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Thread: Halifax JP232

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    Default Halifax JP232

    Can anyone tell me, please, whether PO E.C. Wearing, or any other witness, recorded what happened to 614 Sqdn's Halifax JP232 on 20.10.44? My uncle was its mid-upper gunner.
    I have the ops record book entry for that day's attack on Szombathely Aerodrome, but AHB tell me that the plane went down some distance away, on the banks of the Mura, 1 km from Letenye near the Hungary/Yugoslavia border. I don't know at what time, or why there.
    Of the crew, my uncle and three others have no known grave. F/Sgt Sharp (wireless op.) is in Belgrade Cemetery, PO McCormack (Air Gunner) in Budapest. PO Wearing (navigator) was taken to Stalag Luft III. Might some have had the chance to jump? When PO Wearing got out of the camp he took the trouble to visit my grandparents to tell them not to hope, but I don't know what, if anything, else he said.
    Any further information would be very welcome.

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    Hi
    It was a standard practice for returning POWs to be de-briefed upon their return, and many of the results are available at the National Archive at Kew, and can be examined. There may be one for Weaver and it could be worth a look as it may contain details of what brought the a/c down,and the events leading to Weaver's capture which might not have taken place at the crash site. As the known burials are widely spaced it might support the idea that there were bale-outs but in the end there was only 1 survivor out of 7. Your uncle may possibly have been buried without having been identified and was not subsequently identified by the section charged with the task of accounting for those who were recorded as "Missing", which included those who were buried as "Unknown". The section for this was the Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) which operated until 1952,some of their work may also be available at Kew. I'm sorry but I don't have the necessary file references for the records at Kew.
    Look at a map of the area and find the target and the crash site. It looks as if the a/c may have operated out of N Italy and this may give a clue as to the route that might have been taken.
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 5th June 2012 at 21:11.

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    Thank you very much. I'll follow up your suggestions. 614 Sqdn were based in Amendola, Foggia, Italy at the time.
    Best wishes,
    Eileen
    Quote Originally Posted by Dick View Post
    Hi
    It was a standard practice for returning POWs to be de-briefed upon their return, and many of the results are available at the National Archive at Kew, and can be examined. There may be one for Weaver and it could be worth a look as it may contain details of what brought the a/c down,and the events leading to Weaver's capture which might not have taken place at the crash site. As the known burials are widely spaced it might support the idea that there were bale-outs but in the end there was only 1 survivor out of 7. Your uncle may possibly have been buried without having been identified and was not subsequently identified by the section charged with the task of accounting for those who were recorded as "Missing", which included those who were buried as "Unknown". The section for this was the Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) which operated until 1952,some of their work may also be available at Kew. I'm sorry but I don't have the necessary file references for the records at Kew.
    Look at a map of the area and find the target and the crash site. It looks as if the a/c may have operated out of N Italy and this may give a clue as to the route that might have been taken.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Hi Eileen
    You don't need to use the Quote feature as the whole Thread will stay together as long as it is not deleted, and if anyone needs to look back at something on the thread they only have to scroll through it,otherwise storage on the forum is wasted and you may notice that this is a very active Forum.
    I don't know what other info may come to you but don't be surprised to find that those who died were first buried close to the crash site and later moved,(usually by CWGC) after the war and the final burial site is what is retained on the CWGC record. The German burial practices operated right through the war but at the late stage of this loss they were eroding badly in N Europe, as the destruction of German cities got more intense. As this is S Europe there is a chance that the Germans remained more or less respectful to fallen enemies even if they couldn't name them.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Eileen

    I take it from your original post that you have already been in touch with the Air Historical Branch; I would have thought that if there was a MRES report that a copy of it would be in the file held by the AHB. It may be worth requestng a copy of the AHB file under the Freedom of Information Act or as the Next of Kin.

    To check to see if there is a Liberation report from the survivor, there is a card index at Kew under WO208/5274 it is on the first floor just behind the security desk on the way into the readers room. This will tell you which document you need to order to view the actual report if it exists. You will either have to visit the National Archives yourself or pay a researcher to do this for yourself.

    You could also contact the CWGC to see if they have any additional information on the actual burials, sometimes they will have a record of original burial locations.

    HTH
    Daz

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    Thank you for the advice on using the forum, and for your suggestions. I'll let you know if they are successful.
    Eileen

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    Eileen,

    Since I live in Hungary, I have investigated some of the RAF missions in the country and I may be able to give you some assistance.

    Regarding Halifax JP 232, I believe that it was that night on a pathfinder mission for a raid on the Szombathely airfield in western Hungary. The airfield was a base for German and Hungarian air forces missions on both eastern and western fronts, it was also the base of a transport unit as well as a night fighter unit.

    The raid was carried out by 74 aircrafts from 205 BG from different squadrons based around Foggia. The raid was generally successful with extensive damage to the runways and some damages to buildings. RAF losses appear to amount to 6 aircrafts, including 2 Wellingtons from 37 and 70 Sq, 1 Liberator from 34 SAAF Sq (18 crew members lost in total for these 3 aircrafts, all buried in Budapest), 1 Wellington from 104 Sq (5 crew members lost and buried Belgrade) as well as 1 Wellington from 104 Sq whose crew managed to bail out but was captured in Hungary. Finally Halifax JP 232 from 614 Sq was also lost with 2 KIA buried in Budapest and Belgrade respectively, 1 POW et 4 MIAs. Surviving participants reported heavy night fighter activity between Zagreb and the target and light flak on the target, in addition several aircraft were reported missing on target.

    German night fighters operating around the target area and the flight path that night reported successful interception of 3 Wellingtons (including one which had just crossed the coastline into Croatia, one near the target and one close to the border between Hungary and Yugoslavia (now Croatia) as well as curiously 2 Liberators (while RAF records I could find only report 1 lost Liberator that night).

    Unless the loss of a second Liberator can be confirmed, I believe that Halifax JP 232 was probably mistaken for a Liberator by the German crew, all the more as the second "Liberator" claimed by the night fighters was intercepted at 22.21 in a zone that straddles the Hungary / Yugoslavia border and includes Letenye. Unfortunately, the Luftwaffe grid coordinates reported by the crew are not detailed enough to pin point a more precise location. However, the border there is materialised by the river which ties with your AHB information. In addition, the fact that crew members' final resting places are split between Hungary and former Jugoslavia probably indicates that they were originally buried on both sides of the border. This supports the assumption of a crash very close to the border with crew scattered across the border.

    Regarding the missing crews, I can only mention that a few unknown airmen are buried in the Budapest War cemetery. Maybe some of JP 232's MIAs are among them as suggested by Dick.

    Regarding the location of the crash, it is on the direct route between Bari and Szombathely and given the time of the interception, I would assume that JP 232 was on the way back to base.

    I hope this helps, it is based on the analysis and interpretation of existing information and relies on certain assumptions that may be challenged by new information that could materialise.

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    What little I know tallies exactly with the Hungarian source, and given the area in which the Liberator was claimed, I think it can be taken as certain that what the German pilot thought was a Liberator was in fact a Halifax. It would be helpful (from my perspective) to know the German night fighter unit involved, and who made the Liberator claim. This I can add to the data I already have on this loss, in preparation of Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean, Volume Two.

    Thanks,

    David

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    David,

    What I have is as follows:

    Date: 20.10.44
    Unit: Stab III./NJG 6 (based in Szombathely/Steinamanger at the time)
    Pilot: Hptm. Leopold Fellerer
    Aircraft type: Liberator
    Location: 14 Ost N/LO: 1.700 m. [S. Steinamanger]
    Time: 22.21

    H

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