25/26.05.1943 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF Wellington X HZ476 NA:A Sgt. Pepper
Date: 25th/26th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit No: 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Dalton, Yorkshire (satellite airbase of RAF Topcliffe)
Location: Bree, Belgium
Pilot: Sgt. William George Pepper R105665 RCAF Age 21. KiA
Pilot 2: Plt Off. Roy Gibson Madge J13710 RCAF Age 23. KiA
Nav: Flt Sgt. Frank Greenaway Baker R115073 RCAF Age 24. KiA
Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Norman James Waters R107768 RCAF Age 22. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth George Higgs 1380092 RAFVR Age 20. KiA
Air Gnr: Sgt. William Ernest Douglas R102484 RCAF Age 20. KiA
January 2015 - we have been contacted by the family of Sgt. Kenneth Higgs - they are seeking the buyer from Ebay who purchased his medals. All they want to know is where the medals originated from - they have emailed the buyer and await a reply.
REASON FOR LOSS:
759 aircraft taking part on this operation with Wellington HZ476 taking off from RAF Dalton at 23.34 Hrs.
Above and below - the photographs sent by the family of Sgt. Higgs. (courtesy Bridget Higgs) Sgt. William George Pepper identified as the chap in the centre of above photograph (see credits)
Sgt. William George Pepper identified as the chap in the top centre of above photograph (see credits)
Thought to be possibly the crew of Wellington HZ476 (courtesy Michel Beckers of the Netherlands)
Left to right: Plt Off. Roy G. Madge, Flt Sgt. Frank G. Baker, Flt Sgt. Norman J. Waters.
Above - crash area of Wellington HZ476 at Bree in Belgium
Some 94,000 lbs of high explosive bombs were dropped, together with 133,000 lbs of incendiaries. The bombing effect was undermined by diversionary fires set by the Germans resulting in scattered bombing over a wide area with less than 100 buildings destroyed with some 30 people killed in the city. The allies lost some 27 aircraft either through night fighter attacks or by the fierce flak. No claims by the Luftwaffe for this Wellington.
Crew graves - available to relatives at higher resolution (courtesy Michel Beckers of the Netherlands)
All the crew initially buried at St. Truiden, reinterred at Heverlee after the end of hostilities.
Crew initial grave markers - taken we understand in the late 1960's (courtesy Bridget Higgs)
WOII. William George Pepper. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.16. Inscription: "IN LOVING MEMORY. MOTHER, FATHER, SISTER AND BROTHERS". Born on the 15th March 1921 in Ryley, Alberta. Son of William George and Annie Maxwell (née Ramsey) Pepper of Ryley, Alberta, Canada.
Promoted to Warrant Office Class II on the 13th March 1943.
Fg Off. Roy Gibson Madge. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.15. Inscription: "GOD LIFTED HIM UP". Born on the 21st March 1920 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Son of Alfred Gordon (deceased) and Edna Muriel (née Smith) Madge of Varsity View, Manitoba, Canada.
Promoted to Fg Off. on the 28th February 1943.
Madge Island on the Porter River was renamed after Fg Off. Roy Gibson Madge in 1995
Plt Off. Frank Greenaway Baker. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.17. Inscription: "LOVED BY ALL WHO KNEW HIM". Born on the 14th August 1918 in Wainwright, Alberta. Son of George Staley and Ada Alberta Baker of Wainwright, Alberta, Canada.
Posthumously commissioned and promoted to J17661 Plt Off. on the 7th May 1943.
WOII. Norman James Waters. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.F.8-14. Inscription: "HE DIED THAT OTHERS MIGHT LIVE". Born on the 3rd April 1921 in Saskatchewan. Son of Albert James and Anna Josephine (née Treffry) Waters of Lipton. Saskatchewan, Canada.
Promoted to Warrant Office Class II on the 14th February 1943.
Above: medals of Sgt Higgs (courtesy Michel Beckers)
Sgt. Kenneth George Higgs. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.F.8-14. Son of Edward John Higgs and Rose Higgs, of Halmore, Gloucestershire. England.
WOII. William Ernest Douglas. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.20. Born on the 18th June 1919 in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. From Balcarras, Saskatchewan, Canada. Son of William Dedas Simpson and Katherine M. (McDonald) Douglas of Balcarres, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Posthumously promoted to Warrant Office Class II 13th September 1943.
Douglas Lake, Saskatchewan is named in his honour
Researched for relatives of this crew. For further details our thanks to the following, the family of Sgt. Kenneth George Higgs, Michel Beckers of the Netherlands. Thanks also to Bill Pepper who contacted us in February 2017 and identified WOII. William George Pepper in the crew photographs. Thanks to Caroline Cook for the NoK details for WOII Douglas (Nov 2022).