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Thread: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

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    Default Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    I am researching the graves of lost airmen in former East Prussia whose bodies were not recovered due to Russian intransigence after the war. Most were lost in the two raids over Königsberg but W/O Keith Oliver Perry was a POW captured when Halifax DT723 was shot down on the way back from Essen in April 1943. He was 2nd dickey and all bar one of the crew survived and became POWs. He died of natural causes in August 1943 at Heydekrug. I have all the details from the Ancestry files but looking at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial there are other photographs purporting to show Perry's funeral. Link here.

    https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remem...detail/1804222

    There is no clue as to the origin of the images and I wondered if anyone had any idea where they came from, and if indeed they are Perry's funeral. Trying to find out from the website host would be tricky.

    Thanks in advance

    Mike
    Last edited by lancasterlm342; 12th July 2020 at 15:14.

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    Mike,

    The vast majority of non-service recorded items come from the families.

    As you know, the ancestry scans are not of the complete file. Having looked at the full service files of several RCAF who died or were killed as POWs I have seen, on more than one occasion, a letter to the family from the RCAF ending with "it is hoped that the enclosed photographs of the funeral of your XXX bring some comfort"

    VAC runs the CVWM. I have asked them in the past to put me in touch with the donor and they have.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    Hi Dave

    Thanks very much for the information regarding VAC - I don't feel so daunted approaching them. There is a line of logic that the photographs are of Perry's funeral because if someone had some random burial photos they would not have knowledge of Perry's situation and so on. Anyhow I shall give VAC a try.

    I have three comprehensive files for individual airmen from Ottawa, one is around 250 pages, one over 300 and another over 400 so the Ancestry extracts are small but still useful.

    This makes me wonder about the AIR81 files at TNA. The files I am most interested in will not be released for a year or two but I did a "page check" some time ago on the file for a Halifax just to see how much content there was and if I remember correctly there was only around 300 pages for the aircraft and the entire seven crewmen. Maybe this one was not representative but from Ottawa for the crew alone you could expect around 2,000 pages for the complete files.

    One other point is that at TNA documents in the files which are post 1948 will not be released according to a statement I saw a few years ago, unless that has been relaxed. (I have it somewhere). This has a bearing on certain cases which were unresolved by that time and where graves were not found. Perhaps someone who has seen some of the files could clarify that and also the amount of content there is.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    I can give some more info on the crash and dead of Keith Perry; Halifax DT723 was shot down by a night fighter - believed to be Hpt. Hans-Dieter Frank (2./NJG 1) - over the Southern part of the Netherlands. All crew got out of the plane ok, Four of them landed on the small island of Tiengemeten in the river Haringvliet. (Look it up in Google maps and see how small the island is!) Armand Granbois wrote:"When you parachute everything is very quiet and I could hear a whistle blowing. I presume it was Beatty because we had whistles on our collars that we were to blow if we landed in the water. I later asked my crew mates if they had blown their whistles but they hadn't. Beatty never showed up again and I presume he had landed in the water." the survivors were arrested by Dutch police and handed over to the Germans. On Perry he wrote:"Keith Perry died in Stalag Luft VI, East Prussia. I helped bury him. L think now he had hepatitis, as I know he had jaundice." In the Perry file are more German documents confirming this, his date of death was 23-08-1943, 07:15hrs, cause Akute gelbe Leberathropie. (Acute yellow liver atrophy)

    Best wishes,

    Henk

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    lancasterlm342 (12th August 2020)

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    Mike,

    I hope you will forgive me querying the photographs of the burial, but the coffin in the first photo (with the German Guard of Honour) seems inconsistent with the following photo. The coffin in the first is a substantial, shaped, construction, but that on the bier is what I would describe as a standard, flat, coffin. Also in that second photo the airman second from the right (behind the Sgt marching alongside the bier) appears to be saluting by presenting a rifle - which seems unlikely for a POW (I downloaded and enlarged the image).

    Brian

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    Hi Brian

    The image you refer to is certainly incorrect. I have also queried it with the VAC website. Another clue is that at the funeral party is turning left out of the gate. To reach the cemetery at Heydekrug they would have turned to the right. There are many other inconsistencies as you rightly point out.

    Thanks

    Mike

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    For the record, I'm not trying to take over this thread, but think it's useful if information about a person stays together. An extra question about 'our' Keith Perry: In the ORB of 504 squadron I find 7 missions flown by an F/Sgt. Perry. Namely 7, 11, 15, 19 and 30 December 1942 and 16 and 20 January 1943. The ORB for February is not present and in March Perry is no longer present. Only in April as 2nd pilot with the Lago crew. According to his personnel file he is transferred on 25 November 1942 of 1659 Conv. Unit to 405 Squadron. What I find strange is that he flies those 7 missions without a mission as 2nd pilot and then after those 7 missions again as 2nd pilot. Does anyone have an explanation for this?

    Best wishes,

    Henk

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    Hi Henk

    I believe the clue is in the details of the first seven missions - they were all routine daylight anti-submarine/ anti-shipping mainly over the Bay of Biscay. After this 405 Squadron finished its attachment to Coastal Command and returned to Bomber Command which explains the gap in February 43. The point being that he had no experience in night time bombing over enemy territory and hence the 2nd dickie trips to give him some insight.

    All the best

    Mike

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    Default Re: Keith Oliver Perry RCAF

    Hi Mike, sounds logical. Thanks

    Best wishes,

    Henk

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