13/14.03.1942 No. 83 Squadron Manchester I L7423 OL-S F/O. J.L. Bromiley
Date: 13/14th March 1942 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 83 Squadron
Type: Manchester I
Base: RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire
Location: Zeelberg, Nr. Broekhuizenvorst, Holland
Pilot: F/O. Jonathan Lomax Bromiley 67664 RAFVR PoW 193 No: Camp: L3-Stalag Luft Sagan
Pilot 2: Sgt. Peter Hollowell Foster 933501 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. John Rowland Feirn 106564 RAFVR Age ? Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Patrick Dowd 553789 RAFVR PoW No: Not known Camp: 8B-Stalag Lamsdorf (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leonard Frank Rogers Davis 755327 RAFVR Age 33. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Rose 954204 RAFVR Age 29. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Joseph Michael Thompson R/51638 RCAF Age 28. Killed
Mr. Hans Steenmetz - Military Historian has researched this loss, providing us with the details as shown. The local inhabitants erected a memorial to the crew, unveiled in November 2014.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire at 19:35 hrs with 4 x 1000b HE bombs to attack Cologne with 134 other aircraft.
The bombing was due to be at around 22:30 hrs with an estimated return to base at 00:35 hrs. At around 2:.30 the aircraft was caught and held in searchlights, the pilots tried to escape the glare, probably, with P/O. Fearn at the controls. At 22:40 hrs the Manchester was attacked by the night fighter ace Oblt. Reinhold Knacke (2) with his radio operator, Uffz. Kurt Bundrock of I./NJG1 in a Me110. (Incorrectly identified at the time as a Wellington)
The wreck of Manchester L7423 being visited by Oblt. Reinhold Knacke and Uffz. Kurt Bundrock (courtesy Venlo town archives via Hans Steenmetz)
The Manchester caught fire, but flew on to Broekhuizen, two of the crew, F/O. Bromiley and Sgt. Dowd parachuted out, surviving as PoW.
Just before the river Maas the 2nd Pilot Peter Foster succeeded in lifting the plane somehow. The plane lifted a little turning to the left in the direction of Broekhuizenvorst. A lot of the local inhabitants watched, full of fear, the burning plane flying towards them. The motors roared ominously. Many feared the plane would crash in the middle of the village.
Some hundred yard past the last houses of Zeelberg the bomber crashed in a sea of flame. One of the motors was slung into the orchard of the farm house ‘de Beerendonck’. Hardly had the inhabitants recovered when the Germans arrived from the Fliegerhorst, Venlo surrounding the burning plane to keep out spectators. Harrie Hermans (farmer ‘de Beerendonck’) was very badly abused and beaten when he came looking at what was happening on his property. Four of the crew members were killed in the burning plane.
Later in the day German radio announced:
“Flugzeug eines unbekanntes Typ, abgeschossen über Broekhuizen, nördlich van Venlo. Fünf Besatzungsmitglieder getötet und zwei gefangen genommen“ (Plane of unknown type, shot down above Broekhuizen, north of Venlo. Five crew members died and two were taken prisoner).
Oblt. Reinhold Knacke and Uffz. Kurt Bundrock (courtesy Kracker archives)
Some inhabitants of Broekhuizen, Teng Derikx and Ser Vergeldt were forced to help some drunken German soldiers with digging around the wreck and recovering the remains of the dead crew members.
The bodies of Davis, Foster and Rose were not burned so badly and were recognisable to enable identification. The killed crew members were taken by horse car from Tinus Clabbers to van Enckevort . (farmhouse ‘de Krawinkel’.) in Ooijen.
From there, together with the remains of Fl/Sgt. Thompson the remains were token to the funeral place of allied airmen in Venlo behind the Hospital.
Eye witnesses of the forced labourers who were instructed to dig out the wreck of the aircraft discovered a one of the large bombs. Beneath the bomb, the remains of P/O. John Feirn lay. The Germans decided, because of the danger that they had to detonate the bomb, without removal of the body. Which is why he is remembered on the Runnymede memorial and why they have decided to place a memorial on this spot.
(1) This was his first operation of his second tour. Sgt. James P. Dowd escaped in August 1943 to Sweden - later awarded the DCM.
(2) Oblt. Reinhold Knacke went on to have a total of over 44 kills. He was killed on the 3/4th February 1943 from return fire from a Stirling near Achterveld/Ede. His bordfunker Kurt Bunrock survived by baling out.
Venlo Cemetery 1941 (courtesy Hans Steenmetz)
Crew graves at Jonkerbos War Cemetery (courtesy Des Philippet)
The crew were initially buried at Venlo, reinterred at Jonkerbos War Cemetery after the end of the war.
Sgt. Peter Hollowell Foster. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave 16.G.9. Son of Albert Thomas Foster and Jennie Dorothy Mary Foster, of Watford, Hertfordshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "RIP".
P/O. John Rowland Feirn. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 69. Son of Arthur and Lillian Feirn, husband of Doris Ethel Feirn, of East Ham, Essex, England.
Sgt. Leonard Frank Rogers Davis. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave 16.G.7. Son of Ernest Rogers and Effie Davis, husband of Beryl Davis, of Rayleigh, Essex, England. Grave inscription reads: "He Voluntarily Chose And Gaily Trod The Path Of Service".
Sgt. Eric Rose. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave 16.G.8. Son of Charles and Dallas Rose, husband of Maudie Elizabeth Rose, of Chatham, England. Grave inscription reads: "Remembered Always".
Fl/Sgt. Joseph Michael Thompson. Jonkerbos War Cemetery. Grave 16.G.6. Born on the 30th October 1913 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the son of Isaac and Annie (née Smalls) Thompson and husband of Dorothy Vivian Thompson (née Wilson-Murray), of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Ever Remembered By His Loving Wife Dorothy, Mother, Dad And Family".
For further details our thanks to the following, Hans Steenmetz - Military Historian, Des Philippet for grave photos, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', ‘Bomber Command Database’, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), 'Paradie Archive'. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Oliver Clutton-Brock - 'Footprints On The Sands Of Time'. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Further information from these titles/organisations are available from us, just use the 'help' button on the main page above or 'add info' button also shown on this page. Also to John Jones for further details - June 2018.