12/13.12.1944 12 Squadron Lancaster III ND342 PH:U Fg.Off. Reginald C. Veitch
Operation: Essen, Germany
Date: 12th/13th December 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: 12 Squadron, 1 Group
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire
Location: Düsseldorf-Grafenberg, Germany
Pilot: Fg.Off Reginald Clive Veitch 415208 RNZAF Age 29. Killed
Flt.Eng: Sgt. W.N. Stevenson 988039 RAFVR Age? PoW *
Navigator: Fg.Off. Harold W. Parry 153481 RAFVR Age? PoW *
Bomb Aimer: Flt.Sgt. J. Kenworthy 1672259 RAFVR PoW Camp: Not known
Wireless Op/Air Gunner: Flt.Lt. Bertram Edward William Hall J21053 RCAF Age 31. Survived (1)
Air Gunner: Sgt. Leslie Hunt 1577634 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air Gunner: Flt.Sgt. John Richard Patterson R204436 RCAF Age 21. Killed
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
REASON FOR LOSS:
Lancaster III ND342 took off from RAF Wickenby at 16:18 hrs on the 12th December 1944 and joined 540 (a combined force of 512 Lancasters and Halifaxes, together with 28 Mosquitos) aircraft taking part in the mission to bomb targets in Essen.
The detailed circumstances of the loss of ND342 and the fate of the crew have been extensively researched by Sean Feast and Marc Hall in their book Missing Presumed Murdered. (Ref 1)
In summary, ND342 whilst on its bomb run was intercepted by a night fighter and sustained severe damage from cannon fire. Flt.Lt. Hall was wounded in the attack and it was presumed as the mid-upper gunner, Sgt. Hunt and the tail gunner, Flt.Sgt. Patterson could not be raised on the intercom that they died in the attack. Although the pilot, Fg.Off Veitch, was seen preparing to bail out of the aircraft he also perished. Post-war it was established that three of the crew managed to bail out of the aircraft and became PoW.
The loss of ND342 was a probable claim by Hauptmann (Capt.) Gustav Tham of 3./NJGr.10 at 19:50 hrs (local) over Bochum. The Lancaster blew up on impact with the ground at Düsseldorf-Grafenberg. This was his 15th claim. (Nachtjagd War Diaries- Vol 2: Dr. Theo E. W. Boiten & Roderick J. Mackenzie)
(Left) Hauptmann Tham shown right (courtesy Kracker Archive)
The aircraft that were lost on this mission or crashed on returning to RAF Wickenby were:
77 Squadron Halifax III MZ470 - Flown by Fg.Off. Roland Edward Murrell 422428 RNZAF. All the crew survived when the aircraft crashed on return to base.
103 Squadron Lancaster I ME649 - Flown by Fg.Off. Philip Mourant Picot 182123 RAFVR. He was killed with one other crew member and five became PoW.
150 Squadron Lancaster I NN743 - Flown by Flt.Lt. George Stephen Devereau 129331 RAFVR. All of the crew perished.
460 Squadron Lancaster III PB542 - Flown by Sqn.Ldr. James Clark DFC. AFC. MiD 402439 RAAF. All of the crew perished.
578 Squadron Halifax III MZ987 - Flown by Fg.Off. D.P. Millard 184177 RAFVR. All the crew survived when the aircraft crashed on return to base.
582 Squadron Lancaster III PB554 (insert link) - Flown by Fg.Off. Jack Kinman 150440 RAFVR. All of the crew perished.
635 Squadron Lancaster III PB453 - Flown by Flt.Lt. Norman Henry Shaw 108854 RAFVR. All of the crew perished.
(1) The circumstances of Flt.Lt. Hall’s death were unknown. However, after hostilities ceased, rumours persisted that he met his death at the hand of German civilians.
The investigation carried out by the Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) concluded that as Flt.Lt. Hall was injured during the fighter attack and as the aircraft was undoubtably out of control that he stood little chance of making out it of the aircraft alive. (Ref 1).
The detailed investigation carried out by Sean Feast and Marc Hall came to a different conclusion. They found that in all probability Flt.Lt. Hall landed near a farm house north of Hilden where he gave himself up to the residents. A short time later he was picked up by the Ortsgruppenleiter (Head of the local Nazi party) who murdered him and then delivered his dead body to the Hilden communal cemetery during that same night.
This individual was never brought before a court for the circumstances of Flt.Lt. Hall’s death to be examined. The details of the investigation can be read in the book, Missing Presumed Murdered. (Ref 1)
Flt.Lt. Hall was initially buried at Hilden, some 10 km to the SE of Düsseldorf’s North cemetery where the other three crewmen who perished were buried.
Above: (Credit: Traugott Vitz - Aircrew Remembered)
A Thomas Boller who was a member of a team from the Office for Ground Monument Conservation of the Rhineland Landscape Association excavated what was left of the remains of ND342 in the deer enclosure of a wildlife park. He was instrumental in having a memorial erected at the site.
Above: Fg.Off. Veitch Grave marker
Fg.Off. Reginald Clive Veitch. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 8.C.17. Born in 1915. Son of Ernest Andrew and Marion Louise Veitch, of Waimate, Canterbury, New Zealand. Fg.Off. Veitch was a very experience pilot with 1403 flying hours logged and on his 24th operational sortie.
Above: Flt.Lt Hall grave marker and photograph
Flt.Lt. Bertram Edward William Hall. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 1.F.1. Son of Edward Franklin (Ernie) Hall and Margaret Hall, of Toronto, Ontario, and husband of Mary Isobel Hall of Toronto, Canada. Born on the 14th October 1913. Grave inscription reads: "IN LIFE, LOVED AND HONORED; IN DEATH, ALWAYS REMEMBERED. WIFE MARY".
Sgt. Leslie Hunt. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 8.C.18. Son of Albert and Mary Ellen Hunt, of Derby, England. Grave inscription reads: "HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR THOSE HE LOVED. SADLY MISSED BY MAM, DAD AND JEAN".
Above: Plt.Off. Patteron (from his service file)
Plt.Off. John Richard Patterson. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Grave 1.D.1. Son of J. R. Elbert Patterson and S. Myrtle Patterson, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Born on the 8th February 1923. Grave inscription reads: "GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN".
Flt Sgt. Patterson was posthumously promoted to Plt.Off with a Service No. of J93274.
Originally researched by Kelvin Youngs and updated by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.
Grave photographs courtesy Astrid at FindAGrave. Other sources as quoted.
1. Missing Presumed Murdered - One raid, Two trials, three lost airmen - Sean Feast and Marc Hall.