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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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429 Squadron Crest
22/23.04.1944 429 (Bison) Squadron, RCAF Halifax III LV963 Flt Off. E.L. Howland

Operation: Dusseldorf

Date: 22rd/23rd April 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 429 (Bison) Squadron, RCAF Motto: 'Fortunae Nihil' - Nothing to chance

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LV963

Code: AL:V

Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire

Location: Dusseldorf, Germany

Pilot: Flt Off. Edward Lane Howland 1068542 USAAF Age 27. PoW Camp: Dulag / Gross Tychow (1)

Pilot 2: WO1. Donald Stewart Brillinger R133764 RCAF Age 22. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Eric Arthur Goss 1605337 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Nav: WO2. Harold Alfred Findlater R97899 RCAF PoW No. 4185 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (2)

Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. Harley William Doiron J90917 RCAF Age 21. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Chamberlain R/225022 RCAF PoW No. 3613 Camp:Stalag Luft Heydekrug (3)

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. James Osbourne Young R134821 RCAF Age 21. KiA (4)

Air Gnr (Rear): Plt Off. William Robert Adlard J88714 RCAF Age 20. KiA (5)

Relatives of Sgt. Ron Chamberlain are being sought by a close friend of his - please see 3


Taking off from RAF Leeming, Yorkshire at 22:47 hrs. to join 595 aircraft to bomb Düsseldorf. 2,150 tons of bombs were dropped causing widespread destruction - 56 very large industrial premises and over 2,000 homes destroyed. Casualties on the ground amounted to 883 killed, 593 injured with many others classed as ‘missing’.

Nearly 600 heavy bombers went to Düsseldorf on the 22nd and crews returned to speak of extremely heavy night fighter activity. They recorded that fires could be seen as much as 110 miles away.

Losses to the allied bombers on this raid were huge with 29 aircraft being shot down resulting in 133 aircrew killed and a further 68 being made PoW.

The latest nightfighter war diaries prepared bu Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie list LV963 as possibly shot down by either Oblt. Peter Ehrhardt (6) of 8./NJG5 or Uffz. Herbert term Stegen (7) of 11./NJG5 both have it listed as coming down at 01:25 hrs with the target area of Düsseldorf.

429 Squadron lost another crew during this operation:

Halifax III LK802 AL:F Flow by 24 year old Fg Off. James Francis Fennessey J25009 RCAF from Delacour, Alberta, Canada - killed with 2 other crew, 4 taken PoW. One of the crew taken prisoner, 21 year old Fg Off. Percy Bruce Crosswell 88362 RCAF was shot whilst trying to escape on the 13th April 1945 from Stalag IIIA Luchenwald, he died the next day. He has no known grave Further details here.

(1) Flight Officer (FO) (equates to WO in the RAF) was born at Flint, Michigan on 19 October 1916, the son of Paul Benson Howland and Adeline J. (née Firster) Howland. He married Margaret Irene McClure on the 16th August 1937 at Flint. Daughter Dawn arrived in 1938.

Right: Article from Detroit Free Press 06th June 1962.

He enlisted in the RCAF, was trained as a pilot and posted to the UK. On the 17th November 1943, he traveled to the USAAF 12th Replacement Depot at Chorley, Lancs to enlist in the USAAF. He and Margaret were divorced, via Bomber Mail, on January 29th, 1944, in Genesee, Michigan after 6 years of marriage.

While in German custody he was held at Dulag Luft and Stalag Luft IV, Gross Tychow. Following repatriation he returned to the US where on the 6th June 1945 he married Rose Marie Howard of Detroit. He would spend his working career employed as a restaurant supply salesman. In the late 1960s he married Eleanore Anne “Ellie” Ceaser. In 1978, following retirement, the family left Michigan and settled in Florida. Flight Officer Howland passed away on the 7th July 2003 at Largo, Florida. He is buried at Bay Pines National Cemetery, Bay Pines, Pinellas County, Florida, USA.

(2) WO2 Harold Alfred Findlater was the son of John Taylor and Gertrude Mabel (née Warren) Findlater of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Deceased Peace Arch Hospital, White Rock, British Columbia, Canada 13 June 2002.

(3) The son of Lt. Col Reg Rekert, Roly Brown contacted us in April 2015. Ron Chamberlain was his fathers batman, it is assumed after war end. He became very close to Ron, but after a time circumstances dictated that they drifted apart. He knows that Ron returned to Canada, started a taxi business in Toronto - Ron died during a visit to the UK sometime in the 1990’s. Roly Brown would very much like to make contact with Ron's family again.

Additional information supplied by Dave Champion December 2018:

"Life was not easy for Ronald Chamberlain. Or for that sake his older brother, Reginald, either. Both brothers were born illegitimate to Maud Chamberlain. Their father, Jack Bradshaw, was serving in the army in France in WW1 and the plan had been for him to come home at the cessation of hostilities, marry Maud and raise his two sons. Sadly, he was lost in battle and Maud began the arduous task of raising her two sons on her own.

This was not and easy task and Maud struggled. Her sister, Martha, and family did their best to help out and the two boys would spend the rest of their lives speaking warmly of Aunt Martha's love for them.

In 1925, the authorities stepped in and both Ronald and Reginald were taken from Maud and placed in Barnardo's Home for Children. Ronald arrived in Canada in April of 1925 but as was often the case, siblings were split up. Reginald was sent to Australia.

Ronald was sent to a farm in Georgetown, Ontario to work as an indentured servant. He was not treated well. On one occasion the farmer took his children for ice cream but Ronald was forced to wait outside the parlour while the family enjoyed their treat.

But other families treated him with kindness. Fred and Elma Pettman, known as Uncle Fred and Aunt Elma for the rest of his life, gave him his first real home in Canada. He also worked for Mary Mitchell and her father. He did so well in school that the Mitchells offered to send him to college at their expense. But Barnardo's would not allow this.

In 1937 Ronald met and married Beatrice Laura (nee Demman) and over 50 years the family would grow to six children and 17 grandchildren.

Ronald joined the RCAF in January of 1940 and was trained as as a Wireless Air Gunner. Of his adventures of 22/23 April 1944 he would say that he parachuted out and landing on some railroad tracks hurt his hips and back. The pain would bother him the rest of his life.

Like many in his situation, Ronald had never been given Canadian citizenship. This was rectified in 1976. A story circulated in the family that during the war Ronald and Reginald had both been in the UK at the same time. Both visited Aunt Martha but missed each other by five minutes. The boys would never see each other again.

Ronald passed away in June of 1996, Reginald surviving him until he passed in Australia in 2006.

Ron Chamberlain:

I was intrigued by Doreen Young’s piece concerning her father, Ron Chamberlain, and his visits to his Aunt and Uncle. (see here for full article by Rose Brandon) I was living with Martha and Albert Brown after having previously been placed in a Catholic home in Baldock, Hertfordshire, England after my birth in 1941; and was formally adopted by the couple in 1953. I still don’t know quite how the move from the home was engineered but I suspect that Ron was involved. I first got the impression that Ron was acting as a batman to my father, Lt. Col. Reg Rekert, who himself was in charge of Canadian ordnance in Europe during the war (or part of it). This turns out not to be true in any respect. Reg was not in charge of ordnance during the war although, apparently, he did valuable work for the RCOC. Ron couldn’t have been his batman since Reg had left England in 1943. More clearly, Reg had formed a liaison with Eleanor Teresa Ducie (my birth-mother) – when and how I don’t know – but I’m pretty certain that it was Ron who brought the pieces together afterwards. I’m still puzzled as to whether Ron knew ‘Tessy’ beforehand and whether he helped her to ‘place’ me with the Browns.

I do have vague memories of a staff car; but, more clearly, if not extensively, memories of Ron himself, when he visited his Aunt and Uncle. I can remember waking up with both my adoptive brother, Doug, and Ron in the bed and how we fooled around. I can also remember the smell of Ron’s service uniform - serge, I think. I don’t know how Ron got to see his Aunt and Uncle. I can only assume some form of leave from the RCAF.

I never heard the name ‘Martha’: Ron’s Aunt was always ‘Cis’ to everybody. Her mother must have married twice – to a Gurney and a Chamberlain - where, in each case, there are considerable numbers of relatives alive and well. I certainly met many of them.

Albert – you will understand that I called him ‘Dad’ - was then working at RAF Henlow, nearby to Langford, Bedfordshire, where we lived. There was a steady stream of WAAFs especially, who were given temporary homes and many of the girls kept in touch with the Browns long after the war. I know that Ron was acquainted with some of them. 

So did his arrival at the house and his various visits have a connection with RAF Henlow? And did his visits begin during the war or at its end? Did he know my birth-mother – she had joined up, as far as my enquiries have revealed, at the outbreak of the war? She eventually worked with the Coal Commission set up by BAOR and it’s strange that she met and married her husband, Louis Sabot, a French engineer also working for the Coal Commission – in Dusseldorf, where Ron had been shot down.

There are a few other bits and pieces...There were photographs of Ron and his brother, ‘Jack’ (I never ever heard the name, Reginald - it was ‘Jack’ or, as you might expect since he had arrived from Australia, ‘Digger’), and of my father – all on the sitting-room walls. I never heard the tale of Ron and Jack missing each other by a hair’s- breadth – but it could have been so. Jack appeared on the scene in 1947 and stayed for a couple of years until my adoptive brother, Doug, married and he and his wife, Florence and, sadly, Jack, felt that the house had become too crowded. So Jack – a dear man, all round - went back to Australia and I never saw him again.

One thing, in particular, in Doreen’s piece, leapt out at me after a lifetime’s forgetting – the names of Fred and Alma Pettman who were often remarked on with affection in the Brown household

The photograph of Cis and Albert that Doreen Young posted was taken on their 50th wedding anniversary. I expect that they sent it to Ron after he’d gone back to Canada. We knew, of course, of his marriage to Beatrice and Cis and Albert followed his life-history as far as possible: the birth of children and the growth of a taxi-business in Toronto.

Jack sent us food parcels but I can’t rightly say when this was although I prized successive copies of the Western Mail Annual, Western Australia’s compilation from its daily newspaper. We also got parcels from Canada but I’m not sure if these came from Ron or from my father’s (estranged) family. His wife, Gwen, munificently, wrote regularly to me...They divorced later.

Ron’s and Jack’s mother, ‘Aunt’ Maud (as she was to me), visited us from time to time though this was after the war and she was by then a Simmonds – a marriage, I expect. I never knew her previous history although letters sent to her were to Richmond, south London. I have to say that I found her to be a very sad woman: not surprisingly given her history. Jack Bradshaw is a name absolutely new to me. But the Browns had a habit of shielding me from problematic situations. Unfortunately, their well-intentioned kindness in this regard has given me many complicated, anxious moments...I lost contact with my birth-mother after she had been welcomed on visits to see me whilst she was on duty in Dusseldorf. This would have been in 1946-7, I think. It was not until 2012 that I found out about her life subsequent to my birth and I am now happily in touch with her daughter, Brighid, who lives in Paris. ‘Maman’, the name we use for convenience, died here in France in 2005 – given my domicile here since 2000, a great irony.

If this seems to stray from Ron’s story, it is, nevertheless (and I’m pretty sure about this), down to his involvement that tenuous relationships existed; and it seems strange that Ron’s and Jack’s and my own histories have a similar pattern about them.

I attach two photographs of Ron. Misfortunately, all the Brown family photographs were disposed of much later in time - when and exactly how or why I don’t know – and I really did love looking at them. By the time of their disposal, I’d grown up and gone to work in London (1959) and then elsewhere; and never knew anything about the clearing out.

The two photographs of Ron did not come directly from the Browns. I’m racking my brains: I’m inclined to think that they were in the possession of my birth-mother since she kept a number of photographs to remind her of her previous life and these have been made available by my half-sister, Brighid. This would add some support to my idea that Ron did know Maman and that he was in some way instrumental in arranging my exit from the Catholic home (St. Joseph’s Convent, Baldock...the convent is no longer in existence). Reg Rekert, as I mentioned, had returned to Canada in 1943 so he would have had no part in the proceedings. He left only his name on my birth certificate.

In the end, this is not much to go on; but I would like it thought that Ron is remembered outside his immediate family circle. He was certainly always referred to in the Brown household with love.

I’m now the oldest member of the Brown family at 77; and went to see my even older sister-in-law, Florence, in 2017, a little before she died. Though I’m domiciled in France for nigh on 20 years now I am, of course, in touch with the younger members of the Brown family, three generations of them – who never were able to meet Ron.

(4) Young Island in Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba renamed after Sgt. James Young in 1995. The CWGC list his middle name as Osborne - steps are being taken to have this changed to Osbourne.

(5) Adlard Lake, west of Tadoule Lake, Manitoba renamed after Plt Off. William Adlard in 1975.

(6) This was the 16th abschuss for Oblt. Peter Ehrhardt. Having a total of 21 claims credited to him, survived the war, died in Düsseldorf on the 5th May 1983, we have no further details.

(7) The 6th abschuss for Uffz. Herbert term Stegen of the war. Killed the following month on the 15th/16th May 1944 in a non-operational crash at Erfurt-Bindersleben. A total of 7 claims.

LV963 had been delivered by Handley Page (Cricklewood and Radlett) between 12th March 1944 and 4th April 1944.

Burial Details:

Crew were initially buried at Nordfriedhof in Munich on the 25th April - reinterred after war end - details shown below.

WO1 Donald Stewart Brillinger. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 7.E.17. The son of Stewart and Viola Agnes (née McLeod) Brillinger of Timmins, Ontario, Canada. Born in Thornhill, Ontario on 10 September 1923. At the time of enlistment, two weeks after his 18th birthday, he was employed with his father at McDowell Motors in Timmins.

Sgt. Eric Arthur Goss. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 7.E.16. Born in Portsmouth on 26 March 1923, the youngest child of Albert James and Elizabeth Anne, nee Briggs, Goss. He had an older brother, Douglas, born in 1918. At the time of enlistment Eric had been working as an errand boy for a wholesale grocer.

Plt Off. Harley William Doiron. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 7.D.4. Born at St Vincent de Paul, Quebec, Canada on 30 September, 1921. He was the son of Joseph and Clarissa Pearl (nee Moore) Doiron. Doiron had four brothers; Robert, Garry, Edward and Douglas and one sister, Victoria. In 1931 the family moved from Quebec to Brownville Junction, Maine. At the time of enlistment he was working as an assistant lineman for Canadian Pacific Railroad.

Sgt. James Osbourne Young. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 7.A.12. Born 20 October, 1923 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was the son of Albert Milton and Mabel (née Osbourne) Young. At the time of enlistment he was working as a messenger/clerk for Canadian National Telegraph.

Plt Off. William Robert Adlard. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 7.A.13. Son of Alfred Charles and Alice Jane Adlard, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

For further details our thanks to sources quoted below and also to Roly Brown who contacted us reading this loss. Also to James Stewart who contacted us informing of the details of Plt Off. Doiron. Thanks also to Claude Lafleur for PoW detail correction on Sgt. Crosswell - March 2018, also to Matthew Brillinger for the correction to misspelt name for WO1. Brillinger. Thanks to Roger Frankish for the correction to the grave location for Plt Off. Adlard. With many thanks to Dave Champion who supplied many details on the crew and photographs - December 2018.

RS - 13.08.2018

KTY -25.12.2018

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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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