27/28.04.1944 432 (Leaside) Squadron, RCAF Halifax III MZ588 QO:W F/O. Deloughry,
Date: 27/28th April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 432 (Leaside) Squadron, RCAF
Type: Halifax III
Serial: MZ588 (note - LW682)
Base: RCAF East Moor (Reverted back to RAF in 1945)
Location: Verviers, Belgium
Pilot: F/O. Laurie Daniel De Loughry J26804 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. James Shearer 1823667 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: F/O. John Milton McLay J26324 RCAF Age 24. Killed
Air Bmr: F/O. Gordon Hewlett Parker J28688 RCAF Age 26. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Richard Lincoln Small R128561 RCAF Age 28. PoW No: 3712 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air Gnr (Mid Upper): P/O. Harry Walter Davis J90062 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Air Gnr (Ventral): Fl/Sgt. George Garnet Farrell R189316 RCAF Age 22. PoW No: 3820 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air Gnr (Rear): F/O. John William Kerr C18588 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Note: The Squadron's Operational Records do show this aircraft as LW682 (see below) - but this is a mistake and comprehensive research by David McLay in conjunction with the RCAF Museum in Trenton, Ontario confirms this. LW682 was shot down with the loss of all eight crew whilst with 426 Squadron on the 13th May 1944.
REASON FOR LOSS:
The official report taken from the Bomber Command report on the nights operations:
Damage was mostly confined to the eastern half of the yards, which includes the reception and storage sidings, engine sheds, custom sheds and goods depot. All were severely damaged. Tracks and rolling stock in this area were seriously affected.
Very little flak was encountered. The first wave of bombers reached the target without fighter opposition but later waves were attacked as they crossed Holland and Belgium.The first part of the return route was free of opposition, but several encounters occurred from St. Trond to half way across the North Sea. A Halifax destroyed a Ju 88.
15 aircraft (10.4 per cent) were lost, nearly all to fighters. Only one was seen destroyed by flak, S. of Liege. Fighter losses were reported as follows: 3 between Asch and Maastricht, 3 over the target, 3 between St. Trond and E. of Antwerp and one over the Dutch coast.
Taking off at 23:30 hrs in a newly delivered Halifax to the Squadron from RCAF East Moor in Yorkshire to bomb the rail yards at Montzen.
144 aircraft made up with 120 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitoes joining the operation.
Rear: F/O. John Milton McLay, F/O. John William Kerr, F/O. Gordon Hewlett Parker, Sgt. George Garnet Farrell Front: P/O.Harry Walter Davis, F/O. Laurie Daniel Deloughry, Sgt. James Shearer RAF - missing Fl/Sgt. Richard Lincoln Small (Courtesy Wallace McLay younger brother of John Milton of London, Ontario, Canada)
The Montzen mission and many raids like it were part of what was called the “Transportation Plan”.
The plan’s objective was to disrupt and destroy rail networks and marshalling yards in western France and Belgium. This was necessary to prevent the Germans from transporting troops, armour and supplies to the Normandy front in response to the D-Day invasion.
The “Transportation Plan” was just part of an overall Allied air campaign to completely destroy the transportation system in France and Belgium. The campaign was highly successful. The German military’s transportation capability was severely degraded by D-Day on June 6,1944. John’s crew dropped their bombs on target and headed back to base.
At 01:40 hrs in the morning of the 28th April at 5,400 mtrs. fate tragically brought together Major Heinz Wolfgang Schnauffer (1) of Stab IV./NJG1 with his BF 110 night fighter and Halifax MZ588.
Schnauffer was a veteran nightfighter pilot with 60 kills to his credit. The crew of MZ588 had no experience in aerial combat. Schnauffer attacked and easily destroyed Halifax MZ588.
It was reported that Halifax MZ588 exploded after the attack and crashed near Verviers, Belgium. This crew was on their first combat mission together and 6 were tragically lost.
April 2019 - Mr. Matt Lacroix produced this image of the aircraft for David McLay
George Farrell bailed out of the Halifax and Richard Small was blown out in the explosion. Both were transported to Dulag Luft near Frankfurt for interrogation and holding until they were assigned to a permanent PoW camp. George Farrell arrived at Stalag Luft VI on Friday May 19, 1944. I don’t know when Richard Small arrived there, but he was assigned there. Stalag Luft VI incarcerated British, Canadian and American NCO airmen, it held about nine thousand prisoners in 1944. Sgt Farrell, the ventral gunner, stated in his questionnaire upon his return that he saw Sgt Davis in the back of the car that he was being taken. He was in a limp unconscious condition possibly dead.
A terrible night of losses from Bomber Command who carried out 3 main operations to Friedrichshafen, Aulnoye and Monzen. Another 159 OTU aircraft took part in a diversionary sweep over the North Sea. 18 Lancasters were lost on the Friedrichshafen raid, 1 lost on the Aulnoye raid with 14 Haifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost on this Montzen operation. 35 aircraft lost this single night!
The night fighters continued to attack the bomber stream all the way back - claiming a further 14 aircraft. The allies had the misfortune that several night fighter aces had gathered for a meeting at St. Trond the previous day were scrambled against the forces it passed overhead on its return track.
MZ588 CREW LOST:
Extract from report by Fl/Lt. Nadeau No.2 MREU dated 1 July 1946:
"With reference to a Gendarmerie report, I visited Verviers the scene of a crash and interviewed the following persons on 11-6-46. Mr Gilson from Verviers, active member of the secret army and Commandant Lambert, chief of the fire brigade, also from Verviers stated that they saw the aircraft shot down by a fighter on 28-4-44 around 01:50. Persistent enquiries failed to reveal with certainty the type of aircraft involved. The aircraft blew up in mid-air and pieces were found scattered all over the city. The Germans were careful to pick up all the pieces that might be helpful in identifying the type of aircraft.
The bodies were found as follows:- One by the name of Davis was found dead inside of the walls of the goal of Verviers complete with his unopened parachute. Mr. Le Cure Closset Chaplin at the Prison, who saw him shortly after the body was discovered, read the above name on his identity card. A stone was erected to his memory on the spot where he was found with the following words on:-“SOUVIENS-TOI GU’ICI DAVIS AVIATEUR CANADIAN LUTTANT POUR TA LIBERTE TROUVE LA MORT LE 28 AVRIL 1944”. ("REMEMBER THAT CANADIAN AIRMAN DAVIS, A CANADIAN FREEDOM FIGHTER, DIED ON THE 28th APRIL 1944"). Two more were picked up inside the walls of a convent by the side of the fuselage, one was dead and the other wounded, the later was taken prisoner. Other bodies were found in different parts of the town, these also were found intact. Nobody seems to know the exact number of dead or of prisoners.
I then interviewed a traitor by the name of Schnock at the city goal who was a member of the Feldgendarmerie and was told by him that five were found and one taken prisoner.
Commandant Lambert picked up a flying helmet which fell from that aircraft and the name Farrell written inside and outside. Mr Gerardy 5 Rue du Palais Verviers had a badly damaged watch with the following engraving on it:- A.M. 68/159 A 4836. Mr Gerardy wishes to keep the watch as a souvenir. A flying boot with the name of R128561 Small RCAF written inside was found on the night of the crash. The following is certain that J90062 P/O. Davis ex R197022 Sgt. Davis was a member, their burial place if known. If possible the name of the party to whom the watch referred to was charged."
F/O. Laurie Daniel De Loughry - born in Kentville Nova Scotia on July 1923. His parents were Daniel Samuel Deloughry and Myrtle Ivy Rogers. His father died in 1935. He was single and an only child. Prior the joining the RCAF in January 1924, Daniel worked as a sheet metal worker for Clark Ruse Aircraft Company. Daniel enlisted in the RCAF in January 1942. Right from the start he wanted to be a pilot or observer. In training scored good marks and was judged an excellent candidate for captain of an aircraft. His embarkation to the UK was in June 1943. He joined 432 squadron based at East Moore April 11, 1944. Fg.Off. Deloughry’s first operation was on April 20/21. He joined the crew of LW592 as a second pilot on a mission to Lens France. His second operation as second pilot was on April 22/23. He joined the crew of LW596 on a mission to Dusseldorf Germany. Both times the aircraft and crew returned safely. He was credited with 2 1/3 trips and 15:35 hours. Daniel enjoy a number of sports including football, baseball, basketball, tennis and hockey. As well he had an interest in photography.
On April 28, 1944 he was the pilot of Halifax MZ588. He lost his life for his country.
Sgt. James Shearer - We have not been able to gather any information on Sgt. James Shearer 18236667 RAFVR beyond his age and position of Flight Engineer aboard Halifax MZ588. If anyone has information please share it with us.
F/O. John Milton McLay - His story was told elsewhere on this page. Suffice it to say he was a farm boy from Canada who joined the RCAF in March 1940 and served as navigator in Halifax MZ588 on April 28, 1944.
F/O. Gordon Hewlett Parker - Born in Montreal Quebec January 21, 1918. His parents were Richard Hewlett Parker and Gertrude May Fletcher. He was the only married member of the crew, His wife’s name was Helen Fraser McRae. They married in 1942. Gordon needed to get permission to marry which was granted. His wife lived in Baddeck Nova Scotia. They had planned to adopt a baby boy in July 1944. His wife Helen carried on with the adoption and named her new son Gordon after her husband. Gordon came from a large family having six brothers and one sister. Two of his brothers were serving in the RCAF. HIs siblings ranged in age from twenty eight to one year old. Gordon was a avid sportsman enjoying bicycling, badminton, horseback riding and hunting. He worked as a printers apprentice at the Halifax Herald newspaper prior to enlisting in April 1940. He scored well in bomb aimer training. His embarkation to the UK was in August 1943. He joined 432 squadron based at East Moore April 11, 1944. He was popular and well liked at the squadron during his short time there. On April 28, 1944 he was the bomb aimer of Halifax MZ588.
P/O. Harry Walter Davis - born in January 1924 in Stratford Ontario, His parents were Walter Thomas Davis and Margaret Lena Moore. He had three brothers and three sisters. Harry worked a machinist apprentice. He left that job to join the RCAF in October 1942. He wanted to be assigned flying duties, but had no particular position in mind. He just wanted to fly. He was assigned to air gunnery school and scored excellent marks in ground school. Graduated with a mark of eighty per cent. His embarkation to the UK was in September 1943. He joined 432 squadron based at East Moore April 11, 1944. Sgt. Davis’s first operation was on April 24/25. He joined the crew of LW598 as a gunner on a mission to Karlsrhue. The aircraft and crew returned safely. He was credited with one trip and 6:30 hours. On the Montzen mission Davis’s lifeless body was recovered from the roof of the jail in Vievier Belgium along with his unopened parachute. After the war a plaque was placed at the jail near where he came down. He was a sergeant on the mission, but was posthumously promoted to Pilot Officer. On April 28 1944 he was mid-upper gunner on Halifax MZ588. He lost his life for his country.
F/O. John William Kerr - Born in Hamilton Ontario in February 1922. His parents were William Parker Kerr and Margaret Scot Hendrie. His mother was deceased and he had no siblings. He enjoyed baseball, basketball, hockey, bowling, canoeing and soccer. He was in the Boy’s Brigade for two year and enjoyed shooting.
John was employed as a cashier in Loblaws grocery store before the war. In April 1940 he enlisted in the RCAF. Initially he listed interest in ground duties. In June 1943 John made an application to enlist in aircrew duties. It was accepted and he was assigned to air gunner training in July 1943. On completion of the course he was judged as a very good type, an excellent example and should make a good gunner. He was recommended for a commission August 1943. John had an aunt Mrs. Richie living in Glasgow Scotland. John Kerr and some of his crew mates would visit her and she looked at them as part of the family. Mrs. Richie became very concerned when John and his crew were reported missing in action. She contacted the Air Ministry about the fate of the crew. He joined 432 squadron based at East Moore April 11, 1944. Plt.Off Kerr’s first operation was on April 23/24. He joined the crew of LW616 as gunner to a mission to Dusseldorf. The aircraft and crew returned safely. He was credited with 1 trip and 6:30 hours. On April 28, 1944 he the tail gunner in Halifax MZ588. He lost his life for his country.
MZ588 CREW PoWs:
Fl/Sgt. Richard Lincoln Small - Passed away on the 31st July 2009. Born on the 8th October 1916 in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada but brought up in Wynyard, Saskatchewan and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The youngest of four children. Married to Eleanor father of Sandra and Richard. Post war employed by Stanley Brock Ltd where he became a director. (With thanks to the Speers funeral and cremation services for information/photograph)
Sgt. George Garnet Farrell - Passed away on the 15th December 2006. Born in 1922 the husband of Elizabeth and father to Joanne and John. Lived in Vancouver, Canada. Post war worked as a salesperson within the food industry. (With thanks to the Vancouver Sun for information/photograph)
The Squadron lost two 3 crews during this operation, the others:
Halifax III LK807 QO:J Flown by Fl/Sgt. G. Millar who evaded capture with 3 other members of his crew, 2 were made PoW, the rear gunner, 20 year old Sgt. Royce Desmond Aubrey Harmsworth 1608330 RAFVR from Andover, Hampshire, England was killed. The only airman buried in the Hanneche Churchyard in Leige, Belgium.
Halifax III LW592 QO:A Flown by P/O. H.H. Whaley who also evaded capture with 3 other crew members. 1 was taken PoW. His navigator, 26 year old F/O. John Woollatt Burrows J22599 RCAF from Quebec in Canada was killed along with his rear gunner, 20 year old P/O. Paul Edward Driver J85612 RCAF from Toronto, Canada. Both buried at the Heverlee War Cemetery, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium.
The Montzen raid on April 27/28, 1944 resulted in one of the highest loss rates among RCAF bomber squadrons. In May to June 1944 the average loss rate was less than 2 per cent, the Montzen loss rate was 10.4 per cent. 144 aircraft dispatched, 15 reported missing/failed to return. 432 Squadron dispatched 14 Halifax's on the Montzen raid. Three failed to return giving a loss rate of 21.4 per cent.
(1) Hptm. Schnauffer survived the war with a total of 121 confirmed claims. Schnaufer was taken prisoner of war at Schleswig-Holstein by British forces in May 1945. After his release a year later, he returned to his home town and took over the family wine business. He sustained injuries in a road accident driving his Mercedes 170 convertible in a collision with a Renault 22 truck on 13 July 1950 during a wine-purchasing visit to France, and died in a Bordeaux hospital two days later. (See Kracker Archive within this site)
This page has been researched and submitted by David McLay who’s father was a cousin of F/O. John Milton McLay:
"I began researching this story some years ago. I knew about P/O. J.M McLay from my Father’s stories about him. I didn’t know much, just that he was a navigator in the RCAF and he served in a bomber squadron, he was killed in 1944. Fortunately I had his full name John Milton McLay. He was my father’s cousin.
Right: P10 Compass as used by RAF/RCAF Navigators during WW2 (courtesy George Scott Auer of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada - October 2018)
John was born June 1919 and grew up on a farm near Lion's Head Ontario. His parents were John George McLay and Katherine McIver. He had four brothers and two sisters. His brothers were Emerson, Alex, George and Wallace. Sisters were Shirley Anne and Doris. John attended Public School SS#1 from 1925 to 1932 and Lion's Head Continuation School from 1932 to 1936 earning his Junior Matriculation. He then spent three years helping out on the family farm. In 1939 John left the farm and moved to Galt Ontario where he enrolled in the Galt Aircraft School. There he studied Mechanical and Aero Engine Mechanics for six months. He was judged a good candidate for aircraft engine maintenance on graduation.
John enlisted in the RCAF in March 1940. He was sent to Manning Depot in Toronto for basic training. Manning Depot was located in the Horse Building at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. After Manning Depot AC (aircraftman) McLay was sent to No 1 Technical Training School in St.Thomas. This school taught engine mechanics, aircraft fitting, instrument mechanics and electricians. The school was located at the Ontario Psychiatric Hospital Complex and trained 2000 students at a time. John wanted to be a pilot, but was trained as a navigator. John was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on May 14, 1943. His embarkation to the UK was in June 1943. After finishing his navigational training in Britain he was promoted to Flying Officer November 14, 1943. He was transferred to 432 Squadron April 11,1944."
Initially buried at St. Truiden on the 1st May - reinterred after the end of the war.
F/O. Laurie Daniel De Loughry. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.18. Son of Daniel Samuel and Myrtle Ivy Deloughry, of Kentville, King's Co., Nova Scotia, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 15.35 hrs. 2 previous operations. Grave inscription reads: “Though The Years Be Many Or Few We’ll Always Be Thinking Dear Laurie Of You.”
Sgt. James Shearer. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.16. Son of Robert Shearer, and of Agnes Black Shearer, of Edinburgh, Scotland. Operational flying hours logged: 0 hrs - his first operation. Grave inscription reads: “Unseen By The World He Stands By My Side And Whispers Death Cannot Divide.”
F/O. John Milton McLay. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.19. Son of John G. and Katharine McLay, of Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 0 hrs - his first operation. Grave inscription reads: “All He Had Hoped For, All He Gave To Save Mankind. Himself He Scorned To Save.”
McLay Lake, Thunder Bay, Ontario was named after Fg.Off McLay in 1960
F/O. Gordon Hewlett Parker. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.20. Son of Richard Hewlett Parker and Gertrude Parker, husband of Helen Fraser Parker, of Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 0 hrs - his first operation. Grave inscription reads: “If We Love One Another God Dwelleth In Us. And His Love Is Perfected In Us.”
P/O Harry Walter Davis. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.17. Son of Walter Thomas Davis and the former Margaret Lena Moore, born Stratford, Ontario, 11 January 1924. Enlisted RCAF 20 October, 1942 at Stratford. Graduated No. 9 B and G School, Mont-Joli, Quebec 3 September, 1943. Departed Halifax for UK, 8 October, 1943. No. 22 OTU, 16 November 1943; No. 61 Base, 24 Feb 1944; No. 432 Sqn 11 April 1944. Operational flying hours logged: 6.30 hrs. 1 previous operation. Right: Memorial plaque was placed on the site where his body was recovered in Vervier Belgium.
Address made by Mr. G. Ruhl, President of the Administrative Commission of the prison at Verviers on September 9, 1945. (Translation prepared in the Department of External Affairs).
“Remember that it was here that Davis, a Canadian aviator fighting for your liberty, met his death on April 28, 1944.
After the gigantic turmoil with its dreadful trail of misery and sorrow has swept over our country, finally the radiant dawn of peace has come.
All honour to the brave pilots of the Royal Air Force, of which it was Davis’ glory to be a member, who, at the cost of superhuman efforts, cruel and heavy sacrifices, unspeakable suffering, have saved liberty and justice. These hero’s have given us the most gallant and salutary lesson, in teaching us that nothing either good or great is accomplished except by courage, self-denial and sacrifice. For this, they have earned our eternal gratitude. May our Belgian soil, where Davis has been destined by the uncertainties of battle in the sky to seek his last repose, faithfully watch over his sacred sleep, for he has paid with his blood and with his fine young life the heavy ransom of his noble devotion.”
F/O. John William Kerr. Heverlee War Cemetery. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Grave 5.F.15. Son of William and Margaret Kerr, of Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada. Operational flying hours logged: 6.30 hrs - 1 previous operation. Grave inscription reads: “He Died That We Might Live.”
This page has been researched and submitted by David McLay whose father was a cousin of F/O. John Milton McLay.
Photograph of F/O. McLay courtesy of and with permission from Alan Bartley from his book "The Proud People" - published by the Brucedale Press (B000YOCHIA). The photo of the pilot, Fg.Off. Deloughry courtesy Ancestry.ca. Further detailed information kindly sent in by Mr. David Champion - October 2016 with further photographs. Also many thanks to Wallace McLay for further photographs - May 2018. Page updated with new information from David McLay - November 2018. Thanks to John Jones for the MREU report and Address by Mr.G. Ruhl.