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Thread: F/Sgt Ronald O誰eil: two crashes in 1942

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    Default F/Sgt Ronald O誰eil: two crashes in 1942

    Hi

    I知 new to this forum and would appreciate any information members can supply about my mother痴 cousin, F/Sgt Ronald O誰eil NZ411226, as I知 trying to write up his war history for my mother.

    He was the bomb aimer on Lancaster W4247 (DX-X of 57 Sqdn) that failed to return from a raid on Hamburg on 9/10 November 1942.

    A friend has kindly looked up Boiten volume 1 and informed me that W4247 was one of four of the 15 bombers lost that night for which a particular pilot was credited with a 遡ill. Noting, however, that this was 叢robably his Lancaster , it says this was shot down by Leutnant Hans Caspers of 1st Staffel Nachtjagdgeschwader 3. This was Caspers first 遡ill.

    I haven稚 seen the entry myself. There was some confusion over where W4247 crashed and where my relative was buried. Early reports via the Red Cross and later British military reports based on captured German documents, stated that he was buried first at Luneburg civilian cemetery before being re-interred at the British military cemetery at Ohlsdorf in Hamburg (now looked after by the CWGC: http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2200711).

    Later British military reports said that he had been buried first at the Ohlsdorf civilian cemetery before being re-interred at the British military cemetery.

    There was confusion over identification of crew from my relatives W4247 and two other aircraft that failed to return from the same raid: Wellington BJ711 and Lancaster W4180.

    Questions I壇 love help with:
    Does anyone know anything more about Hans Caspers and what became of him?
    Where was his squadron based at the time, and was it flying Bf 110?
    Does anyone know where Wellington BJ711 and Lancaster W4180 crashed?
    Is there any more info about the other members of the crew of W4247 (F/O ME Walsh, DFC; Sgt AJ Bartle; P/O WW Griffin; F/Sgt GE Andrews; F/Sgt JH Dwyer; Sgt RW Grellier)?

    This wasn稚 the first time Ron O誰eil had crashed. Earlier with 57 Sqdn his Wellington Z1618 crashed into the North Sea when returning from a raid on Bremen on 29/30 June 1942. Again my friend has consulted Boiten and advised me that a confirmed kill by Oberleutnant Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein may have been Z1618.

    Lostbombers says that several crew were killed in this ditching, including Sgt R.O'Niell (sic). Unless there were two crew members with very similar names that痴 an error. (Lostbombers also says that those killed were commemorated on the Runnymede memorial, but that lists two Sergeant R O誰iell/O誰eil, Flight Sergeant Richard O誰iell from the Royal Australian Air Force and Flight Sergeant Ronald O誰iell from the RAF Volunteer Reserve who died on 24 February 1945. It seems that Ron痴 name from the crew list of the ditched Wellington has been listed on lostbombers.co.uk in error (www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=o%27neill&GScid=2139034&GRid=1 5260451&).

    So, some questions again:
    Am I right in thinking that when the ace prince is likely to have encountered Ron O誰eil he was flying Junkers 88 with the 9th squadron of Nightfighter Wing 2 (9/NJG2)?
    Where was he based then?
    Does anyone have any more information about the ditching of Z1618 and the other members of the crew?

    And, finally, after Ron O誰eil crashed into the drink in June he spent some time recovering from injuries before rejoining his squadron and assessed as fit for duty on 27 October 1942. The fatal raid on Hamburg on 9 November 1942 was only his second after returning; is there any way of finding out what the other one was?

    I壇 be very grateful for assistance anyone can provide, and appreciate the open sharing of information on this forum.

    Andrew

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    Hi Andrew
    May I first draw your attention to a permanent post on this forum concerning the use of Lostbomber information. The site plagiarises the work of others as you will see explained in the post.
    From one of the plagiarised works, RAF Bomber Command Losses, Vol 3 by W R CHORLEY the ditching of Wellington III,Z1618 is recorded with the loss of 3 of a crew of 6 the list is
    Sgt Moore,pilot
    Sgt F R Herbert,co-pilot, died
    Sgt R O'Neill RNZAF, Nav,he would have aimed the bombs on a Wellington
    Sgt W E Hollowell, W/op, died
    Sgt W J Phippen, A/G, died
    Sgt R W Grellier,A/g
    Lancaster I,W4247,DX-X,57 Sqn is also recorded but there is no crash location. The crew were:-
    F/O M E Walsh DFC and Bar, pilot
    Sgt A J A Bartle,F/E
    P/O W W Griffin DFC, Nav
    F/S R O'Neil RNZAF, Air Bomber(the official title for the Bombaimer)
    P/O G E Andrews DFM,W/op
    F/S J H P Dwyer,DFM, A/G
    Sgt R W Grellier DFM,A/G
    For most of the war it was the German practice to bury Aircrew close to where they died. After the war CWGC moved many of those who died and collected them together in locations where proper respect could be guaranteed more easily. The 2 burial locations are therefore not unusual for this crew and do not necessarily mean a confusion on the part of the authorities
    Regards
    Dick
    Last edited by Dick; 26th September 2009 at 19:00.

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    Andrew,

    You probably have most of this information already, but in case not:

    From my trilogy 'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume Two: Fates 1915-1942)':

    Mon 9/Tue 10 Nov 1942
    Bomber Command
    Raid on Hamburg, Germany (by 213 aircraft - 16 lost)...

    ...57 Squadron, RAF (Scampton, Lincolnshire - 5 Group)
    Lancaster I W4247/X - took off at 1800 captained by Plt Off M E Walsh, DFC*, RAF, on same raid as the above, and brought down over Germany, crashing near Lneburg, about 45km SE of Hamburg. All seven crew were buried at Lneburg, but later reinterred at Ohlsdorf, near Hamburg. They share a collective grave with three crew members, including Flt Sgt I Kennedy, RNZAF, of a 142 Sqn Wellington (BJ711) also lost this night (see above).
    Air Bomber: NZ411226 Flt Sgt Ronald O誰EIL, RNZAF - Age 20. 323hrs. 15th op.

    [O'Neil was one of 9 New Zealanders who were killed on this particular raid]

    And Vol Three (Biographies & Appendices)

    O'NEIL, Flight Sergeant Ronald.
    NZ411226; b Wgtn 10 Jan 22; Hutt Valley HS; clerk - Land & Income Tax Dept, Wgtn. RNZAF Levin/ITW as Air Observer u/t 16 Feb 41, emb for Canada 29 Apr 41, att RCAF 14 May 41, 6AOS 17 May 41, 5BGS 3 Aug 41, Air Observers Badge & Sgt & 1ANS 15 Sep 41, 1 Y Dept 20 Oct 41, att RAF & emb for UK 23 Oct 41, 3PRC 4 Nov 41, 23OTU (Wellington) 16 Dec 41, 57 Sqn (Wellington - 13 ops inc 1 ASR) 2 May 42, ditched rtg from Bremen op 29/30 Jun 42 [rescued after 37 hrs in dinghy], Scampton 1 Jul 42 [hosp 1-30 Jul], 57 Sqn (Lancaster - 2 ops) 28 Oct 42, kao 9 Nov 42. Hamburg Cemetery - 8A.C. coll. grave 1-15, Ohlsdorf, Germany. Son of William & Hilda O'Neil, Lower Hutt. [phot. TWN 29.7.42 & 10.2.43].

    [Of the 42 on his course who sailed from Auckland for Vancouver, Canada on 29 Apr 41 on the 'Awatea', 21 died and 21 survived (of whom three became PoW).]

    Errol

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    Hello Andrew,

    Regarding Lancaster W4180 of 44 squadron, I have from RAF Bomber Command Losses 1942, page 258;
    Sgt R.Easom and crew took off from Waddington at 18:05. Crashed at Buchholz, 16km SSW of Hamburg on the south bank of the Elbe. All rest in the Hamburg Cemetery, Ohlsdorf.

    Wayne.

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    Hi folks

    Thank you very much for such prompt and helpful replies to my fairly exhaustive questioning! There are some really useful bits of the jigsaw puzzle here.

    I have Ron O誰eil痴 personnel file from NZDF archives and there痴 correspondence from 1943 to 1950 relating to the location of the body and the graves, including between the MR&ES and the air ministry in London. The confusion is not over why he was later re-interred, but in which cemetery he was initially buried, and knowing the latter might help unravel what happened to his plane.

    At first it was reported via the Red Cross that he had been buried at Luneburg cemetery.
    Then it was reported that he was buried with the crew of W4180. Further investigation confirmed that the crew of W4180, that had crashed at Buchholz, were buried at Luneburg but the report of Ron O誰eil being with them might be erroneous.
    Later correspondence reported that captured German documents indicate that Ron O誰eil was buried at Luneburg on 13/11/42, but the same letter says that O誰eils aircraft crashed 妬n the same area as Wellington BJ711, some of the crew of which were buried in Ohlsdorfer-Friedhof. That痴 why I知 interested in where BJ711 crashed; again, if BJ711 crew were buried closer to the centre of Hamburg (and, as Errol has helpfully pointed out, one of that crew was later buried in the collective grave with the W4247 crew), why Ron O誰eil would have been moved to Luneburg for burial.
    The final graves registration report form of July 1949 says that the original burial place for all the W4247 crew was the Ohlsdorf civilian cemetery and the re-interment was the Ohlsdorf British military cemetery (a collective registration with 11 members of 2 other crews, but the references given are missing person files rather than to aircraft).

    So I see I致e answered my own question about where W4180 crashed, but if anyone knows where BJ711 crashed that would be useful.

    Thanks again for the information. I really appreciate finding out things like the details of the crew of the ditched Wellington, what ship Ron sailed to Canada on, and his total number of flying hours.

    Andrew

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    Hi Andrew,

    As mentioned by Errol, he sailed on the 'Awatea'. Photo here:

    http://www.nzshipmarine.com/newpage15.aspx

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Andrew,

    "but if anyone knows where BJ711 crashed that would be useful."

    Papers relating to this appear to have been weeded from Kennedy's RNZAF service record. Perhaps a copy still survives on the RCAF service record for the pilot, W T Bent, DFM, RCAF?

    Errol

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    Thanks Dave; I wasn't clear in my comment. I mean I really appreciateD the extra information that others had provided.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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    hello,

    As Errol points out, you may get some answers from the Library Archives of Canada (search this board for their coordinates) and ask them the "genealogy package" of P/O W.T. BENT, D.F.M, R.C.A.F., with pages from the MRES investigation. It should give details about the location of the crash site.

    As for the details of the missions flown by your relative with No. 57 Squadron, I'm afraid only a check in this unit Operation Record Book at The National Archives, Kew, London, would give a detailed answer ! I imagine you are down there... But the details provided by Errol are a great asset when one's looking for the missions flown by a R.N.Z.A.F. member. For other air force members, you have to start from the last mission you know, and go backwards until you don't see 'our' man anymore. With Errol's details, you can start from the posting of the said airmen to his Squadron.

    Reference is AIR 27/538 for January 1942 to December 1943, plus appendices in AIR 27/541 for november 1939 to February 1945. I've already checked tiny bits of this unit' O.R.B., but for 1940 and 1941 so can't help with your request.

    There's also an association for this Squadron. I've been in touch with them but alas it didn't provide any useful result as far as I was concerned. I'll try again.

    HTH

    Joss

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    Joss

    Thanks for the tip on the Canadian genealogy package. I've written away for that.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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