15/16.01.1942 No. 10 Squadron Halifax II L9622 ZA-G Sgt. Schneider
Date: 15/16th January 1942 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit No.10 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire.
Location: 1 mile north of Northallerton, Yorkshire.
Pilot: Sgt. Murray Stanley Fuller Schneider R/59677 RCAF Age 20. Injured (1)
Pilot 2: Sgt. Thomas Cowan 1365284 RAFVR Age. 25. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Herbert Kenneth Taylor 804258 RAF (Aux) Age 26. Killed
Nav: P/O. Michael von Dadelszen 403615 RNZAF Age 25. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Vincent Leslie Brice J/15860 RCAF Age 21. Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Calvert Bradley 1058655 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Donald Justin Savage R/55599 RCAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Three aircraft from 10 Squadron were detailed to take part in a bombing operation over Hamburg as part of a 96 aircraft sortie.
Led by ‘B’ Flight Commander Sq/Ldr. F.W. Thompson and crew in Halifax R9366 ZA-Y they were to be joined by Fl/Lt. Miller and crew in Halifax L9624 ZA-C and Sgt. M.S.F. Schneider and crew flying in Halifax L9622 ZA-G. Just prior to take off Fl/Lt. Miller’s aircraft became unserviceable with engine trouble cancelling their participation in the sortie.
Sq/Ldr. Thompson took off at 18:10 hours followed two minutes later by Sgt. Schneider. Upon returning to base at 23:48 hours, Sq/Ldr. Thompson reported that they had identified the target, the Katlehofe Water Filtration works on the River Elbe, dropping their bomb load at 20:55 hours from a height of 14,000 feet.
As Sgt. Schneider’s Halifax made its return approaching Leeming in slight snow showers and poor visibility, it lost altitude, plunged to the ground and caught fire some six miles to the north east of the aerodrome on the outskirts of Northallerton. The time of the crash was 23:30 hours which in comparison to Thompson’s return time would indicate that they had completed their sortie. Six members of the crew died in the crash or later as a result of their injuries. The only survivor was the pilot, Sergeant Murray Schneider of Brandon, Manitoba, who was severely injured and unable to make a report.
Left: The letters to Murray's parents
In May of 1942, a letter was written to Murray’s parents by W.R. Russell, who was a friend from Brandon. The letter, which although it would appear to have some factual discrepancies in regard to the number of operations flown, the target and time of crash, relates Murray’s recollection of the cause of the crash.
“He was just going to land after asking permission when one of our own night fighters shot him down at 4000 feet.”
(See attached for full transcript of W.R. Russell’s letter to Mr. and Mrs. Schneider).
Contacting the RAF Air Historical Branch shed no further light on the circumstances of the crash or the identity of the other aircraft involved as the official record lists the cause of the crash as unknown and no investigation was made by the Air Investigation Branch.
Note: The Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) reported finding the twin rudders somewhat inadequate in keeping the aircraft straight on take-off. They also found there was a tendency for them to overbalance at low airspeeds, when making tight turns and also when power was asymmetric as when a propeller was feathered. To compound these problems the rudders were unresponsive at speeds below 120mph. It was a serious shortcoming in an operational aircraft which was to dog the early marks of the Halifax and cause a plethora of costly aircraft and aircrew losses despite various palliative remedies.
Of the 96 aircraft that took part in the raid only 52 crews actually reported bombing the target. Afterwards it was reported from Hamburg that 36 fires were set – three large, three persons killed and 25 injured.
Three aircraft were lost during the operation and eight crashed in England.
In total, 33 airmen lost their lives, ten were injured and five were captured.
Above, left to right: Sgt. Schneider, P/O. von Dadelszen, Fl/Sgt. Savage and P/O. Brice (courtesy Theo Siemens, Mark von Dadelszen and Don Page)
Sgt. Murray Stanley Fuller Schneider:
Born in Oak River and educated in Brandon, Manitoba, Murray was the son of Montague and Annie Schneider and a brother of Montague and four sisters, Gertrude, Muriel, Jeanne and Dorothy. He attended Brandon Collegiate where he was very active in sports and especially basketball where he was a member of the Brandon College All Stars team that reached the junior provincial championships in 1940.
Murray enlisted in the RCAF in August 1940 at the age of 19. From No.2 Manning Depot, Murray was posted to No.2 Initial Training School in Regina, Saskatchewan until October and from there, until the end of December, at No.14 Elementary Flying Training School in Winnipeg where he learnt to fly the De Havilland Tiger Moth. January 1941 saw Murray progressing to No.7 Service Flying Training School, Fort McLeod, Alberta where he gained his wings flying the Avro Anson on March 25th, 1941.
Finally, after spending a short time at RCAF Debert, Nova Scotia, he embarked on a troop ship at Halifax arriving at the RAF No.1 Depot, Uxbridge in May.
Armstrong Whitley V K8894-E of 10 O.T.U. (courtesy I.W.M)
From Uxbridge he went to No.10 Operational Training Unit located at Abingdon, Berkshire where he spent 56 hours during May, June and July learning to fly the Whitley twin engined bomber.
At the beginning of August he was posted to RAF 10 Squadron, Leeming, Yorkshire where he participated in his first operation against the enemy. Serving as the second pilot of a Whitley Mk.V, his and 37 other aircraft attacked the docks at Calais.
After five sorties acting as the second pilot Sgt. Schneider captained Whitley Z4263 in a raid on Boulogne. On this trip Schneider would be joined for the first time by two airmen that would become part of his regular crew, P/O. Michael von Dadelszen as Observer and Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sgt. Vincent Brice.
On the night of October 12/13 the first large scale raid on Nuremberg was planned. 10 Squadron supplied six of their Whitley’s as part of the 152 aircraft detailed. Schneider, von Dadelszen and Brice were now joined for this trip by their Air Gunner, Sgt. Donald Savage.
After one more sortie to Hamburg in their trusty Whitley V Z9166 ZA-O, which, by now, had become the boys regular aircraft, the end of October saw the crew posted to RAF Leconfield for Halifax conversion training.
10 Squadron Halifax L9619 ZA-E sister of L9622 (courtesy I.W.M)
Back at Leeming in December, the squadron, now having been converted to Halifaxes, Sergeants Herbert Taylor and Thomas Cowan joined the team as Flight Engineer and 2nd. Pilot respectively.
On the 18th December they flew their first operation in a Halifax, an unusual daylight raid on the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau moored in the harbour at Brest.
The crew would not be detailed for further operations until the night of January 5/6 for a second trip to Brest to bomb the dockyards. After a days rest the crew would be on their next sortie, a raid upon the docks and shipping at St. Nazaire. For this trip Pilot Officer Harries was called upon to fill the role of 2nd Wireless Operator-Air Gunner.
For their final operation together on the night of 15/16 January which ended so tragically, P/O. Harries place was taken by Sgt. James Bradley.
After being pulled from the wreckage Sgt. Schneider was taken to Northallerton Emergency Hospital where it was diagnosed that he had suffered a fractured skull, concussion, superficial burns to his face and hands and lacerations to his face and hand. After a month at the hospital in Northallerton he was transferred on 14 February to the Military Hospital, St. Hughes College, Oxford which specialised in head injuries. On the 21 May, 1942, he was again transferred, this time to Churchill Hospital at Headington, Oxfordshire run by the medical services of the United States Army. Seven weeks later he was transferred back to the Military Hospital at St.Hughes College.
On 16 July, 1942, he had a medical review board hearing in London and was returned to his unit for ground duty. On 28 September 1942, he was admitted to Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital in East Grinstead, Sussex. This was a Plastic Surgery and Jaw Injury Centre, from which he was discharged after surgery on 7 October 1942. He was medically re-boarded in London on 15 October and found to be fit for non-operational flying duties as an instructor on Halifax aircraft. Non-operation duties were continued after a further re-board on 7th January 1943 until, on 3rd April, he was found fit for full flying duties.
In the period between the crash and return to full duty, Fl/Sgt. Schneider was promoted to Warrant Officer on 1st April, 1942, Pilot Officer on 13th November, 1942 and Flight Lieutenant on 15 th March 1943. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader on 22 July, 1943 upon being posted to RCAF 405 Squadron at Gransden Lodge.
Sadly, fate eventually caught up with him in October 1943 when he lost his life piloting a Lancaster which was shot down during a raid on Hannover. (See JA980 for further details)
Pilot Officer Michael von Dadelszen:
Born on the 21st April, 1916, Michael von Dadelszen was the second son of Herman and Winifred von Dadelszen and brother to John, James, Sheila, Elizabeth and Richard.
After three years at Christ’s College, and a further year at Napier Boy’s High School, Michael began work in a Hastings public accountant’s office and studied by correspondence in the evening. He had great charm and made friends easily. His employer thought highly of him in the office, but he was not a natural student and the book work in the evening was a burden to him. Shortly after the outbreak of war, he applied for aircrew training in November 1939 and began his initial training in Levin, NZ in September of the following year.
P/O. Michael von Dadelszen back row 4th from right - initial training at Levin, New Zealand 1939/1940 (courtesy Mark von Dadelszen)
In November 1940, Michael embarked for Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme. By February 1941, he was at the No.4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario, and on 30 March went to the No.1 Advanced Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba, gaining his Air Navigator’s badge on 1 May, 1941, when he was commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer with effect from the same date. After further training in Scotland with 19 Operational Training Unit, he was posted to RAF 10 Squadron based at Leeming, Yorkshire on 18 August, 1941. He had 248 hours as a navigator and took part in operational flights over Berlin, Mannheim and Nurnberg in Germany and Brest, Boulogne and St. Nazaire in France. Ironically, Michael was to lose his life after a bombing raid on Hamburg the very city his forebear’s had emigrated from over 100 years previously.
P/O. Michael von Dadelszen, middle row 3rd from left seated on bunk - intake arrival at No. 4 Air Observer School, Crumlin Airfield, London, Ontario (courtesy Mark von Dadelszen)
On an evening in November 1941, he watched raiding aircraft take off and wrote that he was “much moved by the whole business.”
The evening I was looking on was fine, with the sun just setting in a wintry yellow glow, and half the sky a remote blue, and the other half banked high with dense shining cloud. One by one the motors were started up around the airfield and run until they were at working temperature. Their steady drumming was constantly punctuated by the short staccato roar of the four gun turrets being tested, earth spurting from the ground where the bullets converged. Then as the time of take off approached, these great black machines started moving in two long lines toward the leeward end of the runway, looking rather like good natured, clumsy beetles.
The first machine took off, the rest following at short, regular intervals, and all taking the full length of the runway before getting air-borne, being heavy with a full load of bombs and petrol. They cleared the boundary fence with the great, full throated roar of motors wide open and climbed over the aerodrome in wide circles before setting course for the distant target area. A heavy bomber taking off gives a tremendous impression of power just as it clears the runway, and quite often your body picks up the vibrations caused by the air screws. …I watched until the last plane was in the air and the last wave of good luck had been given by the boys on the ground, and walked slowly away in a very thoughtful mood.
I knew where they were going, and it was a long trip and rather a difficult one and I wanted more than anything that all these blokes should get back in good time for their egg and bacon, nine hours later. I looked out to the east and there I saw standing in relief against the cloud bank a great line of our bombers reaching away to the horizon, each a little smaller than the one behind it. From where I was the sun had set, but it still gleamed warmly from the rear turrets of those planes heading east.
(It is highly likely that the raid that Michael refers to in his letter was that to Berlin on the night of 7/8 November 1941).
P/O. Michael von Dadelszen, 5th from right, back row at No.4 Air Observers School, Crumlin Airfield, London, Ontario (courtesy Mark von Dadelszen)
During training at Crumlin (courtesy Mark von Dadelszen)
Leeming 2005 and right the Astronomical Airmen's Memorial Clock at York Minster (courtesy Mark von Dadelszen)
On a trip to Europe in 2005, his nephew Mark von Dadelszen visited his uncle’s grave on the Tuesday after Battle of Britain Sunday:
My parents, brother and sister-in-law had visited before, and I had always wanted to pay a personal tribute to my uncle. Eileen and I arrived in Leeming in the morning, and the airfield is now an operational NATO base, part of No. 11/18 Group within Strike Command and home to two Tornado F3 Squadrons.
We found the churchyard with about 20 World War II graves, half British, half Canadian, and one Kiwi, my uncle. While we were there a NATO jet took off and I regarded this as a fitting memorial fly-past for my uncle. We also received a text message from one of our children in New Zealand while there, and it made me think of the delay in 1942 before the Telegram advising of my uncle’s death was received by my grandparents.
In York Minster cathedral we found an astronomical clock erected in memory of Commonwealth airmen based in Yorkshire who were killed during the war. The memorial book displayed with the astronomical clockincludes amongst its many entries my uncle’s name.
To get a feel for what my uncle and other young New Zealand airmen went through I’ve been reading ‘Night after Night’ by Max Lambert, an account of some of the Kiwis who flew in Bomber Command – about 6,000 airmen with 1,850 killed, almost one in every three.
On our return to New Zealand, and just before Anzac Day 2006, I provided an article to our local newspaper about the experience of visiting my uncle’s grave. I was rung by a woman who was in the plotting room for bomber raids who told me it was a long time since she had cried, but reading my article caused her to cry. She remembered the raid well – her commanding officer said before the raid that it should not have been allowed to go as the weather forecast was terrible – and a very high proportion of the bombers could not find their bases on return, many like my uncle’s crash landing.
During his teenage years, Michael von Dadelszen occasionally worked on the Havelock North orchard of a local, pioneering ochardist, Frank Meissner (born in Austria), who imported a German built Steinway Orchestral Grand Piano in 1960. At that time it was reputed to be the only piano of its type in Hawke’s Bay, and the only one privately owned in New Zealand. Frank Meissner was an accomplished pianist who particularly loved the music of Beethoven and Chopin, and his piano was played by many visiting professional pianists, much to his delight. In its obituary following Frank Meissner’s death in 1969, the Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune poignantly recorded that he ”. . . played his favourite composers at his home in Te Mata Road, Havelock North, last night. Gently he closed the keyboard and retired. A few hours later he was dead.” Mark von Dadelszen, Michael’s nephew, arranged for the purchase of this piano for the Havelock North Community Centre in 1999.
Pilot Officer Vincent Leslie Brice:
'Vin' Brice was the son of Stephen and Frances Brice. Vincent's father was the clerk of the Township of Chilliwack, a member of the Chilliwack Airport Board and a member of the B.C. Aviation Council. Vincent was educated at schools in Chilliwack and graduated from Vancouver Technical School. During his early years he was an active member of cubs and scouts and became a member of the Cultus Lake Yacht Club. An accomplished sailor Vincent and his dinghy, the Una B captured many honours. Vincent was interested in radio and was an active camping enthusiast and member of St. Thomas Church. He enlisted in the R.C.A.F. in July 1940 and proceeded overseas in January 1941. As a wireless operator, Vincent, served with 10 Squadron, stationed at Leeming, Yorkshire. He took part on the raid against two German battleships, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, both undergoing repairs at Brest.
Two years after the crash that claimed the life of P/O Vincent Brice the family were to endure the loss of a second son, Francis, when his aircraft was shot down and crashed at Tilloy lez Cambrai, France. (See Lancaster DS688)
Their father later donated the Brice Memorial Trophy, in memory of his two sons, which is awarded to the Chilliwack-Hope District Boy Scouts for the highest number of achievement points earned in a given year by a local pack.
Flight Sergeant Donald Justin Savage:
Born on 14th July, 1921, at Belleville, Ontario, Don Savage was the son of George and Euphamie Savage of Toronto. Don was educated at St. Michael’s High School in Belleville and later at Westmount High School, Montreal prior to joining the Canadian National Railways as a clerk in the chief time keeper’s office in January of 1936. At the outbreak of war in 1939 he took a leave of absence from the railway and enlisted in the R.C.A.F. Upon completion of his training at No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School at Jarvis, Ontario, he was posted overseas in May 1941.
After the raid on the warships at Brest, Donald laughed as he recalled an incident where a piece of shrapnel came through the tail. “I wasn’t hurt,” he said, “because I was sitting on my tin hat and nothing happened.”
Left and centre: Original grave markers at Leeming, P/O. von Dadelszen, P/O. Brice, Sgt. Taylor Right C.W.G.C. headstone today of P/O. von Dadelszen (courtesy Mark von Dadelszen)
Sgt. Thomas Cowan. Bedlay Cemetery, Moodiesburn, North Lanarkshire, Scotland Section Q Grave 250. Son of Thomas and Ann Cowan (née Gifford).
Sgt. Herbert Kenneth Taylor. Leeming (St.John The Baptist) Churchyard Grave G-5. Next of kin details currently unavailable.
P/O. Michael Von Dadelszen. Leeming (St.John The Baptist) Churchyard. Grave G-3. Son of Herman Ronald and Winifred Bessie (née Cock) von Dadelszen and stepson of Eileen (née Dyer) von Dadelszen of Havelock North, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
P/O. Vincent Leslie Brice. Leeming (St.John The Baptist) Churchyard. Grave G-4. Son of Stephen Leslie and Frances Haywood Brice of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Grave inscription reads: "Splendid You Passed, The Great Surrender Made, Into The Light That Nevermore Shall Fade".
Sgt. James Calvert Bradley. Penwortham (St.Mary) Churchyard. Plot E Row A Grave 10. Son of James and Agnes Bradley (née Calvert) of Penwortham, Preston, England. Grave inscription reads: "Our Beloved And Only Son. Thy Purpose We Cannot See But All Is Well, Lord That's Done By Thee".
Fl/Sgt. Donald Justin Savage. Leeming (St.John The Baptist) Churchyard. Grave G-12. Son of George and Euphamie (née Finn) Savage of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
(1) Schneider Lake in Manitoba
is named after Sq/Ldr. Schneider (promoted in 1943).
(2) Mount Brice on the eastern boundary of Skagit Valley Provincial Park, British Columbia is named after P/O. Brice and his brother Fl/Lt. Francis Brice, who was killed on 13 June, 1944. (See Lancaster DS688)
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and RCAF specialist Colin Bamford for relatives of this crew.
Aircrew Remembered would like to thank Theo and Lynn Siemens, niece and nephew of Sgt. Murray Schneider and also to Mark and Eileen von Dadelszen, niece and nephew of P/O. Michael von Dadelszen, for their invaluable assistance in researching this article which is dedicated to their families and all of the relatives of the crew of Halifax L9622. P/O Brice’s photograph and biographical information researched by Paul Ferguson, Heritage Collections Manager, Chilliwack Museum and Archives and reproduced courtesy of The Chilliwack Museum and Archives, British Columbia, Canada. Also to Don Page, relative of Fl/Sgt. Donald Justin Savage, for his research into this loss.