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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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12 Squadron Crest
12 Squadron Lancaster III ND342 PH:U Fg Off. Reginald C. Veitch

Operation: Essen, Germany

Date: 12th/13th December 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 12 Squadron, 1 Group (motto: 'Leads the Field')

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: ND342

Code: PH:U

Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire

Location: Düsseldorf-Grafenberg, Germany

Pilot: Fg Off. Reginald Clive Veitch 415208 RNZAF Age 29. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. William Nimmo Stevenson 988039 RAFVR Age 24. PoW * (1)

Nav: Fg Off. Harold Winston Parry 153481 RAFVR Age 30. PoW * (2)

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Jack Kenworthy 1672259 RAFVR Age 24. PoW No. 1289 ** (3)

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Lt. Bertram Edward William Hall J21053 RCAF Age 31. Murdered (4)

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Sgt. Leslie Hunt 1577634 RAFVR Age 23. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. John Richard Patterson R204436 RCAF Age 21. KiA

* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

** Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).

Above L-R: Sgt. Jack Kenworthy, Fg Off. Bertram Edward William Hall, Flt Lt Roy Clearwater (Pilot, KIA during the 14 October 1944 daylight raid on Duisburg); Fg Off. Reginald Clive Veitch, Fg Off. Harold Winston Parry. (Courtesy of and used with permission Theo Boiten)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Lancaster III ND342 took off from RAF Wickenby at 16:18 hrs on the 12th December 1944 and joined 540 (a combined force of 512 Lancasters and Halifaxes, together with 28 Mosquitos) aircraft taking part in the mission to bomb targets in Essen.

The detailed circumstances of the loss of ND342 and the fate of the crew have been extensively researched by Sean Feast and Marc Hall in their book Missing Presumed Murdered. (Ref 1)

In summary, ND342 whilst on its bomb run was intercepted by a night fighter and sustained severe damage from cannon fire. FltLt. Hall was wounded in the attack and it was presumed as the mid-upper gunner, Sgt. Hunt and the tail gunner, Flt Sgt. Patterson could not be raised on the intercom that they died in the attack. Although the pilot, Fg Off Veitch, was seen preparing to bail out of the aircraft he also perished. Post-war it was established that three of the crew managed to bail out of the aircraft and became PoW.

ND342 was claimed by Lt. Gustav Moir, his 5th and final Abschuss, from 2./NJG11 in the region of Essen-Duisburg at approximately 19:50 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (16 October 1944 - 31 December 1944) Part 5 - Theo Boiten).

Lt. Moir was injured by returning gunfire and attempted to return to base at Biblis in his damaged Bf109 G-6 ‘Red 4’. He was forced to bail out at 20:20 hrs over Grünberg, east of Giessen. He did not return to operational flying before the war ended. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (16 October 1944 - 31 December 1944) Part 5 - Theo Boiten).

The aircraft that were lost on this mission or crashed on returning to RAF Wickenby were:

77 Squadron Halifax III MZ470 - Flown by Fg Off. Roland Edward Murrell 422428 RNZAF. All the crew survived when the aircraft crashed on return to base.

103 Squadron Lancaster I ME649 - Flown by Fg Off. Philip Mourant Picot 182123 RAFVR. He was KiA with one other crew member and five became PoW.

150 Squadron Lancaster I NN743 - Flown by Flt Lt. George Stephen Devereau 129331 RAFVR. All of the crew were KiA.

460 Squadron Lancaster III PB542 - Flown by Sqn Ldr. James Clark DFC. AFC. MiD 402439 RAAF. All of the crew were KiA.

578 Squadron Halifax III MZ987 - Flown by Fg Off. D.P. Millard 184177 RAFVR. All the crew survived when the aircraft crashed on return to base.

582 Squadron Lancaster III PB554 - Flown by Fg Off. Jack Kinman 150440 RAFVR. All of the crew were KiA

635 Squadron Lancaster III PB453 - Flown by Flt Lt. Norman Henry Shaw 108854 RAFVR. All of the crew were KiA

(1) Sgt. Stevenson was slightly wounded either aboard the aircraft or after baling out. He evaded capture for 4 days before being discovered in woods near Bocholt close to a Luftwaffe Flak battery.

He was transported to Dulag Luft Wetzlar arriving there on the 17th December 1944 where he remained until the 12th January 1945 before being transported to Stalag Luft 1 arriving there on the 15th January 1945.

On the 30th April 1945, the prisoners were ordered to evacuate the camp in the face of the advancing Soviet Red Army, but the Senior American Officer, Col. Hubert Zemke, refused to give the order. After negotiations between Zemke and Commandant Oberst (Col) Gustav Warnstedt, it was agreed that to avoid useless bloodshed the guards would go, leaving the PoWs behind. The next day, the first Soviet troops arrived. He was interviewed on the 11th May 1945.

Prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 28th April 1940 he was a Railway Engineer in Glasgow, Scotland.

(2) Fg Off. Parry suffered an injury to his spine on landing after baling out and was captured that same day.

He was transported to Dulag Luft Wetzlar arriving there on the 14th December 1944 where he remained until the 24th December before being transported to Stalag Luft 1 arriving there on the 28th December. Prior to him arriving escape attempts were forbidden by the Senior officers.

On the 30th April 1945, the prisoners were ordered to evacuate the camp in the face of the advancing Soviet Red Army, but the Senior American Officer, Col. Hubert Zemke, refused to give the order. After negotiations between Zemke and Commandant Oberst (Col) Gustav Warnstedt, it was agreed that to avoid useless bloodshed the guards would go, leaving the PoWs behind. The next day, the first Soviet troops arrived. Fg Off. Parry was interviewed on the 11th May 1945.

Before enlisting in the RAFVR on the 15th August 1940 he was a School Teacher in Wrexham, North Wales.

(3) Flt Sgt. Kenworthy evaded capture until the 15th December when he was apprehended near Düsseldorf.

He was transported directly to Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg arriving there on the 26th December and remained there until the 17th January 1945.

On the 19th January 1945 he joined 1,500 prisoners and marched out of camp in bitter cold. They crossed a bridge over the river Oderon the 21st January, reached Goldberg on 5th February, and were loaded onto a train. On the 8th February they reached Stalag 3Alocated about 52 km (32 mi) south of Berlinnear Luckenwalde, which already held 20,000 prisoners, consisting mainly of soldiers from Britain, Canada, the U.S. and Russia.

His personal recollection of the ordeal:

“We were force-marched 252 km under terrible weather conditions, the Medical Officer possessing no medical kit and thus was unable to treat the suffering. Generally very poor treatment by the German guards who often refused us water. Total rations for 21 days, 2⅔ loafs of bread, 11 cups of soup. On completion of the march we were packed 64 to a truck for 3 days and nights, many fainted and suffered from dysentery. The guards would not allow us to leave the truck in spite of illness”.

As the Russians approached the guards fled the camp leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on the 22nd April 1945.

Flt Sgt. Kenworthy remained at the camp until the 9th May 1945 and was interviewed on the 13th May 1945.

Before enlisting in the RAFVR on the 8th January 1942 his civilian profession was that of a Draughtman in Manchester.

(4) The circumstances of Flt Lt. Hall’s death were unknown. However, after hostilities ceased, rumours persisted that he met his death at the hand of German civilians.

The investigation carried out by the Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) concluded that as Flt Lt. Hall was injured during the fighter attack and as the aircraft was undoubtably out of control that he stood little chance of making out it of the aircraft alive. (Ref 1).

The detailed investigation carried out by Sean Feast and Marc Hall came to a different conclusion. They found that in all probability Flt Lt. Hall landed near a farm house north of Hilden where he gave himself up to the residents. A short time later he was picked up by the Ortsgruppenleiter (Head of the local Nazi party) who murdered him and then delivered his dead body to the Hilden communal cemetery during that same night.

This individual was never brought before a court for the circumstances of Flt Lt. Hall’s death to be examined. The details of the investigation can be read in the book, Missing Presumed Murdered. (Ref 1)

Burial details:

Flt Lt. Hall was initially buried at Hilden, some 10 km to the SE of Düsseldorf’s North cemetery where the other three crewmen who perished were buried.

Above: (Credit: Traugott Vitz - Aircrew Remembered)

A Thomas Boller who was a member of a team from the Office for Ground Monument Conservation of the Rhineland Landscape Association excavated what was left of the remains of ND342 in the deer enclosure of a wildlife park. He was instrumental in having a memorial erected at the site.

Above: Fg Off. Veitch Grave marker

Fg Off. Reginald Clive Veitch. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 8.C.17. Born in 1915. Son of Ernest Andrew and Marion Louise Veitch, of Waimate, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Fg Off. Veitch was a very experience pilot with 1403 flying hours logged and on his 24th operational sortie.

Flt Lt. Bertram Edward William Hall. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 1.F.1. Grave inscription reads: "IN LIFE, LOVED AND HONORED; IN DEATH, ALWAYS REMEMBERED. WIFE MARY". Born on the 14th October 1913. Son of Edward Franklin 'Ernie' Hall and Margaret Hall, of Toronto, Ontario. Husband of Mary Isobel Hall of Toronto, Canada.

Sgt. Leslie Hunt. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 8.C.18. Grave inscription reads: "HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR THOSE HE LOVED. SADLY MISSED BY MAM, DAD AND JEAN".Son of Albert and Mary Ellen Hunt, of Derby, England.

Above: left Flt Lt Hall - right Plt Off. Patteron (from service files)

Plt Off. John Richard Patterson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 1.D.1. Grave inscription reads: "GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN". Born on the 8th February 1923. Son of J. R. Elbert Patterson and S. Myrtle Patterson, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Flt Sgt. Patterson was posthumously promoted to Plt Off with a Service No. of J93274.

Originally researched by Kelvin Youngs and updated by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Grave photographs courtesy Astrid at FindAGrave. Thanks to Theo Boiten for the crew photograph (Dec 2022). New information for PoWs added (Sep 2023).

Other sources listed below.

Reference(s)

1. Missing Presumed Murdered - One raid, Two trials, three lost airmen - Sean Feast and Marc Hall.





RS & TV 13.09.2023 - PoW detail added

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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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