22/23.09.1943 434 (Bluenose) Squadron, RCAF Halifax V LK909 IP:G Plt Off. Green
Date: 22nd/23rd September 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit No: 434 (Bluenose) Squadron, RCAF
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Tholthorpe, Yorkshire
Location: Ströhen, south of Bremen. (war map reference L53/W6438)
Pilot: Plt Off. Herbert Green 157406 RAF Age 23. KiA
2nd Pilot: Flt Sgt. Robert Peter Reynolds R135119 RCAF Age 21. KiA
Flt Eng: Sgt. Stanley Cyril Henry Hearn 1457812 RAFVR Age 35. KiA
Nav: Sgt. John Cross 929899 RAFVR Age? KiA
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Alan Francis Cudd 138854 RAFVR Age 21. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Charles Coward 1332058 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upper): WO1 Allan Heaney R82526 RCAF Age 21. KiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Dennis John Burge 1320913 RAFVR Age 21. KiA
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 19:02 hrs from RAF Tholthorpe, Yorkshire as part of a group of 711 aircraft on the first major raid on Hannover for over 2 years.
5 USAAF B-17s also joined which was their first night raid on Germany. 322 Lancasters, 226 Halifaxes, 137 Stirlings and 26 Wellingtons took part. 26 aircraft would not return.
Visibility in the target area was good but stronger winds than forecast caused the marking and the bombing to be concentrated between 2 and 5 miles south south-west of the city centre. It is unlikely that serious damage was caused
LK909 was claimed by Lt. Heinz Bock, his 4th Abschuss, from 8/NJG1 over Ströhen, South Barenburg at 4,500 m. at 22:40 hrs. The victory was confirmed by the OKL on the 12 July 1944. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 June - 22 September) 1943 Part 2 - Theo Boiten).
Lt. Bock was also killed on the night of 2nd/3rd October 1943 when his Bf110 crashed at Bad Aibling airfield after being hit by what was thought to be 'Friendly’ flak. He was credited with 5 Abschüsse.
In an Investigation Report dated 13th May 1945, Flt Lt. E.T. Haines visited Ströhen and interrogated the local Burgemeister. Flt Lt. Haines was led to the cemetery and came across the communal grave of the 8 aircrew from LK909.
The Burgemeister revealed that the aeroplane had been hit at high altitude and had broken up, falling to the earth in small pieces.
The grave was marked as "7 English Fliers and Sgt. Heaney R82526" who was, at the time of burial, the only identifiable crew member. Once the coffins had been exhumed, only four of the bodies were identifiable.
1457812 Sgt. Hearn, 1096580 Sgt. Green, R82526 WO1 Heaney and 1320913 Sgt. Burge.
As the investigation progressed, the following came to light;
Coffin 1 contained Sgt. Cross J929899 or Sgt. Cudd 1388584.
Coffin 2 contained Sgt. Burge 1320913.
Coffin 3 contained Sgt. Heaney R82526.
Coffin 4 contained Sgt. Coward 1332058 and Sgt. Reynolds R135119.
Coffin 5 Sgt. Hearn 1457812.
Coffin 6 Sgt. Green 1095680.
Coffin 7 contained Sgt. Cross J929899 or Sgt. Cudd 1388584.
The coffins had been buried in swampy ground and so decomposition was advanced and the coffins were in a poor state.
Further information on Robert Reynold's from the family:
"Bob graduated from D'Arcy McGee High School in Montreal where he was a well known athlete. He later attended Montreal Technical School. His father was the Building Superintendent at the Canadian Pacific Railway's Windsor Station in Montreal which facilitated travel by rail for the family to their country home North of Montreal at Lac Mercier near Mont Tremblant where he joined with his friends and family in Winter and Summer sports.
In search of adventure, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in July 1941, and earned his pilot's wings at Yorkton Saskatchewan November 3, 1942. He went overseas in December 1942.
Initially he was listed as MIA and then confirmed as lost. His death had a truly devastating impact on the family."
The crew were buried in a cemetery at Ströhen, known as 'Cemetery for Foreigners' and a number of aircrew were buried there from other losses. They were later reinterred in Hannover.
Plt Off Herbert Green. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 8.D.8. Inscription: 'LIVE IN PEACE AND THE GOD OF LOVE AND PEACE SHALL BE WITH YOU'. Son of George and Ruth Green, husband of Audrey Lilian Green, of Otley, Yorkshire, England.
Above: Grave marker for Flt Sgt. Robert Peter Reynolds
Flt Sgt. Robert Peter Reynolds. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 8.D.6. Born on the 28th August 1917 in Montreal, Quebec. Son of Peter Percy and Nora Claire (née Kilcullen) Reynolds of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Sgt. Stanley Cyril Henry Hearn. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 8.D.7. Inscription: 'REST ETERNAL GRANT HIM, O LORD; AND LET LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON HIM. R.I.P.'. Son of Joseph John Charles and Alice Ernestine Hearn.
Sgt. John Cross. Hanover War Cemetery Grave Joint grave 8.D. 1-2. His probate record has his abode as The Glen Beaumont, St. Peter, Jersey. Next-of-Kin details currently not available
Flt Sgt. Alan Francis Cudd. Hanover War Cemetery Joint grave 8.D. 1-2. Inscription: "JESUS LIVES! HENCEFORTH IS DEATH BUT THE GATE OF LIFE IMMORTAL". Son of Sydney Thomas Cudd and Minnie Alice Cudd, of Morcombelake, Dorsetshire, England.
Sgt. Ernest Charles Coward. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 8.D.5. Son of Henry Walter and Lilian Coward, husband of May Coward, of Rotherham, Yorkshire, England.
WO1 Allan Heaney. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 8.D.4. Inscription: 'GOD LET YOU LEAVE A NAME ... AMONG THE VERY BRAVE, THE VERY TRUE’. Born on the 8th November 1922 in Ottawa. Son of Leroy and Grace (née Halkett) Heaney, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Above: Original grave marker for Flt Sgt. Burge. Behind is the grave for the crew of 97 Squadron Lancaster ND64 OF:R - lost on the night of 30th/31st March 1944
Flt Sgt. Dennis John Burge. Hanover War Cemetery Grave 8.D.3. '"IN THE MIDST OF LIFE WE ARE IN DEATH" ONLY GOOD-NIGHT, BELOVED, NOT FAREWELL’. Son of John Emil and Evelyn May Burge, of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, England.
Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) with thanks to Nick Stalled for Flt Sgt. Burge photographs, Nicola and Michael McGovern for Flt Sgt. Reynolds photograph and information (Mar 2016). Reviewed and updated by Ralph Snape (Jun 2023)
Other Sources listed below: