Crash d'un Lancaster à Rébréchien

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Crash d'un Lancaster à Rébréchien

Message par Invité le Dim 19 Sep - 0:44

Crash d'un Lancaster à Rébréchien


Lancaster SR-V2 and the crew, Crane, Brown, Hodgson, Hyland, Engelhardt, Moore, Tuuri, Smith

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/26/a4342826.shtml

People in story: Ian Ellis, Remco Immerzeel, Albert Nuttall, David Guyett, Greg Drodz

Location of story: Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, The Night Skies over Occupied Europe and Rebréchien near Orleans, France

Background to story: Royal Air Force

CHAPTER 1 :

On July 28th 1944, at around 11.30pm a British Lancaster bomber, call sign SR-V2, from the 101st squadron of the RAF crashed in Rebréchien in the La Cour neighbourhood at a place called “Le Mauvais Puits” (the bad well). None of the eight crew members aged between 21 and 30 survived the resulting explosion. Seven were British, one was Canadian. They were:

Pilot Officer Peter, Joseph Hyland , the Pilot, 21, from Argentina.
Sergeant John Hodgson, the Flight Engineer, 27, from Leeds Yorkshire.
Sergeant Thomas Crane, the Bomb Aimer and the Front Gunner, 22, from Belfast, Ulster.
Sergeant John, Thomas, Victor Moore, the radio Operator, 21, from Hinckley, Leistershire.
Flight Sergeant Clifford, Ernest Smith, the Navigator, from Torquay, Devon.
Sergeant Wolf, Herman Engelhardt, the ABC Radio Operator, 24, from London.
Sergeant, Eric, Ronald Brown, the Upper Turret Gunner, 21, from Upper Norwood, London.
Sergeant Albert, William Tuuri, 30, the Rear Gunner, from Ontario, Canada.

The Crash Of The SR-V2 LM462 At Rebréchien
In May 1940, the Germans had overrun France and a Nazi leadership presided over northern and central France. Rebréchien was subject to the same curfews and restrictions that applied to occupied France with the flight of allied bombers passing overhead to and from their targets in Germany. German anti-aircraft guns would try to bring down these planes, the British flying at night and the Americans flying in daylight. A German fighter station was based at Bricy that is now home to the French Air Force and this added to the air activity. On January 7 th 1944, several American bombers crashed in the area.
In June 1944, the Allies had landed in Normandy and were slowly advancing south. Paris was not going to be liberated for several weeks yet, but there was a feeling of optimism that perhaps the war might be over by Christmas. The evening of 28th July 1944 was a warm, clear summer evening in Rebréchien and there were still people awake late into the night. As on many nights the sounds of aircraft high in the sky were heard, another night-time raid by RAF Bomber Command in support of the Allied liberation armies. No one could have foreseen what was about to happen. As midnight approached people heard the sound of gunfire in the sky. Perhaps the anti-aircraft guns, but more likely it was the feared German Luftwaffe night-fighters seeking out the British bombers.
Out of the sky came a British Lancaster bomber, engulfed in flame. It turned over the village as if trying to return home, but was unable to maintain its height. Eye witnesses then remember it falling just north of the village centre and the most huge explosion and sheet of flame erupted from the sky. The scene that emerged was one of utter destruction. The bomber was on its outward journey and still with most of its fuel and a full load of bombs aboard. It had crashed and then exploded onto farmland at Le Mauvais Puits. It was a miracle that nobody on the ground was killed or even seriously injured. At the point of impact, the explosion of the plane made a crater 12 meters wide and 4 meters deep. Of the plane itself little remained in any recognisable form. The explosion of aviation fuel and bombs had literally blown the Lancaster to pieces. Everywhere were twisted and torn fragments of the plane and its wings were blown out to a distance of hundreds of meters. No parachutes had been seen and it was clear that none of the crew could have survived the crash and explosion.

Testimonies of Eye-Witnesses to the Crash :

Francis Paviot, 17 in 1944, living in Marigny-les-Usages :

"On the evening of July 28th 1944, a little bit before 11.30, as usual I could hear the noise of waves of bombers flying over the area from the west to the east. Then I heard two distinct noises. There was one very brief machine gun burst. I then realised that a bomber was being chased by a night fighter. A few moments later, I heard a loud noise just above my head. I thought that the aircraft had lit a little light. I then saw the bomber for the first (and unfortunately the last time). I rapidly understood that it wasn’t a little light but the beginning of a fire. The light then turned into flames as the aircraft arrived above a farm called “La Grand Cour” in Marigny and I could easily follow the final route of the bomber going to Vennecy, it then suddenly made a curve towards the north and dived towards Rebréchien. Some parts of the cabin and several objects fell from the fuselage as the plane went down. I heard mention of a big piece of Plexiglas on wood and something which could have been a life jacket. I remember that some parts have been found by the Grand Villiers family.
I have always wondered why the airmen hadn’t bailed out, for the descent seemed to have lasted quite long.”

Gaston Jahier, 23 in 1944, living in Rebréchien :

"On July 28th 1944, between 11 and 11.30, I was outside with Bernard Pousse guarding the tracks. I was standing not far from the level crossing on the embankment when I heard a machine gun burst. After a few seconds I saw a burning aircraft coming from the west. It passed south of the village and carried on its route for several miles. Suddenly it made a curve towards the north and dived straight towards Rebréchien. The explosion scattered parts all around us. As I got to the crash site, I saw the whole area on fire. I can still remember the sheaves of wheat burning in the fields. The next morning, I went back to see the wreckage and found an identification picture 50 metres away from the crash site. It was the photograph of a young brown-haired beardless man, and one could read the name "Smith" written with a pencil on the back.
I kept a spar from the aircraft and donated this to the Loury Museum in 2003, when the nephew of the airman called Engelhardt came to visit me."

CHAPTER 2 :


The grave of the Lancaster crew in the late 1940s, above. Below, the grave today, Eliane Hubler in 2004 and the village of Rebréchien in 2004.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Ian Ellis on behalf of Greg Drozdz, David Guyett, Remco Immerzeel, Albert Nuttall and Andrew White. The stories and pictures have been added to the site with their permission. The authors fully understand the site's terms and conditions.
This is Chapter 2 of 6 chapters telling the story of The Lancaster Crash at Rebréchien. This is the continuation of Chapter 1 with further testimonies of eye-witnesses to the crash at Rebréchien.
Marie-Thérèse Gauthier from Trainou, 16 and living in Rebréchien in 1944
"On July 28th 1944, I lived on the central square near the Ripouteau farm. I was awakened by a tremendous blast around 11.30 pm. We went to see what happened and came across someone screaming: it fell on la Cour! We immediately went to see the Menard family who lived there but they were unharmed. Even after the explosion we couldn’t get too close as there was a big fire and there were still bullets going off. We also saw the Grégoire’s house on fire. We did not see the family right away but we were amazed to hear that Mr Grégoire was able to save both his sister and his father by carrying the old man on his back.
The next day we walked back and noticed a parachute in fairly good condition right in the crater. It hadn’t burnt despite the huge explosion and I could still see the ropes on it. I did not dare to get closer to check what was under it."
Jocelyne David, nee Bichard, from Loury, 13 and living in Rebréchien in 1944
"My parents lived at La Prunellière. My father was a P.O.W. so I lived alone with my mother. Around 11.30 we heard a big explosion. When we realised that our house was not too damaged we decided to go and have a look outside. While walking to the crash site, we met people from La Cour who had already seen the site and were on their way back home. Everybody was talking about the accident. Then we saw flames and noticed that the Grégoire house was on fire. We came back the next morning and the ruins were still smoking."
Régine Melon, 22 and living in her parents’ farmhouse at la Cour just across the road from the crash in 1944
"That night, around 11.30pm, we heard the roar of aircraft flying over and shooting. We all went outside except Guy, my little brother, who was sleeping like a log! We saw an aircraft on fire go east, turn around, come back towards Rebréchien and dive. We all rushed back to the kitchen. An enormous explosion broke the windows and the whole family was injured by flying glass. The electricity had gone out and the fields were on fire. All the roofs at la Cour were blown off and many walls were cracked. The ground was white because of the clay that had been projected and our feet were sticky. No one went to bed that night, we were all so shocked. It wasn’t until the next morning that we learnt the full extent of the disaster. Our father was looking at the house and was crying. People were coming from all around us to see what had happened. Grégoire, our neighbour, and his family came out of their house. The house was in ruins, but they were practically unscathed."
Georges and Germaine Ménard, 27 and 28 and living at la Cour in 1944
"We were sleeping in our room. Gérard, our son, who was 5 was in his bed next to ours. I got up because of the noise and I thought it was Les Aubrais (near Orleans) being bombed again. I had just gone back to bed when an enormous explosion broke the window. The glass was projected across the room and broke the mirror on the wardrobe! An indoor wall even fell onto the bed. The next day, no fruit was left in the trees. The plane had crashed in a potato field, and people were picking up the potatoes that had been uprooted. Our house was so badly damaged we were given accommodation in the Rebréchien presbytery”. Emile Allard, the forest keeper and I, volunteered to take the corpses. We gave the crew its first burial. We planted two propeller blades near the grave and placed small stones representing the Union Jack on the tombstone."
Raymond Camus, 17 in 1944
"I was living at my uncle’s in Rebréchien after the bombing of Beaugency. I still remember the smell of burning petrol and oil. Large clumps of earth had been thrown all around the crater. It was too awful for words! My uncle found a piece of blue RAF uniform with a small pocket that had miraculously remained intact. He recovered some pictures, a small amount of French and Belgian money, probably in case they had been forced to land. Each year, I put flowers on the grave for the airmen who fell in Rebréchien."
Robert Baratin, 21 in 1944 and living at la Poëlerie in Rebréchien at the time
"The next day, I went to see the crater. Mr. Danloup, the Cartwright of Rebréchien, had made a single small coffin for the airmen’s remains. It was the mayor Sadi Genté, who organised the funeral with the priest, Paul Perdereau. It was a worthy solemn ceremony."
The burial ceremony in the cemetery at Rebréchien was short because of the presence of the Germans. It is not clear whether the people in the village of Rebréchien knew there were 8 men in the crew at the time of the crash, such was the destruction. Later on with the liberation of Orleans by the army of the American General George Patton, information about the crash and the crew on board was exchanged with the RAF. It emerged that the bomber was an RAF Lancaster bomber with a crew of 8 on board, not the usual 7 men. Why this plane carried an extra man, became something of a mystery that was referred to in an article in the Rebréchien newsletter in later years. Information that did reach Rebréchien said that this was a Lancaster mark III known as LM-462. Its call sign was SR-V2 from the RAF 101 Squadron based at Ludford Magna in Lincolnshire.
The Grave of the "Liberators of France"
Since the war, the village has maintained the grave as an act of solidarity with the 8 men and their families. A memorial stone was placed in the church. These young men, the youngest was 21, the oldest was 30 are regarded as ‘Liberators of France’. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission in England (http://www.cwgc.gov.ukAbout links) working with the Town Hall in Rebréchien arranges essential maintenance work when necessary, but people in the village undertake much of the general care. Madame Eliane Hubler, now 93 years old, has regularly placed flowers on the grave for many, many years. She has adopted the airmen’s grave as if it was her own family. Flowers left by other visitors and well wishers appeared at the grave from time to time, but it seemed that no other close family member was able to make the journey to visit. Some relatives came (we learned in 2004 that the Hylands came to Rebréchien in 1985), but they never made their presence known and left without leaving specific messages or contact details.
This was to change in August 1999 when David Ellis the nephew of Sergeant W. H. Engelhardt brought his young family to visit the grave. Whilst on a trip to Paris, he detoured to Rebréchien and called into the town hall. This was apparently the first relative to make direct contact in 50 years! It was then that the modern story begins. He was able to explain that his uncle was selected as a Special Radio Operator as he spoke German and this was the 8th man on the crew. Sergeant Engelhardt’s role was to listen into enemy radio broadcasts and to jam the radio messages flowing between the German night fighters and their ground controllers. By interfering with their messages the Special Radio Operator could protect the streams of British bombers from German night-fighters that would otherwise be directed against them.
Arthur Harris and Bomber Command
The successful defence of the English south coast by RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires in the summer of 1940 showed the combined strength of an integrated radar detection and aircraft command and control system. The price of this success became the bombing of cities as the Blitz targeted London and other major civilian areas. This was the Luftwaffe’s attempt to destroy Britain’s war effort by attacking manufacturing industry and to break civilian morale. With the bombing of British cities and their civilian population came the opportunity for the RAF to both retaliate and to attempt the progressive destruction of the other’s will to fight. The Commander-in-Chief, Bomber leader of the RAF Bomber Command, Sir Arthur Harris said that if Germany “have sown the wind, and so they shall reap the whirlwind’. With few opportunities elsewhere to attack Hitler’s Europe in 1941-42, Harris’s plan to develop the capacity of Bomber Command gained the support of Winston Churchill. They believed that the systematic bombing of German industries and cities would reduce the Nazis physical ability to fight and demoralize the civilian population to the point where this would make the eventual invasion of Europe easier. Thus the plans were laid for an RAF bomber of fearsome capacity, the formidable Lancaster and for what became the awesome destructive power of the 1,000 plane raids against the industrial cities of Germany.
“There are no words with which I can do justice to the air-crew who fought under my command. There is no parallel in warfare to such courage and determination in the face of danger over so prolonged a period, of danger that at times was so great that scarcely one man in three could expect to survive his tour of thirty operations… It was furthermore, the courage of the small hours, of man virtually alone, for at his battle station the airman is virtually alone. It was the courage of men with long-drawn apprehensions of daily “going over the top.” Arthur Harris from Bomber Offensive
It became apparent early in the war that Bomber Command could not sustain daylight bombing raids against targets in Germany. The losses to German fighters intercepting the much slower and under armed bombers were both unsustainable in both men and materials and unsupportable in terms of aircrew losses. Instead the RAF switched to night time bombing choosing the relative safety of concealment at night, but also finding it much more difficult to hit their targets accurately. In fact, the majority of bombs were landing up to 15 kilometres from the intended target. The concept of area bombing evolved to obliterate whole areas as allied air forces committed themselves to their targets and aims. The RAF convinced that night time bombing of German cities could destroy the German war machine and the Nazis will to fight began to build a formidable bombing capability. What was once intended to be a precision tool of tactical bombing became a most awesome weapon of strategic area bombing. The RAF found that bombers in small groups were unlikely to find their targets and so assembled larger bombing groups of 50, 100+ and even up to 1000 plane raids. Even if they encountered night fighters or screens of anti-aircraft fire, some would get through to the target and bombing together would increase their destructive power.
THE SR-V2 LM462 Lancaster
The SR-V2 was built by Sir W.G. Armstrong Whithworth Aircraft in Whithworth, Coventry and issued to 101 Squadron. The bombers were progressively dispatched to several squadrons depending on their needs and losses. The MK III was a standard aircraft fitted with four Packard built Merlin 12 cylinder liquid cooled engines with two stage superchargers. It was fitted with front, mid upper and rear hydraulically operated gun turrets. The cost of a Lancaster was £4,000 pounds (as a comparison the cost of a lunch was 5 pence).
On June 15th 1943 bomber command opened the brand new Ludford Magna base. It had 3 concrete runways and 7 hangars.
Lancaster LM-462 (a MK III Lancaster) was sent to Ludford Magna with the code SR-V2 and fitted with an additional Airborne jamming radar. It would also carry an additional crew member. As a result its bomb load was slightly altered in order to adapt the total weight of the plane to other aircrafts. This was essential because a heavy aircraft would be slower and would be isolated from other bombers and therefore an easy prey for night fighters. A typical Lancaster III would often carry up to 15 bombs, a 4,000 pound bomb called “cookie” and fourteen 500 lb bombs. Lancasters from 101 squadron often carried 10 bombs (one cookie and nine 500 bombs.) 1,000 pounds were thus taken off and allowed three large antennas, the ABC equipment and an additional crew member. This also took into account the loss of aero dynamism. The Cookie was a 4,000 lb explosive bomb filled with amatol and TNT. It was meant to explode as soon as it hit the ground. The nine 500 lb bombs however were incendiary bombs and were the smallest bombs available on Lancasters. The 500 lb bombs were meant to explode slightly after hitting the ground but could also explode upon touching the target.
The English county of Lincolnshire became so heavily populated by RAF bomber stations during the war that it became known as ‘Bomber County’. It provided large areas of flat open land that could be easily converted into airfields with their concrete runways and hard standings to park the dispersed aircraft between operations. Its location on the east coast of central England was out of enemy fighter range and facing occupied Europe, allowing returning aircraft a straight-in approach. Ludford Magna was one such airfield built in 1942-43 outside the village that very much resembles Rebrechien in size and agriculture.
There were three concrete runways between 1,400 and 2,000 metres long with 36 aircraft parking areas adjoining the perimeter track. Several hangers for technical work, living accommodation, eating, briefing and dispersal areas, fuel and bomb storage as well as sick quarters were distributed around the airfield. In total the airfield accommodated over 2000 men and women. During the winters the rain and difficult conditions led to it being known as ‘Mudford Magna’. After the war Ludford Magna gradually returned to agricultural use. However, in 1958 it was selected as one of the sites for Thor missiles with three separate launch pads constructed in the centre of the airfield. Eventually the runways were broken up for road and bridge foundations in the 1960s. The hangars were sold and dismantled, although many buildings survive for small business use
The Squadron's contribution to the war effort flying 6,766 sorties in 512 bombing raids was both impressive and terrible. Its work in disrupting the Luftwaffe night fighter control system set it apart for special praise. The cost for 101 Squadron was 171 aircraft lost in operations (including 113 Lancasters, of which one was the crash at Rebrechien). Out of the 55,000 men of RAF Bomber Command that were killed, the squadron lost a staggering 1,109 men killed or missing, probably the highest of any RAF squadron during the Second World War. Around 10,000 airmen were made prisoners of war. They were relatively lucky, for the chances of getting out of a crashing bomber were slim. The g-forces caused by aircraft spinning earthwards out of control trapped many airmen inside.
Although the bomber airfield at Ludford has gone now, the courage and sacrifice of so many from the squadron is remembered by a stone memorial to the Squadron's dead on the village green unveiled in July 1978. A book of remembrance in St Mary’s church at Ludford records the names of all the squadron’s aircrew who gave their lives. Once a year the very active Squadron Association and the relatives of former members meet at Ludford for a service of remembrance, tea given by the villagers and weather permitting, a fly-past by the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight including a wartime Lancaster.

CHAPTER 3 :


Above left, the crash site in 1944, with the huge crater made by the explosion. Above right, the crash site in 2004. Below left, the fins of a bomb casing and below right, a wing spar with part of an oil cooler

German Night Fighters and Their Defence Against RAF Bombers
Increasing numbers of RAF bombers were falling victim to German night fighters, guided to their targets by ground controllers who could see the raids developing on their radar screens. Bomber losses varied from raid to raid, averaging about 2-3%, but sometimes reaching levels of 15% or more. Half of all Lancaster crews would not complete 15 operations. There was already a well developed screen of integrated searchlights and anti-aircraft guns (Flak) along the coast of occupied Europe as well as the defences of individual German cities. The ratio of losses for RAF and the Americans bombing by day was about two-thirds falling to German fighters and about one third to Flak.
In charge of German night fighters was Major-General Josef Kammhuber who organised the available Messerschmitt Bf-110 twin-engined two seater fighters (Zerstörer), the Heinkel HE219 and the newer Junkers-88 night fighters. The Freya ground based radar had a range of 75 miles and was used for general air warning. The higher frequency, shorter range Wurzburg radar was used as the bombers approached for guiding the searchlight and Flak batteries. Kammhuber organized these German defences into what became known as the ‘Kammhuber Line’ working the three aspects; lights, guns and fighters together. This stretched in a continuous line across Holland, Belgium and France to cover the approach of bombers. The night fighters themselves were further organized into defensive cells, boxes known as Himmelbett (Four-Poster Bed), each about 43 by 34 kilometres (about 27 by 21 miles) with a fighter patrol within each one. Ground controllers could direct the so-called ‘Zahme Sau’ (Tame Sow) to enter within the bomber stream.
Meanwhile the ‘Wilde Sau’ (Wild Sow) were German fighters free to roam in the hunt for bombers unless ordered to a particular intercept. All the German defences of Kammhuber were linked by radio to a ground based Control Centre. If a prediction could be made of where the bombers were heading, more Luftwaffe night-fighters could be directed to intercept them. Information about the developing Allied raids would be gathered from a variety of sources including reports from the searchlight and Flak batteries, ground observers and from the night fighters. Attempts to confuse the German early warning radar included dropping huge quantities of metal foil strips code named ‘Window’. This created false echoes, simulating a large bomber force.
Techniques and equipment were continually refined on both sides with Wűrzburg becoming Wűrzburg Riese or Giant Wűrzburg, a parabolic radar dish twenty-five feet in diameter with a narrower beam and a range of 40 miles. German radar searching for the approach of allied bombers could be jammed by Mandrel an allied airborne set sent with each bombing force. By the time the Lancaster was in operation with the RAF, Freya had been developed into the giant thirty-five foot high, ninety foot wide Mammut radar with a range of two hundred miles. Within the night-fighters, Telefunken had installed Lichtenstein radar sets with a range of two miles. Externally this was the ‘Christmas tree’ or ‘reindeer antlers’ seen on the nose of the German fighters.
The Lichtenstein radar could be used to close the final distance, even in cloud. The RAF bombers could be seen particularly if there was moonlight or from their engine vapour trails, or seen from above when silhouetted against the clouds or over the target lit from below by the fires of falling bombs. German night fighters were also able to track the increasing electronic noise coming from the allied bombers including their radio transmissions and the signals emitted by the Lancaster’s’ H2S ground radar and ‘Monica’ a radar intended to protect against attack from the rear. ‘Schrage Musik’ (strangely termed Slanting Music) was an upward firing gun carried by Luftwaffe night fighters from late 1943 onwards. The canon would be angled up between 60 and 80 degrees allowing RAF bombers to be attacked from below. From this approach the bombers could not see approaching fighters and moreover, did not have guns to ward of their attackers. The Lancaster crew would usually have no warning of such a fatal attack. The first they knew of the threat, would be the spraying of machine gun fire under the body and wings of their Lancaster and a consequent fire.
Airborne Cigar (ABC) and the Special Radio Operators
An answer to this was developed at the Telecommunications Research Establishment at Malvern in Gloucestershire. 101 Squadron was selected to carry this equipment code named ABC ‘Airborne Cigar’. ABC was devised to jam the VHF frequencies used by the German night fighter controllers. The equipment consisted of a panoramic receiver and three transmitters set to the wavebands of 30-33 MHz, 38.3-42.5 MHz and 48-52 MHz used by German radio. The roaring sound of the Lancaster’s Merlin engine was collected by a microphone and broadcast with a range of up to 50 miles. Airborne Cigar was operated by the ‘Special Duty Operator’ flying as the eighth crew member of specially equipped Lancasters. The Special Operators could understand German, but sometimes only to ‘schoolboy level’! The role of the Special Operator was to search amongst the many radio messages filling the skies of wartime Europe for specific Luftwaffe transmissions. When he was sure that he was listening to the German night fighter master controller, the Special Operator jammed that frequency, hopefully before they could alert their night fighters to the position. If the Germans changed frequency he had to find the new frequency and jam that within seconds using one of the ABC transmitters. The only external manifestations of ABC were two large aerials fitted on top of the Lancaster's fuselage and another under the bomb aimer's window.
Trials with an ABC-equipped Lancaster were made on 4 September 1943 and on the 22nd October, 101 Squadron flew its first operation using the equipment during a raid on Hanover. The system worked immediately and more aircraft were modified. By the end of October most of the squadron's aircraft had been fitted with ABC. The ABC equipment weighed about 1,000 lb and with the extra crew member, ABC aircraft still retained their bombing role, but with a reduced capacity. From October 1943 all main force attacks on German targets were accompanied by a number of 101's ABC aircraft ranging from 6 to 27 on occasions. The Squadron's losses soon began to mount and, for a short while at least, were disproportionately higher than the rest of Bomber Command. Suspicions began to be aroused as to whether the German night fighters were homing onto the ABC aircraft's transmissions.
There was no direct evidence that this was happening. The heavy losses were more likely due to the increased number of major raids the Squadron was flying. On the night of 5/6 June 1944, the squadron took part in an elaborate deception plan in advance of the D-Day landings. Twenty four ABC Lancasters flew back and forth in the area of the Pas de Calais, simulating a large raid there. Not only diverting attention away from the intended landing beaches in Normandy, this also created an ABC barrier to protect the unarmed transport planes bringing the airborne paratroopers. Many stories about ABC have circulated after the war, including the incorrect story that they gave false instructions in German. Later on in the war more powerful ground transmitters became available, ‘Ground Cigar’ that could be based in England. With this came the opportunity to broadcast misleading information in German code named ‘Corona’. As tactics and counter-tactics were used, women were brought in by the Germans. The RAF responded accordingly, and one story even describes the use of German opera singers to sing out instruction to try and keep their controllers in contact with the fighters.
This operation was a great success protecting the Allied forces in the first stage of the liberation of France and Europe. The risks to the Special Operators who came down in Germany could be acute, especially as some of them were Jewish and may also have had German family connections. One such crew member is recorded as having taken his own life while in a German hospital. The importance of Airborne Cigar to protect Lancaster forces is illustrated by the equipping of 101 Squadron’s base at Ludford Magna with FIDO a fog dispersal system. FIDO (Fog, Intensive Dispersal of) was able to disperse dense fog by burning vaporized petrol alongside the runway. High-octane petrol was pumped along a system of pipes erected by the side of the airfield runway. The petrol in two pipes was heated and vaporised. Another pipe was perforated and the escaping petrol vapour was lit so that the petrol flames extended beside the runway like two walls of flame. The heat produced lifted the fog. Consuming huge quantities of precious wartime fuel, is an indication of the importance attached to the squadron’s role in electronic countermeasures.

THE Operations on Stuttgart
Stuttgart had already been bombed in 1943 and in March 1944. However it had been relatively spared compared to other cities due to its protected location in the middle of valleys and the fact that major targets in the Ruhr were very close and of more strategic importance. Nevertheless there were many major factories and municipal and cultural buildings which had to be destroyed and the morale of the population would also suffer from these bombings. Moreover there hadn’t been major raids to Germany for over two months and it was time for a major strike. As a result three waves were planned on July 24th -25th with 461 Lancaster and 153 Halifax bombers. The Germans realised the target was Stuttgart about half an hour before the target was hit and the surprise effect caused much damage to the city 17 Lancasters were lost as well as 4 Halifaxs. On July 25th-26th, 412 Lancaster and 144 Halifaxes were sent to Stuttgart. This was the most successful bombing and only 8 Lancasters and 4 Halifaxs were lost.
On July 28th-29th, 494 Lancaster flew towards Stuttgart as well as 2 Mosquitos whose mission was to pin point the target. Peter Hyland who had flown to Stuttgart knew the way, as well as his Navigator Clifford Smith. There was a bright moon that night and bombers were easier to distinguish by night fighters who suddenly appeared as the aircraft were on the outward leg and shot down 39 bombers within a few hours. This was almost 20% of the aircraft which had been sent on operation! The LM462 was one of the first ones to be intercepted in the south west of Orleans less than an hour after take off. It might have been chosen as a target because of its strategic importance and betrayed by the three Airborne Cigar antennas. Although antennas were difficult to spot in the darkness, bombers were flying in formation and ABC bombers could be located in the middle of it. On the Operation Report from the RAF, we can clearly distinguish a cross near Orleans with the legend:” bomber support attack”. Peter Hyland must have thrown the aircraft into a “corkscrew” dive, dropping thousands of feet in a few seconds to get rid of a night fighter and then turn starboard as he was taught during trainings. This was of course a desperate, endless and nerve racking attempt and the crew could do nothing else than pray that the fighter would have given up the chase. This is probably the reason why the LM462 was isolated when it got finally shot down. Other crews have mentioned in their reports that it had been attacked, but none has apparently seen the last moments.
The SR-V2 had logged in 248 flying hours. Many other Lancasters were shot down minutes later, east of Paris, near Reims. The majority of the Lancasters managed however to get through and accomplished their mission.
There was no room for crew members to wear their parachutes, especially in the turrets, so they had to keep it with them and try to grasp it in case the plane was considered lost. When it occurred, it was often too late. Airmen had to locate their parachutes, wear it within seconds, in absolute darkness. While they were searching for the emergency exit, the plane was plunging, almost vertically, towards the ground. Besides, some of them might have been wounded. No wonder in these circumstances that only one aircrew out of five had time to bale out from a falling plane.
Aircrews knew the risks. They enlisted because they were young and more or less unaware of the terrible conditions. Had they known that 48% of bomber crews would not survive the war and that the life expectancy of a Lancaster on operation was three weeks on average, they would have thought twice! For instance, Wolf Engelhardt was assigned to Ludford Magna in June 1944, only one month before he was shot down.
The airmen would be given a six days leave after every six operations. Had they survived thirty missions, they would have a six months leave. Then they would have the choice between going on another fifteen missions or become ground crew! The crew were on their 10th mission when they were shot down. Their first mission was the bombing of Reims on June 22nd.
THE Last Days of the THE SR-V2 LM462 Crew
We know from operation reports from Ludford Magna what the LM-462 crew has been doing before the ill fated mission to Stuttgart. It took three night operations to destroy the Stuttgart target. We know that the LM462 crew participated in at least two of those missions: On July 25th, the report mentions: operations successful with the name Peter Hyland among the pilots. On July 28th, it mentions: "missing, no news since take off".
The following are some of the official activities performed by 101 squadron members between July 16th and July 28th 1944: (the airmen did not complete every single task each time, as some were group and specialised activities.)
- July 16th: Crews performed an air test, 2 rose turret trainings, a cross country, another cross country and a high level bombing.
- July 17th: Air firing, 2 high level bombings, 2 rose turrets trainings. 5 aircrafts were recalled from operations.
- July 18th: 2 air firings, 4 high level bombing practises. 49 crews were on day operations or night operations.
- July 19th: 1 air test, 1 air firing, 1 rose turret training, 2 high level bombing practises.
- July 20th: Fighter affiliation. 24 crews on operation, 3 crews missing. 1 crew abortive. Operation on the Nieppe Forest.
- July 21st: 2 rose turret training no other flying. 1 airman decorated. Operation on Joigny Laroche.
- July 22nd: 5 cross countries.
- July 23rd: 1 an air test, 1 rose turret training. 19 crews went on operation.
- July 24th: 2 rose turret trainings, 1 cross country. 14 crews went on operation.
- July 25th: 1 air firing test, 1 a rose turret training, 1 cross country, 1 high level bombing. 16 crews went on operation (Stuttgart), including the LM-462.
- July 26th: 2 rose turret trainings, 2 cross countries, 1 high level bombing.
- July 27th: 2 rose turret trainings, 1 cross country.
- July 28th: 1 rose turret training, 4 cross countries (3 recalled). 21 crews on — operation (Stuttgart and Hamburg). The SR-V2 LM462 was reported missing.




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Re: Crash d'un Lancaster à Rébréchien

Message par Fab le Sam 23 Oct - 22:23

CHAPTER 4

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Above, some of the crew of Lancaster SR-V2 with unidentified faces and below left the crew, John Moore, Albert Tuuri, Eric Brown, Thomas Crane and John Hodgson. Bottom right, the annotated Operation Report from the RAF Night Operations on Stuttgart July 28th-29th 1944 when they failed to return.

In March 2004, the Town Hall at Rebréchien announced their intention to establish a memorial stone at the site of the crash of Lancaster LM-462, SR-V2. It would be unveiled on July 28th 2004, the 60th anniversary of the crash, with the relatives of eight crew members invited to attend. A request came to Remco Immerzeel, a local teacher, to find as many families as possible. Circumstances had somehow brought these eight young men from the United Kingdom, Canada and Argentina together on that ill fated mission. Together with Ian Ellis, Wolf’s Engelhardt’s nephew, the quest started. Rebréchien had only knowingly had contact with the family of Sergeant Engelhardt over the years. No one otherwise had any information about any of the relatives.
The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission can be easily accessed over the Internet (http://www.cwgc.gov.ukAbout links) and allowed us to establish the full names and ages of the seven missing crew members. For all but one we also learnt their parents’ names and where they were from (Leeds, Belfast in northern Ireland, Hinckley in Leicestershire, upper Norwood in London, etc.,). One man was married and we had the name of his wife. Two of the crew were abroad, one from somewhere in Canada and the pilot from Entre Rios in Argentina wherever that was! The RAF Personnel Branch still maintain their wartime records with details of the next of kin, but this information is now 60 years old. The parents of the young aircrew would have died by now. As only one of the crew was married, they probably had few if any children. We would be looking for the crew’s surviving brothers and sisters who would now be in their 70s or 80s. They might have moved away and changed their names, particularly any sisters who married. We would probably be looking for the crew’s nieces and nephews who would have been very young in the 1940s, or like many of us probably not even born then. The information held by the RAF is confidential and will only be released to the next of kin on payment of a small fee. This had to be the place to start and they were most helpful when we explained the reasons for our enquiry. Particularly that we wanted to tell surviving families and relatives of the memorial commemoration in July and that the loss of their family is both remembered in Rebréchien and valued even after 60 years. They agreed to send one of our letters asking for information, to the last known contact address for each of the men. It was like sending out seven scouts not knowing where they would be directed and what they would bring back!
Those who were not from the United Kingdom in fact were the first ones to be found! An E-mail to the British Consulate in Buenos Aires, Argentina brought a reply within a few hours that they knew of a local property company, Hyland Property. They ‘phoned for us, and found Harold Hyland the brother of Peter Hyland the pilot, it was that easy! Pretty soon we were in E-Mail contact with them and they were pleased to hear from us. We then learned from the Hyland family that a niece, Moira, lived in Barcelona, Spain and would be happy to represent her uncle with her husband and family. A niece from Argentina would also come.
A few days later, the third family was found in Canada. Tuuri the rear gunner is a Finnish name. At the turn of the 20th century families facing economic hardship in Finland settled in the Ontario areas of Port Arthur and Fort William, now known as Thunder Bay. We were put in touch with researchers in Canada, but an initial ‘phone around of Tuuri names by John Scott was unsuccessful. A local historian in the Thunder Bay area, Dave Nicholson was interested in Finnish-Canadian immigrants. He had an extensive database of indexed names taken from newspaper announcements, obituaries, marriage and birth announcements. He found the announcement that Albert Tuuri’s plane was missing from early August 1944 and a year later confirming that he was killed in action. Included in the articles was mention of Albert’s sister, Ina Nuttall, other family names that were not known to us and tragically that a second brother Harold Tuuri had been killed in early 1945 fighting with the Canadian army in Belgium. Working through more newspaper records he was able to track the Tuuri and Nuttall family into the 1980s and 1990s identifying contemporary names and addresses. Letters were posted to Garfield Nuttall in Thunder Bay, Ontario and his brother Albert Nuttall living in Montreal responded a few days later by E mail including many photographs of the crew and personal letters that included mention of contact with the other men of the Lancaster. For the first time we began to see the faces of the airmen, although for several more weeks we would not able to identify some of the men individually. Another nephew, Gerald Hartley announced that he would also be coming.
For a long time after this, we did not receive any new information about the missing airmen or their family. Letters sent to Hinckley in Leicestershire tracing Sergeant Moore, to Belfast tracing Sergeant Crane and to Upper Norwood in south London trying to locate Sergeant Brown came back without finding the families. Either they were no longer known at that address or they had moved away, or the house itself no longer existed. We had to step up the search a gear and involve local newspapers. The Leicestershire Mercury reporter David Owen involved a local historian, Gregory Drodz who found information about John Thomas Victor Moore the plane’s radio operator recorded on a local war memorial in Argents Mead in Hinckley. With their help, newspaper archives were traced at the local library giving a precious account of Sergeant Moore’s life, and significantly a picture of him. Another crew member had become more alive, and another face had been identified. Enquires were made along the Lawns, the street in Hinckley where they lived remembering the family perhaps in the antiques business and a sister who married many years later, but may not have had children. Two articles have appeared in the local paper about Sergeant Moore and the planned commemoration in Rebréchien, but have not brought any more information. The Moore family has not been found yet, but Gregory Drodz together with representatives of the local RAF Association will be attending the commemoration with a wreath. An inscription has been added to the gravestone in Rebréchien at some point, “Until the day break and the shadows flee away, Dad and Sarah”. But, who is Sarah?, perhaps this is the name of Sergeant Moore’s sister, or a step-mother or a friend — we do not know, but we do have more searching still to do.
So with four of the crew accounted for we were half way there by early May, but the encouragement coming from the group was to keep looking and widen the search. Information about the Lancaster and the planned commemoration was posted on several Internet websites. By a series of incredible coincidences, we found a message left on the BBC Peoples War Website (U713878) by David Guyett, the nephew of Thomas Crane the Belfast born bomb aimer. David was also researching the crew and circumstances of the crash. David had already planned to visit Rebréchien and was very surprised to hear what was planned to happen there on July 28th 2004! He immediately joined in and offered his help, pictures and valuable information. With now five out of eight families traced, we could never have expected to have been this successful. Perhaps this made it even more important to find information about the other three. On July 8th 2004 and quite unexpectedly, we received an E mail from Andrew White and his wife Julie from Melbourne, Australia. Andrew’s mother is Valerie White, (nee Brown) the sister of Eric Brown the mid-upper gunner. This is the same Valerie mentioned in several letters held by the Tuuri / Nuttall family and confirmed the information and links we already had. Andrew had found us when he too was searching to know more about his uncle’s plane and looked at an RAF Bomber Command website with a message posted about our search, [Vous devez être inscrit et connecté pour voir ce lien] links and .What was most remarkable was Valerie’s vivid memories of her brother Eric Brown and some of his fellow crew members who came down to visit them in London when on leave. In particular Australia held the final clues — the names of the previously unidentified crew scribbled on the backs of the photographs they held and that Cliff(ord) was from Devon in England. The first clue we had had about him. As the brochure nears completion we have articles appearing in local newspapers in Leeds, Yorkshire to try and trace Sergeant John Hodgson the Flight Engineer and in Devon newspapers to find Sergeant Clifford Smith, the navigator. Newspaper articles will continue to appear in local and national newspapers in England and France, especially following the unveiling of the Lancaster memorial on 28th July. There is still a lot of searching to be done through local libraries, the archives of RAF training schools for navigators and flight engineers, registers of birth, marriage and death, housing lists and British census records. Perhaps a missing piece of information will come to light on the 28th July in Rebréchien itself? Whatever luck and good fortune we have had so far, we will carry on looking to bring the families of the crew of Lancaster SR-V2 back together. This is our commitment to remember and not to forget. Even if families are not here, this search has been about the care, the concern and the compassion that you have shown to all eight men and now to our families who are visiting. Our brothers and uncles although fallen, are not forgotten. We have gained the knowledge of friendship and of shared values with you.
Since returning from the memorial service in France we have traced Sarah Tosh in Hinckley, the sister of John Moore. Now in her 80s, she would not have been able to make ther journey to France. Sarah greatly appreciated the contact and comfort that we brought back from Rebréchien and were able to share with her. Sarah remebered that her brother's last words to her on his final leave were, "I'll be seeing you".
Just before her death 18 months later in September 2005, Sarah met Remco Immerzeel when he visited England. A part of France and for Sarah, a part of her brother's memeory had come home to Hinckley. We have been able to trace the last address of Clifford Smtih, the navigator to Torquay. Mrs J Cooper, Librarian in the Torquay Central Reference found a newspaper entry for the 19th August 1944, reporting that Flight Sergt Clifford E smith, only son of Mr and Mrs A.E. Smith of Miland, Ilsham Road, Torquay is reported missing on operations”
If we were hesitant at the start about what we might find and what memories and feelings we might stir up after 60 years, the clear message is that there is something very strong bringing our families and our communities together. The message from all the families has been entirely positive and heartfelt. For our families this has been a much valued chance to gain more precious memories and photographs. This is not remote history, but a personal memory for all of us to here today to pass on to our children. Typically there is a pause of one or two days after a new family first made contact with us, as the enormity of the impact of bridging 60 years and a worldwide search sinks in. The tremendous success that we have had may be due to the power of the Internet and the speed of E mail contact with literally thousands of messages exchanged. But there is something, more to this. Families after 60 years are only found if they want to be found, they only search the Internet or respond to messages if they want to gain contact. Whether this is something heavenly, whether you choose to believe in something divine in the spirit of the eight crew that is drawing our families together?, we do not know. But after so long, the story of the search of 2004 for families and their support for events in Rebréchien is truly remarkable. Let us hope that all eight families will soon be in touch and will maintain contact with our friends in Rebréchien.

Pilot Officer Peter Joseph Hyland "Pancho": The Pilot
Born September 24, 1923, he was educated in the Buenos Aires English High School. Upon completion he went to work at a British auditing firm. In March 1941 he volunteered for the RAF, leaving Argentina for the United Kingdom, by boat.
Following his initial training, he left for the United States, training in Florida where he graduated as a pilot. He then returned to the U.K. where he was an instructor for navigators on Avro Anson Aircraft. Afterwards he flew Wellingtons and finally Lancaster Bombers up until his death on July 28th 1944. To be noted: it is mentioned everywhere that Peter Hyland was 21, in fact he would have only reached that age on September 23rd 1944.
Valerie White, nee Brown, Eric Brown’s sister, remembers: “when Peter Hyland was commissioned as an Officer, he was reluctant to have to leave his mates in the mess and move to the officer’s mess. He enjoyed the camaraderie of his group! My mother, Eric and I accompanied him to collect his Officer's uniform in London and when he came out into the street wearing it, somebody saluted him. She said he turned crimson with embarrassment! They teased him all the way down the street, saying: here comes another one. Get ready; they're going to salute you! She remembers the higher rank didn't change him at all”.

Sergeant John Hodgson: The Flight Engineer
We have not found the Hodgson family yet. We however believe this could be just a matter of time, for we have some serious factual elements about John.
John Hodgson was aged 27 when he died in the crash. He was the son of George and Ivy Hodgson of Leeds, Yorkshire.
We also know that he was the only crew member to be married. He wedded Constance Emily Hodgson.
Valerie White, nee Brown, Eric Brown’s sister, remembers about John: "John Hodgson was the only member of the crew who was married. His wife, Constance was also in the Air force and had requested a transfer to the same base as John at Ludford Magna. They had arrangements to stay with a family whose house backed on to the airfield. The crew's plane was parked within sight of the yard. The day John's wife arrived at the house, having gained her transfer; the family already knew something was amiss as John's plane had not returned from the night before. They took her straight to Air Command, where she was told the plane and crew were missing. I don’t know what happened to her, except that she re-married".

CHAPTER 5

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Above left to right, the Engelhardt family in Germany, 1936. Wolf Engelhardt as a cadet and in his flying suit and in a picture recovered from the crash. Below left to right, Albert Tuuri and leaving for England, his memorial bar and posthumous medals.

Sergeant Thomas Crane "Smiler": The Bomb Aimer and Front Gunner
A Tribute to our brother. Thomas was the second child of our parents Thomas and Maud Crane. He was born on 8th July 1922 in Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Thomas and Maud had thirteen children of whom John was the eldest and although unable to visit on this occasion he visited the grave some years ago and spoke to a local farmer who kindly gave John some small pieces of the aircraft that he had stored in his barn. The other children born after Tom were James (deceased), Richard “Dickie” (deceased), Madge, Ethel, Violet, Marina, Elizabeth, George, Maureen, Doreen Patricia (Deceased aged three months) and Noel. Today Ethel, Marina and Noel are visiting the grave for the first time.
Thomas was educated at the local school, regularly coming first in class. His sister Marina has his prizes of books and other awards. When Thomas was fourteen the whole family moved to Belfast and along with our father he joined the Harland and Wolf shipyard as an apprentice plater.
At nineteen Thomas became the youngest foreman plater ever known at the ship yard. Our father was very proud of Thomas for achieving this at such a young age but it was probably more to do with the fact that so many men had volunteered for the armed services.
Thomas was always very interested in flying and aircraft. We remember that he made a wooden model aircraft and decorated it with the RAF roundel and pinned it to the shed at the bottom of the garden. Shortly after his promotion, and unknown to our parents, Thomas volunteered for the Royal Air Force and was accepted. Not being twenty one, he forged his fathers’ signature on the papers. When our parents found out they were horrified as they had hoped to keep Thomas out of the forces. Being a shipyard plater was a reserved occupation (exempt from the armed forces due to its importance to the war effort). After a lot of argument our father relented and let Thomas join the RAF. He eventually passed out as a spitfire pilot but at this time the need was for bomber crew and soon he went to Canada to train as a Navigator and bombardier coming home to resume his service at Ludford Magna. The family memory of this time is hazy but we do know that the intensity of training and sorties increased through 1943 and 1944 and Thomas’ home leave became more infrequent.
We remember the dreaded day our parents received the telegram to say Thomas was missing. We prayed and prayed for his safe return. But it was not to be. Almost one year later news came to our mother that the Red Cross had found his grave in the Loiret, France. Our parents who had never given up hope were devastated. Our mother instilled in us younger ones never to forget our brother. We would hold a two minutes silence in his memory each anniversary of his death on 28th July for many years afterwards.
Our father died on the twentieth anniversary of Thomas’ death in 1964 and our mother grieved for Thomas until she died one year later in 1965. Was the sacrifice that Thomas, the rest of the crew of LM-462 and many thousands of other young men worth it? Only they can answer that. We, those who have lived full lives in freedom can only give thanks for their sacrifice and treasure their memory.
Our family would like to send our sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude to the people of Rebréchien who buried our brother and the crew who will now be together forever. We would also like to thank those who have tended the grave and kept the memory alive for so long. We must ensure our children and our children’s children never forget, for if someone remembers you, you will never die. Thomas has not grown old like we have. We often wonder what might have become of him had he not been killed that night sixty years ago today.
Thomas will never be forgotten in our family as five children have been named Thomas in his memory. We who knew him remember our brother being six feet two inches tall and very handsome with a wonderful smile, known to all who knew him as ‘smiler’.
Sergeant John Thomas Victor Moore: The Radio Operator
John Moore originated from Hinckley, Leicestershire. He was the Radio Operator on the LM-462. Two articles dating from 1945 and 1946 will describe this man:
Sergeant John Thomas Victor Moore, RAF, son of MR P.W. Moore and the late Mrs Moore, of the Lawns*, Hinckley, who was reported missing from operations over Stuttgart last July, is now presumed killed. The official news was received by his father last week.
Sergeant Moore, who was 21 was an old boy of Hinckley Grammar School and before joining the RAF was employed by Messrs F.W. Woolworth and Co Ltd. He was a member of the Air Training Corps and also of the local Home Guard. Before he was reported missing, he had a very considerable number of operations to his credit.
His commanding officer wrote of him: "He will be greatly missed in the squadron for not only has he become popular but also carried out his duties with a splendid courage and efficiency", from the Hinckley Times, July 27TH 1945.
*The Lawns were demolished at the end of the 1960s.
He attended the Grammar School from 1935 to 1939. We greatly regret the death of Sergeant Thomas Moore, who was missing over operations on Stuttgart on July 28th 1944 and who must now be presumed killed. Sergeant Moore was one of the first members of the Air Training Corps and was also a member of the Home Guard. He had a quiet, retiring disposition and was well liked by his colleagues. He got on well with everyone. At school he played for the rugby teams and attended the school camps. On leaving school Sergeant Moore was employed by Messrs Woolworth and Co. until he joined the forces. Our sympathy is extended to his parents, from the Hinckley Grammar School Magazine, Spring Term 1946.
Flight Sergeant Clifford Ernest Smith: The Navigator
We know very little about Clifford Smith. Not even the RAF seems to know how old he was. As a matter of fact he is the only airman out of eight not to have his age mentioned on his grave. His name, moreover, is the most common one in the United Kingdom and this will make his identification all the more difficult. Eric Brown was Clifford’s friend and Eric’s mother mentions that the navigator came and visited them when on his leave. Valerie White, Eric’s sister, remembers that Clifford was from Devon and that they went to visit Mrs Smith when they went on holiday after the plane had gone missing. She recalls being in a room of the house with a beautiful view of the sea. When she commented about it, Mrs Smith said that when the boys returned, she must come back to stay with them. She would sleep in that room. Mrs Smith may have been a widow and Clifford an only child.
Sergeant Wolf Herman Engelhardt: The Special (ABC) Radio Operator
Our uncle Wolf was born on the 9th November 1920 in Leipzig in Germany and was two years older than our father. They were forced to leave school because of the Nazi persecution of Jewish people in the mid-1930s. The family wanted to make a new life in Palestine, but the numbers of immigration visas were severely limited. They were made homeless and stateless. Eventually the two brothers obtained the necessary papers and permits and were able to flee to England in 1939 travelling on Polish passports, their father’s nationality. They left behind their parents, Leo and Sophie Engelhardt who had a clothing shop in Erfurt in eastern Germany and their younger brother Issy who was then 12 years old. As the situation worsened in Germany, many Jewish families were deported to Poland. The family was sent to Nowy Sacz in Poland in 1938 where they managed to send some letters to England telling their sons about the terrible conditions in the ghetto there. The letters stopped in 1941 when the Jews in the area including many members of our family were killed in the Holocaust. We have no information about what actually happened or where they met their deaths.
In England, our father Siegfried Engelhardt (he later changed his name to Stephen Ellis) and Wolf found jobs as farm workers. They were regarded as friendly aliens because of their birth in Germany and their father’s Polish nationality. Eventually Wolf was able to start a course in gardening and cultivation at the Royal Horticultural School at Wisley in Surrey where his name is recorded in their Roll of Honour. Wolf wanted to emigrate to Israel after the war and grow flowers. In the meantime our father was able to begin working as an engineering apprentice making aircraft parts.
In June 1943 they volunteered for the RAF at Lords cricket ground in London. Wolf was accepted and initially directed toward training as a radio operator / air gunner at a radio training school. Our father was already involved in essential aircraft production and was asked to continue this as a reserved essential occupation. He went onto develop aircraft parts for Barnes Wallis, the famous aircraft designer.
Our father knew nothing of his brother’s training, only that Wolf would ask him for help with his technical problems as he moved between training schools. With bomber losses increasing and the development of Airborne Cigar (ABC) as an airborne form of electronic countermeasures, there was a need to recruit German speaking radio operators for ‘special duties’. Personnel records held by the RAF indicate that Wolf was made a Sergeant in April 1944; he moved to 11 Base in May and was assigned to 101 Squadron on the 13th June 1944. Interestingly his records contain a note that he was fined 12/6d (several days pay) on the 19th November 1943. We have no idea why, but we hope that he and his friends enjoyed themselves!
When LM-462 failed to return on the 29th July 1944 from their raid on Stuttgart, the dreaded telegram “we regret to inform you that your brother has failed to return . . . . . . . . .” was received. A year after the plane went missing came confirmation that all the crew had been killed. From research undertaken recently on RAF papers kept secret for 50 years, the story has now begun to emerge. Our father spoke very little about the family he lost. As a family growing up in England without aunts or uncles or grandparents, we just knew that our parents had been forced to leave their homes and family. It was difficult for both our parents to describe their life in Germany and all that they had lost. We knew very little about our uncle as we grew up, it was just so hard to bring the subject up and perhaps even as children we also knew not to ask.
It was only when we began to have family of our own that questions were asked and more details began to come. Some information about Wolf needing to be able to speak German in his role as a radio operator was known by our father after the war, but he cannot remember how he had come to know this. He visited Rebréchien after the war in 1948, in 1954 and again in 1977, but did not make contact with people in the village. He has one early photograph of the grave with members of the Allard family. Otherwise all that had happened and Rebréchien seemed a very long way away from our family until the 1990s. It seemed so unfair that someone who had escaped the Holocaust had not then survived the war. The grave in France became so much more important and the more we could find out, came to mean so much to our family who had lost so many relatives.
In 1999, Stephen’s son David visited Rebréchien during a family holiday to Disneyland Paris. They made contact with the Townhall and met Madame Hubler who conveyed the deep respect and continuing interest of the village in the 8 crewmen. An article about the Lancaster had appeared in the Rebréchien yearbook the previous year and David responded with an account about our uncle. One thing led to another, particularly the release of information about 101 Squadron and their role in jamming enemy night fighter radio transmissions. The ease of access to this material on the internet and the use of E mail allowed the build up of very detailed information amongst the family and researchers who were interested in related topics. In 2000, our father was contacted by Martin Sugarman Archivist for the British Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women — AJEX - Jewish Military Museum, London who was researching the role of many Jewish Special Radio (ABC) Operators who flew with 101 Squadron in this role during the war. Wolf featured in this work that was delivered as a lecture to the Jewish Historical Society in London in 2001 and subsequently published by the Jewish Historical Society of England as a paper in their Studies, Volume 37, p189-224. The text (Confounding the enemy: Jewish RAF Special Operators in radio counter measures with 101 Squadron, (September 1943—May 1945) is available at: [Vous devez être inscrit et connecté pour voir ce lien] links
David’s brother Ian, the younger son of Stephen Ellis and nephew of Wolf continued this research on behalf of the family making contact with Remco Immerzeel. Ian found Remco’s webpage looking for people to swap stamps and noted his address in Rebréchien. The E mail conversation developed into a regular correspondence about the village and the events of July 1944. In July 2003, Ian visited Rebréchien whilst on a business trip to Paris meeting Christian Prudhomme, Mme Hubler and several of the eye witnesses to the tragic events of 60 years before. Much information was exchanged including small pieces of wreckage from the Lancaster and fragments of the old concrete runway that Ian had brought from Ludford Magna where the bomber had taken off from.
Stephen Ellis, (brother), married to Rose Ellis, London, Retired engineer.
David Ellis, (nephew) London
Lawyer and sons Jonathan, Daniel and Adam.
Ian Ellis, (nephew), Manchester, Doctor (genetics), married to Amanda Lurie and children Sophia and Joshua. E mail: [Vous devez être inscrit et connecté pour voir ce lien]

CHAPTER 6

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Above left to right, Peter Hyland as a young recruit and then pilot. John Hodgson and Thomas Crane. Below left to right, John Moore, Clifford Smith and Eric Brown as a young man and then as an air-gunner.

Sergeant Eric Ronald Brown: The Mid-Upper Turret Gunner
The family of Eric Brown has just been traced in Victoria, Australia. Valerie White, nee Brown, and her son Andrew White won’t be able to attend the commemoration but send us their “thoughts and best wishes”. Eric was a person who forged strong bonds with people around him. In the case of his unit at Ludford Magna, he made it a point to regularly invite colleagues on leave to the family flat in Surrey.
Valerie White, nee Brown, Eric’s sister, remembers him:"My brother was working as a clerk for a solicitor's office and then a publishing house before enlisting in the Airforce as a volunteer when he was 18. I was four years younger, and was on holiday with my grandparents in Rottingham, near Bright, in Sussex when the war broke out. It had been decided initially that all children should leave London and go to the coastal areas if possible, so I remained with my grandparents. Later it was decided that it may not be safe in coastal areas and children were moved inland. I was 13 at the time, and was sent to live with a family in a country area. I returned to my family when I was 15 as I was able to obtain a job in London. My mother was dubious about me returning, as the Blitz had not ended, but it was explained that there were so many children in the school where I was that I wasn’t really obtaining a good education anyway, so my mother relented".
I was absent from my family for about two years before moving back to London. These were formative years for her brother, as he was about 17 when I left, and was in the Air force by the time I returned. I really remember him as a 'boy' when she left, who was allowed to do all the things I couldn't, like staying up late! When I returned he was a young man, full of the excitement of life. I said he was a quiet person, with a good sense of humour
Eric’s log shows that he qualified as a Gunner with effect from 6 November 1943. Valerie’s husband commented on his proficiency assessment in March 1944 that lists him as ‘average’, prompting Valerie to say, “But you know, that’s just what he was: an average guy! He didn't plan to be a hero or anything special in the war. He was there to do a job, just like many of the young men who signed up.” Further remarks on proficiency in his log book in May 1944 read, "A capable gunner who should prove a good crew member."
Valerie remembers, "Eric and the pilot, Peter Hyland, always came to London to stay with my mother and I when they had leave. They were always having a good laugh and the war then was a very exciting 'occupation' for young men. I remember Eric and Peter being enthusiastic to experience an air raid over London, as they had heard of the ‘flying bombs’, but had no experience of them. "Do you think we'll see a flying bomb? » I remember them asking, and they'd hang out of the windows to watch the planes flying over. When they finally did experience a bombing raid they were shocked and told my mother and I that we should be moving away!"
Valerie recalls, "There were many stories about the crew, and how we used to laugh when Eric and Peter recalled these on leave. I remember how Paddy (Thomas Crane) would go to the pub when allowed to go into town, and how, upon leaving, would 'borrow' one of the many bicycles lined up outside the pub and ride it back to the base. He would leave it there, outside the fence, so it could be retrieved. They were always up to some lark or other!"
She did say though, that "despite all the laughing and joking when the two young men returned on leave, she sensed a 'fear' about them after they had been on operations. Nothing of course was ever said.
From his log entries, the actual operations involving combat probably didn’t begin until May 1944. In an entry on 6 July 1944, after being involved in combat two nights before, Eric describes that night’s flight (eight and a half hours to Dijon) as a “quiet, but boring trip". If only all his flights could have been so "boring" On the fourth flight after this night their plane came down".
This is what Eric’s Mother wrote to Albert Tuuri’s sister:
October 1st, 1944
From : Mrs. Eileen A. Brown, London, England
To : Mrs. R. P. Nuttall (sister of Albert Tuuri), Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada
Dear Mrs. Nuttall
I am the mother of Eric Brown, the other gunner in your brother’s crew, and I am writing to offer you my deep and heartfelt sympathy in this anxiety which we share. Your brother visited us once when on leave and we had a pleasant time. The pilot used to stay with us when on leave and the navigator has also visited us. We often wished we could meet the other boys in the crew for we heard so much about them, and I can assure you that it would have been hard to find a crew who were so happy together - they seemed to be in complete harmony. We must keep hoping and praying that they are safe and that we shall be re-united before long.
I am wondering if you have had any news of your brother and, if so, if you will be kind enough let me know? I will, of course, write you if I have any news of Eric, and if there is anything I can do, such as making enquiries about Al, please tell me and I will do all I can. It must be very hard for you not having seen your brother for so long. I at least was fortunate in being able to have Eric during his leaves.
What a blessing it will be when this long and ghastly war is over. It is dreadful that all these young lives should be endangered, but at last, the news is so good that it really looks as if the end is in sight.
Again I offer my sincere sympathy and let us hope that we shall all have good news of our boys soon.
With kind regards,
Yours very sincerely,
Eileen A. Brown
August 1945 / Letter from Albert Tuuri’s younger brother Walter
Walter visited Mrs. Brown and her daughter Valerie at their flat in Surrey, England. Walter admitted to being a little apprehensive at first, putting it down to the fact that he had never met them. His reticence surely had more to do with the inevitable discussion that would take place on the loss of his brother and his friend. When they parted, Walter vowed to visit again before returning to Canada. He was quite taken up with the Browns and pleased that he had gone out of his way to say hello on behalf of the Tuuri family.
December 1945 / Christmas Card
There is no record of any further contact with Mrs. Brown except for this one last card to Canada. With all hope dashed, it contained no mention of the great loss both families had suffered.
Finally, other relatives from the crew have visited Eileen and Valerie in Upper Norwood. We know that at least Peter Hyland’s brother, Harold has met them too.
Sergeant Albert , William Tuuri: The Rear Gunner
Born October 10, 1913, together with twin brother Wilbert Hector, to immigrant Finnish parents Esaias Emil and Maria Eleonora Tuuri in the rural community of Intola, about 13 km (8 miles) west of Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), Ontario, Canada.
One of a family of 9 (7 boys, 2 girls), he was raised on the small Tuuri farm. During his pre-school years he suffered infantile paralysis and his mother massaged his limbs until he recovered. Tutored by her during his illness, he was regarded as a bright child and was elevated to grade 2 on entry to public school. He and his siblings attended SS no. 4, the one-room school at Intola.
By the late 1930s the Tuuri children had grown to adulthood (3 married with families, 6 helping on the farm and, at times, employed elsewhere). With the early death of their mother, Maria, in May 1938, only the father, Emil, and one of the sons, Albert, lived on the farm. Then on July 1, 1940, while felling timber in his woodlot, Emil was struck by the limb of a falling tree and fatally injured. Afterwards no one remained on the farm.
Albert soon became employed at Crighton Mine in Sudbury, Ontario. His youngest brothers, Harold and Walter worked at Canada Car, a manufacturer of Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft, and lived in Thunder Bay. His twin brother Wilbert meanwhile was employed in the mines at Geraldton, Ontario.
On April 6, 1942 Albert enlisted in the RCAF. Siblings Wilbert, Harold and Walter joined the Canadian Army. In early November of 1943, following a one month stint at the RCAF’s bombing & air gunnery school in Mont Joli, Quebec, Albert went overseas. Once there he was assigned to no. 101 Squadron of the RAF based at Ludford Magna, England. Albert and his fellow crew-members were declared missing when they failed to return from an air operation to Stuttgart, Germany July 28, 1944. Years later, when we gained possession of Albert’s personal flying log, we noted that he and his crew had flown numerous missions starting in February of that year and that our uncle had been the tail gunner.
Memories of our uncle Albert Tuuri, Thunder Bay / May 2004
Albert Tuuri was my uncle and my father’s younger brother. He was one of nine children (2 girls, 7 boys). His twin brother, Wilbert served in the army in the campaign in Italy. They had two younger brothers, Harold and Walter, who again were twins and they too were in the army and fought in the European campaign. Harold was killed in a forest in Belgium 7 months after Albert lost his life. Wilbert and Walter survived the war but have now passed away. Aunt Laura, the youngest sibling, is the only one still living.
I was about 10 years old the last time I saw Albert. He came to visit us before going overseas. I remember how handsome he looked in his blue uniform. He had an old Essex car and took us up to the village store where he bought my brother and I a candy bar and ice cream cone. I was very upset when we received word that he was missing in action. Albert was loved by us all and we will never forget him.
I am 73 years old, have raised 5 children and my wife and myself have been married for 53 years.
Ralph Turrie, nephew.
Thunder Bay /May 2004
In the 1940s, I was a young boy, turning 10 years old on July 29, 1943. My parents, Roy and Ina Nuttall, owned our four-bedroom home at 214 Van Horne Street, Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), Ontario. One room was for my parents, one for my two sisters, one for my brother and me, and one for my uncles. On occasion each of my uncles Albert, Harold, and Walter occupied the spare bedroom.
Here are a few of my childhood memories of
my uncle Albert. I first remember Albert staying with us, having just returned from Sudbury, Ontario. He was a handsome black-haired man . How I admired his black hair.
He parked his black Essex motor car beside our house and it stayed there for what seemed a very long time. Each time I walked by it, my curiosity was perked by the small rubber-bladed propeller fan mounted inside on the windshield, the first I had seen. I don’t remember whether I ever got to ride in the car. Later I learned that Albert was going to sell it and I yearned to get its small metal tool box.
I did not see Albert again, but at Christmas 1941 I received his gift of a child’s toy doctor’s case. Perhaps out of his childhood experience with polio he was suggesting a medical profession for me.
Finally, I remember coming home on a grey day to find my mother seated at the kitchen table, a piece of paper in front of her, quietly crying. I said nothing, I could think of nothing to say. I still don’t know for which uncle she was crying. Perhaps both.
Garfield A. Nuttall, nephew
The following passages are intended to provide glimpses of the involvement of the other Tuuri siblings in the war effort.
Twins Harold and Walter only met once while overseas. It was a chance encounter somewhere in a war-ravaged region of Holland. When they parted company, Harold was to report back to the battle front.
The following week - ominously on the very day that Harold passed away (Feb 28, 1945- Walter sat down to write a letter to the folks back home about their impromptu reunion. At that point he was completely unaware of his twin brother’s fate. It was not until three weeks later that he received the devastating news in a letter from the family. In a poignant response he talked about the loss of his twin, and friend, whom he respected so highly.
Wilbert too most certainly grieved the loss of his twin brother Albert but he was not one to reveal his inner-most thoughts in correspondence. When he was first informed that his twin brother and fellow crew-members had been reported missing in action, he expressed hope that they would be found safe. Alas this was not to be.
The tragic deaths of Albert and Harold weighed very heavily on all members of the Tuuri family. They mostly suffered in silence as they did not want to stifle the lives and aspirations of the younger generation who at least could now look forward to peaceful times.
The following passages, taken from a letter written in March 1945 by older brother, Waldemar, pretty much sum up the sentiments of the other siblings back in Canada. Uncle Wally had settled out in Alberta and shared his grief and sense of helplessness with his sister Ina :
"I just don’t know what to say as it was quite a shock to hear about Albert and now Harold, except to send you my deepest and sincere sympathy, as I realise those boys were closer to you than anyone else in the family. As for myself, I regret that I didn’t get to see and know them before this war started. ..... then to realise that some of the boys over there are wounded and have to go back into action before they have hardly had time to recover ! Let us hope and pray that Wilbert and Walter come through it all. All we can do is to wish them both the best of luck and courage."
Elmer, another brother, cabled money to 'the boys' on two occasions. The first set of transactions was for payments to all four brothers while the second carried only three names, Albert having since been reported missing in action.
Valerie White, nee, White, Eric Brown’s sister, remembers Albert very well: Eric and Thomas used to comment on how quiet and unruffled Albert Tuuri was. Al hadn't seen his brother for about two years, when he walked in as they were playing cards. Albert just looked up and calmly said, "Hi", as if he'd seen him every day, and apparently resumed the game. If, in the plane, Al said, 'You'd better weave a little skipper", it really meant "You'd better get the hell out of here!"
Overview of Tuuri family and offspring
Father, Esaias Emil Tuuri
Mother, Maria Eleonora Kinnunen
1) Edward Turrie (Alma Maki) - 5 boys, 5 girls
2) Ina Tuuri (Roy Nuttall) - 2 boys, 2 girls
3) Waldemar Terry (Ada Fisher) - 2 boys, 2 girls
4) Elmer Tuuri (Martha Pajamaki) - 1 boy, 1 girl
5) Albert Tuuri - never married, died WW2
6) Wilbert Tuuri (Jessie Philips) - 2 boys, served WW2
7) Harold Tuuri - never married, died WW2
Cool Walter Turrie - never married, served WW2
9) Laura Tuuri (Nels Johnson), 1 girl
"When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today."

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Merci Merovide pour le lien vers cet énorme article.

A traduire dès que possible par ceux qui s'en sentent le courage.
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