7/8.07.1944 No. 106 Squadron Lancaster I ME668 ZN-L Fl/Lt. Geoffrey Norman Marchant
Operation: Saint-Leu-d'Esserent, Oise, France
Date: 7/8 July 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 106 Squadron - Motto: "Pro libertate" ("For freedom")
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Metheringham, Lincolnshire
Location: Les Gâtines, d'Oulins, France.
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Geoffrey Norman Marchant Aus/421814 RAAF Age 24 - PoW (PoW number and camp unknown) (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frank Wells 1582186 - PoW No. 357 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreuzburg (Klucsbork, Poland) - L7 (2)
Nav: F/O. William Gordon Hardcastle 151165 RAFVR Age 24 - Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Arthur George Kinnis J/26316 RCAF - Prisoner No. 78391 Buchenwald Concentration Camp (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Hilton Craig Bell Aus/413946 RAAF Age 22 - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. William Bert Gladstone 1835119 RAFVR Age 19 - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr (R): F/O. Frank Gordon Paterson J/28547 RCAF Age 22 - Killed (7)
We appeal to any relatives of the crew with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via the Helpdesk
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Metheringham, Lincolnshire at 22:35hrs to attack a flying bomb storage dump at Saint-Leu-d'Esserent, Oise, France.
The bomb load carried by the aircraft was 10 x 1000lb and 4 x 500lb
Special equipment on board was H2S, Fishpond and Mandrel see abbreviations
A force consisting of 208 Lancasters and 13 Mosquitos was despatched for this attack on a group of tunnels (formerly used for growing mushrooms) being used for flying bomb storage at St. Leu d'Esserent. The bombing was accurately directed on to the mouths of the tunnels and approach roads thus blocking access to the flying bombs stored there. Fierce opposition from German night fighters resulted in the loss of 29 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitos representing 14% of the force.
106 Squadron lost 5 of its 16 aircraft that took part in the raid, the other four were:
Lancaster ME831 ZN-R piloted by P/O. Alan Sidney Monaghan Aus/420840 RAAF. The crew all baled out successfully.
Lancaster ME789 ZN-B piloted by F/O. G.S. Mather J/24129 RCAF. All the crew survived.
Lancaster JB641 ZN-X piloted by Fl/Lt Frederick Cecil Walter Clement 150238 RAFVR. All the crew were killed.
Lancaster PB144 ZN-P piloted by Sqn/Ldr. Trevor Owen Marshall D.F.C. 39671 RAFVR. All the crew were killed.
The pilot of Lancaster ME668 ZN-L, 24 year old Australian, Flight Lieutenant Geoffrey Norman Marchant described what happened when his aircraft was hit.
They crossed the French coast at 12000ft in the vicinity of Dreux when the aircraft's starboard inner engine was hit by flak and caught fire. He ordered the Flight Engineer to feather the airscrew and operate the extinguisher button which was done. As the fire did not subside he ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. Immediately afterwards it was hit from each quarter by two enemy fighters and W/O. Bell, the rear gunner and mid upper gunner lost their lives in the air. The engineer and bomb aimer baled out at 12000ft. The aircraft was governable but had no lateral control and there was fire in all four engines, the bomb bay and most of the fuselage. The top of the cockpit was blown away and the aircraft went into a shallow spin. Fl/Lt. Marchant baled out through the cockpit top at 500ft and states that the aircraft crashed near the town of Dreux.
Post war enquiries revealed that the aircraft crashed and exploded at 01:15hrs at Les Gâtines, d'Oulins some 33km north of Dreux.
Bomb aimer F/O. Arthur George Kinnis reported that 'Whilst flying (_______)(sic) struck his starboard inner engine and stopped it (______)(sic) setting all engines on fire. The Captain, Marchant, gave order for abandon and was heard to ask for assistance to enable him to get out as he was wounded in leg. So far as Kinnis knows, Marchant is in a German hospital. French informed him that the bodies of F/O. Paterson, identified by his passport photograph, F/O. Hardcastle, identified by a charred yellow neckerchief and Sgt. Gladstone identified by his black service boots and a charred white neckerchief'
The Loss card records that the bodies of F/O. Hardcastle, Sgt. Gladstone and F/O. Paterson were buried at Aunay near Dreux but they are in fact buried in Oulins Churchyard near Dreux. The remains of the wireless operator, W/O. Bell were not located.
Scale: 1" = 12.5 miles
The three surviving crew members were all captured by the Germans. Fl/Lt. Marchant was hospitalised with a leg wound and Sgt. Wells was sent to Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg in Silesia, Germany (now Poland). F/O. Kinnis also sustained a leg injury and although saved by the French Resistance was later betrayed and ended up at Gestapo headquarters in Paris. He was later sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp one of 26 Royal Canadian Airforce crew members who suffered the same fate. In total 168 aircrew were sent to Buchenwald.
On 3 April 1945 the following report was sent to the RAF by Headquarters 397th Bombardment Group, Security and P/W Office, APO 140 US ARMY
Subject: British crashed Lancaster
To Officer in Charge
1. On 7 June 1944, a British Lancaster aircraft crashed on the farm of Andre Vermuelen, of Les Gatines d'Oulines, which is approximately 33 kilometers north of Dreux, through Annet, France.
2. The plane crashed and burned beyond recognition. The bombs did not explode as a result of the fire and the Germans in the area set them off, blowing what remained of the ship all about the terrain.
3. There was a crew of four on the ship according to the best report, two Canadians, one Australian and one Englishman. The Englishman, F.O. Hardcastle, RAF, London was completely burned. From the other two bodies M. Vermuelen was able to pick up charred remains of clothing, etc. The local people conducted burial ceremonies for these three men and they interred them in a cemetery at Oulins, R415487. Pictures of the graves taken by Madame Pierre of the Epiciere Cafe of Oulins are enclosed.
4. The survivor of this crew was named Arthur Kinnis, 114 Cook Avenue ------, British Columbia. He had parachuted to safety . No further address is available. He was placed in [the] charge of the local resistance group. M. Vermuelen heard later, however, that he was picked up by the Germans in Paris and made a prisoner.
5.It is recognised that the information is very meager but it is the best available. There is nothing left of the ship that can produce numbers etc. The local French resistance groups kept no records and they do not know the names of the other two men of the crew. It is believed, however, with the two names, even though the addresses are incomplete, and the date of the crash that the RAF will be able to check this ship and notify the relatives of the men involved.
(Sgd) G. C. Hamilton
Captain, Air Corps,
Counter Intelligence Officer
After the war Arthur Kinnis became well known in Canada as a campaigner for justice for those affected by this contravention of the Geneva Convention. The 26 were eventually awarded compensation payments by the German Government. Arthur George Kinnis died on 26 January 2011 aged 95. The following obituaries relate his story and pay tribute his indomitable spirit.
By Postmedia News | Feb 6, 2011 7:11 am
Canadian war hero Arthur Kinnis spent life fighting for veterans
VICTORIA — Long before Arthur Kinnis was a retired salesman in Victoria, he was a top-flight Canadian airman, shot down over wartime Europe on his 22nd mission in the summer of 1944.
His subsequent fate was harsh and highly unusual — so much so that even the Canadian government refused for many years to admit it happened. Kinnis was one of 26 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force who faced a death sentence in Buchenwald concentration camp instead of time in a prisoner-of-war camp.
It took 56 years, but Kinnis — a formidable fighter for postwar justice — led a campaign to ensure the airmen’s experience was finally recognized by the Canadian government in 2001 and each received $10,000 in compensation from the German government for contravening the Geneva Convention.
Kinnis died Jan. 20 at 96 in Saanich, B.C., suffering from cancer and bone disease — an affliction his daughter Mary-Anne thinks he defied for so long due to the resilience honed at Buchenwald.
Sol Kinnis, one of his 11 grandchildren, says her grandfather “would have nightmares all the time.”
She’s proud of what he accomplished after enduring Buchenwald. “My grandmother stood by him the whole time. They went back to Europe and dug through the files. To go through all these horrible memories in Europe would have taken a tremendous amount of courage.”
Kinnis married Betty Matthews in 1938 after they met at Boy Scout and Girl Guide camps in Trail, B.C. — a small town the province’s Kootenay region — where he was born. He swam across a lake a couple of times to get to know her better and they were married for 72 years.
Kinnis had kept a detailed diary while he was Buchenwald inmate number 78391. And it was because of that diary that the case for recognition was finally made, says Edward Carter-Edwards, an official of the PoW Association of Canada.
The diary, complete with sketches of a Nazi, a guard tower and recipes for cow’s udder to stave off starvation, was left unread in the Kinnis home until 1979.
Kinnis was shot down over France on July 7, 1944. Dragging an injured leg, he was saved by the French Resistance only to be betrayed, ending up at Gestapo headquarters in Paris. Even as he heard the guns of the Allied advance, he and 90 others were packed into a boxcar on a train bound for Buchenwald – one of the largest concentration camps on German soil. The horrific five-day journey was made without food and with one pail for water and another for sanitation,
he wrote in his diary.
During their time in Buchenwald, they learned some of the “countless forms of torture” applied by the Nazis and the disappearance one terrible day of 400 Gypsies.
The men’s admitting forms were stamped in the German for “not to be transferred to another camp” — a phrase also found on the papers of 31 allied personnel considered spies and killed by being hanged on meat hooks.
The Koncentration Lager Buchenwald members were shoeless, sleeping on rock piles and dreaming of food while eating bread partly made of sawdust.
Seeing endless atrocities and the dead victims of the Nazis left the group horror struck, but the airmen survived for three reasons: They were fit, they were not Jewish and they had contact with a Polish underground member who delivered a list of their names to the German air force. It was the Luftwaffe that had the airmen transferred to Stalag 3, which seemed luxurious by contrast.
There, they received the basics of life and were allowed parcels from the Red Cross and to send mail — families had no idea of the airmen’s whereabouts.
They were imprisoned there until Jan. 28, 1945, when 10,000 Allied airmen were force-marched westward in the face of advancing Russians. The last were flown back to England May 25, 1945. Once home, Kinnis soon began building his
young family a spacious house they moved into in 1948.
“He planned that house when he was a prisoner of war,” says Rick, one of three sons born after the war.
Kinnis spent much of the next 20 years compiling information from others who were imprisoned.
“It had been difficult, with several successive governments, to be recognized as survivors of a concentration camp,” says Carter-Edwards, who was also in Buchenwald and went to Ottawa with Kinnis seeking justice.
In 1994, Kinnis made a presentation to the Senate subcommittee on veterans affairs, seeking the federal government’s help in pressing Germany for reparation.
In 1998, Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Gary Lunn raised the matter in Parliament and urged settlement in time to benefit the ageing veterans. In 1999, Lunn returned a cheque for $1,098 Kinnis had received from Veterans Affairs calling it an insult, given that Australia and New Zealand provided $10,000.
After the war, Kinnis loved to travel and canoed until age 85.
“I think that’s what got him through,” Sol says. At one point, he travelled all over the province selling Encyclopaedia Britannica, but for many years, he worked for Standard Furniture as an interior designer.
“He lived a very exciting, full life,” Carter-Edwards says. “He’ll be up in heaven waiting for the rest of the KLB to come up.”
Arthur George Kinnis was born on April 5, 1915 in Trail and died on Jan. 20 at home in Saanich.
Victoria Times Colonist
Published in The Times Colonist on Jan. 29, 2011
KINNIS, Arthur George Our strong-willed, creative, loyal family man and lover of adventure and practical jokes. Arthur Kinnis, died peacefully at the age of 95 on January 20th, 2011 in the home he built over 60 years ago. Arthur is survived by his wife of 72 years, Elizabeth (Betty), his sister Claire Kinnis, his brother Bill, his 4 children and their spouses: Mary-Anne (Wayne) Ladner, Rick (Jeanne) Kinnis, Ralph (Ruth) Kinnis and Jack (Karen) Kinnis, his 11 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Arthur was born April 5th, 1915 to George & Winifred Kinnis in Trail, BC. Arthur loved the outdoors and spent many years with the Boy Scouts, skiing down Red Mountain and swimming in the Arrow Lakes. In 1938, Arthur married Betty in Trail, BC. They then spent a month traveling by freighter down the coast of North America, through the Panama Canal and up to New York City. They spent a year in New York with Betty studying piano and Arthur studying interior design. Betty recalls wonderful days at the amusement park on Coney Island and rollerskating through Manhattan. During WWII, Arthur fought with the RCAF as a Bomb Aimer. His Lancaster was shot down in July 1944 over German occupied France. He was captured and sent to Buchenwald Concentration camp with other allied service men, and then to a German POW camp. In 1979 he recorded his experiences in a book published as "168 Jump Into Hell ". He was also a very active member of the KLB club (a club formed with fellow POW's). After the war he returned to Victoria in 1945 with his wife and small daughter and built the house he had designed while a POW overlooking what was then the farm-covered Shelbourne Valley. The love of his family and his love of the outdoors helped him through the difficult years following the war. His children carry with them fond memories of camping, fishing, and canoeing with the family. Arthur also enjoyed landscaping and built elaborate systems of ponds and flowing water around his yard that were a favourite place for his grandchildren to explore. His model train room was enjoyed by everyone, with features such as villages, lakes, tunnels, bridges and mountains he named after each of his grandchildren. Above all else, Arthur was a man who loved living, learning and keeping busy. I still have so much to do" was what kept him going. The family wishes to thank all those who have provided support and care for Arthur in his final years. A special thank you to Dr. S.T. Grewal and to family friends, Richard and Susan Behn. Memorial donations in Arthur's name may be made to the Hospice Society, the Cancer Society or the Canadian Red Cross Loaner Program. No Service by request.
In 2005 Arthur Kinnis was interviewed for the University of Victoria Canadian Oral History Collection. Entitled "my Air Force recollections" the recording in two parts contains a short account of his early life and enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force followed by a detailed account from being shot down, his time as an evader and subsequent betrayal to the Gestapo. He continues to describe in detail, his ill treatment at Fresnes and Buchenwald his later time at Stalag Luft 3 and beyond until his eventual release. He then goes on to describe his homecoming and subsequent fight for justice and compensation with the Canadian Government etc. To listen to this remarkable story click here
(1) Fl/Lt. Geoffrey Norman Marchant was born 29 May 1920 at Lorne, Alma Road, Maroubra, S. Randwick, New South Wales, Australia the son of Edward Norman Marchant and Ella Mary Marchant nee Laws. A Carpenter by trade he enlisted at Sydney 28 March 1942.
After the war he was repatriated to the United Kingdom where in 1945 he married his fiancée Doreen Paterson in Aberdeen. She was the daughter of Wine and Spirit Merchant William D. Patterson who lived at 266, Western Road, Aberdeen. Soon after their wedding Geoffrey returned to Australia where he was discharged from the RAAF at 31 Base on 30 October 1945. It is not known when Doreen Marchant travelled to Australia but on 30 March 1950 she arrived in London from Sydney, Australia on the P & O ship Himalaya.
On 30 July 1951 now aged 31 Geoffrey Marchant arrived at Tilbury, London on the P & O ship Strathnavar. The ship's passenger list records his intended country of residence as Scotland and his proposed address there as 266, Western Road, Aberdeen (the home of his wife's parents). His occupation is stated to be a carpenter.
Just over twelve months later at 8pm on the 7th August 1952 Geoffrey Marchant died at 266 Western Road, Aberdeen, he was 32 years old. His death certificate records the cause of death as 'Melanoma of Shin. Secondaries in Brain. Hypostatic Pneumonia."
Doreen Marchant's home residence is recorded on the death certificate as Hull Road, Pennant Hills, Australia.
(2) Sgt. Frank Wells - nothing further known, can you help?
(3) F/O. William Gordon Hardcastle was born in 1920 at Balham, London the son of William Hardcastle and Charlotte Maud Hardcastle nee Polson. LAC 1285206 Hardcastle was commission as a Pilot Officer (on probation) on 3 February 1943 as announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 4 May 1943 and promoted to Flying Officer on probation (war subs) on 5 August 1943 as announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 3 September 1943.
(4) F/Lt. Arthur George Kinnis was born on 5 April 1915 at Trail, British Columbia, Canada the son of George Johnstone Kinnis and Mary Winifred Kinnis nee Egdell. He married Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Mathews on 1 September 1938. He was ultimately promoted to Flight Lieutenant.
Arthur Kinnis died aged 96 on 20 January 2011 at Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
(5) W/O. Hilton Craig Bell was born 6 July 1922 the son of Sidney Bell and Violet Hilda Bell nee Lomax at Fairfield, New South Wales, Australia. The family lived at 51 Hamilton Street in Fairfield. He enlisted at Sydney 10 October 1941. His peacetime profession was a Steam Presser. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Englefield Green, near Egham, Surrey and Honour Avenue War Memorial in Fairfield, New South Wales, Australia.
(6) Sgt. William Bert Gladstone was born in 1924 at West Ham, London the son of Thomas Frederick Bert Gladstone and Elizabeth Emma nee Seager later of Hornchurch, Essex.
(7) F/O. Frank Gordon Paterson was born c1922 the son of Donald and Lydia Peterson of Ontario, Canada.
F/O. William Gordon Hardcastle - Buried at Oulins Churchyard near Dreux, Eure-et-Loire, France - Grave No. 2 (3)
His epitaph reads:
Sleep on, my son
Till we meet again.
Just one to the world
But the world to us.
W/O. Hilton Craig Bell - Having no known grave he is commemorated on panel 259 of the Runnymede Memorial (5)
Sgt. William Bert Gladstone - Buried at Oulins Churchyard near Dreux, Eure-et-Loire, France - Grave No. 1 (6)
His epitaph reads:
In his heart
He bore these words
"We'll conquer or we'll die"
F/O. Frank Gordon Paterson - Buried at Oulins Churchyard near Dreux, Eure-et-Loire, France - Grave No. 3 (7)
His epitaph reads:
Rest in Peace
With thanks to John Jones for providing copies of the report from 397th Bombardment Group, the letter to Mr and Mrs Paterson, the Post Presumption Memorandum and photographs of WO. Bell and F/O. Paterson .
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - November 2015.
With thanks to the sources quoted below.