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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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78 Squadron
07/08.06.1944 78 Squadron, Halifax III MZ577, Flt Sgt. Maurice McLear

Operation: Juvisy-sur-Orge, France

Date: 7th/8th June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit No: 78 Squadron, Bomber Command

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ577

Code: EY:O

Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire

Location: 4 km (2½ mls) south of Lieusaint, France

Pilot: Flt Sgt. Maurice McLear R155066 RCAF Age 21. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Robert Wann 1523828 RAFVR Age? PoW, Injured (1)

Nav: 1st Lt. Cameron Oliver Evans O-886289 USAAF Age 20. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Stanley Frederick Harding Kelley R154771 RCAF Age 23. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Robert Owen Connor 1268145 RAFVR Age 26. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): WO2. Earle Deachman Woods R96351 RCAF Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Jack Wilson Angus 1553115 RAFVR Age? Id, No. 78390 *, PoW No. 8074 ** (2)

* Buchenwald concentration camp established on Ettersberg hill near Weimar, Germany in July 1937.

** Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).

Above left Flt Sgt. McLear and right Sgt. Kelley from their service records

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 7th June 1944 16 aircraft from the squadron were tasked on a mission to bomb the rail communications network at Juvisy sur Orge in France.

MZ577 was one of 4 aircraft from the squadron that failed to return.

MZ577 was claimed by Oblt Jakob Schaus, his 14th Abschuss, from 4./NJG4, south of Paris at 1,800m at 01:16 hrs (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 3 -Theo Boiten).

Oblt. Schaus was wounded when being shot down by 239 Sqn Mosquito NT349 (crew Flt Lt. Holdeness and Flt Lt. Rowley DFC) on the night of the 2/3rd February 1945. Oblt. Schaus baled out at Rockenhausen near Bad Kreuznach, He survived the war and was credited with 27 Abschüsse. (Nachtjagd (Combat Archive - Biographies - Theo Boiten)

The other three aircraft that failed to return were:

Halifax III LV868 KY:? Attacked and badly shot up by a German night fighter. Crashed-landed at RAF West Malling in Kent, (6 KiA, 1 Inj);

Halifax III MZ568 KY:E Hit by Flak and exploded in the air. (7 KiA);

Halifax III MZ636 KY:T (7 KiA).

MZ577 crashed 4 km (2½ mls) south of Lieusaint, about 32 km (20 mls) SE of Paris.

Three of the crew baled out two of whom were repatriated. Four of the crew were recovered from the wreckage and buried in the Lieusaint cemetery.

The body of the third member of the crew who had baled out was found several weeks later. Before placing his body in a coffin and buring the airman in the Lieusaint cemetery, the the body was stripped of its identification by the Germand. This airman was later identified as 1st Lt. Evans before being laid to rest in the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

(1) The nature of Sgt. Wann’s injuries are unknown. However, they were serious enough for him to be repatriated in a prisoner exchange aboard the SS Arundel Castle which arrived in Liverpool on the 6th February 1945.

Sgt. Wann was appointed to a commission and promoted to 177616 Plt Off. with effect the 13th May 1944 (London Gazette 22nd December 1944). He was then promoted to Fg Off. with effect the 9th May 1944 (London Gazette 23rd January 1945).

Fg Off. Wann relinquished his commission, due to medical unfitness for Air Force service, on the 22nd July 1945 (London Gazette 7th August 1945).

(2) The circumstances of Sgt. Angus’ evasion are not know, What is known is that he was arrested in Paris on the 14th July 1944.

He was then taken to the Fresnes prison located to the south of Paris. This was where French political prisoners were held and ordinarily Allied airmen, after questioning, were moved to a PoW Camp. In the summer of 1944, with the Allies having liberated Paris and closing in, the Gestapo guards started reducing the prison population by execution, and then relocating surviving prisoners to various concentration camps east of France. On the 15th August 1944 he was amongst 169 Allied PoWs and hundreds of French men and women who were packed into a freight train and transported to Buchenwald concentration camp on a journey lasting five days. Buchenwald was located 8 km (5 mls) north of Weimar, in the German province of Thüringen. It was established and administered by the Schutzstaffel (SS).

Fg Off. Joel Mathews ‘Tex’ Stevenson C27788 RCAF, the pilot of 419 (Moose) Squadron, RCAF Lancaster X KB727 VR:H escaped from the train and successfully evaded.

Sqn Ldr. Lamason and Fg Off. Chapman succeeded in getting all but two of the Allied PoWs transferred to Stalag Luft 3. Two airmen, 1st Lt. Levitt Clinton Beck Jr. O-736945, US AAF and Fg Off. Philip Derek Hemmens, 152583, RAFVR died in the sick barrack.

Sgt. Angus was reported to have followed the main group of airmen to Stalag Luft 3 arriving there on the 19th October 1944. No reason for this delay has been found.

Recognition:

For decades the International Red Cross (IRC) had stated that there were no military personnel in Buchenwald despite the overwhelming documentary and anecdotal evidence. It was not until 1988 that the IRC eventually confirmed the airmen were illegally held at Buchenwald.

The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments also consistently denied that any of their service personnel were ever held in concentration camps and refused to investigate the claims made by a 'mere’ handful of men.

Reparations were made to the British airmen who had been illegally held at Buchenwald in 1965. Eventually in 1988 the Australian, New Zealand and it is believed the Canadian governments acknowledged that their airmen had been illegally held in concentration camps.

American airmen were among those receiving compensation and the US Air force have acknowledged the Buchenwald airmen with an exhibit at the Air Force Museum, albeit the airmen are shown in uniform rather than in civilian attire. Furthermore, there is no mention of decades-long denial of their experiences by other branches of the government.

Just before midnight on the 27th January 1945, because of advancing Soviet forces, the PoW’s were marched out of the camp to Spremberg. Here PoWs were divided up according to Compounds, and they were led to railway sidings and loaded into tightly packed carriages. The train journeys took about 2-3 days with trains the stopping every 12 hours beyond railway stations. PoWs could leave carriages for physical needs and were provided with fresh water.

Sgt. Angus was part of the column of men that were force marched to the Marlag-Milag Nord PoW camp arriving there on the 4th/5th February 1945.

Malag = Marinelager (naval prisoner of war camp) and Milag = Marine-Internierten-Lager (naval internment camp), Nord (North). Located at a former Luftwaffe (German Air Force) barracks near Westertimke NE of Bremen in Germany.

On the 2nd April 1945 the camp commandant ordered that the PoWs were to leave the camp with most of the guards. However, that afternoon a detachment of more than 100 SS-Feldgendarmerie entered the camp and gathered some 3000 of the PoWs and marched them out heading east.

The column was attacked RAF aircraft resulting in the deaths of two PoWs and injuries to several others. The Senior British Naval Officer (SBNO), Capt. J. Thornton was one of the two who were killed.

It is believed that Sgt. Angus was part of this column but was not on the list of PoWs. However, the list is not comprehensive as only has around 200 names. The column finally arrived at Lübeck, on the Baltic coast, on the 28th April 1945. They were liberated by a Spearhead of the 11th Armoured Division around noon of the 1st May 1945.

At the Marlag-Milag Nord camp the guards fled on 9th April 1945 and were replaced by elderly civilian guards. Those remaining at the camp were liberated by the British Guards Armoured Division on the 27th April 1945.

Jack Wilson Angus was born on the 26th May 1923. Prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 13th June 1941 he was employed as a Sawmiller in Perthshire, Scotland.


After leaving the RAFVR he emigrated to the United States. He enlisted in the US Air Force in 1954 and served until 1964. He served as a S/Sgt. in an unknown role during the Korean conflict.

John was an editor and historian in the US Air Force and was recognised with numerous awards and citations. Amongst those was the Air Force Commendation Medal. The citation reads:

"His ability to produce under extreme pressure, keen foresight, initiative and devotion to duty demonstrated by Sergeant Angus reflect great credit upon himself, the Strategic Air Command and the United States Air Force".

He was the editor of the Greenham Herald, the US Air Force newspaper in England. In civilian life he had worked at the General Electric Turbine Division in Schenectady, New York for many years as an assembler, retiring in 1988.

Jack Wilson Angus passed away on the 9th December 2003 in Cohoes, Albany County, New York, USA


Burial details:

Plt Off. Maurice McLear. Villeneuves St. Georges Communal Cemetery Joint Grave 102. Grave inscription: "INTO THE ETERNAL EMBRACE OF THY MERCIFUL LOVE”. Born on the 22nd June 1912 in Glasgow, Scotland. Son of John Edward and Catherine (née Golden) McLear. Husband of Edna May (née Dahm) McLear late of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

His father and wife predeceased him in December 1918 and July 1941 respectively.

Flt Sgt. McLear was posthumously appointed to a commission and promoted to J86361 Plt Off. with effect the 25th April 1944.

Above grave marker for 1st Lt. Cameron O. Evans (Courtesy of Andy Anderson - FindAGrave).

1st Lt. Cameron Oliver Evans. Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Epinal American Cemetery, Plot A, Row 34, Grave 29. Born on the 24th August 1923 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Son of Frederick William and Lulu Isabelle (née Sproule) Evans from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA.

1st Lt. Evans had been transferred from the RCAF to the USAAF and was on the strength of the 12th Replacement Depot whilst awaiting posting to a USAAF unit.

Plt Off. Stanley Frederick Harding Kelley. Villeneuves St. Georges Communal Cemetery Joint Grave 101. Grave inscription: ‘SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS’. Born on the 4th March 1921 in Moncton, New Brunswick. Son of Adolphus Moore Kelley and Marjorie Allison (née McLean) Kelley, of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Sgt. Kelley was posthumously appointed to a commission and promoted to J89258 Plt Off with effect the 6th June 1944.

Sgt. Robert Owen Connor. Villeneuves St. Georges Communal Cemetery Joint Grave 102. Grave inscription: ‘SINCERE AND TRUE IN HEART AND MIND, BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES HE LEFT BEHIND’. Born in the 3rd Qtr of 1917 in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire. Son of Henry and Margaret Ann (née Needs) Connor of Treharris, Glamorgan, Wales.

Plt Off. Earle Deachman Woods. Villeneuves St. Georges Communal Cemetery Joint Grave 101. Grave inscription: ‘HE DIED THE NOBLEST DEATH A MAN MAY DIE, FIGHTING FOR GOD AND RIGHT AND LIBERTY’. Born on the 18th June 1921 in Hopetown, Lanark, Ontario. Son of Mellville Lorne Woods and Mary (nèe Bulloch) Woods, of Lanark, Ontario, Canada.

WO2. Woods was posthumously appointed to a commission and promoted to J86372 Plt Off. with effect the 25th April 1944.

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew.

Other sources listed below:

RS 07.03.2024 - Initial upload

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Acknowledgements
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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