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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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192 (Special) Sqn
21/22.11.1944 192 (Special) Squadron, Halifax III MZ806 WO. Bernard H. Harrison

Operation: Bomber Support, Germany

Date: 21st/22nd November 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 192 (Special) Squadron, 100 Group

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ806

Code: DT:E

Base: RAF Foulsham, Norfolk, England

Location: About 1½ km (1 ml) from Kirchbrombach, Germany

Pilot: WO. Bernard Harley Harrison 657748 RAFVR Age 29. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Richard Benjamin Hales 1810455 RAFVR Age 20. Murdered (1)

Nav: Sgt. Stanley Wharton 1622354 RAFVR Age? PoW *

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Alec Peter Bloomfield 1604008 RAFVR Age 20. Murdered (1)

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. John George Smith 429256 RAAF Age 20. PoW *

Special Op: WO. John Robert Sutton 1181273 RAFVR Age 24. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Robert Peter Clancy 1795884 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Tom David McGill 1824436 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

* Unknown PoW Camp

REASON FOR LOSS:

MZ806 took off from RAF Foulsham on a mission to investigate and record electronic signals traffic and Freya transmissions in support of the Aschaffenberg operation. WO. Sutton was the Specialist Operator.

Freya was an early warning radardeployed by Germany during World War II.

MZ806 was claimed by Feldwebel (Fw) Konrad Beyer, his 11th Abschuss, from 1./NJG4 flying Ju88 G-1 3C+HJ, in the Groß-Umstadt/ Darmstadt-Aschaffenberg area at 200 m. at 19:30 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (16 October 1944 - 31 December 1944) Part 5 - Theo Boiten).

The aircraft crashed and exploded about 1½ km (1 ml) from Kirchbrombach, some 15½ km (10 mls) SSE of Groß-Umstadt.

WO. Harrison, Sgt Sutton, Sgt. Clancy and Sgt. Magill were either killed during the fighter attack or in the subsequent crash of the aircraft. The four airmen where initially buried in a communal grave at the Kirchbrombach civilian cemetery and then concentrated at the Durnbach War Cemetery on the 1st November 1947.

(1) The circumstances leading to the deaths of Flt Sgt. Bloomfield and Sgt. Hales were determined by a Military Government Court convened in Hamburg between the 18th and the 28th July 1947.

Four German nationals were charged jointly with committing a war crime at König, Kreis Erbach, Germany on or about 21st November 1944 in violation of the laws and usages of war, being concerned in the killing of 1604008 Flight Sergeant A.P. Bloomfield and 18104555 Sergeant R.B. Hales both of the Royal Air Force, prisoners of war.

The four accused were:

Wilhelm Peter Johann Schwinn, who was the former Kreisleiter (District Leader) for the Erbach Kreis (District);

Otto Horst Maurer, who was a former Leutnant (2nd Lt) in the Wehrmacht and an instructor for the local Volkssturm (Home Guard);

Johann Leonhard Meyer and Wilhelm Haigis, both of whom were former members of the Politische Staffel (Political Task Force) of the Nazi party and attached to the Erbach Kreisleitung (District office).

Note: The Kreisleitung was guarded largely by members of the Politische Staffel (Political Task Force). Members of this group were drawn from fanatically devout National Socialists who had at least reached the position of Blockleiter. The role of the Politische Staffel evolved during the war years but in this instance it is believed they were essentially used as the armed personal security detail for the Kreisleiter.

The court heard that Flt Sgt. Bloomfield and Sgt. Hales were captured and taken to the house of the Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Nieder-Kinzig. Sgt. Hales was wounded in the left upper thigh and Flt Sgt. Bloomfield had lost a shoe when baling out of the aircraft. Both airmen were unharmed and treated decently whilst at the Bürgermeister’s house. The capture of the two airmen was reported to the Gendarmerie at Bad König.

Maurer, in a statement made to an Allied investigating officer, stated that at about 20:30 hrs on the day in question he, his NCOs and members of the Politische Staffel were ordered to report to Schwinn at the Kreisleitung. Maurer further stated that in the presence of Jäger, Mayer, Horn and other unnamed individuals, they were informed that an aircraft had been shot down in the vicinity and that a number of airmen had baled out and had been captured. They were to proceed to the location and collect the captured airmen. He then went on to allege that Schwinn had implied that the airmen were to be killed enroute to Erbach im Odenwald. The day after his original statement he made another withdrawing this allegation, which he also confirmed under oath during his testimony to the court.

Maurer, Meyer, Haigis together with four others identified as Jäger, Saurer, Geisler and Horn set off in cars to the scene of the crash.

Jäger was a former Chief of the Fire Brigade, Officer I/C Politische Staffel and a Company Commander of the Volkssturm. He and Saurer were killed in a car crash;

Wilhelm Geisler was a former member of the Politische Staffel. He was not in custody;

Friedrich Karl Horn was a former member of the Politische Staffel. He committed suicide in Altona prison on the 7th July 1947.

After visiting the crash site they proceeded to the house of the Bürgermeister of Nieder-Kinzig and found that the two airmen had left for Bad König under escort of the Gendarmes. They set off in pursuit and caught up with the two airmen and their escort at Bad König.

Maurer then ordered that the airmen should be handed over into his custody. The Gendarmes complied and Haigis, Meyer, Horn and Geisler were detailed to escort the two airmen. They were marched away in almost total darkness in the direction of Erbach im Odenwald with Haigis and Meyer leading, and Horn and Geisler following. Maurer and Jäger in the meantime collected the airmen’s documents from the Gendarmes.

Before he committed suicide Horn gave a deposition in which he stated that Maurer and Jäger passed them on the road, he was of the mind that they would return to pick them up in the car. Halfway between Zell and Erbach im Odenwald he heard Jäger’s voice in front of him but he did not recall what he said. Shortly thereafter he heard the sound of shooting and one of the airmen collapsed and the other disappeared. He claimed that he did not fire his pistol despite some observing his smoking pistol. They could not find the second airman but Jäger assured them that the second airman would not get very far because he was sure that he had shot him.

Zell is some 2¾ km (1¾ mls) north of Erbach im Odenwald.

The next day the bodies of the two airmen were found on two separate paths off to the left of Königer Straße leading south to Michelstadt. The first path being the furthest from Michelstadt, where Sgt. Hales was found some 50m. (160 ft) from the road and some 100m. (320 ft) to the north of Flt Sgt. Bloomfield’s body, which was lying some 25m. (80 ft) from the road along the second path.

The court found all four guilty of the charge and sentenced them to the following terms of imprisonment with effect the 28th July 1947:

Schwinn to 12 years but the Deputy Judge Advocate General, in his review, recommended that his sentence should not be confirmed;

Maurer and Mayer to 15 years and 7 years respectively. Both of their sentences were suspended on the 27th November 1951;

Haigis to 5 years. During March 1949 he was transferred to the Mariannen-Hospital in Werl suffering from serious heart problems. A petition for his release was made by the prison doctor because in his opinion Haigis was not fit for detention. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown.

The two airmen were buried in a common grave in the SW corner of the Bad König civilian cemetery. The grave was exhumed on the 9th June 1945 and the two bodies were identified as Flt Sgt. Bloomfield and Sgt. Hales. The pathologist’s report determined that Flt Sgt. Bloomfield had been shot four times. It was surmised that the first bullet struck him in the neck which caused him to collapse and the other three were inflicted to the body whilst he was prone on the ground. Sgt. Hales had been shot once which perforated his right lung. After the autopsy had been completed Flt Sgt. Bloomfield and Sgt. Hales were reinterred next to one another in a new plot in the same cemetery at Bad König.

They were concentrated to the Durnbach War Cemetery on the 1st November 1947.

Burial details:

WO. Bernard Harley Harrison. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. Grave 2.H. 19-21. Inscription: "HE THAT LOSETH HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE SHALL FIND IT" WORTHY OF REMEMBRANCE’. Born on the 30th November 1915 in Ottershaw, Surrey. Son of William Stephen and Emma Harrison; husband of Helena Myra Marshall (née Cameron) Harrison, of Madron, Cornwall, England.

Sgt. Richard Benjamin Hales. Durnbach War Cemetery 2.H.18. Inscription: HE GAVE HIS LIFE THAT WE MIGHT LIVE’. Born on the 20th March 1924 in Mile End, London. Son of George and Sarah (née Morton) Hales, of Bow, London, England.

Flt Sgt. Alec Peter Bloomfield. Durnbach War Cemetery 2.H.17. Inscription: TREASURED MEMORIES OF A VERY DEAR SON. REMEMBERED ALWAYS BY MUM AND DAD’. Born on the 10th February 1924 in Reading, Berkshire. Son of Benjamin and Eleanor (née Roberts) Bloomfield, of Reading, Berkshire, England.

WO. John Robert Sutton. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. Grave 2.H. 19-21. Inscription: ‘"JESUS SAID... HE THAT BELIEVETH IN ME THOUGH HE WERE DEAD, YET SHALL HE LIVE"’. Born in 4th Qtr of 1920 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire. Son of John Robert and Mabel (née Flowers) Sutton, of Daybrook, Nottinghamshire; husband of Edna M. Sutton, of Arnold, Nottinghamshire, England.

Sgt. Robert Peter Clancy. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. Grave 2.H. 19-21. Inscription: ‘PRAY FOR THE REPOSE OF HIS SOUL. SACRED HEART OF JESUS, HAVE MERCY ON HIM’. Son of Thomas and Mary Ann Clancy. No further information found.

Sgt. Tom David McGill. Durnbach War Cemetery Coll. Grave 2.H. 19-21. Inscription: ‘EVER REMEMBERED’. Born in 1924 in Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire. Son of John and Mary McGill, of Maryculter, Kincardineshire, Scotland.

Also remembered on the Roll of Honour at the Scottish National War memorial.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the VitzArchive database.

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 25.04.2023 - Initial upload

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Acknowledgements
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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