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Thread: Halifax MZ932 7/8 March 1945

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    Default Halifax MZ932 7/8 March 1945

    This aircraft was attacked on the night of 7/8 March 1945. My father was a crew member. I've just made contact recently with a relative of another crew member who tells me that the night fighter was a ME110 fitted with an upward firing 20mm cannon. Apparently the ME 110 attacked the plane from underneath spraying the entire Halifax from end to end which caused severe damage and set it on fire. The plane limped back to France and crash landed.

    A lot of the details to what happened have been fleshed out courtesy of the kind and helpful people on this and other related fora.

    Does anyone know if the Luftwaffe night fighter pilot would have claimed this as a 'kill?' If anyone knows anything at all about the German pilot I'd be very grateful. Thanks.

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    Default Mz932

    Hi Jeremy,

    192 Sqdn Halifax MZ932 had been tasked with accompanying the bomber stream to Dessau in order to investigate German Bernhardine transmissions in the 30-33.3 Mc/s band.

    I see that two of the crew bailed out and two were wounded after the attack, which was stated in one 100 Grp report to have occurred "30 miles S.W. of Brunswick". The aircraft crash-landed at Rosieres airfield

    Without knowing the time of the attack, then it is practically impossible to try to identify if the Halifax was claimed by a German night fighter pilot.

    The Bomber Command Operational Research Section log of aircraft lost and damaged on operations records that the damage to MZ932 was classed as catagory AC following an upward-firing armament attack by a night fighter, with a hand-written amendment recording "and/or m/g fire from Lanc."

    Cheers

    Rod
    Last edited by RodM; 23rd October 2010 at 06:50.

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    Default Halifax Mz932

    Thanks Rod

    I've never been able to ascertain the time of the attack. I know that the plane left RAF Foulsham in Norfolk at around 17-35 and that the bombing run had been completed. This would limit the time frame for someone with the capability to do some sort of analysis. There are various docs which refer to the location of the attach as being 20 miles east of Kassel. F/S Carley (Special Operator), Gunner Gallagher and my father baled out and landed in the village of Kulte close to Arolsen (now known as Bad Arolsen). Unfortunately I have no idea of the time.F/S Carley was killed by senior SS officials and were prosecuted as war criminals after the war. A Dutch POW who witnessed the assasination of F/S Carley at the SS HQ in Arolsen did not testify after that war. I am in contact with a relative of Mr Carley, and we ar jointly trying to find out more about the perspectives of the crew about events that night.

    Pilot Bernie Ford. Details unknown
    Mid gunner (? first name) Gallagher details unknown
    R/O Don Coates; my family were in contact with until he died just a few years ago.
    Frank Lovick ; we have contact with his son.
    Jeff (or Geoff Grundy) we have no details

    We'd love to know what happened to these brave airmen after the war.

    Thanks

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    Default Mz932

    Hi Rod

    I just read your mail again. Interesting to see the comment about 'm/g fire from a Lanc' My Dad always maintained that one of the crew had seen an aircraft close by and his comments to the pilot were 'it's alright Skip, it's one of ours.' There are other records which suggest that it was a German night fighter with an upward fitted 20mm cannon. This is the first example of a record regarding 'friendly fire.' What is the your source? Thanks.

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    Default

    Hi Jeremy,

    thanks for the background and other information.

    There are many documented sources of information. The BC ORS Log mentioned previously is in AIR 14/3460 at TNA, Kew. The typed entry in the log reads:

    "7/8 Hali III 192 Z MZ932 (AC/Rosieres) - Fighter"

    The 'AC' indicates the damage category and the word fighter is underlined, which indicated that the method of attack was with upward-firing armament. As previously stated, a handwritten addition to the entry after the typed word 'Fighter' reads, "and/or m/g fire from Lanc." BC employed damage assessment teams who performed ballistics analysis on damaged aircraft in order to determine cause, calibre, and number of hits. It is not clear if this Halifax, on the continent, was so inspected, so it is hard to know on what basis the amended information was arrived at. It could be based on ballistics investigtaion, or even interrogation of the surviving crew members combined with analysis of combat reports submitted by crews of other aircraft with BC.

    AIR 14/3082, which contains Group typex reports on raids, has a signal sent by 100 Group to BCHQ, named, "Supplement No. 2 to 100 Group Summary of Operations No. 459"

    A paragraph in this signal states:

    "One Halifax of 192 Sqdn was hit twice from below by cannon 30 miles S.W. of Brunswick, causing navigation instruments and one engine to become U/S. Two of crew baled out. 2 were wounded. A/C landed at Rosieres."

    From your additional details it seems that the crew members baled out west of Kassel (had the aircraft already turned westward for home at the time they baled out?). I have no doubt that a pro forma combat report would have been prepared in this case, but, sadly, the state of preservation of the vast number of Bomber Command Combat reports for the 1945 period is absolutely woeful - i.e. they have not been preserved at TNA. The same is true for the vast majority of Group Formz Z - typex messages submitted from the Groups to BCHQ that contain precise details of all encounters and other sightings by returning crews.

    In terms of your query concerning establishing who the German night fighter pilot could have been, I think it will be close to impossible to know for sure because:

    1. Some 95% of Luftwaffe operational records were either destroyed by bombing or deliberately destroyed by the Germans just before the surrender, meaning much of the detailed information has been lost forever.

    2. Of surviving documentation from other sources, including the flying log books and books of achievement of the night fighter aircrews themselves, only a partial reconstruction of information can be made.

    3. It is not entirely clear if Halifax MZ932 was claimed destroyed by a night fighter crew in the first place.


    What I can state is that from surviving Luftwaffe High Command records, 76 night fighter aircraft were employed against the Dessau raid and associated feint raids in Central Germany. These night fighters submitted initial claims of 23 enemy four-engined aircraft certainly destroyed.

    In terms of the details of individual claims by the night fighter crews, that it where it becomes difficult because of the destruction of the majority of Luftwaffe records. Such a list has to be recontructed and is certainly not complete. Of the 23 claims, I have details of 13 of the 23, and unverified details of a further six (some of these six may be false, and not based upon documentary evidence).

    In reconstructing what happened on the way to Dessau, if you start at a geographical point of 51 07 N, 07 00 E, and then extend a line between here and 51 40 N, 10 00 E, then along this section of the route nine RAF bombers crashed both north and south along this line, with all of these falling between 07 10 E and 08 30 E. It is clear from surviving German documents that at least six victory claims were made by German pilots within the same area (bearing in mind that more claims could have been made but for which details haven't survived). The majority of the combats in this area, from both British and German records, seems to have occurred between roughly 20:15 to 20:50 hours.

    Depending on the exact location of Halifax MZ932 at the time of the attack - lets assume at the moment that it was close to Külte (where the two crew members baled out, provided they did so shortly after the initial attacks, which is by no means certain) - then this would place the time of the attack roughly between, say, 20:40 and 21:10 hrs.

    From plotting the locations of the bombers that crashed, along with the locations of the known German claims, and perusing the map (showing the positions of combats/attacks reported by return RAF crews) attacked to the Interception Tactics Report (TNA AIR 14/3745) it becomes clear that the first phase of German night fighter interceptions against the bomber stream occurred between 07 10 E and 08 30 E, before a lull occurred. The next main phase of interceptions interceptions occurred between 51 50 N, 10 14 E and 52 30 N, 11 10E, roughly from 21:30 to 22:00 hrs. If the attack against MZ932 occurred in the area S.W. of Brunswick then it is likely to have occurred during this second phase of interceptions.

    No known German claims can be conclusively tied into the location at Külte or S.W. of Brunswick. Major Schnaufer of Stab NJG4 claimed a Lancaster at 20:47 hrs at a height of 4,200 metres in Luftwaffe map grid reference 'LS-MS' (to give an idea of how very general the locations of many of the late war German night fighter claims were, 'LS-MS' is an area bounded by the co-ordinates 51 30N; 08 30 E (north-west corner of rectangle) to 51 00 N, 09 00 E (south-east corner of rectangle), an area of 1,925 square kilometres!). Külte is just east of this area, whereas two bombers did crash just west of this area. Sadly, the books of achievement for both Maj Schnaufer and his radio operator Fritz Rumplehardt contain no individual descriptions of the combats (which would indicate the method of attack) although they were flying in a Bf110 G4 aircraft.

    In terms of verifying if an RAF aircraft fired upon the Halifax, the non-preservation at TNA of the majority of the 1945 BC combat reports and the Forms Z makes this practically impossible to know.

    Anyway, I hope that this information helps...

    Rod
    Last edited by RodM; 24th October 2010 at 10:52.

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    Default Mz932

    Thanks so much for this information Rod. My sincere apologies for the tardy response. For some reason the site was preventing me from posting after typing a lengthy reply.

    Interestingly when I spoke to my mother about the timing of the attack, she told me that it was about 8-30pm. I must confess to being completely astounded by this as no specific time had ever been mentioned in all those intervening years. This would tie very closely with your estimates; almost precisely in fact.

    It's unfortunate that we will never know more about the events that night from the German side. I've established contact with a relation of the Special Operator; Harry Carley who has provided me with some remarkable detail and documentation of events that night. Thanks again Rod for your wonderful insight and analysis.

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