20/21.04.1944 428 Squadron Halifax II JP113 NA-A 'Git Up Them Stairs’ Stories of the crew
Date: 20/21st April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 428 Squadron (‘Ghost’)
Type: Halifax B HP59 Mk.II Srs.1a
Code: NA-A (‘Git Up Them Stairs’)
Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham (Yorkshire at that time)
Location: Forest near Attlebridge, Norfolk
Pilot: Fl/Lt. ‘Chuck’ Charles George Ford DFC. J/21372 RCAF Age 22. - survived, injured (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. ‘Jimmy’ John William Carrigan DFM. 1807113 RAFVR - survived - injured (2)
Nav: F/O. Norval Roy McGregor J/14675 RCAF Baled out - Evaded Capture (3)
Air/Bmr: F/O. A.H. Murphy J/25069 RCAF Baled out - PoW No: 4720 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagen and Belaria (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. ‘Eddie’ Edward Scott Jones 1089363 RAFVR Age 22. - Baled out - PoW No: 3674 Stalag Luft Heydekrug (5)
Air/Gnr: F/O. ‘Joe’ Beverley Donn Ardis J/26495 RCAF Age 22. - survived - injured (6)
Air/Gnr: P/O. ‘Artie’ Arthur Shaw MiD. 54437 RAF Age 24 - survived - injured (7)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Aircrew photo of 13 April 1944: [Rear] F/L ‘Chuck’ Ford, P/O ‘Artie’ Shaw, F/S ‘Eddie’ Jones, F/L ‘Al’ Henry (replaced by F/O A. H. Murphy on fateful flight), Sgt. ‘Jimmy’ Carrigan; [Front] F/O ‘Mac’ McGregor, F/O ‘Joe’ Ardis.
Twelve aircraft for bombing operations on Lens. JP113 taking off at 20:55 hrs. All aircraft reached the targets but two crashed on return to England with disastrous results.
'Reap the Whirlwind' written by Spencer Dunmore and William Carter PH.D. Published by Mcclelland and Stewart Ltd (Sept. 1992) ISBN-13: 978-0771029264 - describes the event with more detail:
On the twentieth, 6 Group despatched 154 Halifaxes to Lens, a few miles south of Lille, France; they were joined by fourteen Lancasters and seven Mosquitoes of the Pathfinders. The force encountered only light defences and. although the attack was late in starting and the marking somewhat scattered, the bombs fell on target and caused severe damage. One 6 Group Halifax was lost. Another Halifax, from 428 Squadron, was attacked by a night fighter and set on fire. The skipper, Flight Lieutenant C.G. Ford, ordered the crew to bale out. Within moments, three of the crew had escaped – but then the fire went out. Ford managed to get the Halifax back to England. (with thanks to relatives of Fl/Lt. Ford for sending this information)
No.428 Squadron Operations Report, 20th April 1944:
The reaction of the Luftwaffe night fighters on this operation came too late to intercept the 175 aircraft detailed to bomb railway yards at Lens - they were directed to to an area north of Amiens, when the force had already passed this area - with only one bomber engaged. This was that of JP113! (Although no claim had been placed to this, according to the’'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2' researched by Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie)
Halifax II JP113 NA-A ‘Git Up Them Stairs’, painted by Colin Pattle from Victoria, BC. Each member of the crew later received a print.
F/L. Ford’s aircraft was hit by enemy cannon shells over France and caught fire in the fuselage and port wing. F/O. Ardis - mid-upper gunner, P/O. Shaw - rear gunner and Sgt. Carrigan - Flight Engineer left their positions to fight the fire.
F/t. Ford gave orders to abandon aircraft but as these three were not on the inter-communication, only the navigator F/O. McGregor - Air Bomber, F/L. Murphy and W/Op/Air/Gnr. F/S. Jones abandoned and are missing. F/L. Ford then brought the aircraft back to England and crash landed at 01:20 hrs. The remaining members of the crew are in hospital receiving treatment.
1) Fl/Lt. Charles George “Chuck” Ford (pilot) recounted “After crash suffered memory loss for eight hours, apparently mid upper gunner and I pulled other crew members from plane and went to look for help. In the Norfolk and Norwich hospital it was determined I suffered injuries to back, left leg and head. RAF Ely, Cambridge states - fracture of malar, fracture of body of fourth lumbar vertebrae with slight compression. Head wound was stitched. Also suffered a deviated septum (nose), fracture of right malar and zygoma which was reduced by Gillies approach with elevation of malar bone. To correct back a full length body cast was put in place. He remained in Cambridge Hospital for repairs until mid-May. Born August 2nd 1921 in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada. After meeting and marrying Muriel Pearl Hall, he graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, and together they raised a family of four children. "Chuck" worked for the Veterans Land Act and the Farm Credit Corporation, retired to British Columbia in 1978. Died of C.D.I.P. on 11th February 1995, buried Royal Oak Cemetery, Saanich, BC.
(2) Sgt. John William “Johnny” Carrigan (flight engineer) had wife Betty recount “Johnny is very talkative and cheerful. His leg is strapped up but expects to be moved any day, he can’t write himself as yet hence this message written for him.”. Died between 1985-1995.
3) F/O Norval Roy “Mac” McGregor (navigator) bailed out as ordered, landed near Neurve Eglise, France, buried his parachute, evaded to Merville, France, contacted Underground, sheltered at Nord, liberated by allied forces on 08 September 1944, returned to U.K. Educated as a physician, married Doreen, served as Medical Officer in RCAF until 1958, they raised four sons and a daughter, died of cancer in Canada 01 April 2000.
(4) F/O. A. H. Murphy (bomb aimer) bailed out as ordered, captured by German forces, served duration in Stalag Luft III, liberated by allied forces in April 1944, returned to UK.
Sadly no contact has been made with F/O. Murphy or his family - we welcome any further information that we could pass on to the other crew relatives.
(5) F/S Edward ‘Eddie’ Scott Jones (wireless operator) bailed out as ordered, captured by German forces, imprisoned in Stalag Luft VI (Heyderkrug) then Stalag 357 (Kopernikus/Fallingbostel), escaped westward in advance of Russian forces, liberated by allied forces in April 1945, returned to U.K. Married Thea, raised one daughter Pauline, currently widower in Liverpool, England.
(6) F/O Beverley Donn ‘Joe’ Ardis (m/u gunner) suffered severe concussion. After discharge moved to USA, married Sally Ann Webster and they raised four sons, incurred early-onset senility, died 06 May 1997, buried Restland Cemetery, Greenville, Texas.
(7) Sadly, P/O. Shaw suffered a fractured skull and died within a few hours.
P/O Arthur Shaw, son of Walter and Mary E. Shaw, of Sowerby Bridge, Calderdale, Yorkshire, England. Buried at Southowram Churchyard (St-Anne-In-The-Grove) Sec. 1884. Row G. Grave 43, this being his home town. H/Q 51 Group supplied a representative to attend the service at this church where he had been christen
During the aircrew reunion of 1985, NA-A survivors travelled to Attlebridge, met one of the villagers who rescued them, he led them to the crash site that was again overgrown with trees.
L-R: Al Henry (who missed the fateful flight), ‘Mac’ McGregor, ‘Eddie’ Scott Jones, ‘Jimmy’ Carrigan, ‘Chuck’ Ford.
Attlebridge villagers had been able to cut off and remove the canvas ‘Git Up Them Stairs’ nose art before fire consumed the NA-A wreckage. It was framed and has a place of honour with the Ford family.
With thanks to David Ford, the son of the pilot, Fl/Lt. Charles George Ford DFC who has carried out extensive research into his fathers career and this accident.
Also to Peter Cunliffe who also has researched this loss and sent extensive details from the log book and pow diary from Fl/Sgt. Edward Scott Jones (sample shown left).