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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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578 squadron badge
20/21.07.1944 578 Squadron Halifax III MZ572 LK:C Fg Off. Trevor G. Harrison

Operation: Bottrop

Date: 20th/21st July 1944 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: 578 squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ572

Code: LK:C

Base: RAF Burn, Yorkshire

Location: North Sea - West of Den Haag, Holland.

Pilot: Fg Off. Trevor Gordon Harrison 177077 RAFVR Age 21. Missing

Flt Eng: Plt Off. Colin George William Whitehead 55845 RAF Age ? Missing

Nav: Plt Off. Victor Thomas Glossop 177572 RAFVR Age 33. Missing

Bomd Aimer: Flt Sgt. Harry William Cook 1551870 RAFVR Age ? Missing

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Philip Claude Pink 1322624 RAFVR Age 20. Missing

Air Gnr: Sgt. Rober Peter Arthur 1821788 RAFVR Age 19. Missing

Air Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Gresswell 1626370 RAFVR Age 20. Missing

REASON FOR LOSS:

Leaving RAF Burn, Yorkshire at 23:57 hrs to attack the synthetic oil refineries at Bottrop. 166 aircraft taking part in this operation, 149 Halifaxes, 13 Mosquitoes and 4 Lancasters.

Northern parts of the target were reported as badly damaged, but no further information on casualties on the ground.

12 aircraft were lost during this operation, resulting in 61 aircrew killed, 13 taken PoW, 1 evading capture with 4 crew members parachuting over friendly territory.

F/O. Trevor Gordon Harrison (courtesy of Jack Harrison via Keith Townsend) Trevor had been a former pupil of the school

A tragic night for this squadron losing 6 aircraft:

Halifax III LK834 LK:E Flown by Plt Off. William Davidson 179653 RAFVR, killed with 7 crew when their aircraft collided with MZ696 over Balkholme, near Goole, Yorkshire.

Halifax III MZ696 LK:K Flown by 21 year old, Fg Off. Maurice Day 172955 RAFVR from Selby, Yorkshire, killed with all 7 crew.

A memorial sculpture to the above two crews has been placed in the vicinity of the tragedy and was dedicated on 15th October 2005.

Halifax III MZ511 LK:M Flown by 21 year old Flt Lt. Alistair Hope-Robertson 127900 RAFVR from Moffat, Dumfriesshire, killed with 4 other crew, 1 made PoW and 1 escaping capture.

Halifax III MZ556 LK:P Flown by 22 year old, Plt Off. Kenneth Hutton 178775 from Bridlington, Yorkshire, killed with 2 other crew, 4 made PoW.

Halifax III MZ617 LK:D Flown by 23 year old, Flt Lt. Joseph Couture J20061 RCAF, from Washington, USA, killed with all 7 crew.


Halifax MZ572 was reported as lost without trace, however, MZ572 was claimed as a probable by four German night-fighter pilots:

Oblt. Friedrich Berger, his 5th Abschuss, from 3./NJGr.10 who claimed a 4-Mot north of Rotterdam at 3.500 m at 01:50 hrs. This 4-Mot may have been 51 Sqn Halifax MZ821, 75 Sqn Lancaster ND800 or 578 Sqn Halifax MZ572.

Lt. Josef Förster, his 4th Abschuss, from 8./NJG2 who claimed a "Lancaster" SW of Rotterdam/ Waal Delta at b900 m. at 02:09. This "Lancaster" may have been 51 Sqn Halifax MZ821, 75 Sqn Lancaster ND800 or 578 Sqn Halifax MZ572.

Fw. Edwin Egler, his 1st Abschuss, from 12./NJG1 who claimed a Halifax over the sea 25-60 km west of Den Haag at 2000 m. at 02:15 hrs. This Halifax may have been 51 Sqn Halifax MZ821 or 578 Sqn Halifax MZ572.

Uffz. Gustav Sarzio, his 4th Abschuss, from 6./NJG1 who claimed a "Lancaster" over the sea 20km west of Katwijk ann Zee at 3.200 m. at 02:16 hrs. This "Lancaster" may have been 51 Sqn Halifax MZ821, 75 Sqn Lancaster ND800 or 578 Sqn Halifax MZ572.

(Nachtjagd Combat Archive (12 May 1944 - 23 July 1944) Part 3 - Theo Boiten)

Burial details:

Fg Off. Trevor Gordon Harrison. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 206. Son of William George and Irene Harrison, of Moseley, Birmingham, England.

Plt Off. Colin George William Whitehead. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 213. No further details as yet.

Plt Off. Victor Thomas Glossop. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 211. Son of William Walton Glossop and Gertrude Elizabeth Glossop, of Totley Rise, Yorkshire, England.

Flt Sgt. Harry William Cook. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 216. Son of Henry George and Isabella Cook, of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Flt Sgt. Philip Claude Pink. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 221. Son of Ada Pink; husband of Muriel Josephine Pink, of Bournemouth, Hampshire, England.

Sgt. Rober Peter Arthur. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 224. Son of Robert and Ann Isbella Arthur, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sgt. Ronald Gresswell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 230. Son of James Edward and Gertrude May Gresswell, of Bingley, Yorkshire, England.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With special thanks to Keith Townsend and Jack Harrison. Jack is the brother of the pilot. Thanks to Diane Elizabeth Gollop for the link to the memorial dedicated to the two crews from Halifax III LK834 and Halifax III MZ696 (May 2021). Update to night-fighter claim by Aircrew Remembered (May 2021).

RS 01.05.2021 - Link to memorial and update to night-fighter claim

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', 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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