05/06.01.1945 No. 158 Squadron Halifax III MZ432 NP-Q F/O. Robertson
Date: 05/06th January 1945 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 158 Squadron 4 Group (motto: 'Strength in unity')
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Lissett, Yorkshire
Location: Between Bremen and Hanover
Pilot: F/O. Arthur Gold Robertson J/28663 RCAF PoW Stalag Luft 3 (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Dacey 1016932 RAFVR Age 35. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Thomas Murdoch Laurie 1565637 RAFVR PoW Stalag Luft 1 (2)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Garfield Wallace Cross J/36865 RCAF PoW Stalag Luft 3 (3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Joseph Bromfield 1649521 RAFVR PoW No. 7715 Stalag Luft 1
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James David Edward Rae R/193773 RCAF PoW Stalag Luft 1 (4)
Air/Gnr: W/O. Gerald Edward Marion R/143398 RCAF PoW Stalag Luft 1(5)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Lissett in Yorkshire at 17:01 hrs. to attack the city of Hanover, Germany.
This was the largest raid on Hannover since 1943 with 664 aircraft taking part - 14 Mosquitoes, 340 Halifaxes and 310 Lancasters.
The bombing was reported as widespread over the city with 3,605 apartments/flats destroyed, 250 people killed on the ground The fatalities included 229 foreigners or prisoners of war. Over 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped.
The allies losses were huge, mainly due to night fighter attacks but also to heavy flak.
33 aircraft were lost this night, 111 aircrew killed, 85 made PoW, 7 evading capture and a further 5 injured.
No claims for this aircraft by night fighters but many records have since been lost during this stage of the war. The crew all escaped from the aircraft by parachute prior to it crashing. Some reports state that Sgt. Dacey was shot and killed during an escape attempt after being treated in hospital - we are not able to confirm this. (see below)
Some reports are that it was claimed by the Luftwaffe nightfighter ace, Hptm. Werner Baake of Stab 1./NJG1, but this claim had been made over the North Sea.
With thanks to the latest research by Mr. Roderick Mackenzie (co-author of the Nachtjagd Combat Archives 2019/2012) we are now able to supply this latest information:
Available from Wing Leader Publications, although this edition is yet to be published pre-orders are accepted (March 2019) Please mention Aircrew Remembered when placing orders.
The aircraft was brought down probably by a night fighter at 2 km North East of Hoya at 19:15 hrs. 'Four' of the crew were taken PoW, Three on the loose and searches underway.
(1) Sadly F/O. Arthur Robertson (shown right) was killed whilst with 413 Squadron on the 18th October 1947 with all crew on B-25 Mitchell III. The aircraft came down into the Plewman Basin, Rosalind, British Columbia, Canada. All 7 crew and two civilians were recorded as missing. It wasn't until 5 years later that the wreckage was discovered - very little remained of the bodies. Born on the 01st May 1914 at Stoney Mountain, Manitoba. Enlisted on the 23rd July 1943. Son of James Paul and Janet Georgina (née Stevens) Robertson of Stony Mountain, Manitoba. Husband of Muriel Irene (née McCullough) and father of Brian Arthur of Winnipeg, Manitoba. F/O. Arthur Gold Robertson is also commemorated on a cairn at Mount Glory near Rossland, British Columbia.
(2) Fl/Sgt. Thomas Murdoch Laurie captured near Dörverden at 18:45 hrs on the 08th January 1945. Passed away in 2002. Further information follows.
(3) F/O. Garfield Wallace Cross captured near Dörverden at 10:30 hrs on the 07th January 1945.
(4) Fl/Sgt. James David Edward Rae captured near Wechold at 19:30 hrs on the 06th January 1945.
(5) W/O. Gerald Edward Marion (shown left) captured near Hassel at 19:30 hrs on the 05th January 1945. Sent to the Luftwaffe hospital at Rotenburg. Born on the 19th July 1921 and passed away on the 30th July 2010.
This information 'could possibly' mean that Sgt. George Dacey was taken PoW and 'perhaps' was shot trying to escape. Not a war crime in itself as this is permitted within the Geneva Convention rules. However there is no reason to expect the Germans to try and cover this up and new information may be revealed in time.
The Squadron lost 4 aircraft during this operation.
Halifax III NR190 NP-T Flown by Fl/Lt. W. Mclennan crash landing on return at Woodbridge - all the crew survived and were later decorated for their actions.
Halifax III NR251 NP-B Flown by 25 year old, Fl/Lt. Alec Elliott 64297 RAFVR killed with two crew taken PoW with 4 others evading capture.
Halifax III MZ395 NP-C Flown by F/O. J.H. Robinson 151780 RAFVR taken PoW with 3 others, remaining 4 killed.
Sgt. George Dacey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 274. Son of Henry and Rose Dacey, of Liverpool, England. The family have also placed his name on the grave of his parents at the Ford Cemetery. Plot 0275. Grave inscription reads: 'Sacred Heart pf Jesus Have Mercy On The Soul Of Our Dear Brother Sgt. George Dacey, Raf Missing From Operations Over Hanover 05/06Th January 1945 Age 35 Years'.
Researched with the valued assistance from Timothy O'Keefe, relative of the Flight Engineer and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to our Ralph Snape for his research and to further sources as shown. Also to Gordon Laurie, son of Fl/Sgt. Thomas Murdoch Laurie who contacted us in January 2020.