419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF Halifax II W7857 VR:O WO2. Frank Harvey Barker
Date: 9th/10th January 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit No: 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham (then North Yorkshire)
Location: North Sea west of Vlieland
Pilot: WO2. Frank Harvey Barker R103678 RCAF Age 22. MiA (1)
Flt Eng: Sgt. Ronald Edmund Sackville-Golden 967831 RAFVR Age 26. MiA
Nav: Flt Sgt. Harvey Adam Dunn R99798 RCAF Age 28. KiA
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Vincent Armand Hugli R90778 RCAF Age 26. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: WO2. Donald Alexander Watson R74057 RCAF Age 22. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. William Douglas Cameron R140390 RCAF Age 20. MiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. William Gorman Murphy R92790 RCAF Age 20. MiA (2)
Above the five aircrew members are those wearing flying jackets: Back row: Ground crew; Middle row left to right: Sgt. Ground crew, WO2. Watson, Flt Sgt. Dunn: Front row left to right: Ground crew, Flt Sgt. Murphy, WO2. Barker, Flt Sgt. Hugli. (Courtesy of Neil Hill)
Note: WO2. Barker and his four crew members were posted to 419 (Moose) Sqn from 22 Operational Training Unit (OTU) on the 9th September 1942. Mid-Upper Gunner, Sgt. Cameron, was posted from 408 (Goose) Sqn on the 13th November 1942 and joined the crew along with the Flight Engineer, Sgt. Sackville-Golden, when the Sqn commenced their conversion to flying the Halifax.
Note: Wellington III BJ886 was transferred to 427 (Lion) Sqn and was shot down on the 26th February 1943 (5 crew KiA).
Crew photo taken on 6th January - just 3 days before they were all sadly lost. Rear L-R: Don Watson, Bill Cameron, Ron Sackville-Golden, Bill Murphy. Front: Fuzzy Dunn, Frank Barker, Ince Hugli. (courtesy Tim Turner)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Middleton St. George in County Durham at 16:32 hrs with five other crews form the squadron. Laying mines (gardening) in the Schiermonnikoog and Simonsand areas. Visibility was recorded as good with light flak form German ships in the area. All the other aircraft from the squadron returned safely.
Others lost on this operation this night:
Halifax II W7751 NP:F from 158 squadron flown by 20 year old Flt Sgt. Roger Owen 1174901 RAFVR from Worcester was lost together with 5 other crew, 1 died later form his injuries, another taken PoW.
Halifax II DT622 NP:P from 158 squadron flown by Flt Lt. A. Woolnough crashed just 5 minutes after take off, apparently caused by the accidental lowering of the bomb doors - all crew survived.
Wellington IV R1535 GR:G from 301 Squadron (Polish) flown by 32 year old, Fg Off. Tadeusz Tyrała P-1128 from Kraków, Poland killed with 3 other crew, i member survived when their aircraft crashed on return after being hit by a night fighter at Dunmoor Hill in Northumberland.
Halifax W7857 was shot down over the North Sea some 20 km west of Vlieland by the Luftwaffe ace Oblt. Hans-Joseph Jabs of II./NJG1 at 22:15 hrs - interception taking place at some 2,400 m. His 24th Abschuss of the war from which he survived.
Above Oblt. Hans-Joseph Jabs - born in Lübeck in 1917 - died 26th October 2003, Jabs joined the Luftwaffe in 1937. Originally trained as a Messerschmitt Bf109 pilot, Jabs was posted to Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76), flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110, in March 1940. Jabs became a businessman in Westphalia after the war. He was a vice-president of the Gemeinschaft der Jagdflieger (German Air Veterans Federation).
(1) The following is an excerpt of letter written by WO2. Frank Harvey Barker, the captain of Halifax II W7857, to his father:
"I want to tell you how welcome your letters are over here. If you could see the mad scramble for the mail box everyday you would well understand. Your letter made us all homesick. I showed your pictures to my crew and “Murphy”, my gunner, said he wished he could look out his window and see those Rockies again. In your pictures the mountains looked so calm and peaceful – but they seemed so big and so like sentinels against the skyline. They seemed to say “This is peace” - and it will be a great thing to be in that kind of a world again. As soon as we finish this job the crew and I are going to take two months to enjoy those Rockies. We never really appreciated them before. But we are not complaining about life over here. I have met dozens of people over here and that is one thing in service. You meet all ranks of life from millionaire's sons to those who have had nothing, and I have learned a great deal about life in the past year. It sure broadens your outlook on life.
People are not all they seem and a person cannot judge by appearances. For instance Murphy, my gunner, would suggest a rugged individual yet he is the best friend a man could have. He would give his life for me. I feel proud of all my crew; we think that our lives are held in each others hands."
(2) During WWII Edna Jaques was touring western Canada and did a reading for the women's group to which the mother of Flt Sgt. Murphy belonged. When she heard that Mrs. Murphy's son had been shot down and reported missing in action she wrote to Mrs. Murphy the following letter and poem which was later published in 1946 in her book “Roses in December”. A year later William Murphy and and his six crew mates were declared killed in action.
480 Parkdale Ave., Ottawa, Ont.
August. 13th, 1943
My dear Mrs. Murphy:
When I was at Macleod last Spring some of the women told me how your son was missing and yet you went out just the same, helped with church work, Red Cross and a hundred other things you did and kept your sorrow and fear bravely to yourself, they were so proud of you and your bravery that one or two of them cried when they told me about you.So I watched you, helping with the supper that night, being cheerful and smiling and I thought how wonderful you were too, I am sure if it were my girl I would be the darndest coward and sniveler on earth and everyone would desert me. So if you don’t mind, in tribute to your staunch heart I wrote a poem which I am sending to you, it is written with humbleness and pride in a great Canadian woman.
Sincerely yours,Edna Jaques
Her Son Is Missing
Her son is missing and yet she goes
To Ladies' Aid and to picture shows
Keeps herself busy the whole day long
Hums a bit of a wartime song,
Turns the heel of a seaman's sock
Steals herself against fear and shock.
Her son is missing, out there alone
His buddy saw him before Cologne,
“Thumbs up” he signalled and drove right in
To the hellish glare and the ack-ack's din,
He glimpsed him once near a Messerschmitt,
Screaming down on the tail of it.
Her son is missing, and in the night
She pictures him in his last long flight,
In a prison camp, or a bed of pain
Wounded and hungry . . . out in the rain,
Or maybe a cottage small and dim
With a kindly woman to care for him.
Her son is missing--yet every day
She goes about in her quiet way,
Doing her house work, making a pie,
With a proud clean courage that will not die,
Mothers of heroes who carry on,
With a steadfast smile when their sons are gone.
~ Edna Jaques
WO2. Frank Harvey Barker. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 179. Born on the 3rd December 1921 in Carbon, Alberta. Son of Frank and Flora (née Banks) Barker, of Carbon, Alberta, Canada.
Sgt. Ronald Edmund Sackville-Golden. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 163. Son of Edward John and Francis Mary Louisa Sackville-Golden, of Faversham, Kent, England.
Flt Sgt. Harvey Adam Dunn. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 7.E.6. Born on the 24th August 1914 in Grey County, Ontario. Son of George and Catherine (née Bell) Dunn of Fordwich, Ontario, Canada.
Flt Sgt. Vincent Armand Hugli. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 7.D.12. Inscription: "A LOVING SON AND BROTHER. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE." Born on the 31st August 1916, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Son of Armand Joseph Hugli (1887 - 1946) and Margaret Ann Hugli (née Deir, 1888-1972), of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Enlisted March 1941. He had two sisters, Mary and Dorothy, two brothers, Phillip and Theo of Front Street.
Body recovered by the Germans on or about the 8th February 1943.
Hugli Lake in Algoma, Ontario was named after Flt Sgt. Vincent Armand Hugli in 1960
WO2. Donald Alexander Watson. Kviberg Cemetery. Grave 3.A.6. Born on the 21st December 1920 in Cardinal, Ontario. Son of William and Jean (née MacPhail) Watson of Carp, (Carleton County, circa 1943) Ontario, Canada.
WO2 Watson's body was washed ashore on the 13th February 1943 on the west coast of Sweden. Buried on the 19th February 1943 with full military honours in the presence of His Majesty's Consulate general at Gothenburg.
Sgt. William Douglas Cameron. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 186. Born on the 18th October 1920 in Great Falls, Montana, USA. Son of Hugh and Margaret (née Douglas) Cameron. Nephew of Alexander and Mary Shaw of Drumheller, Carbon, Alberta, Canada.
Note: William and his sister Margaret lost both their birth parents at an early age and were raised and cared for by their Aunt and Uncle who are listed as their next of kin.
Above: Montage for Flt Sgt. William Gorman Murphy with newspaper clipping, a letter sent home and the necklace given his mother Mary Murphy by the Government of Canada after he was confirmed KIA (Courtesy of Neil Hill)
Flt Sgt. William Gorman Murphy. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 185. Born on the 12th May 1922 in Macleod Alberta. Son of William James and Mary Katherine (née Gorman) of Ardenville, Alberta, Canada.
DEATH BY SEVENS
(Written in 2003 on the loss of 7 astronauts)
by George J. Sweanor 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF
This has great emotional value for me. It was found on the internet in 2013 by Joanie Kennedy of Calgary for whom Flt Sgt. Bill Murphy was a great uncle. I am now corresponding with members of an extended family of 32 from Calgary to Toronto, who never knew how Bill had met his death.
As of 12th November 2018 there have been 861 call-ups, many of them recently from Carp, Ontario, home of Don Watson.
David, my Ottawa nephew, who is a lawyer, world traveller, adviser to governments on actions that curb smoking, philanthropist, and avid cyclist, who cycles thousands of kilometres on back country roads, pausing in favourite cafés, advised Carp of the blog.
Today, we have the luxury of mourning the loss of seven brave astronauts and eulogizing them. Permit me to take you back to the days when each squadron would lose 7 or 14 or 21 or 28 on a nightly basis so there was no time to mourn or to eulogize. Young men, with great potential and promise, would vanish from the crew lists and be forgotten except for family and a few friends. Let me pick at random one of these crews and bring them back for a moment of remembrance and thanks.
The weather on 9th January 1943 was foul, too foul for high level bombing. The cold was piercing and it was raining heavily this Saturday night, yet 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF, based at RAF Middleton St. George, near Darlington, Durham, was ordered to load up five Halifaxes each with two 1500-pound mines and send them off to mine German shipping lanes off Spiekeroog in the eastern Frisian Islands. To avoid breaking up on impact these mines had to be dropped below 500 feet and at a speed just above stalling. They had to be deposited exactly where the Royal Navy wanted them which, as we had no precise navigational aids, meant flying at low level over defended islands that were continually changing their shapes with the tides, finding a positive pinpoint, then doing a timed run out to the dropping point. This was an occupation much more hazardous than high-level bombing. As we had just converted from Wellingtons to Halifaxes, each crew had two new members, a flight engineer and a mid-upper gunner who averaged about 10 hour in the air when they met their baptism of fire.
It was only three nights since my wedding and I had better plans. However, my pilot, Pat Porter, keen and prompt as ever, pushed us to marshal our Halifax, “K” Kitty, first in line. The crew behind us, in “O” Orange, was made up of:
WO2. Frank Barker, pilot, age 22 of Carbon, Alberta;
Sgt. Bill Cameron, air gunner, age 20, also of Carbon;
Flt Sgt. Harvey Dunn, navigator, 21, of Fordwich, Ontario;
Flt Sgt. Vincent Hugli, bomb aimer, 26, of Georgetown, Ontario;
Ft Sgt. Bill Murphy, air gunner, 20, of Ardenville, Alberta;
WO2. Don Watson, wireless air gunner, 21, of Carp, Ontario;
Sgt. Bob Sackville-Green, engineer of the RAF.
We had raced with them to be first in line, a mere game among friends, but with fatal consequences.
The cloud deck, with dangerous icing, was at 1,000 feet, the waves were high, and we had to remain between the two all the way across the threatening North Sea. I alternated from the front turret to the bomb aimer’s position trying to spot the numerous flak ships in the inky darkness, and to keep Pat from flying into the sea as our altimeters were untrustworthy. Continued rain added to our problems and decreased visibility. Shadows on the sea looked like islands. Flak from flak ships missed us by millimetres. We stooged over the islands, greeted by more flak. Luckily, I made a good pinpoint and we flew out on a timed run to deposit our mines amid intermittent flak. As we turned for home, we surprised two flak ships as we flew between them at mast-top level. Their streams of fire were just above us and we were soon out of range. But, there was a terrific explosion behind us and we feared that one of our five had met its doom. Back at base, it was still cold and raining, but I was so grateful to be alive that I actually enjoyed getting thoroughly soaked cycling the mile home to Joan and a warm bed.
“O” Orange failed to return.
Much later we learned that Dunn and Hugli washed ashore on Spiekeroog, were buried locally, and later moved to the military cemetery in Oldenburg, Germany. Watson’s body floated 900 kilometres around the coast of Denmark and into the Skagerrak to wash ashore near Grebbtad, Sweden. He is buried in Gamlestaden. Barker, Cameron, Murphy, and Sackville-Green were never found. The cold and indifferent North Sea owns them.
We had no time to mourn; there were more mining and bombing trips to make with more losses. New crews continued to be posted in to take the places of those we lost and had to be trained on squadron techniques. The adjutant prepared the usual form letters to the next-of-kin and the CO signed them.
So, please say a prayer and take a moment to think of these seven, the futures they sacrificed, and the emptiness forced upon their families. But, remember, we did not allow this loss, nor the loss of all the 73,741 Bomber Command casualties, to deter us from fighting a rare war we knew had to be fought. Neither should we let the loss of astronauts deter us from our role in space.
PER ARDUA AD ASTRA! (Through Adversity to the Stars)
Ye Olde Scribe
Note: Fg Off. Charles Edward Porter MiD J9668, RCAF was KiA on the 27th March 1943 on an operation to Berlin. He was the pilot of 419 (Moose) Sqn, RCAF Halifax II DT634 VR:E which was shot down by a German night fighter. His crew including Fg Off. George Joseph Sweanor (Bomb Aimer) all became PoWs.
Researched for relatives of the crew with thanks to Tim Turner who discovered this wonderful crew photo when going through the papers of his Grandparents - relative of Sgt. Ronald Edmund Sackville-Golden. Canadian Commemorative Geographic Feature added and NoK details added for Flt Sgt. Hugli (Nov 2021). Thanks to Neil Hill for the Montage of Flt Sgt. Murphy and for the early crew photograph (Nov 2022). Thanks to Neil Hill for the personal letters, poem and blog entry to add to the story of WO2 Barker, Flt Sgt. Murphy and the crew (Dec 2022).
Other sources as quoted below.