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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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18/19th July 1944 49 Squadron Lancaster III JB178 F/O. Green DFC

Operation: Revigny, France

Date: 18/19th July 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 49 Squadron (motto: Cave canem - 'Beware of the Dog'). 5 Group

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB178

Code: EA-U

Base: RAF Fiskerton, Lincolnshire

Location: South West of Herbisse, France

Pilot: F/O William Raeburn Green DFC. NZ/416479 RNZAF Age 28. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Francis Stanley Seymour 1475129 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Herbert Reginald Neal 1801910 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O. Mervyn Charles Hollard NZ/427210 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Colin Davison 1497368 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Allan Alfred Ansell 1893412 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gordon Ernest Deryck Hands 1895656 RAFVR Age 19. Killed


Taking off at 22.38 hrs on two railway targets at Aulnoye and Revigny in France - 253 Lancasters (15 from 49 squadron) and 10 Mosquitoe taking part. 49 squadron were to bomb the railway junction at Revigny. 26 allied aircraft were lost on this operation.

There are two probable claims for the loss: Ofw. Herbert Altner of 8./NJG5 at 01:25 hrs (survived the war as an ace with 25 claims), Fw. Gunther Zimmermann of 8./NJG4 at 01:33 hrs. (MIA 06/07th August 1944 - 2 claims)

49 Squadron suffered terrible losses on this operation. 3 other Lancaster crews were lost, the others:

Lancaster III ND684 EA-V Flown by 22 year old F/O. William David Appleyard Aus/415716 RAAF, from Claremont, Western Australia. killed with 6 other crew.

Lancaster III JB473 EA-W Flown by Canadian, F/O. R.M. Deacon J/86483 RCAF PoW - 5 others evading capture with 1 other killed. The pilot was wounded and liberated from the hospital at Chalons on the 28th August 1944.

Lancaster III PB231 EA-H Flown by 26 year old F/O. Clifford Lacy 173283 RAFVR, from Layton, Blackpool, Lancashire, killed with 4 other crew, 2 taken PoW.

DFC Citation L.G. 08th April 1944:

'One night in June, 1944, this officer piloted an aircraft detailed to attack a target in the Ruhr. When nearing the target the aircraft was engaged by a fighter but it was driven off. Soon afterwards another fighter closed into the attack and before the engagement terminated P/O. Green's aircraft sustained damage. One engine was put out of Action but this did not deter P/O. Green from pressing home his attack. He Afterwards flew safely to base. This officer has completed very many sorties and has invariably displayed a high standard of skill, determination and devotion to duty'.

Burial details:

F/O. William Raeburn Green DFC. Herbisse Churchyard. Grave 3. Born on the 30th November 1915 at Marton. Worked as a hairdresser prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 30th November 1941. Trained at No. 2 Elementary Flying School and No. 2 Service Flying School. Awarded his pilot badge on the 27th July 1942 and promoted to sergeant on the 17th October 1942. Embarked for England on the 20th November 1942. Received his commission on the 07th February 1944. Joined 49 squadron on the 21st March 1944 from No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. Son of William Franceys Green, JP., and Mignonette Green (nee Shepherd), of Pokeno, Auckland, New Zealand. Other sources list him as Fl/Lt but it is understood that this is a mistake. A total of 717 flying hours logged and lost on his 28th operational sortie.

Sgt. Francis Stanley Seymour. Herbisse Churchyard. Joint grave 5-6. Joined 49 squadron on the 21st March 1944 from No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. Son of Francis and Florence Seymour, of Leyburn, Yorkshire. Also remembered on the town war memorial in Leyburn. Grave inscription: 'Eternal Rest Give Unto Him, O Lord; May He Rest In Peace'.

Fl/Sgt. Herbert Reginald Neal. Herbisse Churchyard. Grave 1. Son of Joseph Lloyd Neal and Isabella Neal and husband of Evelyn Betty Neal, of Stanmore, Middlesex. Member of the Pharmaceutical Society. Joined 49 squadron on the 21st March 1944 from No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. Grave inscription: 'God Bless You, & Thank You For All You've Done, For Your Love, Faith And Victory Won'.

P/O. Mervyn Charles Hollard. Herbisse Churchyard. Grave 2. Born on the 05th May 1923 at Opotiki Prior to service worked as a store man for Dalgety and Company. Served in the territorial army for two months prior to enlisting at Rotorua on the 11th July 1942. Embarked for Canada for training as an observer on the 10th November 1942. Air bomber badge awarded on the 02nd April 1943 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for England on the 28th May 1943. Joined 49 squadron on the 21st March 1944 from No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. Received his commission on the 16th June 1944. Son of Charles John and Hilda Kate Hollard (nee Phillips), of Opotiki, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 441 flying hours logged and lost on his 24th operational sortie. (see below)

Fl/Sgt. Colin Davison. Herbisse Churchyard. Joint grave 5-6. Son of Mr. and Mrs. George Henry Davison and husband of Pauline Davison, of Totley, Yorkshire. Joined 49 squadron on the 21st March 1944 from No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. Grave inscription: 'In Memory Of A Dear Husband. Pauline'.

Sgt. Allan Alfred Ansell. Herbisse Churchyard. Grave 4. Son of Richard Jack and Frances Ansell, of Bournemouth, Hampshire. Joined 49 squadron on the 21st March 1944 from No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. Grave inscription: 'Cherished Memories Of A Dear Son & Brother. Gone From Home But Not From Our Hearts'.

Sgt. Gordon Ernest Deryck Hands. Herbisse Churchyard. Grave 7. Son of Ernest James Hands and Sybil Hands, of Hendon, Middlesex. Joined 49 squadron on the 21st March 1944 from No. 5 Lancaster Finishing School. Grave inscription: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Them'.

Special additional information on P/O. Mervyn Charles Hollard by Sonia Edwards researching all who lost their lives from the Bay Of Plenty area of New Zealand.

Mervyn Charles Hollard (1923-1944) was born in Opotiki, 5 May 1923, to Charles John (1879-1963) and Hilda Kate Hollard (nee Phillips 1982-1941) of Opotiki. He had two sisters: Ethleen (1908-1989 m H. Armstrong) Ngaire, (1914-2016, m. H.S. Hooper ) and a brother Alwyn John Hollard (1912-1999). The family were Methodist. Mervyn attended Opotiki District High School 1936-1941, before going to work for Dalgety & Co Ltd in Opotiki, as a storeman. Five months later he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He had spent 2 months with the local army territorials.

Alwyn Hollard served with 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force as Lance Corporal 526676, beginning as a driver in the Army Service Corps and then joining 18 Armoured Regiment. After the war he worked for the New Zealand Railways.

12195 Captain Charles Hollard had served in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade for 22 years. He fought at Passchendaele. In 1918 he brought his family from Taranaki, to live in Opotiki, taking up a returned serviceman’s 10-acre ballot farm there. A keen gardener, Charles Hollard worked on his citrus orchard and with bees in an apiary before he purchased a dairy farm on McGregor’s Road at Woodlands. He built his own homes on both properties. He led the Opotiki Anzac Services for many years and worked hard to establish the World War 1 Returned Soldiers’ Association in Opotiki. He served as the first Secretary. He helped establish the Hukutaia Domain, Woodlands Hall, and Woodlands School. Woodlands Hall was designed to have a smallbore rifle range beneath it, since his main interest was rifle shooting. Captain Hollard was well known through-out the shooting world in both in New Zealand and internationally, having shot “the possible” in many tournaments, as a top shot when competing.

NZ427210 Pilot Officer Mervyn Hollard went to Rotorua to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force Initial Training Wing as an Aircraft Hand, 11 July 1942. In August he re-mustered as an Air Observer and was then posted to Canada 10 November, for advanced air training attached to the Royal Canadian Air Force under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. He left New Zealand aboard the Ile de France and reached a base at Lethbridge Alberta, where he attended a Bombing and Gunnery School in December.

On 2 April 1943 NZ427210 Hollard received his Air Bomber’s Badge and was promoted to Sergeant.He was then attached to the Royal Air Force, embarking for the United Kingdon 2 April 1943. He was given training with Wellington Bombers. Stirling and Lancaster Bomber training followed. Hollard joined 49 Squadron flying Lancasters. He flew 24 operations having received his commission 16 January 1944.

By this time the RAF was asking a lot of its young crews, who needed to be alert to ward off enemy night fighters. They were flying two operations inside 24 hours and some of the crews may not have been so vigilant on their second “op.” Flying Officer William Green (28)and his Bomb Aimer Merv Hollard (21) had flown together reguarly since they met at Officer Training Unit in 1943, and just the previous month during a raid to the Ruhr, Green had driven off a night fighter and although the plane was damaged, Green had flown on, dropped his bombs and struggled back with three engines.

Bomber Command sent out a raid on the French Railway Junctions at Aulnoye-Aymeries and Revigney-sur-Ornaine. There were 253 Lancaster bombers with 10 Mosquitoes as escort. 26 aircraft were lost over France.

Flying under Bomber Command on the night of 18 Wed/19 Thursday 19 July 1944, Lancaster III JB178/U took off at 22.58 and was shot down by a night fighter 7kms NW of Arcis-sur-Aube at 0300. The aircraft crashed 3 kms SW of Herbisse, where the seven crew are buried in the village churchyard.

Pilot Officer NZ427210 Mervyn Charles Hollard, aged 21, had flown 441 hours. It was his 24th operation. He is buried at Herbisse Churchyard, Aube France.

His name is found within St Johns Union Church, Opotiki and on the Cenotaph at Opotiki. His image and medals are displayed at the Returned and Services Association rooms in St John Street Opotiki.

A kauri tree was planted at the entrance to Opotiki District High School (later Opotiki College) with a memorial plaque beside it. “This kauri was planted to the memory of Pilot Officer Mervyn Charles Hollard RNZAF 49th Bomber Squadron RAF. A loyal pupil of this school, who lost his life over France 19th July 1944.” The kauri stands tall today.

Credits: Ngaire named her daughter Merwyn (m. Bowden) in his memory., Opotiki District High School Admissions #450, LAMBERT Max Victory (NZ Airmen and the Fall of Germany, Harper Collins 2014 p 78-79

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Sonia Edwards and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 01-08-2021

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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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