27/28.03.1945 571 Squadron Mosquito RV326 8K:L Fg.Off. Gordon David Hudson AFC
Date: 27/28th March 1945 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: 571 Squadron
Type: Mosquito XVI
Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire
Location: Zevenhuizen, 5km South West of Leek
Pilot: Fg.Off. Gordon David Hudson AFC. 413419 RNZAF Age 26. Killed
Nav: Fg.Off. Maurice George Gant J42505 RCAF Age 21. Killed (1)
Update: March 2017 - a Dutch researcher, Tjerk Karsijns, interviewed an elderly eyewitness to this accident - details below.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Leaving RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire at 19:07 hrs on their 12th operation to Berlin.
At around 19:45 hrs whilst over the Netherlands the Mosquito was involved in a collision with another Mosquito, MM202 from 128 Sqn flown by Flt.Lt. Leicester George Smith DFC 414353 RNZAF (2). A propeller from Flt.Lt. Smith’s aircraft sheared and the aircraft caught fire
According to reports he placed the aircraft into a dive from 18,000 ft. extinguishing the flames, due to the damage the crew were unable to bale out but managed to nurse the aircraft back to Woodbridge, England. Both he and his navigator Fg.Off. William Lane DFC 972649 RAFVR survived.
The crew from Mosquito RV326 were not so fortunate, the aircraft went into a spin from which it could not recover. Mosquito crashed into land between 19:45 hrs and 20.14 hrs belonging to a Mr. Buist on the edge of woods in Zevenhuizen, killing both the crew.
This was the crews 11th successive sortie to Berlin and their 12th since arriving from 16 OTU on 28th February 1945.
(1) Gant Lake, Manitoba, Canada was renamed after Fg.Off. Maurice Gant in 1975.
(2) Flt.Lt. Leicester George Smith DFC passed away on the 14th July 2012.
Dutch researcher, Tjerk Karsijns, interviewed Maike Van Wijk, witness of the crash of the Mosquito RV326:
"Maike Van Wijk was born on the 22nd March 1930, in the hamlet Steenbergen, which belongs to the municipality Roden, in the Province Drenthe. She was the first born in the family Van Wijk. In the years after she had brothers and sisters. Her father was a farmer. On the 12th November 1951 she married Lucas Stuut. On the day of the crash of the Mosquito RV 326, on the 27th March 1945, Maike was 15 years old. In the late afternoon or beginning of the evening that day, a Tuesday, she was playing outside of their farmhouse, together with her brothers and sisters.
The children were alone. The father of Maike, Hotse Van Wijk, was arrested by the “landwacht”, (Land Guards), belonging to the NSB, an organisation of Dutch people who helped the Germans. They were not okay of course and hunted Dutch people who were in the resistance or did things the Germans did not like. The father of Maike was arrested as he had butchered a sheep. That was strictly forbidden by the Germans so he went to jail. Before he went to jail he was tortured by the Germans, in the notorious horror-house, called “de Bloedploeg”, in a villa in the village Norg, not far from Roden. He was tortured because he did not want to tell the Germans who helped him butchering the sheep. The father of Maike did not tell that the butcher who helped him was Mr. Bandringa, a butcher living in the village Nieuw-Roden. It is for sure that the father of Maike, not telling anything, saved the life of butcher Bandringa. After being tortured Hotse Van Wijk was brought to Arnhem, to the “Koepel-jail”. The mother of Maike was also not at home when the plane crashed. She was with one of the neighbours and drank a cup of coffee there.
Above: Maike Van Wijk at scene of crash (courtesy Tjerk Karsijns)
As previously described, Maike and her brothers and sisters were playing outside on the sandy path in front of the farmhouse. Suddenly there was the frightening sound of a plane. It was very low, with howling engines. The children jumped into the dry ditch which was in front of the farmhouse, next to the sandy path. Then the plane passed over the farmhouse. Because it was so very low, Maike could clearly see the two members of the crew in the cockpit. She also saw that the colour of the airplane was blue. The plane was absolutely not in a spin. It hovered.
About one thousand meters later the plane crashed. It had tried to land on the fields, but something went wrong. Though, there was room enough to land. Only bushes and no houses in the area. It was flat. Only fields, but also small ditches, next to some sandy paths. Maybe the wheels had problems to come over the ditches, or the ground was too soft. There is also the possibility that the undercarriage of the plane was damaged. Further there is the possibility that the Mosquito had problems to cross some sandy paths when it landed. And next to those sandy paths, as written, were ditches.
Close to the crash place was the last sandy path. Did the aircraft hit the shore of a ditch? Who knows? The Mosquito was totally destroyed and there was a small hole in the ground at the end of the crash. (maybe the heavy engines?) Everywhere were fragments of plywood. On some sites there is written that the plane dropped its bombs in the “Leekstermeer” (a lake in the area Leek and Roden, see on the map) but that is not true. The lake was also not in the neighbourhood or line of the crash-place. And, the plane was, as far if we know, a PR-plane, a Photo Reconnaissance. That would mean there were no bombs on board.
The next day Maike went to the place the Mosquito had crashed. She went there together with her younger sister and two young aunts. A German soldier guarded the place and did not want them to enter the place. But, they did. Why did they go to that crash-place? Well, they were searching for plastic-glass. Many young people in Holland did that when a plane crashed. They had made finger-rings of the plastic glass. When the young girls were on the crash-place they were shocked. Not everything was cleaned up by the Germans. They saw human remains. The old lady told me last week she still has problems with the fact that they went to the crash-place. She told me it was wrong to go there. She also had problems for a long time that she saw the crew so clearly in the Mosquito. Two young lives that ended a couple of seconds after the plane came over the farmhouse.
She was the last person who saw the two crew-members alive. Within seconds it was over. She never talked about it till last week. She felt good that she could talk at the end about what happened. We must not forget she is 87 years old now. The crash was not in Zevenhuizen. Zevenhuizen belongs to the province/county Groningen. The distance Zevenhuizen to the crashplace will be about two miles. It is a bit in the South-East of Zevenhuizen. The crash was in the municipality Roden, in the province/county Drenthe. It was indeed close to the border Groningen/Drenthe, about 50 till 100 meters. That’s why people said it was in Zevenhuizen/Groningen. And, the two young men were buried in Zevenhuizen.He crash-place was directly next to the beginning of a little river, called the “Steenberger Loop”. In these days there is not so much left of the Steenberger Loop. It is a small ditch now.
Above: Maike Van Wijk at cemetery (courtesy Tjerk Karsijns)
The family Van Wijk were farmers and after the war they hired the land from the municipality Roden. At the time of the crash the land was hired by a certain Mr. Buist, who was a farmer in that area. After the crash the hole in the ground was filled with sand. Maike Van Wijk told that when they drove with the tractor over the crash place in later years, the tractor sank a bit in the ground on that place.
Probably the hole was made by the heavy engines; they had a weight of 1640 lb. On various websites they mention that the plane got in a spin after it collided with the other plane. That is not true. It hovered a couple of miles before it crashed. So it did not go down immediately. The accident with the two Mosquito’s, the RV326 and the MM202, happened in the neighbourhood of Lieveren/Langelo. When the plane came over the farmhouse it was intact.
Of course it was damaged because the pilot could not hold his level in the sky, but Maike Van Wijk did not see that there was something wrong with the plane. The engines were working. Of course they had a serious problem. Normally it could have landed in that area. It was only fields there. Between the farmhouse and the crash place were, as written, no big obstacles, only sandy paths and ditches. It was flat. (see photographs)Maike did not hear an explosion after the crash. She also did not see a fire or smoke. Also on the crash place (a day later) she did not see that the grass was burnt. That would mean there was no explosion or a fire."
Story of Maike Stuut-Van Wijk; on tape, March 2017, translated and written by Tjerk Karsijns, Roden, Netherlands.
Fg.Off. Gordon David Hudson AFC. Leek (Zevenhuizen) General Cemetery. Row D. Joint grave 15. Born on the 16th November 1918 the son of William and Elizabeth Annie Hudson, of New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand. 1348 Flying hours logged and on his 13th operation at the time of his loss - all but one to Berlin.
Fg.Off. Hudson's AFC awarded whilst with 3 Advanced Flying Unit (AFU), on the 1st September 1944, gazetted on the 29th August 1944.
Fg.Off. Maurice George Gant. (Shown lower
) Leek (Zevenhuizen) General Cemetery. Row D. Joint grave 15. Born on the 14th August 1923, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Son to Maurice Downing and Sophia (née Einboden) Gant, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Above, Courtesy of Dylan Rees: Medals for Fg.Off. Maurice George Gant
Researched for relatives of this crew, with thanks for additional information to 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', Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. Les Allison and Harry Hayward - 'They Shall Grow Not Old', Frans van Cappellen for grave photographs. Weekly News, New Zealand. Thanks to Tjerk Karsijns for the correction to the location of the crash.
Right: Leek (Zevenhuizen) General Cemetery (courtesy Frans van Cappellen, who also supplied the grave tablets photographs)