28/29.06.1944 102 Squadron Halifax LW143 Flt Sgt. Nigel D. Campbell
Operation: Railway yards, Blainville, France,
Date: 28th/29th June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit No: 102 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Location: Gisors-Gournay area, France
Base: RAF Pocklington, East Riding, Yorkshire
Pilot: Flt Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell 426774 RAAF Age 21. KiA
Flt Eng: Sgt Donald Eugene Leslie 628603 RAFVR Age? Id No. 78404 *, PoW No: 8101 ** (1)
Nav: Sgt. Arthur Douglas Eagle 1580682 RAFVR Age? Id No. 78403 *, PoW No: 8086 ** (1)
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Jack Wilson R121205 RCAF Age 22. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Noel Albert Pardon 419211 RAAF Age 20. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Ronald L. Leverington 1254416 RAFVR Age? Id No. 78382 *, PoW No: 8102 ** (1)
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Reginald William Joyce 1850911 Age? Id No. 78401 *, RAFVR PoW No: 8100 ** (1)
* Buchenwald Concentration Camp established on Ettersberg hill near Weimar, Germany in July 1937.
** Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
We now have positive identification, thanks to the gentleman who took the photograph, the flight engineer Sgt Donald E. Leslie.
From left to right: Flt Sgt. Noel Albert Pardon, Sgt. Ronald L. Leverington, Sgt. A. Douglas Eagle, Flt Sgt. Jack Wilson, Flt Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell and finally Sgt. Reginald W.I. Joyce.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Part of a group made up of 202 Halifaxes and a further 28 Pathfinder Lancasters to attack railway yards at both Blainville and Metz. Both targets were hit.
LW143 or 102 Sqn NA502 was claimed by Maj. Paul Semrau at his 26th or 27th Abschuss and the second or third of four claims this night, from Stab II./NJG2, in the Gisors-Gournay area at 3.200m at 00:45 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten)
Maj. Paul Semrau had been credited with 39 Abschüsse by the time of his death on the 8th February 1945. He was shot down by after being attacked by Flt Lt. Sleep from 402 Squadron and KiA
A further 4 were also lost from this Squadron on this raid. Tragically MZ644 was lost after being shot up by another Halifax possibly from 10 Squadron when that was carrying out a violent corkscrew. MZ644 crashed in the Foret de Wssy and three of that crew perished.
Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre
Photographs taken of the Blainville railway station and yard - target for this raid on 28/29th June 1944 by Jeff Boyling June 2009
Left to right above: Jack Wilson, Nigel Campbell and Noel Pardon
Mr. Jeff Boyling contactedAircrew Remembered in June 2009 as he had been planning a trip to find the crash site of this aircraft. Jeff's father was cousin to Flt Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell the pilot of this aircraft. He contacted me with an appeal to locate the exact spot where Halifax LW143 came down.
We did manage to find some further details and we decided that perhaps Jeff would also like to place a plaque at the spot during his visit. This was made just in time for his departure and off Jeff went. He had also managed to speak with Nigel Campbell's brother a Mr. Burns Campbell 85, who lives in Australia and a memorial wreath was also requested be placed at the grave. He also wanted plaques for some of the other 102 Squadron aircraft that were lost on this raid. We were proud to be able to assist him with this.
This trip marked as the 65th anniversary - almost to the day, of the loss of Halifax LW143.
Mr Jeff Boyling with French Forestry worker Msr. Jean Meschberger and the plaque made by webmaster left at the crash site in June 2009 - 65 years on. (Sadly the method used meant that the plaque's printing would not survive the weather)
Photo of undercarriage plate discovered at the crash site by Pierre Madray in 1995 (Photo courtesy of P. Madray)
Jeff managed to carry out some fine detective work and with some very generous assistance from a local forestry worker managed to find the exact location.
Jeff takes up the story:
'On doing more research I was told that the aircraft had come down near Lyons-de-Foret to the west of Beauvais. On making further enquiries I narrowed it down to Les Greniers, a little hamlet in the forest. On visiting Les Greniers I met a forestry worker, Jean Meschberger, who had known the old man of the hamlet. The old man had seen where Nigel’s bomber came down.'
It would appear that the aircraft, obviously in trouble, passed over Les Greniers and crashed in a field just beyond Goupiliere. What happened to the rest of the crew - Sgt. Leslie, Sgt. Eagle, Sgt. Leverington and Sgt. Joyce? Approximately 2 to 3 kilometres through the forest was an abbey and it would appear that the French Resistance came to their rescue and they were taken there initially. The forestry worker showed me this cottage beside the abbey and on the wall were two plaques as shown below".
The plaque on the cottage of the heroine of the French resistance who tried to assist the remainder of the crew and
the plaque the crew members left in thanks.
This series of amazing crash photographs were sent to Mr Jeff Boyling by the brother of the pilot, Mr Burns Campbell. Right: Major Paul Semrau - commander of II./NJG2 (courtesy Kracker Archives)
In the letter sent to Jeff he wrote:
'A few months after the war, my mother received a couple of letters from Nigel's surviving air crew who visited the crash site. The photos show the wrecked fuselage and I remember the letters said that two of the crew were dead in the aircraft before the others parachuted.They said that Nigel kept control of the aircraft for the four to exit and parachute but by the time Nigel got out there was insufficient height for his parachute to save him and he landed in a tree which had to be cut down to retrieve his body.'
(1) Whilst evading they were betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo then and taken to the Fresnes prison located to the south of Paris. This was were French political prisoners were held and ordinarily Allied airmen, after questioning, were moved to a PoW Camp. In the summer of 1944, with the Allies having liberated Paris and closing in, the Gestapo guards started reducing the prison population by execution, and then relocating surviving prisoners to various concentration camps east of France. On the 15th August 1944 they were amongst 169 Allied PoWs and hundreds of French men and women who were packed into a freight train and transported to Buchenwald concentration camp on a journey lasting five days. Buchenwald was located 8 km north of Weimar, in the German province of Thüringen.
Note: Fg Off. J.M. Stevenson C27788 RCAF escaped from the train and successfully evaded.
Sqn Ldr. Lamason and Fg Off. Chapman succeeded in getting all but two of the Allied PoWs transferred to Stalag Luft 3. Two airmen, 1st Lt. Levitt Clinton Beck Jr. O-736945, US AAF and Fg Off. Philip Derek Hermmens, 152583, RAFVR, died in the camp hospital.
The words on the wreath are as follows:
In loving memory of my brother, Flt Sgt Nigel Douglas Campbell, Pilot RAAF and Captain of Halifax LW143 DY-O of 102 Squadron RAF who with his crew mates. Pilot Officer Jack Wilson RCAF and Sgt Noel Pardon RAAF made the supreme sacrifice, June 1944. Burns Campbell and Family of Sydney, Australia.
(The reverse) On the 65th anniversary, this wreath was laid by Jeff Boyling, son of Keith Boyling (dec) of Brisbane Australia. Keith and Nigel were cousins and both served in the RAAF. They gave there today for our tomorrow.With thanks to Jeff Boyling for a great deal of information supplied and the recent photographs. Thanks also to Mr. David Blais from Ontario, Canada, for contacting the flight engineer in July 2013. Mr. Donald Leslie who at 91 still plays 3x18 hole rounds of golf a week.
Flt Sgt. Nigel Douglas Campbell. Marissel French National Cemetery Grave 265. Born on the 6th January 1922 at Toowoomba, the son of Walter (passed away 31st January 1945) and Jessie Campbell, of 16 Margaret Street, Toowoomba. Queensland, Australia.
Plt Off. Jack Wilson. Marissel French National Cemetery Grave 264. Born on the 24th January 1922 in Banff, Alberta. Son of William and Kathleen Sarah (née Elphick) Wilson and husband of Edith Claire Wilson, of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Flt Sgt. Wilson was posthumously commissioned and promoted to J90298 Plt Off. on the 27th June 1944
Flt Sgt. Noel Albert Pardon. Marissel French National Cemetery Grave 263. Born on the 21st September 1923 at Mildura, the soon of Albert Alexander and Charlotte Alice Valerie Pardon, of 30 Avenue Road, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia.
With thanks to Jeff Boyling, Burns Campbell, Dave Blais, Donald Leslie, Andrew Whitehouse. With thanks to Jeff Boyling for a great deal of information supplied and the recent photographs. Thanks also to Blais from Ontario, Canada, for contacting the Flight Engineer in July 2013. Mr. Donald Leslie, who at 91 still plays 3 x 18 holes of golf a week. Update by Aircrew Remembered to add details of Buchenwald and update to Night-fighter claim (Dec 2022).
Other sources listed below:
Jeff Boyling is part of the Catalina Society UK. As a member of the flight deck often taking part in Airshows to promote the Society.
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