Halifax Loss. More Info' Needed.

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8 years

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Details below of a Hallifax loss during the war. Second World War losses etc are not something I've looked into before, but this is a family matter that I need to clear-up. Any snippets or pointers would be very much appreciated. This is what I've been able to glean so far. However, what I don't know is;- 1) Where it crashed? 2) Where the bodies were buried? 3) Survivors - I presume they hit the silk...? MZ529 Handley Page (English Electric built.) Halifax B.Mk.III. It served with No. 431 (B) Squadron, RCAF, coded 'SE*E'. Halifax Mk.BIII MZ529 coded SE-E during an operation to Montzen on April 27/28, 1944. I think it was based at Croft, Co. Durham, UK at this time - a Satellite Station of Middleton St.George. The aircraft was shot down by a nightfighter killing four crewmembers, two became POWs and two evaded capture. The crewmembers were: P/O R.E. Hazael Air Gunner RCAF KIA P/O A.L. Gabel Air Gunner RCAF KIA P/O W. Woodrow Pilot RCAF KIA Sgt. R. Aiano RAFVR KIA P/O J.J Lyng Bomb Aimer RCAF POW F/O L. Anderson (DFM) Wireless Air Gunner RCAF POW P/O D. Harrison Flight Engineer RCAF Evd F/O W.R. Knowlton Navigator RCAF Evd. This Link suggests that it came-down in Belgium;- http://www.planehunters.be/halifax-mz529-2/ Again, any snippets gratefully received. Many Thanks, S.
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Profile picture for user victor tango

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5 years 2 months

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Snoopy Type in Handley Page Halifax in google and there are loads of sites that may be able to help you.

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7 years 10 months

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Hi Snoopy, CWGC is a good place to start - using a unique casualty as a starting point gives us:- Sgt AIANO, ROBERT HAROLD, 1434385, killed 28 Apr 44 http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2254804/AIANO,%20ROBERT%20HAROLD Buried SCHOONSELHOF CEMETERY, Antwerp, Belgium Searching this cemetery gives us HAZAEL, ROYAL EDWIN Pilot Officer J/88609 28/04/1944 Royal Canadian Air Force Canadian IVa. D. 34. SCHOONSELHOF CEMETERY WOODROW, WILLIAM EDWIN Pilot Officer J/19650 28/04/1944 32 Royal Canadian Air Force Canadian IVa. D. 35. SCHOONSELHOF CEMETERY GABEL, ALBERT LLOYD Pilot Officer J/88608 28/04/1944 22 Royal Canadian Air Force Canadian IVa. D. 33. SCHOONSELHOF CEMETERY So the crew is buried together, (there also appears to be a second crew on the same date). Will have a rummage through the PoW and Evader records later. HTH, Jeff ETA: the cemetery appears to be quite large, so the bodies may have been 'concentrated' there by MRES post-war and the actual crash site is elsewhere

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Brilliant - thanks for that. At least we know where the crew are. I wonder if there is any way to find-out where it came down... The Link that I added showed a plaque, so I presume that is on - or near - where the a/c came down... All the crew seem to have been RCAF except Aiano.

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7 years 10 months

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...moving on, using Ross McNeil's PoW lists on RAF Commands gives us L3 6303 Lyng J J J/25542 RCAF L3 5976 Anderson L L 431 MZ529 J/18158 RCAF 27/04/44 L3 is the camp number - in this case, Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan and Belaria. The first number is their PoW number. And you have both their service numbers in case they come in useful (J/xxxxx). Released PoWs were asked to complete a form on liberation, and I think these two should have reports somewhere in WO 344/192/2 and WO 344/7/1 at the National Archives. For the Evaders, there is an index of MI9 records from their debrief when they returned to the UK here http://www.conscript-heroes.com/MI9-01.html 3323 2509 (-) F/O Wesley R Knowlton RCAF 431 Sqn Halifax MZ529 FTR Montzen Apr 44 - sheltered in Belgum until liberated Sept 44 3326 2976 (-) P/O Donald Harrison RCAF 431 Sqn Halifax MZ529 FTR Montzen Apr 44 - Mission Marathon The first number can be looked up at the National Archives in the series WO 208. In this case, references WO 208/3323 and WO 208/3326 respectively. You are looking for reports 2509 and 2976 in those files. The reports are a form that summarises the events leading up to the loss and their subsequent escape. These often end with 'from this point I was helped on my journey'. There is also a second, 'secret' part that goes into detail about exactly what that help is. This may be found in WO 208/5583, using the same report numbers. Hope this has turned up something new for you. Jeff
Profile picture for user simfrank

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Chorley's Bomber Command Losses for 1944 states that MZ529 came down at the village of Blauberg (Antwerpen), 3km ESE of Herselt :-)

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The War Graves Photographic Project Photos of the graves can be obtained from The War Graves Photographic Project at http://www.twgpp.org/ . Simply enter each surname and first name in the relevant boxes; for example a thumbnail of Woodrow's gave is at http://www.twgpp.org/information.php?id=1484741 . This is an excellent website and each headstone photo is accompanied by a photo of the cemetery; a donation of £3.50 for emailed copies is money well spent. Brian

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7 years 2 months

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The Bomber Command Loss Card confirms that the remains of the crew that lost their lives were initially buried at Antwerpen-Deurne on 29th April 1944. The CWGC should be able to confirm this and it may be able to provide information on the original grave numbers. Also, if you contact the RAF Air Historical Branch, for a fee, they will provide you with a summary of the loss (and if you provide proof of kinship, a summary of your relatives circumstances) using information taken from the post-war Missing Research and Enquiry Service Report. Good luck with your research Regards Pete

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8 years

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Great stuff - Thanks again for all the specialist information. Much appreciated. My mother was engaged to Bob Aiano. He was, by all accounts, a lovely lad. Here he is;-http://www.bombercrew.com/Aiano.htm. I knew that my mother had visited Belgium and Denmark immediately after the war. After she passed-away in 2012, I found their correspondence, and some mementoes she'd hung on to. All very sad, but he was just one about 50,000 such sad stories. Mostly just kids, like Bob Aiano, no age at all really. It was only after I read the correspondence that I realised that she had obviously gone to the continent to find where he was buried, but I guess some of the burials were re-located after the war to centralise them. Finding graves at that time may not have been all that simple, as I know she was gone for some time. About 311nm from Croft to Blauberg, about two cold hours in a loaded Halifax in April. Well, at least some of those kids made it home to Canada. Lyng & Anderson ended-up Kreigies in Luft III then, so may have known an old pal (Now deceased.) I used to fly with occasionally who was also ex-Sagan and spent almost the entire war in the bag - better than the other alternative of course.... Another memorial here that covers MZ529;- http://www.luchtvaarterfgoed.be/nl/content/gendenkplaat-bemanningen-spitfire-mj534-halifax-mz529-lancaster-nd964 http://www.twgpp.org/information.php?id=1685867 http://www.planehunters.be/halifax-mz529-2/ Many thanks to all of the above posters for their interest and time. How ever did we manage before the web? An ode to the dead, written during that war for the boomers, but the sentiments are spot-on;- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nlXmYVE_X8

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8 years

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Something I'd almost forgotten about has sprung to mind. Whilst Bob Aiano was based at Honeybourne in Worcestershire, he sneaked my mother into a Lanc' for a ride, probably an air-test - an experience that she found very noisy and frightening. Whilst perhaps not commonplace, one does wonder just how often such things occurred. (WAAF's getting a ride was clearly more common.). I'd be interested to hear about other instances of civvies getting a ride in military a/c during the war.