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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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158 crest
07/08 February 1945 158 Squadron Halifax III NP973 F/O. Beeson

Operation: Goch, Germany

Date: 07/08.February 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 158 Squadron (motto: 'Strength in unity')

Type: Halifax III

Serial: NP973

Code: NP-P

Base: RAF Lissett, East Riding of Yorkshire

Location: Lüllingen, Geldern, Germany

Pilot: F/O. John Leslie Beeson Aus/427427 RAAF Age 26. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Alexander McQuilkin 1592283 RAFVR Age ? PoW Stalag Luft Sagan

Nav: P/O. William Gerald Bennett 189802 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Robert Edward Jones 189793 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Leslie John Nichols Aus/429257 RAAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Patrick Andrew Murphy 1357748 RAFVR Age ? PoW Stalag Luft Sagan

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Lionel Albert Eric Papworth 1623439 Age ? PoW Stalag Luft Sagan


Taking off at 19:11 hrs. detailed to attack both enemy concentrations of troops and transport at Goch, Germany.

The purpose was to prepare the way for the attack of the British XXX Corps across the German frontier near the Reichswald. The Germans had included the towns of Goch and Kleve in their strong defence here.

They reached the target area but at 22:22 hrs. the Master Bomber cancelled the raid after 155 of the 464 aircraft had bombed and smoke was causing control of the raid to become impossible.

The raid by 295 bombers on Kleve went ahead with 1,384 tons dropped.

Flying at around 3,500 feet, NP973 collided head on at 2225 hours with No. 77 Squadron Halifax MZ689 when both aircraft were approximately 20 kms south south east of Goch. Two minutes later F/O. Beeson ordered his crew to bale out, but only three could do so before his aircraft plunged into a forest between Lullingen and Geldern. Four of the crew were killed with three becoming Prisoners of War.

MZ689 was flown by 24 year old, Fl/Sgt. Derrick William Muggeridge 390409 RAFVR from Mare Hill, Sussex, killed with all his severn crew.

On the 07th February 1949 No. 20 Missing Research Enquiry Unit led by Fl/Lt. E.C Dartneld, investigated the loss of this crew. Forstmeister Hoepert led the team t the crash site in the middle of a large wood . It was discovered that the crew had jettisoned part of the bomb load but it was clear that some bombs remained by the size of the crater some 20 ft deep and 30 ft wide and parts of the aircraft were scattered over an area of 300 yards. Local inhabitants buried the remains of the crew and buried them near to the crash site. They were identified as the crew by the serial numbers from three Hercules engines and particles of clothing.

Burial details:

F/O. John Leslie Beeson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 17. D. 12-15. Born 25th December 1918 at Freemantle. Enlisted 14th July 1942. Posted into the squadron from 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 17th August 1944. Son of Sydney Arthur (died 18th May 1974, age 92) and Catherine Maud Mary Beeson (died 12th September 1958, age 68), of Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia and husband of Nonie Teresa Beeson, of Mount Hawthorn. Grave inscription: 'Our Beloved Husband & Daddy. Nonie, Leslie And Isobel, Perth, W.A. R.I.P'.

P/O. William Gerald Bennett. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 17. D. 12-15. Posted into the squadron from 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 17th August 1944. Son of William G. and Dora Annie Bennett, of West Croydon, Surrey, England.

P/O. Robert Edward Jones. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 17. D. 12-15. Posted into the squadron from 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 17th August 1944. Son of William Robert and Elizabeth Anne Jones, of Edmonton, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription: 'Our Only Son Bob. R.I.P. They Died That We Might Live. Mother And Father'.

P/O. Leslie John Nichols. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Collective grave 17. D. 12-15. Posted into the squadron from 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 17th August 1944. Son of George Henry and Elsie Inez Nichols, of Artarmon, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription: 'His Duty Fearlessly And Nobly Done. Ever Remembered By Mother'.

Halifax III MZ689 KN-Z Crew:

Fl/Sgt. Derrick William Muggeridge. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.1. Posted into the squadron from 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 17th August 1944Son of Percy William and Ellen Muggeridge, of Mare Hill, Sussex. Grave inscription: 'Faithful Unto Death'. 1390409 RAFVR Age 24.

Sgt. Walter Bernard Keal. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.2. Son of Charles Ernest Keal, and of Minnie Keal, of Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire. Grave inscription: 'May The Sunshine He Missed On Life's Highway Be Found In God's Haven Of Rest. R.I.P. 1897002 RAFVR Age 19.

Sgt. Alexander Harvey Croll. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.7. Son of Alexander and Betsy H. Croll, of Leven, Fife, Scotland. Grave inscription: 'They Gave Their Lives That Their Brothers Might Live In Peace For Evermore'. 1570260 RAFVR Age 21.

P/O. Harry Wright. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.5. No further details - are you able to assist? 195518 RAFVR Age ?

Sgt. Walter Forbes. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.6. Son of Percy and Emily Ellen Forbes, of Salford, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription: 'So Tenderly We Treasure The Past With Memories That Will Always Last'. 1513573 RAFVR Age 23.

W/O. Charles Edward Foster. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.4. Son of George William and Ethel Foster; husband of Marion Eunice Foster, of Shepherds Bush, London, England. Grave inscription: 'Time Passes, Loving Memories Remain. Sadly Missed By Loving Wife Marion'. 952987 RAFVR Age 23.

W/O. John Stewart. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.3. Son of Robert and Janet Stewart; stepson of Margaret Stewart, of Glasgow, Scotland. Grave inscription: 'Ever Near, Ever Dear, In Hallowed Memory. Mum. Ever In My Thoughts. Jan'. 746477 RAFVR Age 28.

Sgt. Malcolm Ernest Taylor. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 2.C.8. Son of Ernest Malcolm Taylor and Gladys Irene Taylor, of Talywain, Monmouthshire, Wales. Grave inscription: 'Our Son And Brother. The Family Chain Is Broken But Memories Live For Ever'. 1818668 RAFVR Age 19.

With thanks to André Girke who lives close to the loss area and asked for location of crash site.

KTY 14-10-2021

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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