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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

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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77 Squadron
16/17.06.1944 77 Squadron Halifax III MZ698 Flt Lt. Sydney E. Wodehouse

Operation: Sterkrade, Germany

Date: 16th/17th June 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 77 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ698

Code: KN:J

Base: RAF Full Sutton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England

Location: Sint-Oedenrode (Noord-Brabant), Holland

Pilot: Flt Lt. Sydney Edward Wodehouse 48319 RAF Age 24. KiA

2nd Pilot: Fg Off. Arthur Hanley Ford 139587 RAFVR Age 32. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Douglas Dean Roberts 1685090 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

Nav: Flt Sgt. James Henry Bulmer 179305 RAFVR Age 29. PoW No.349 * (1)

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Jack Stewart Nott MiD 421543 RAAF Age 26. Murdered (2)

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. John William Needham 1459553 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No.179 * (3)

Air Gnr (Mid Upper): Sgt. Robert Cottar 1348052 RAFVR Age 22. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. John Henry Brown 2209145 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

* Stalag Luft 7, Bankau near Kreuzberg, Silesia, Germany. (Now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland) and and Stalag 3A and work camps (Also Oflag 3-6) Luckenwalde (was originally interrogation centre) Brandenburg, Prussia.

Above: Sgt. Roberts when he was a recruit (Courtesy of Sgt Roberts’ family through John Wilson).


MZ698 was one of 23 aircraft which took off from Full Sutton commencing at 23:15 hrs on a mission to bomb the synthetic oil facility at Sterkrade in Germany.

En route to the target MZ698 was intercepted and claimed by Oblt. Werner Baake, his 30th Abschuss, from 3./NJG1 in the vicinity of Eindhoven at 5.000m at 01:10 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

Werner Baake survived the war with 43 confirmed Abschüsse. He became a Lufthansa Captain but was killed in a crash on the 15th July 1964 during a test flight. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 1).

The aircraft crashed at Sint-Oedenrode (Noord-Brabant), a small town north of Eindhoven and west of the main road leading to Uden.

Three of the crew managed to bale out of the aircraft before it crashed. Flt Sgts. Bulmer and Needham were captured and held as PoWs.

A further 6 aircraft from the Squadron failed to return from the mission:

Halifax III MK508 KN:A: Plt Off. Robert Alexander Walton Blair 415498 RAAF and his seven crew were KiA;

Halifax III NA524 KN:F: Flight Officer (FO) James M. Shaw T-223146 US Army Air Force. Six became PoWs and one was an evader;

Halifax III NA545 KN:R: Plt Off Harold William Bird 417330 RAAF and his seven crew were KiA;

Halifax III MZ711 KN:T: Flt Lt. Fridjon Victor Stanley Goodman J42215 RCAF became a PoW as did five others of his crew, one was KiA;

Halifax III MZ715 KN:Z: Plt Off. Alan Irvine Crain, 415308 RAAF was KiA along with five others of his crew and one became a PoW;

Halifax III MZ705 KN:Q: Plt Off. Sydney Ernest Judd, DFC, 173931 RAFVR. Their aircraft was attacked and damaged by a Ju88. He was awarded the DFC for this encounter. The citation reads:

“One night in June,1944, this office was pilot and captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Sterkrade. On the return flight the aircraft was intercepted by a fighter which, attacked with much persistence In the engagement, Pilot Officer Judd manoeuvred with great skill and finally the attacker was driven off. and is believed to have been destroyed. The bomber had sustained extensive damage, however, and a wing was on fire. Nevertheless, Pilot Officer Judd set a course in an attempt to reach home. Before the English coast could be reached the fire had spread considerably and Pilot Officer Judd was forced to bring the crippled aircraft down on to the sea, a task he skilfully accomplished. All the crew got safely aboard the dinghy and were subsequently rescued. In the face of most harassing circumstances this gallant pilot set an example of the highest order.” The gunners had returned fire and the Ju88 was seen to burst into flames. All crew members were uninjured in the ditching, climbed aboard their dinghy and were later rescued by a Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) from Lowestoft. Sgt Ronald Gordon Blackwell 852379 and Sgt Derek Rogers 1852379, Mid-Upper and Rear Gunner respectively, received the DFM. Details were promulgated in the London Gazette on 4th August 1944;

4 other aircraft from the Squadron made emergency landings at the emergency landing strips at RAF Carnaby, RAF Catfoss and RAF Little Snoring.

The 7 losses of aircraft and crew on this mission added to the loss of 82 aircraft and 450 aircrew from the resumption of operations, after converting to the Halifax, in February 1943 for the next 18 months. These losses amounted to more that half of the Squadron’s fatalities during the entire war.

(1) Flt Sgt. Bulmer was wounded when the was captured on the 17th June 44. The nature of his injuries are not known.

He was taken to a Luftwaffe Hospital in Amsterdam (probably the Kriegs Lazerett (hospital) at Appldoorn) for treatment the same day and he remained there until the 26th June 1944. He was then transferred to the Dulag Luft, Reserve Lazarett in Hohemark, Oberursel arriving there on the 27th June 1944.

On the 10th July 1944 he was discharged and transferred to the Dulag Luft, transit camp Wetzlar, Oberursel where he remained until the 17th July 1944. He was then transferred to Stalag Luft 7, Bankau nr. Kreuzburg arriving there on the 21st July 1944.

On the 19th January 1945, he was amongst the 1,500 prisoners marched out of camp in bitter cold. They crossed a bridge over the river Oder on 21st January, reached Goldberg on the 5th February, and were loaded onto a train. On the 8th February they reached Stalag 3A located about 52 km (32 ml) south of Berlin near Luckenwalde, which already held 20,000 prisoners, consisting mainly of soldiers from Britain, Canada, the US and Russia.

He arrived at Stalag 3A, Luckenwalde on the 7th February 1945. As the Russians approached the guards fled the camp leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on the 22nd April 1945. He remained in the camp until the 8th May 1945 and was interviewed on the 14th May 1945.

James Henry Bulmer was born on the 19th November 1915 and prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 22nd October 1941 he was a Police Constable in Bradford, Yorkshire.

(2) The fate of Fg Off. Nott was unknown until a British Military Court was convened in Essen during the period 11th to 26th June 1946.

One Austrian and nine German nationals were charged with committing a war crime, in that they, at Tilburg, on the 9th July 1944, in violations of the laws and usages of war, were concerned in the killing of Flight Lieutenant R.A. Walker DFC, RAF, Flying Officer J.S. Nott, RAAF and Flying Officer R.E. Carter, RCAF .

Those charged were:

Franz Schonfeld who was a former Kriminalobersekretär (Criminal Secretary) holding the equivalent rank of SS-Untersturmführer (2nd Lt) and a member of the Nazi party;

Albert Erich Ernst Rösener who was a former Kriminalassistent (Criminal Assistant) holding the equivalent rank of SS-Oberscharführer (S/Sgt) and a member of the Nazi party;

Karl Paul Schwanz who was a former vehicle driver for the police and a member of the Nazi party;

Karl Hermann Otto Klingbeil who was a former Kriminalassistent holding the equivalent rank of SS-Oberscharführer and a member of the Nazi party;

Michael Rotschopf (Austrian national) who was a former secretary in the offices of the security police;

Karl Johannes Brendle who was a former Kriminalassistent holding the equivalent rank of SS-Oberscharführer and vehicle driver for the police;

Hans Ernst Harders who was a former Kriminalrat (Senior Criminal Detective) holding the equivalent rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Capt.) and the chief of the Sicherheitspolizei (Security police) and the SD (Sicherheitsdienst = security service of the SS (Schutzstaffel));

Eugen Emil Rafflenbeul who was a former SS-Rottenführer (Cpl), vehicle driver for the police and a member of the Nazi party;

Karl Cremer who was a former Kriminalassistent holding the equivalent rank of Oberscharführer and a member of the Nazi party;

Werner Koeny, whose position and affiliation was not established.

The ten accused were all members of the Sicherheitspolizei based in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Holland.

The court heard that on the 1st July 1944 two members of the Dutch underground brought Roy Carter and an American named G.B. Lloyd who had been hiding for some time with a farmer in Valbrough ((sic ) – could be Valberg)) to the Van Harssel family home at 59 Heuvel in Tilburg. The two airmen had been evading German forces for some time after parachuting from their crashing aircraft.

Research has determined that G.B. Lloyd was probably 1st Lt. Garland Brooke Lloyd, O-803103 who was the pilot of B-17G #42-31299 which crashed at 14:50 hrs NW of Hijken, Beilen, Holland on the 6th March 1944. He was listed as a PoW at Stalag Luft 1. The Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) records a date of 6th July 1944 against his MiA designation, which may indicate the date on which he was captured, a matter of a few days after he and Fg Off. Carter went their separate ways.

The Van Harssels arranged for Carter to be kept in hiding with their immediate neighbour named Wellekens. Shortly after this Leoni van Harssel received a secret telephone call informing her that more airmen, possibly four, would be brought along later in the week.

On the night of the 8th July 1944 two Dutch policemen, members of the underground movement, arrived at the Van Harssel house with Stewart Nott and a Ronnie Norton ((sic) – this must have been Ronald Walker)). It had been arranged that a lady named Miss Jacoba Maria Pulskens who lived at 49 Diepenstraat in Tilburg would hide these airmen until their escape could be arranged. Miss Pulskens was also known as “Aunt Coba” and was largely instrumental in returning 21 Allied airmen to England.

When Nott and Walker arrived at 59 Heuvel, Carter asked if he could go along with them to the new location. This was agreed and the car in which they and the two Dutch policemen travelled was lead to 49 Diepenstraat by Leoni and Elizabeth van Harssel who were riding bicycles. En route they came across a car with Gestapo occupants who were stopping cars but theirs was not as it was marked as a police vehicle. After they arrived at 49 Diepenstraat the three airmen were handed over into the safekeeping of Miss Pulskens.

Earlier on the 8th July, a car driven by Dutch underground members and carrying two other Allied airmen (the identity of whom is unknown) was stopped by the Gestapo and the occupants arrested. It was speculated that the location of Walker, Nott and Carter may have being obtained through interrogation of the arrested individuals.

The next morning on the orders of Harders two cars were dispatched from the Sicherheitspolizei headquarters in ‘s-Hertogenbosch to raid 49 Diepenstraat. The cars arrived near to the address at about 1100 hrs and the occupants were detailed to surround 49 Diepenstraat to ensure no one escaped during the raid.

Cremer and Rösener were detailed by Hardegen who was the leader of the raiding party, to go through the house to the left of 49 Diepenstraat and Hardegan went to 47 Diepenstraat; the other accused were detailed to take up various positions in the vicinity to guard against any possible routes of escape and in order to prevent the inhabitants of Tilburg from approaching 49 Diepenstraat.

Hardegen is believed to have been Paul Hardegen, an SS-Untersturmführer (Lt) who, whilst at the Gestapo offices in Almelo, was implicated during the trial concerning the death of Fg.Off. Gerald Hood but was not before that court. It is not known why he was not before the court for this trial, however, testimony established that Hardegen was the deputy to Harders and still held the rank of SS-Untersturmführer.

Rotschopf and Schwanz went to 49 Diepenstraat and when Miss Pulskens opened the door Schwanz detained her whilst Rotschopf, with some sort of machine carbine in his hand, went through the house to the living room where the airmen were eating a meal.

Witnesses related that Miss Pulskens saw that the airmen offered no resistance and had raised their hands above their heads in surrender. With Rotschopf’s weapon trained on them they were backed up through the living room, through the kitchen and out towards the yard or garden (Platz) where without warning he fired his weapon at the airmen. Evidence was presented that Rotschopf was shouting with rage whilst he continued to fire his weapon into the bodies of two of the airmen as they lay dying on the ground.

Subsequent to the shooting, according to Rotschopf’s own statement, he was joined in the Platz by Hardegen and Cremer and that Cremer, after he had a discussion with Hardegen, shot each of the airmen in the head with his pistol.

Following the shooting Miss Leoni van Harssel, Miss Pulskens, Mr. Josephus L.M. van Eerdewyk, from 47 Diepenstraat, along with 5 men of the Dutch resistance were arrested.

They were taken to the police station at Tilburg, interrogated and deemed to be criminals. The fate of the 5 men from the resistance is unknown. The others were sent to Mariënhof and then to the Herzogenbusch concentration camp. Miss Pulskens was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp were she was reported to have voluntarily taken the place of another woman who had children and died in the gas chambers during March 1945. Miss Leoni van Harssel was sent to Ravensbrück and then to Dachau. She was then evacuated to Waltershausen in Germany and was about to be killed but was saved when Waltershausen was liberated by US Forces.

The bodies of the airmen were covered with a Dutch flag supplied by Miss Pulskens. Prior to being taken away in ambulances to the local hospital an Inspector in the Ordnungspolizei (civil police), a Mr. J. Stevens photographed them and found identification details for Carter and Nott. He kept the negatives, which were used in the trial, but handed over the photographs to Hardegen. Subsequently their bodies were placed in coffins and taken to the Herzogenbusch concentration camp at Vught near ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The man who transported the bodies stated that he had waited there and that he left the camp with the empty coffins.

There are no known graves for the three airmen so it was assumed that their remains were cremated at the concentration camp.

Statements made by the accused claimed that the airmen had been shot because they had tried to escape. The court rejected this version of events and sentenced Rösener, Schwanz, Rotschopf and Cremer to death by hanging. All four were hanged on the 26th June 1947 at Hameln (Hamelin), three in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Schonfeld, Klingbeil, Brendle, Harders, Rafflenbeul and Koeny were acquitted of the charge. Koeny was mistakenly identified as being present during the raid at 49 Diepenstraat but it was established that he was on convalescent leave leading up to and on the day in question.

(3) Flt Sgt. Needham baled out and was captured the same day near Eindhoven.

After the statutory visit to Dulag Luft, Oberursel he was transferred to transferred to Stalag Luft 7, Bankau nr. Kreuzburg arriving there on the 29th June 1944.

Above: PoW photographs for Flt Sgt. Needham (Courtesy of Sally Coveney)

On the 19th January 1945, he was amongst the 1,500 prisoners marched out of camp in bitter cold. They crossed a bridge over the river Oder on 21st January, reached Goldberg on the 5th February, and were loaded onto a train. On the 8th February they reached Stalag 3A located about 52 km (32 ml) south of Berlin near Luckenwalde, which already held 20,000 prisoners, consisting mainly of soldiers from Britain, Canada, the US and Russia.

He arrived at Stalag 3A, Luckenwalde on the 9th February 1945. As the Russians approached the guards fled the camp leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on the 22nd April 1945.

He remained in the camp until the 20th May 1945 and was interviewed on the 34th May 1945,

John William Needham was born on the 7th July 1923. Prior to enlisting in the RAFVR on the 15th December 1941 he was a lorry driver in Lincolnshire.

Burial details:

Flt Lt. Sydney Edward Wodehouse. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery Plot KK. Grave 93. Inscription: "IN OUR HEARTS YOU WILL ALWAYS STAY TILL WE MEET AGAIN. MOTHER AND DAD". Born in 3rd Qtr of 1920 in Oxford. Son of Sydney Herbert and of Edith Grace (née Linsell) Wodehouse, of Harlow, Essex, England.

Fg Off. Arthur Hanley Ford. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery Plot KK. Coll. Grave 85-88. Inscription: "DEARLY LOVED HUSBAND OF BETTY. ALWAYS REMEMBERED". Born during 1912 in Brookfield, Renfrewshire. Son of Arthur William and Jane Alexander Ford; husband of Elizabeth Lawrence Bucher (née Fox) Ford, of Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Fg Off. Ford is also remembered in the Roll of Honour at the Scottish National War memorial.

Above: Douglas’s Aunt Nell, who raised him, visiting her nephews grave in 1948 (Courtesy of Sgt Roberts’ family through John Wilson)

Sgt. Douglas Dean Roberts. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery Plot KK. Grave 73. Inscription: "WHEN WILL RETURN THE GLORY OF YOUR PRIME? NO MORE - OH, NEVER MORE!". Born on the 12th September 1922 in Waterloo, Liverpool. Son of Robert Owen and Miriam Esther (née Dean) Roberts, of Waterloo, Liverpool, England.

Above: Fg Off. Nott (Credit: Lesley Gent: 77 Sqn Historian Archivist)

Fg Off. Jack Stewart Nott MiD. Runnymede Memorial Panel 257. Born on the 26th March 1918 in Armidale, NSW, Australia. Son of Charles Frank and Beatrice Eveline Nott; husband of Airlie G. Nott, of Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia.

Fg Off. Nott was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches (MiD), London Gazette, 13th June 1946.

Above: Grave Marker for Sgt. Cottar (Credit: Des Philippet-FindAGrave)

Sgt. Robert Cottar. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery Plot KK. Grave 95. Born on the 7th October 1921 in Dumfries, Scotland. Son of Peter and Agnes Jane (née Richardson) Cottar of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland. His mother predeceased him 1943.

Sgt. Cottar is also remembered in the Roll of Honour at the Scottish National War memorial.

Sgt. John Henry Brown. Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery Plot KK. Grave 96. Inscription: "IN LIFE, IN DEATH, BELOVED SO WELL. WE REMEMBER THE DAY AND THE PRICE HE PAID". Born 1922. Son of Robert and Ellen Brown, of St. Helens, Lancashire, England.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. With thanks to Traugott Vitz for his work on the VitzArchive’. Thanks to John Jones for the additional information regarding Flt Sgts Bulmer & Needham (Apr 2021). Thanks go to the family of Sgt. Roberts who kindly provided his photographs and additional Next-of-Kin details through John Wilson (Jul 2023). New PoW information added (Sep 2023). Thanks to Sally Coveney, daughter to Flt. Sgt. Needham, for the PoW photographs (Feb 2024). Additional PoW information for Flt. Sgt. Needham by Aircrew Remembered (Feb 2024).

Other Sources listed below:

RS & TV 20.02.2024 - Photographs and PoW information for Flt Sgt. Needham

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Acknowledgments: 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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