19/20.02.1944 433 Squadron Halifax III HX230 BM-P Sgt. McKay
Date: 19/20th February 1944
Unit: 433 Squadron (Porcupine)
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire
Location: Undefined location
Pilot: Sgt. Robert James McKay J/86595 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John “Jack” Joseph Murphy 1890850 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Nav: Sgt. John Ewart Davidson J/88386 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. John Oliver J/89469 RCAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick William Daplyn 1396428 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Hein J/91089 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Bruce Fraser J/88385 RCAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 00:07 hrs for an operation to Leipzig, carrying a bomb load of 24 x 30lb. and 810 x 4lb. incendiaries.
One report states that this aircraft crashed near Juteborg (Map W52/E-69) and witness reports state that one airman baled out near Werder but was fatally injured due to the low altitude. The aircraft flew on for a few minutes before crashing near Juteborg.
A third scenario was the the aircraft was claimed by Lt Volkmar Nikolas Stab IV/NJG - 10km South of Juterbog: 6,700m at 03:42. The aircraft crashed 2km North West of Markendorf. (Information courtesy of John Jones)
The actual circumstances as to the loss of the aircraft have yet to be determined
The crew were initially buried in a communal grave at Markendorf Cemetery, except for Plt.Off. Hein whose remains could not be located due to the district being covered in swamps and lakes and it was unlikely that his body would be found. Later a body was exhumed from Werder Cemetery and was identified as Plt.Off. Hein. He had baled out of the aircraft at a low altitude and was found the following morning injured but still alive, but died just before he got to hospital.
Sgt. Robert James McKay. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.J.20. Of Scottish descent and born on August the 29th 1920, he was the son of Charles and Martha Evangeline (née Davis) McKay of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. John Joseph Murphy. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.J.15. Son of John Joseph and Katherine Murphy and brother of Cornelius Murphy of Derby, England. Grave inscription reads: “Eternal Rest Give Unto Him, O Lord And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him. RIP.”
‘Jack’ had a stepsister Kathleen, whose own stepsister, Norah was to become Jacks much loved ‘big sister’. Jack and Norah were so close that he named her as his next-of-kin. He attended St.Joseph's Roman Catholic School in Derby, where his father was a teacher, before being awarded a scholarship to Bemrose Grammar School, Derby in 1935. On the 16th July 1949, Jacks name was included on a War Memorial, which was unveiled at Bemrose School honouring former pupils.
In a letter to Norah Bancroft dated the 25th of February 1944 from the Royal Canadian Air Force Chaplain, he writes:
“Dear Miss Bancroft,By the time you receive this, you will have been officially notified that your brother 1890850 Sgt. John Joseph Murphy is missing from Air Operations on the night of February the 19th 1944.
As Squadron Chaplain may I extend to you my deepest sympathy in the trying and anxious days through which you are passing.
I have been with the Squadron since its formation and got to know the boys fairly well.
This was the fifth major operation that your brother undertook with this squadron. I was down to see them off and had a chat with each crew. They were all quite happy and cheerful and said they would see me later.I trust and pray that we shall, and that you will soon have good news concerning him.
May God give you grace and strength to bear up bravely through the long and dreary days of waiting until definite word is received.
If I can be of any help to you in any way, please do not hesitate to write.
Yours sincerely, W.J.Province, Sq/Ldr. Chaplain.
On October 19th 1944, Norah received a letter from the pilot’s mother, Mrs Charles McKay thanking her for her letter saying that she hadn’t given up hope and even though it was now eight months, ‘no news is good news’!
Mrs McKay mentions that Bob McKay really thought highly of ‘Murph’ and that he spoke with affection of the fun they and the rest of the crew had. As with all the other relations of the crew, they all clung on to the hope that they would be alive. Ten months later, on the 9th of December 1944 Norah finally received a letter from the Air Ministry Casualty Branch stating that she must conclude that he has lost his life and death has now been presumed for official purposes.
Sgt. John Ewart Davidson. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.J.17. From New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist?
Sgt. John Oliver. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.J.19. Born on September 27th 1920, he was the son of Charles Egerton and Ruth Eloise (née Rose) Oliver of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. Frederick William Daplyn. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.J.16. Son of William Charles and Florence May Daplyn of Cockthorpe, Norfolk. Grave inscription reads: “Loved With Everlasting Love”. (On the War Memorial in the grounds of the Priory Church of St. Mary and Holy Cross at Bingham, Norfolk, Sgt. Daplyns surname has been spelt Daplin.)
Sgt. John Hein. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 11.N.21. Born on the 10th October 1922 the son of John and Dorothy Hein of Artland, Saskatchewan, Canada. This was his 6th operational sortie. Grave inscription reads: “In Loving Memory,Gone But Not Forgotten. Father, Mother, Brothers And Sisters”.
Right: Sgt. John Hein.
Sgt. James Bruce Fraser. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 6.J.18. Son of Thomas Ogilvie and Margaret Bruce of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Beloved Son Of Thomas And Margaret Fraser Of Toronto, Canada”.
Researched for Aircrew Remembered June 2017 Linda Ibrom. Special thanks to Peter Galley, Richard Koval with special thanks to RAF Commands message board. Also to the Geographical Names of Canada for crew details and other photographs. Page originally placed with Matt Lacroix running the great Bomber crew website - now updated with further information and operation details. Grave photographs courtesy of Uwi at Find A Grave. Thanks to John Jones for the fighter claim information and the circumstances of the death of Plt.Off Hein.