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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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10 Squadron Crest
18.12.1944 10 Squadron Halifax III LV818 ZA:F Flt Lt. Body

Operation: Duisberg

Date: 18th December 1944 (Monday)

Unit No: 10 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LV818

Coded: ZA:F

Location: Rocroi, Ardennes, France.

Pilot: Flt Lt. Geoffrey Deller Body 100086 RAFVR Age 27. Missing

2nd Pilot: Flt Lt. Noel Curtis Tatam 39695 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Esmond Nicholson 1057527 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: Fg Off. John Henry Waldron 156776 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. William Hewison Leese J92069 RCAF Age 20. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Fg Off. Douglas John Mole 168506 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Kenneth Forshaw Matthews 1065498 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. William Ernest Mawson 2210542 RAFVR Age 27. Killed


On the outward leg, just after 06:00hrs, in the vicinity of Rocroi, Ardennes, France, LV818 collided with Halifax Mk VII NP699 QO:O of 432 Squadron.

Both aircraft fell to earth, with fourteen of the fifteen crew on board killed.

The one survivor was Fg Off. Max Krakovsky, RCAF, the Pilot of NP699, landed safely by parachute near Bruly, Belgium. Max became a friend of David Mole but sadly he passed away recently.

A painting of LV818 by J.R. Taylor which David Mole commissioned

French women sitting on the wreckage of LV818

On the morning of the crash, six bodies were recovered by the Americans and buried in an American Cemetery at Fosse, near Namur, Belgium. A short time afterwards another four bodies were recovered, again by the Americans and buried in an American Cemetery at Champigneul, Marne, France. In late 1945 a further body was recovered and buried in the Communal Cemetery at Taillette, Ardennes, France, by the local Civil Authorities. A further body was found in 1948, and again buried in Taillette Communal Cemetery by the Local Authorities. In 1951 a body was found near Sevigny-la-Foret, Ardennes, France, and buried in the local Churchyard by the Commune.

After the War the bodies at Fosse were exhumed, identified, and re-buried at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery, Belgium. The bodies from Champigneul were exhumed, identified where possible, then the two Canadians were re-buried at Dieppe Canadian Cemetery and the One British plus one un-identified were re-buried at Clichy New Communal Cemetery, near Paris, France. The body from Sevigny-la-Foret was exhumed in 1953, identified, and re-buried at Choloy Military Cemetery, France.

Above the original burial site at Fosse - the two grave markers (3rd image from left) shown are that of Flt Lt. Tatam Noel Curtis and Sgt. Matthews Kenneth Forshaw prior to moving them to Leopoldsburg.

The original marker for Douglas Mole and the new CWGC Gravestone.

Burial details:

Flt Lt. Geoffrey Deller Body. Runnymede Memorial Panel 201. Born on the 30th June 1917. Son of Sydney Francis and May (née Lambshead) Body of Rochford on Sea, England.

Flt Lt. Noel Curtis Tatam. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery VIII. B.9. Grave inscription: "THEY LEFT ALL THAT WAS DEAR TO THEM. GOD GRANT GRACE".Son of John Alfred and Essylt Gladys Tatam, husband of Kathleen Ethel Tatam of Barnwell, Northampronshire (A.M.I. Mech Eng), England.

Sgt. Esmond Nicholson. Clichy Northern Cemetery Plot 16. Row 10. Grave 11. Grave inscription: "IN AL HIS LYF UN-TO NO MANER WIGHT HE WAS A VERRAY PARFIT GENTIL KNIGHT". Son of John and Jessie Nicholson of Shildon, County Durham, husband of Joan Nicholson, Shildon.

Fg Off. John Henry Waldron. Taillette Communal Cemetery. Grave inscription: "FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON...". Son of Henry Waldron and of Florence Waldron of Far Forest, Worcestershire, England.

Plt Off. William Hewison Leese. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery VIII. B.10. Grave inscription: "THEY ARE NOT DEAD, NOR SLEEP; THEY HAVE AWAKENED FROM THE DREAM OF LIFE". Born on the 9th March 1924 at Powell River, British Columbia. Son of Capt. Robert Vernon and Mary Adeline (née Gibson) Leese of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Capt. Leese served with No. 3 Infantry Training Battalion in Debert, Nova Scotia.

The brother of Fg Off. Leese, J18774 Plt Off. Robert Gibson Leese was Missing in Action on 2nd October 1943 (15 Sqn, SAAF, Baltimore III, FA360). A second brother, Sgt. Richard Vernon Leese also served in the RCAF.

Fg Off. Douglas John Mole. Taillette Communal Cemetery. Grave inscription: "AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER HIM". Son of Albert Edward and Violet Mole, husband of Lilian Mole of East Boldon, Co. Durham, England.

Sgt. Kenneth Forshaw Matthews. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery VIII. B.8. Grave inscription reads: "TO BE WITH HIM, IN HIS KINGDOM WILL BE HIS REWARD". Son of Samual and Maggie Matthews of Wigan, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. William Ernest Mawson. Leopoldsburg War Cemetery VIII. A.20. Born 3rd qtr 1924 at Morpeth Northumberland. Son of Samuel and Else Irene (née Comby) Mawson. Husband to Doreen (née Hogan) Mawson of Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to David Mole, son of Fg Off. Douglas John Mole for the research he has carried out on this and other losses and also for the use of many of the photographs used on this article. With many thanks to the many relatives who have assisted him and who continue to do so. Also to David Body, nephew of Flt Lt. Geoffrey Deller Body for photograph of his Uncle. Latest contributions - the photo of Sgt. William Ernest Mawson sent in by his niece Hazel Syme. Sgt. Kenneth Forshaw Matthews's photo courtesy of his brother, Mr. Wycliffe Matthews (Feb 2019). Thanks to John Jones for the NoK details for Flt Lt. Body, Plt Off. Leese and Sgt. Mawson (Apr 2022)

RS 26.04.2022 - NoK details for Flt Lt. Body and Sgt. Mawson updated

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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