This is an archived page from the older DCBoard Forum of RAF Commands. This page is read-only. If you wish to post a query about this page, then please go to the newer RAF Commands Forum and register as a member. Alternatively you can leave a comment on this page using Facebook in the comments box at the bottom of the page.


Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945

Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
23:26:18 Thursday, August 28, 2003
Post:
Some time ago I saw a reference to the April 19, 1945, accidental strafing of Allied POWs who were part of the historic death march.(I think it took place near Greese, Germany.)

I'm having a problem re-discovering the details of this incident now that I need it. Two of the Canadians (among the 28 POW who died) were Warren MacKenzie of Nova Scotia and Robert Douglas of British Columbia, both from 419 Squadron .

Who were the others and where on the net can I find more information about this tragic incident.

(Floyd)


RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
23:28:24 Thursday, August 28, 2003
Post:
Sorry, for typo...


RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
00:04:46 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Here are two websites with references to the Greese incident:

http://www.angryharry.com/reBritainsshamehowthenationignoreditsheroes.htm

http://www.rafinfo.org.uk/rafexpow/rafexpow_s9b_memorial.htm


RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: errol.martyn@xtra.co.nz (Guest)
Time Stamp:
01:31:17 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Lloyd,

The following (from the service record of Wt Off L. B. H. Hope held by the New Zealand Defence Force) is from an ‘Investigation Report’ from the Berlin Detachment of No.4 MREU, RAF (Germany) dated 16 Aug 47:

"Place of burial with map ref. :- Local Cemetery Gresse M54/T 0142...

...Personnel buried consitutes 30 British P.O.W.’s...

Results of Investigation and Findings:

As a result of the Russian drive towards the West of Germany in the spring of 1945, large columns of British P.O.W.’s were on the move in the area between the Russian and Allied Armies. One of these columns reached the little village of Greese M54/T 0142 on the 19th April, 1945 and was seen by an Allied aircraft. They were moving in a Westerly direction and the pilot must have taken them for German reinforcements moving towards the front lines. This British or American airman immediately proceeded to shoot up the column. The result was devasting. After all was over 30 dead were recovered and on the eve of the next day these 30 men, of which 20 were Royal Air Force personnel, were buried in the local cemetery of Gresse by the English Padre who accompanied the column. During that day Pastor Stube of Gresse compiled (a list - EM) of names and numbers for his cemetery reocrds and thanks to this these 20 Air Force men can now be identified (Appendix "A").

On 2.7.1947 F/Lt DUFRESNE of this detachment and Capt. MELDON of 56 G.C.U. went to Gresse to exhume the graves and concentrate the bodies into the Cemetery at Heerstrasse, in the British Sector of Berlin. Owing to the fact that one body was found to be clothed in an American uniform only 29 were concentrated and this, presumably American, left at Gresse for collection by the American Grave Unit. (See Appendix "F")."

Note: Contrary to the suggestion in the report that only one was involved, the aircraft were in fact a section of Typhoons.

Appendix "F" is not held on Hope’s file but there is a copy of Appendix "A" which reads as follows (fragmentary in nature and not has not been been cross-checked here with the CWGC registers):-

"List of 30 British killed in the neighbourhood of Heidekrug on 19th April, 1945 and buried at Gresse on 19th and 20th April, 1945.

1) 1094

1431168 F/Sgt K. MORTIMER RAF British

2) 1093 Sgt E. BARDSLEY RAF British

3) 430 W.O. I.GAGE RAF British

4) 26387 - - - -

5) 3263

1565563 Sgt W.E. LAWTON RAF British

6) 3566 F/Sgt I. GIBBS RAF British

7) 2121 Sgt S.I. WHEADON RAF British

8) - W.O. SHIERLAW RAAF Australian

9) 39152

647048 W.O. F. B. DUFFIELD RAF British

10) 874

R/65193 W.O. W.E. MACKENZIE RCAF Canadian

11) 13064 W.O. W.P.I. WATSON RAF British

12) 24384

1378655 W.O. C.W. HEATHMAN RAF British

13) - W.O. G. DOUGLAS RCAF Canadian

14) 994

R/126002 W.O. V.A. FOX RCAF Canadian

15) 24510 Sgt L.B.H. HOPE - New Zealander

16) 941 Sgt HAWKINS - -

17) 3429 F/Sgt D. BAULDIE RAF British

18) 9669 W.O. CLAYDON - -

19) 3352

623752 W.O. G.A. LOSH RAF British

20) 143 W.O. BONE - -

Gresse, 2nd July, 1947

STAMPED Pastor STUBBE (note variation in spelling from that in report, above)

Further info regarding Hope and Watson appear on a following post.

Cheers,

Errol



RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: errol.martyn@xtra.co.nz (Guest)
Time Stamp:
01:34:34 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Floyd,

Here are the extracts I mentioned, above, taken from Volumes One and Two of my trilogy ‘For Your Tomorrow: A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915’:

Cheers,

Errol

Sun 21/Mon 22 Apr 1940

Bomber Command

‘Gardening’ - minelaying in the Baltic sound

44 Squadron, RAF (Waddington, Lincolnshire - 5 Group)

Hampden I L4088 - captained by Flt Lt F G Dutton, RAF, successfully released its mine in the Kattegat before attacking a fleet of ‘fishing boats’, which turned out to be flak ships. With an engine put out of action, a forced landing was made on the coast at Heiligendamm, 15km WNW of Rostock, Germany. All four crew, suffering only minor injuries, were captured. Tragically, the New Zealander among them was to lose his life on 19 April 1945, less than three weeks prior to VE Day, while on a forced march with some 500 Allied prisoners from Stalag 357 at Fallingbostel to L%FCbeck. He was one of 30 who died at Gresse, 14km NE of Lauenburg, when RAF fighter-bombers unwittingly attacked the column, mistaking them for enemy troops. The 30 bodies were buried in the parish churchyard at Gresse, but in July 1947 all, except that of an American, were reinterred at Berlin.

WOp: 623703 Wt Off William Philip Jeffery WATSON, RAF - Age 30.

Watson was born in England but emigrated to New Zealand in 1926. After completing his education he saw service with the Royal New Zealand Artillery before returning to England in 1938, where he joined the RAF.

Sat 8/Sun 9 Nov 1941

Bomber Command

Raid on Essen, Germany (by 62 aircraft - 7 lost)...

75 (NZ) Squadron, RAF (Feltwell, Norfolk - 3 Group)

Wellington IC Z8942 - took off at approximately 1730-1850 on same raid as above, and brought down over the Netherlands by flak at 2215, crashing at Zuidland, 17km SW of Rotterdam. Five of the crew are buried at Rotterdam. The sole survivor was the RNZAF rear gunner, Wt Off L B H Hope, who was taken prisoner. Tragically, he was to lose his life on 19 April 1945, less than three weeks prior to VE Day. While on a forced march from Stalag 357 at Fallingbostel to L%FCbeck with some 500 Allied prisoners, he was one of 30 who died at Gresse, 14km NE of Lauenburg, when RAF fighter-bombers attacked the column, mistaking them for enemy troops. The bodies were buried in the parish churchyard at Gresse, but in July 1947 all except that of an American were reinterred at Berlin.

Captain: NZ402530 Sgt John Stephen WILSON, RNZAF - Age 27. 305hrs. 13th or 14th op.

2nd Pilot: NZ402443 Plt Off Ralph Owen FOSTER, RNZAF - Age 29. 214hrs. 3rd op.

Rear Gunner: NZ40940 Wt Off Lawrence Beresford Hamilton HOPE, RNZAF - Age 28. 222hrs.

Thu 19 Apr 1945

GERMANY

Warrant Officers W P J WATSON and L B H HOPE, of Bomber Command, and captured on being shot down on 21/22 April 1940 and 8/9 Nov 1941 (see Volume One for full details), respectively, were two of 30 Allied prisoners of war killed at Gresse during a forced march when Typhoon fighter-bombers mistakenly strafed their column. It will be observed that Watson, killed less than three weeks before war’s end in Europe, had been a prisoner for a few days short of five years.



RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
02:00:49 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Thanks Errol.

Are there more names?

This will help piece together the story of Vince Fox(#7 Squadron) from eastern Canada (New Brunswick) and his crew skippered by Frank Tomlinson, (Nova Scotia).

Hindsight is 20/20 but has anyone ever suggested that a memorial be erected in Greese?

(Floyd)



RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: errol.martyn@xtra.co.nz (Guest)
Time Stamp:
03:18:57 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Floyd,

Just the 20 names on the 'Hope' list.

Presumably the others are Army and/or Navy types. These, I guess, could largely be identified by laborously going through the thousands of names in the printed CWGC registers for the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery and seeking out those with a 19 Apr 45 death date.

Cheers,

Errol



RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
05:41:23 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Thanks again.

I have a contact in the Canadian CWGC office who will print out for me all casualties (fatal) for April 19, 1945. Is it likely that there were others who died of wounds?

Any idea what squadron the aircraft were from? I saw a reference to a Flight of four.

You are likely correct that the Hope file contains Air Force listings only. The original reference had 28 and you now quote 30. One of the websites that I listed in previous posting above refers to 60.

(Floyd)



RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: errol.martyn@xtra.co.nz (Guest)
Time Stamp:
08:03:10 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Hello Floyd,

Given that there were almost certainly other folk getting themselves killed on this same date elsewhere in NW Europe, and who might also have ended up in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, might I suggest that if it is feasible have the Canadian office print out the names with their grave references. It is probable that all of the Gresse victims were reinterred in close proximity to one another. Hope and Watson, for instance, occupy 6.B.8 and 6.B.16, respectively.

If 30 odd PoWs were killed (plus some of the German guards?) it seems fairly likely that some of the others would have been wounded seriously enough to have died later - but where and when, and how does one tell (perhaps, again, the grave references might offer a clue).

I recall reading somewhere (after pub of my 2nd vol) that the Typhoon unit had been identified. I’m sure I made a note of this, but I’m now unable to put my finger on it.

Perhaps someone on the board can tell us if Clutton-Brock’s recent ‘Footprints on the Sands of Time’ has anything to say about this particular ‘friendly fire’ incident?

Cheers,

Errol



RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: annsa
Time Stamp:
10:12:47 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Hi Floyd,

I found a reference to this in a book, but for the life of me can't rememeber the name of it!

If my memory serves me right, I believe that one of the pilots was a RCAF member. This being from an eyewitness account in the book, I think that one of the pilots came to see the injured, may have been the pilot in charge of the flight. I'll try to check the library next week and see if I can find the book.

All the best,

Ann


RE: Typhoons Strafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: Henk Welting (Guest)
Time Stamp:
11:17:33 Saturday, August 30, 2003
Post:
W/O (Rear Gunner) Frederick J.W. STEELE - 214 Sqdn - 561898 (also killed in the Gresse accident and buried 11.N.9 Berlin War Cem.) was a PoW (357 - # 448) since 9th December 1940. I can't find a loss for this date and he might have been blown off (or accidently baled out)a Wellington bomber that safely returned to base. Who has access to the 214 Sqdn ORB and could inform me on the serial number of the aircraft?

Regards and thanks in advance for your help.



RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: John Larder (Guest)
Time Stamp:
11:09:25 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:

There is a list of those killed including Army PoWs in Bill Chorley's 1945 Volume.


RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: errol.martyn@xtra.co.nz (Guest)
Time Stamp:
12:04:35 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Hello Ann/John/Floyd,

John - Thanks for pointing that out. The volume actually sits within two feet of my desk but I had forgotten that it included such a list!

Ann - I see that Bill's preamble includes reference to the book 'No Flight From the Cage' by Calton Younger. This may be the one that you are trying hard to remember?

Floyd - Younger's book states that seven a/c attacked before the eighth realised that a mistake had been made.

Bill's list records 42 'known' deaths, including those who died from their wounds.

Cheers,

Errol


RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
13:35:53 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Thanks everyone. I have Bill C.'s series and will check the 1945 vol.. That may have been where I saw the reference originally. (Floyd)


RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: UKJohnB
Time Stamp:
20:51:46 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Page 210 of the 1945 Volume of Chorley lists and names 42 men, both RAF and Army, being killed or dying of thier wounds.


RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
22:53:38 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Thanks, Yes, I checked Chorley and noted the names, including that of Sgt. V.A. Fox.

I spoke today with Doug Cox, a member of Vince Fox's No.7 Squadron crew shot (down on March 10, 1943). Cox didn't know until almost a year after the war that Vince Fox had been killed during the forced march. He told me how devastated he was after discovering this fact from the Fox family whom he visited sometime after he returned to Canada. Cox had evaded and later finished a second tour with 433 Squadron.

I'm still searching for the identity of the squadron that strafed the PoWs on April 19, 1945.

(Floyd)



RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
23:55:19 Friday, August 29, 2003
Post:
Try as I might, I can't locte any reference on the net to "No Flight From The Cage" by Younger. Any clues?

(Floyd)


RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: Chris_Pointon
Time Stamp:
00:49:32 Saturday, August 30, 2003
Post:
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 30-Aug-03 AT 00:50 AM (GMT)[/font][p]Floyd - There are two copies of 'No Flight From the Cage' listed on the Abe Books Site - just enter the title not the author.

Chris


RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: floyd williston (Guest)
Time Stamp:
01:49:28 Saturday, August 30, 2003
Post:
Thanks Chris.

In the meantime, I was hoping to find a review or summary to see whether the Typhoon squadron was identified. Sometimes when I do reviews I include bits and pieces that are not in the book itself.

Floyd


RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: SteveBrew
Time Stamp:
16:02:04 Saturday, August 30, 2003
Post:
Thanks guys for this conversation, as you've added a lot of info to an incident which my great uncle, W.O. Bill Brew RAAF, also appears to have been involved in - on the receiving end! In fact, he and three other Australian pilots used the panic and confusion to make good their escape.

Brew was being held in Stalag 357 Oerbke (1km from Fallingbostel and 15km from Bergen-Belsen) before they were marched. He recalls, "As I fell back behind because of weakness - I was only 7 stone - I passed a dog whose paws were worn through, it was hobbling along and quite pitiful. Then suddenly I saw some Spitfires appear. They circled for a while then one peeled off and dived, engine screaming. We were strafed. People ran for cover, diving anywhere at all."

Brew and three other RAAF NCO Pilots, Warrant Officers Bull, Damman and Ryan, survived the attack by hiding in a ditch. According to Brew, when things quieted down, they remained hidden and the column continued on without them. When they felt it was safe, they ran off and hid in a nearby forest.

An Australian newspaper at the time (unfortunately unnamed and undated, but the report itself is dated 17 April 1945, so it may have appeared in the paper a few days later), refers to the march from Stalag 357 specifically and notes, "One large group, including many Australians, was marched out of camp last Sunday week". It then goes on to quote an unnamed Australian serviceman, thus: "We marched for two days as slowly as human beings could possibly move... In those two days we covered only 12 kilometres. The sick parades were enormous. It was a regular delaying action. Then the Germans decided they had not anywhere to put us, anyway, and we had to come back... You should have seen the difference in our marching. We covered that 12 kilometres in three hours."

The men were returned to camp, only to be liberated a few days later by reconnaissance tanks of the Royal Army's 11th Hussars, on 13 April.

This date, however, presents a problem as data from another source also says Stalag 357 was liberated on 13 April. So was there another group (a second one) which was strafed on 19 April? Strangely, the location of the 19 April strafing matches the march from 357.

Can anyone shed some light on this?

Meanwhile, the four escapees, all RAAF Warrant Officers, found advancing British troops, and were repatriated to England. A copy of a telegram I have requests their NOKs be informed, and names them as follows (with additional info added by me):

402220 BREW, William Aubrey, 29, of Newcastle NSW (POW No. 30)

400219 BULL, Allen Lindsay, 27, of Bairnsdale VIC (POW No. 99)

400051 DAMMAN, Ronald Gustave, 31, of Warburton VIC

412708 RYAN, Cecil Mannix, 24, of Mirrool, NSW



RE: Typhoons Stafe POW Column/April 19, 1945
Author: Terry
Time Stamp:
22:42:10 Sunday, March 9, 2003
Post:
Floyd and Others, I have a record of a New Zealand soldier on the march from Stalag 357 who was wounded during RAF strafing on 19 Apr 45 and admitted to Boizenburg hospital on the same day. Boizenburg is about 5 - 6 kms south of Gresse. He was admitted to a British Fd Amb on 1 May 45 and evac back to the UK on 3 May 45. Interestingly, his file contains the hospital notes from his stay in Boizenburg written in an immaculate Gothic script!

Regards, Terry