21/22.06.1943 No. 77 Squadron Halifax II JD205 KN-Y Sgt. John Gardner
Operation: Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Date: 21/22 June 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 77 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Elvington, North Riding of Yorkshire.
Location: Esch, Holland
Pilot: Sgt. John Gardner 1316434 PoW No.3470 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus - 357 (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Sidney Henry Alfred Nicholson 1213238 PoW No.219 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus - 357 (2)
Nav: Sgt. Frederick G. Hawthorne 1548758 Age 20. PoW No. 22271 Camp: Stalag Muhlberg-Elbe - 4B (3)
Air/Bmr/Air Gnr: F/O Alfred Hagan DFC 135880 - Evaded capture (4)
W/Op/: Sgt D.A. Clarke R101355 RCAF PoW No.97 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug - L6 (5)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Rolph Henry King R109695 RCAF - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr: Sgt Alfred Ross Currie R113684 RCAF age 32. - Killed (7)
We appeal for any relatives of the crew with further information and/or photographs to contact us
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Elvington at 22.50hrs to bomb Krefeld, North Rhine–Westphalia, Germany. This aircraft was armed with 2 x 1000lb GP, 48 x 30lb Incendiaries and 630 x 4lb Incendiaries.
Special Equipment: Monica - see abbreviations
Route as per Loss Card: 5148N 0350E – KREFELD – TURN LEFT - NOORDWIJK – SOUTHWOLD
The town of Krefeld was of great industrial importance, being the centre for textile, silk and parachute fabric manufacture. It was also the home of the Deutsche Edelstahlwerke, a steel manufacturing combine manufacturing 200,000 tons of special high grade steel per year for Krupps and other armament industries.
A force of 705 aircraft made up of 262 Lancasters, 105 Wellingtons, 117 Stirlings, 209 Halifaxes and 12 Oboe Mosquitoes was despatched on this raid. Of these, 619 carried out a devastating attack on the town of Krefeld that was accurately marked by the Oboe Mosquitoes. The attack commenced at 01.27 hrs and continued until 02.20hrs. There was 75% full moon over the target area and very little cloud with moderate to good visibility. Over the target area only a small number of searchlights were in operation, heavy flak was described as moderate and there was little light flak. 3 aircraft are thought to have been lost to flak and 4 to fighters in the target area. 2 aircraft attacked the alternative target, 42 aircraft were forced to abort the mission mainly due to technical and manipulative problems. 42 aircraft were lost, at least 30 of them falling to enemy fighters, the moonlight conditions no doubt contributing greatly to their success.
The centre of the town of Krefeld as the RAF left it after the heavy attack on the night of 21 June 1943
Courtesy Australian War Memorial
More than half the town was destroyed by fire with 60% of the buildings in the fully built up area being destroyed and 25000 housing units rendered uninhabitable. Many public buildings were destroyed and the gas works, factories and military barracks severely damaged. The damage was concentrated in the centre of the town but rapidly spread to the north and east due to fires that raged for several hours unchecked. 1056 people were killed and 4550 injured.
Bomb aimer F/O. Hagan reported that the target was bombed from 20000’. He believed that after bombing the target the pilot turned right instead of left and set course for Noordwijk. ‘Five minutes after the bombing Monica gave a warning and the captain warned the rear gunner to look out’. The Halifax was then at 16000’ and in bright moonlight. ‘Almost at once the rear gunner saw a ME210 and opened fire with two short bursts’. He told the captain to corkscrew. They lost the enemy aircraft and the rear gunner claimed it as a possible damaged. ‘However, enemy aircraft renewed attack from astern and put intercom u/s’. There was a pungent smell in the nose of the aircraft and he (F/O Hagan) noticed a glow between the port inner and outer engines but no flames. The navigator baled out and the aircraft went into a diving right hand turn. F/O. Hagan landed about (3?) m. east of Esch. While falling he ‘saw an aircraft on fire in the sky circling to the right and there was a thud when it hit the ground'. He heard that:
(1) 'The aircraft (was not?) burnt out, the pilot was dead at the controls, another member baled out but his parachute did not open and 4 members (2 wounded) were captured'.
(2) 'The pilot made a good jump and the aircraft was burnt out’.
He adds 'Later heard that two aircraft crashed near here that night’.
Scale 1" = 12.5 miles
F/O. Hagan escaped with others from Holland by motor boat. Its engine failed however, and after being adrift for four days was eventually picked up by HMS Garth.
Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre
(1) Fl/Sgt. John Gardner – nothing further known, are you able to assist?
(2) Fl/Sgt. Sidney Henry Alfred Nicholson – nothing further known, are you able to assist?
(3) Sgt. Frederick G. Hawthorne born Prestwich, Lancashire 18 July 1922 died Manchester 2005. Son of Arthur H. and Jessie N. Hawthorne.
(4) Fl/Lt. Alfred Hagan DFC
RAFVR - 1048636 Leading Aircraftman Alfred Hagan was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 4 December 1942 (London Gazette 23 February 1943). He was confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) on 4 June 1943 (London Gazette 23 July 1943)
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 7 September 1943 as promulgated in the London Gazette of the same date.
He was granted the substantive rank of Flight Lieutenant with effect from 4 June 1946 (London Gazette 13 January 1948).
RAF - Commissioned as a Flying Officer short service (5 years on active list) with seniority of 4 December 1944. Transferred to Secretarial Branch. (London Gazette 24 February 1948)
Confirmed in the rank of Flying Officer (permanent) on 22 February 1949 (London Gazette 19 July 1949)
Promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 15 December 1949 (London Gazette 24 January 1950)
Flight Lieutenant Alfred Hagan retired from the RAF at his own request on 27 March 1965 (London Gazette 27 April 1965)
(5) Sgt. D.A. Clarke – nothing further known, are you able to assist?
(6) W/O. Rolph Henry King RCAF. Son of George H and Elizabeth King of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
(7) Fl/Sgt. Alfred Ross Currie RCAF. Son of John and Kathleen Currie of Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada.
Newspaper cutting from the Windsor Daily Star, Ontario, Canada. (Courtesy David of Operation:Picture me)
W/O. Rolph Henry King RCAF buried at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Holland. Grave XV.F.6
Fl/Sgt Alfred Ross Currie RCAF buried at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Holland. Grave XV.F.7
Grave photographs courtesy Fred: www.findagrave.com
Researched by Roy Wilcock for Aircrew Remembered - June 2015. Sources: RAF Loss Card, Bomber Command Report on Night Operations, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Bomber Command Database, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Australian War Memorial