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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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415 Squadron Halifax III MZ603 F/O. Harry Knobovitch DFC

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 02/03rd November 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 415 Squadron (Swordfish) 6 Group (motto: Ad metam -  'To the mark) - see note

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ603

Code: 6U-E

Base: RAF RAF East Moor, Yorkshire

Location: Rondorf, Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen

Pilot: F/O. Harry Knobovitch J/28738 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Fl/Eng: P/O. Samuel Kirkpatrick 186683 RAFVR Age ? PoW No: 1147. Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau near Kreulberg Upper Silesia

Nav: F/O. Anthony Brian Orchard J/37160 RCAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Bruce Benjamin Anderson J/35534 RCAF Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. James Russell Harper J/95270 RCAF AQge 20. Killed

Air/Gnr/under: F/O. William St Clair Huskilson J/38161 RCAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: P/O. Carl Arthur Ronald Seeley C/90966 RCAF PoW No: 1120. Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau near Kreulberg Upper Silesia

Air/Gnr: P/O. Victor Lewis Valde J/90964 RCAF Age 20. Killed


Taking off at 16:06 hrs with 16 others from the squadron, making up a total of 992 aircraft to bomb Düsseldorf.

Attacked and shot down by Uffz. Werner Wollenhaupt of 2/NJG1 in a Bs110 - Ruhr area at 19:30. It seems that they were on the return trip and the aircraft exploded, just two of the crew managed to bale out and were taken PoW.

The squadron lost another aircraft, Halifax III NA583 6U-F flown by F/O. Harry Knobovitch J/29274 RCAF from Quebec. all 8 crew were killed or listed as missing:

Halifax III MZ882 6U-C flown by F/O. F.M. Forbes J/86509 RCAF shot about by Ofw. Wilhelm Burger of 5./NJG1 flying a Bf110 at 19:22 hrs. The pilot with the help of some of his crew managed to return and force-land his aircraft at RAF Woodbridge (some awarded medals for this).

Above L-R: F/O. Harry Knobovitch, F/O. Anthony Orchard, F/O. Bruce Anderson, P/O. James Harper, F/O. William Huskilson and P/O. Victor Valde.

Note: Formerly part of Coastal Command but transferred to Bomber Command in July 1944. A request was received to change the squadron nickname to 'Bronco' rather than 'Swordfish' - this was declined.

F/O. Knobovitch was awarded DFC whilst with 415 Squadron. Gazetted 19 December 1944:

'This officer has participated in many sorties and has set a fine example of skill, courage and devotion to duty. One night in October 1944, he piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Duisburg. Long before the target was reached, one engine failed completely. Undeterred, Flying Officer Knobovitch continued his mission and a good bombing attack was made. When crossing the coast of France on the return flight, the wireless apparatus caught fire. The aircraft quickly became filled with smoke. Displaying great coolness, Fg Off Knobovitch directed the efforts of two crew members in extinguishing the flames. This done, he cleared the smoke out of the aircraft by turning on the heater of the defective engine. He afterwards flew the .damaged aircraft to base and effected a safe landing. In difficult circumstances, this officer displayed great skill and determination and proved a most inspiring captain'.

Burial details:

F/O. Harry Knobovitch. DFC Rheinberg War Cemetery. Plot 7. Row B. Collective Grave 14-18. Born on 13th January 1913 in Pinsk, Poland (now Belarus) Son of Icer and Ida Knobovitch (née Lipska), of Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada. Grave inscription: 'In Memory Of A Beloved Son Who Died Serving The Cause. Always In Our Thoughts'.

F/O. Anthony Brian Orchard. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Plot 7. Row B. Collective Grave 14-18. Born on the 15th February 1924 in Toronto. Son of Victor Stanley Orchard and Ellen Mary Orchard (née Hattatt), of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription: 'I Love Is Stronger Than Death'.

F/O. Bruce Benjamin Anderson. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Plot 7. Row B. Collective Grave 14-18. Born on the 26th December 1917 in Llandudno, Wales. Son of Benjamin Wellington Anderson and Margaret Ethel Anderson (née Jackson), of Toronto, Ontario. Canada Grave inscription: 'His Sun Has Set While It Is Yet Day'.

P/O. James Russell Harper. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Plot 7. Row B. Collective Grave 14-18. Born on the 13th January 1917 in Fort William. Son of Lawrence Russell Harper and Maude Isobel Harper (née McMillan), of South Burnaby, Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada. Canada. Grave inscription: 'God Giveth And God Taketh Away Rest With Him, Beloved Son'.

F/O. William St Clair Huskilson. Rheinberg War Cemeter. Plot 7. Row B. Collective Grave 14-18. Born on the 25th April 1923 in Lockept, NovaScotia. Son of Lewis Churchill Huskilson and Sarah Isabel Huskilson, of Lockeport, Nova Scotia, Canada and husband of Joan Huskilson (née Allingham), of Westmount, Province of Quebec, Canada. Grave inscription: 'If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking I Shall Not Live In Vain'.

P/O. Victor Lewis Valde. Rheinberg War Cemeter. Plot 7. Row B. Collective Grave 14-18. Also remembered on the Transcona War Memorial. Born on the 2oth September 1924 in Transcona, Manitoba. Son of Lewis and Emma Josephine Valde, of Transcona, Manitoba, Canada. Grave inscription: 'To Live In Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die'.

Valde Lake northeast of Lac du Bonnet was named after P/O Valde in 1973. Also, Victor Valde Memorial Park in his home town of Transcona is named in his honour (See above).

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to John Jones for detailed information and photographs, Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 5 - Theo Boiten), Manitoba Historical Society, other sources as quoted below:

KTY/JJ - 21-03-2022

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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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