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1944-06-20 The Loss of Mitchell FR151 NO-C (Den Tex Bondt)

Crash site: Frichemesnil, 1.1394E/49.6232N, Seine-Maritime, France.

Crash cause: the aircraft was seen from the other Mitchells in the box to go down in flames after a direct hit from enemy Flak.

The attack was led by Wing Commander Alan Lynn, with Cees Waardenburg as his regular navigator. Their aircraft also carried the American War correspondent Ernest Hemingway on this occasion.

Source: Paul M. McCue, 'Dunsfold – Surrey's most secret airfield', 2002(1996), p. 135

Name

1. Tex Bondt, Cornelis Joan (Tex) den

C.J. den Tex Bondt Source: SLH Orry-la-Ville 050702 Den Tex Bondt

Rank

Off Vl 2kl, F/Lt., Pilot

Stb.Nr. 90005/Z

Decorations

Croix de Guerre

Born

3/9/1920

Place

Amsterdam, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C Nr. FR151 NO-C

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid against V-1 site at Grand Parc, Seine-Maritime, F

Status

KIA, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak on the way out after the attack. Squadronmembers saw the aircraft go down in flames.

age

23

Killed

20/6/1944

Place

Frichemesnil, Seine-Maritime, F, 80 meters from the Levasseur farm.

Buried

Initially as unknown in Frichemesnil Cemetery.

Reburied Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave B/L/2/1

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

2. Res 1Lt Vl H. Lüschen, Copilot/Nav - KIA

3. Korp Vltg Sch L. den Hollander, Ag - KIA

4. Korp Vltg Sch J.H. Velleman, Ag - KIA

Memorial

Stone tablet at Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F

He was called to duty with the Royal Dutch Navy. Served with the 1st Escader, 320 Sqn, RAF Pembroke Dock, 24/07/1940-05/12/1940. Detached to No. 1 Signal School, RAF Cranwell, 05/12/1940-11/12/1940. Send to the Technical Service of 321 Sqn, RAF Carew Cheriton, 11/12/1940-23/01/1941. Followed the radio mechanic course at RAF Cranwell, 28/04/1941-16/08/1941. Promoted to Sgt Mont z/m, 01/07/1941. Followed aviator training. Promoted to Off Vl 3kl KMR TV, 01/02/1943. Served with 320B Sqn, 17/05/1943-20/06/1944. Four days before his death he was promoted to Off Vl 2kl KMR TV.

GB arrival

Data

Confusion

OGS: died Grand Parc (is 8 km ESE of Frichemesnil). Geldhof (1): Levreport; De Haan: Moyenville. Both places do not exist in France. Others mention Moyenneville. There are three cities called Moyenneville grouped around Amiens. None of these close to the actual crash site.


Name

2. Lüschen, Herman

Orry-la-Ville 050702 Lüschen

Rank

Res 1Lt Vl, F/O., Copilot/Nav

Stb.Nr. 90445/Z

Decorations

None known

Born

5/2/1911

Place

Veendam, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C Nr. FR151 NO-C

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid against V-1 site at Grand Parc, Seine-Maritime, F

Status

KIA, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak on the way out after the attack. Squadronmembers saw the aircraft go down in flames.

age

33

Killed

20/6/1944

Place

Frichemesnil, Seine-Maritime, F, 80 meters from the Levasseur farm.

Buried

Initially in Frichemesnil Cemetery, grave 4, the only crewmember identified at the time. Reburied Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave B/L/2/4

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Off Vl 2kl C.J. den Tex Bondt, Pilot - KIA

3. Korp Vltg Sch L. den Hollander, Ag - KIA

4. Korp Vltg Sch J.H. Velleman, Ag - KIA

Remarks

Memorial

Stone tablet at Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F

GB arrival

Data

Confusion

OGS: died Grand Parc (is 8 km ESE of Frichemesnil). Geldhof (1): Levreport; De Haan: Moyenville. Both places do not exist in France. Others mention Moyenneville. There are three cities called Moyenneville grouped around Amiens. None of these close to the actual crash site.


Name

3. Hollander, Leendert den

Orry-la-Ville 050702 Den Hollander

Right: JL den Hollander (? is this Leendert den Hollander)

Rank

Korp Vltg Sch, Cpl, Ag

RAF VR 90612/Z

Decorations

Bronzen Kruis

Born

2/1/1923

Place

Noordwijk aan Zee, NL

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C Nr. FR151 NO-C

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid against V-1 site at Grand Parc, Seine-Maritime, F

Status

KIA, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak on the way out after the attack. Squadronmembers saw the aircraft go down in flames.

age

21

Killed

20/6/1944

Place

Frichemesnil, Seine-Maritime, F, 80 meters from the Levasseur farm.

Buried

Initially as unknown in Frichemesnil Cemetery.

Reburied Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave B/L/2/2

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Off Vl 2kl C.J. den Tex Bondt, Pilot - KIA

2. Res 1Lt Vl H. Lüschen, Copilot/Nav - KIA

4. Korp Vltg Sch J.H. Velleman, Ag - KIA

Remarks

Memorial

1. Vijfluik Loenen, Gelderland, NL

2. Stone tablet at Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, France

GB arrival

Engelandvaarder

Data

Confusion

OGS: died Grand Parc (is 8 km ESE of Frichemesnil). Geldhof (1): Levreport; De Haan: Moyenville. Both places do not exist in France. Others mention Moyenneville. There are three cities called Moyenneville grouped around Amiens. None of these close to the actual crash site.


Name

4. Velleman, Johannes Hendrik (Joop)

J.H. Velleman Source: @St.M.Vl.P. 1939-50 Orry-la-Ville 050702 Velleman

Rank

Korp Vltg Sch, Cpl., Ag

Stb.Nr. 20650

Decorations

None known

Born

22/12/1923

Place

Batavia, Java, NEI

Squadron

RAF 320 (Dutch) Sqn Bomber Command

Ops/hr

Aircraft

Mitchell Mk. II B-25C Nr. FR151 NO-C

Base

RAF Dunsfold, Surrey, GB

Mission

Raid against V-1 site at Grand Parc, Seine-Maritime, F

Status

KIA, aircraft shot down by enemy Flak on the way out after the attack. Squadronmembers saw the aircraft go down in flames.

age

20

Killed

20/6/1944

Place

Frichemesnil, Seine-Maritime, F, 80 meters from the Levasseur farm.

Buried

Initially as unknown in Frichemesnil Cemetery.

Reburied Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, F, grave B/L/2/3

Known to

OGS

yes

CWGC

no

Other crew

1. Off Vl 2kl C.J. den Tex Bondt, Pilot - KIA

2. Res 1Lt Vl H. Lüschen, Copilot/Nav - KIA

3. Korp Vltg Sch L. den Hollander, Ag - KIA

Remarks

Memorial

Stone tablet at Orry-la-Ville, Senlis, France

GB arrival

From Adsp.ll.Vltg Mkr training in NEI

Data

Confusion

OGS: died Grand Parc (is 8km ESE of Frichemesnil). Geldhof (1): Levreport;

De Haan: Moyenville. Both places do not exist in France. Others mention Moyenneville. There are three cities called Moyenneville grouped around Amiens. None of these close to the actual crash site.

All four are commemorated on a stone tablet at Orry-la-Ville, dating from the time prior to their reburial at Orry-la-Ville.

Orry-la-Ville Orry-la-Ville 050702 Bord 2b

2. Crash site data

Mr. J. Levasseur, aged 28, witnessed the aircraft dive into the ground at a distance of 80 meters from the farm stables. The wreck exploded and burned. German soldiers were stationed nearby. They salvaged the human remains. The wreckage was removed, except for the rudder, that was thrown as some distance as a result of the impact. Mr. Levasseur planted the rudder at the crash site, where it stood for 45 years. In 1989 the rudder was given by Mr. Levasseur, now Major of Frichemesnil, to the 320 Sqn Society in Holland, who displayed it in the Squadron building, Valkenburg base, The Netherlands. When the base closed in 2005, the rudder went to storage, pending a new display facility.

Mitchell FR151 rudder. Source: Marc de Jong


Copper plate attached to the FR151 rudder at the 320 Sqn Society. Translation of text: Part of rudder of Mitchell B-25 bomber, registered as FR151, callsign "C", member of 320 Squadron. This aircraft was shot down by enemy Flak in the Second World War near Frichemesnil, Normandy. Then follow the names of the crew. Donated by Mr. J. Levasseur, who saw the aircraft crash next to his farm, to the 320 Society on June 1st, 1990. Source: Marc de Jong

Mr. Levasseur's daughter Dominique, still resident in Frichemesnil, in a phone conversation dated 19/10/2005, cannot corroborate the report above. She remembers that not an aircraft, but an aviator parachuted to the Earth near her parent's farm.


Frichemesnil, Seine-Maritime, France, looking Northeast along the D100 towards the town entrance, where the Levasseur farm is located. Frichemesnil 051019

3. Crash site confusion

Map 77. Mitchell FR151 crash site confusion

'Levreport' as one of the reported crash sites may be a misspelling of Le Tréport, a coastal town left of the leftmost Moyenneville in the map above. None of these reported crash sites comes within 50 km of the actual one. Paul M. McCue, in 'Dunsfold – Surrey's most secret airfield', 2002 (1996), page 135, reported that the raid was against a V-1 position near Mozenville, Southwest of Abbeville. That would rather be Moyenneville, Somme, SW of Abbeville, the leftmost Moyenneville in the map above.

4. Crash site map

Map 78. Frichemesnil, Seine-Maritime, F, 80 meters from the Levasseur farm, crash site of Mitchell FR151 on 20/6/1944, taking the lives of the four man crew.

5. One or two parachutes?

More mysteries. From Laurent Viton, 13/1/2005:

One odd thing as I read summaries of gendarmerie reports : it is reported that at 10.00, June 20, an airman was captured by Germans at Loeuilly, just close to Frichemesnil. FR151 was the lone aircraft down in this area that day.

So here's the question : could he be a fifth crew member aboard FR151 or was he Lüschen and alive after the crash (and killed by soldiers ?). Could he be the survivor Mr Levasseur has met later ? Surely a mystery to be solved !

RPH reply dated 14/1/2005:

From 320 ORB 20/6/1944, summarized: Target was Grand Parc. Mitchell FR151 took the lead after leader (H.V.B. Burgerhout, FR197 NO-A) returned because of radio failure. FR151 was hit by Flak and fell out of the sky. One open parachute was seen. Formation was lost, and the remaining aircraft turned back to base without having bombed the target.

So it is suggested that one of the crew of FR151 jumped out.

The ORB continues: one gunner of Mitchell FV970 NO-K, cpl. W.M. Theunissen, jumped out of his aircraft. Later it was assumed that he heard the command 'bail out!' over the radio, given by the captain of FR151, or by some-one in one of the other Mitchells, seeing that FR151 was hit very seriously. So that command was given, and heard by others. All of this happening in seconds before the actual crash of FR151. No doubt FV970 was flying violent evasive manoeuvres when the box was receiving the Flak fire that hit FR151. Or it was knocked about by the blasts from Flak shells. Or both. This must have led Cpl. Theunissen to believe that the bail-out order was directed at him. Theunissen was an Engelandvaarder. He was taken prisoner, and sat out the War in a POW camp. He survived.

So the ORB seems to report about two parachutes, both in the same area and at the same time. The Gendarmerie reports on only one airmen taken prisoner. Mr. Theunissen most likely is the one called the survivor whom Mr. Levasseur has met in Holland. FR151 did not carry a fifth crew member.

If we allow for the ORB to be not entirely complete, then that open parachute may have been carrying Mr. Theunissen. It is not expressly stated, but strongly suggested that the open parachute came from FR151. However, from this text I could not conclude with certainty that there have been two parachutes. If there would have been two, then it comes to mind that the one casualty who was identified, F/O. H. Lüschen, may have been captured and shot by the Germans.

Een anekdote die ik nog niet in een boek of publicatie heb kunnen verifieren is dat kpl Theunissen vlak in de buurt van het wrak van de FR 151 neerkwam en direct gevangen werd genomen door de Duitsers. Hij heeft daarna meegeholpen om zijn omgekomen collega's (alle inzittenden van de FR 151 bleken omgekomen) te identificeren. Na de oorlog kwam de bemanning van de FV970 elkaar weer tegen waarbij kpl Theunissen gevraagd werd hoe hij zich voelde na de bale out. Hij zou gezegd hebben dat hij snel door had dat zijn vliegtuig nog vloog en dat hij het meest baalde dat zij later weer een biertje zouden drinken terwijl hij onder zich de Duitse soldaten al klaar zag staan om hem gevangen te nemen.

Source: Marc de Jong, 320 Sqn Vereniging, email dd. 18/11/2005

Mme Dominique Levasseur has stated that an airman had parachuted down near the Levasseur farm. This would place Cpl. W.M. Theunissen very close to the crash site.

FV970 was flown by Sgt. B.A.A. van Berkum, Sgt. T. Aartsen, Sgt. F. H. Bloemgarten and Cpl. W.M. Theunissen.


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