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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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27th September 1944 421 Squadron Spitfire LF.IX MJ146 Fl/Lt. Holness

Operation: Patrol

Date: 27th September 1944 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 421 Squadron (motto: 'Bellicum Cecinere')/ 127 Wing

Type: Spitfire LF.IX

Serial: MJ146

Code: AU-H

Base: B.68 ALG Beauvechain, Belgium


Pilot: Fl/Lt. Robert Edward Holness J/13692 RCAF Age 24. Killed


Taking off at 07:22 hrs with 11 others to carry out a high altitude patrol. While flying at 7000 feet over Arnhem, the squadron was intercepted by a group of over twenty Me109s, and a fight ensued.

Fl/Lt. Holness ran low on fuel and had to turn home for base, accompanied by 21 year old, F/O. William Warfield J/19095 (1) in his Spitfire, which had also run low on fuel. F/O. Warfield reported that while flying back to base just beneath the cloud level, the two aircraft were attacked out of the cloud by a group of enemy aircraft, and Fl/Lt. Holness failed to return to base, last sighted with 'at least ten' 109s lining up on him. A post-war crash investigation interviewed Herr Mais, the mayor of Lobberich, who saw the dogfight at roughly 09:00 hrs.

Spitfire MJ146 caught fire and smashed into the earth at Oberbocholt, roughly three miles southeast of Lobberich, Germany. Her Mais was involved in the issuing of a death certificate and marked Fl/Lt. Holness’ death as an 'Unknown British Flyer' in the town’s Register of Deaths.

Fl/Lt. Holness was buried in the 'neatest and most well cared for' non-military grave the investigator from Missing Research and Enquiry Unit had yet seen. The grave had a large oak cross that read “Here lies Unknown British Flyer.” Neatly maintained pansies and forget-me-nots were growing under the cross. Upon identification of the grave, Mais stated he would have the cross replaced with an identical one with the full identification of FL Holness.

(1) F/O. William Warfield was killed on the 3rd of December 1944 flying Spitfire IX MK232. crashed 3 miles south east of Nivelles. Wreckage of the plane was excavated in 2020.

Burial details:

Initially buried at Loberich Cemetery but reinterred on the 09th November 1948.

Fl/Lt. Robert Edward Holness. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. Grave 31. A. 15. Born on the 26th April 1920 at Fort Credit, Ontario an accountant prior to service working at Toronto Stock Exchange on Bay Street. Enlisted on the 26th September 1941. Pilots badge awarded along with his commission on the 28th August 1942 after training at Brantford, Ontario. Son of James Thomas Holness and Kate Holness (née Crookes), brother of Bernard Alfred, Bruce George and Bernice Maud, of Ogden Avenue, Box 210, Lakeview, Peel Co., Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription: 'Still In Memory You Are With'. Credited with 1 enemy aircraft destroyed on the 23rd August 1944.


F/O. William Warfield. Brussels Communal Cemetery. Grave X.26.43. Born on the 20th January 1923 in New York. Son of Lt.-Col. William Warfield and Corinne Wendel Warfield, of New York City, U.S.A. Grave inscription: 'The Listening Sky Remembers Him And Comrades Too When Lights Are Dim.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to John Eigl, Assistant Historian, Heritage Mississauga, other sources as quoted below:

KTY / JE 30-04-2021

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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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