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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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415
415 Squadron Halifax III NA583 F/O. Wilfre Henry Regimbal

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 02/03rd November 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 415 Squadron (motto: Ad metam - 'To the mark') 6 Group Swordfish - see note

Type: Halifax III

Serial: NA583

Code: 6U-F

Base: RAF East Moor, Yorkshire

Location: Mosnschau Forest, near Rocherath, Belgium

Pilot: F/O. Wilfred Henry Regimbal J/29274 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Simon Oscar Spence 190100 RAFVR Age? Missing - believed killed (1)

Nav: F/O. Robert Henry Montgomery Rose J/36919 RCAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Hyman Rabkin J/38241 RCAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. George John Zbura J/42332 RCAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed (1)

Air/Gnr: P/O. Vincent Emerald Nelson J/93997 RCAF Age 18. Missing - believed killed (1)

Air/Gnr: P/O. Jack Douglas Griffin J/95286 RCAF Age 20. Missing - believed killed (1)

Air/Gnr: P/O. Milton Robert Morton J/95445 RCAF Age 19. Missing - believed killed (1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 16:30 hrs with 16 others from the squadron, making up a total of 992 aircraft to bomb Düsseldorf.

Attacked and shot down by an unidentified crew from StabIV/NJG2 at 19:30 hrs.

Crashed in the Monschau Forest, near Rocherath, Belgium. The remains of the crew were buried at the site of the crash. The crash was of great violence and due to the severity of the wreckage remains of five crew members could not be identified. Search teams identified the crash site in 1948 noting that the trees surrounding the crater were scorched but still standing. Indicating the aircraft dived in vertically.

Above L-R: F/O. Wilfred Regimbal, F/O. Hyman Rabkin, F/O. George Zbura and F/O. Robert Rose (Courtesy John Jones)

Above L-R: P/O. Vincent Nelson, P/O. Jack Griffin and P/O. Milton Morton (Courtesy John Jones)

The squadron lost another aircraft, Halifax III MZ603 6U-E flown by F/O. Harry Knobovitch J/28738 RCAF from Quebec. 6 crew were killed with 2 others taken PoW. Hptm. Werner Wollenhaupt of 3./NJG1 claimed this shooting it down at 19:30 hrs.

Halifax III MZ882 6U-C flown by F/O. F.M. Forbes J/86509 RCAF shot about by Ofw. Wilhelm Burger of 5./NJG1 flying a Bf110 at 19:22 hrs. The pilot with the help of some of his crew (some awarded medals for this) managed to return and force-land his aircraft at RAF Woodbridge at 21:10 hrs. All crew safe, one suffered wounds from the night fighter attack. The aircraft received category B damage but was repaired off-site.

Above: crowds look on after a raid on Düsseldorf in 1944

Note: Formerly part of Coastal Command but transferred to Bomber Command in July 1944. A request was received to change the squadron nickname to 'Bronco' rather than 'Swordfish' - this was declined.

Burial details:

(1) Reinterred 28 August 1948. Although several of the crew are remembered at Runnymede all the crew were initially buried at the crash site. No. 20 Missing Research Enquiry Unit investigated the crash site in August 1948 and exhumed the graves. Two of the crew were identified, the remaining six were not identified and are buried as unknown in graves 8.L. 21, 22 and 23. It is also probable that some of the crew were buried as unknowns at the Sittard War Cemetery, Holland in the grave I.K.6. An officer from 55 GCU had recovered 3 bodies not realising that whilst searching for another crash site unsuccessfully recovered 3 bodies.

F/O. Wilfred Henry Regimbal. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 248. Born on the 27th August 1916 at Lafleche, Saskatchewan. Son of Henry (died 02nd December 1941, age 55) and Olive Marie Regimbal (née Decock, died 13th December 1985, age 87) husband of Lillian Mae Regimbal, of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

Regimbal Bay, Saskatchewan was named after F/O. Regimbal.

Sgt. Samuel Oscar Spence. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 238. Son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Spence, of Cliftonville, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

F/O. Robert Henry Montgomery Rose. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 8.L.20. Born on the 23rd July 1921 at Portage La Prairie. Son of Max N. Rabkin and Liba Bucovetsky Rabkin, of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada. Grave inscription: 'Son of the Late Mr. And Mrs. Max Rabkin, 415 Osler Avenue, Vancouver, Portage La Prairie, Canada.

F/O. Hyman Rabkin. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 8.L.19. Born on the 16th August 1921 at Portage La Prairie. Son of the late Max N. Rabkin and Liba Bucovetsky Rabkin, of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada.

F/O. George John Zbura. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 248. Born on the 03rd July 1924. Son of Mr. and Mrs Stephen Zbura of 512-8th Avenue East, Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.

P/O. Vincent Emerald Nelson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 252. Born on the 30th January 1926 in Bentley. Son of Marius Christian (died 11th June 1990, age 94) and Ava Pearl Nelson (née Burger - died 1989), of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

P/O. Jack Douglas Griffin. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Born on the 07th November 1924. Son of John F. and Carie Griffin, of Picton, Ontario, Canada

P/O. Milton Robert Morton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 252. Born on the 06th March 1924. Son of Robert J. and Ellen Dorcas Morton, of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to John Jones who sent us the photographs of the crew and the extensive MREU report, Dr Theo Boiten and the Nachtjagd Combat Archive, other sources as quoted below:

KTY/JJ 09.03.2022

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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', 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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