save the part of course. The boss was not there, he was travelling somewhere. So they phoned him, and argued that the part was a historical relic, that should not be scrapped. The merchant was completely unreceptive, he wanted money. 900 Francs I believe, or a total of 9 wrecked cars as he said the wing was full of aluminium and had this value in weight.

As our spirit is not to make business with historical relics, but to receive these for preservation and forwarding to museums, my friends decided not to pay for the wing, despite its historical significance. Sadly, the wing was scrapped.

Now regarding the wing identity:

First the spot where it was used as a shed is 1,5 kilometer away from the FR146 crash site at Le Pont Sorel. The two other 180 squadron Mitchells crashed more westerly, making FR146 the closest one to the shed.

Secondly, one of the FR146 crash eyewitnesses mentioned that a complete wing came down right next to his house, but he does not remember what became of it.

Thirdly, from closely checking the pictures, I have no doubt that it is a B-25 wing. In B-25 models I have seen the same panels and hatches in the same places.

Finally, a fighter aircraft also crashed at Tréauville, after the liberation, but this happened more westerly too.

So I strongly believe that this was a wing section of FR146, that sadly vanished in the scrapyard some 10 years ago.'

A pitch control mechanism has also been found at the FR146 crash site. It was excavated in the early 1990s, together with the engine, about 500 meters NE of the site where the airframe came down. The control mechanism belongs to the engine that is on display in Tréauville in the summer.

FR146 Pitch control mechanism. 'Donated in the duty of memory by members of Recherche et histoire aérienne en Cotentin'. What happened to the bolts is unclear. FR146 spinner 050625

The part was graciously offered by the Recherche et histoire aérienne en Cotentin Group to author in June 2005, for display in Holland. The offer was accepted of course, as Holland has very little artefacts from the lost Dutch RAF aircraft. It is hoped that the part can be on display at Soesterberg Military Aviation Museum, if and when the Museum is ready for an exhibition about the Dutch RAF episode. Meanwhile, the part was given on loan for exhibition at the Stichting Militair Vliegend Personeel 1939-1950, Baarn.


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At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon

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