Op het kerkhof van Sainte-Walburge bij Luik rust de bemanning van Whitley V Z6803 MH-J van 51 Squadron
CREEDY, Sergeant (W.Op./Air Gnr)., DENNIS WILLIAM ERNEST, 909837. 51 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. 6th August 1941. Age 23. Son of Alfred Robert and Lilian Creedy, of Upper Holloway, London. Grave 2.
DEAN, Sergeant (Obs)., KENNETH ALBERT, 903312. 51 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. 6th August 1941. Age 24. Son of Harry Wood Dean and Alice Mary Dean, of Hawkinge, Kent; husband of Betty Linda Dean. Grave 3.
TILLEY, Pilot Officer (Pilot), MICHAEL WILLIAM, 61034. 51 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. 6th August 1941. Son of Harold William and Doris Elizabeth Tilley, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. Grave 1.
WILLIAMS, Sergeant (Pilot), OWEN LAWRENCE MITCHELL, 1162621. 51 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. 6th August 1941. Age 18. Son of Capt. James Williams, Royal Corps of Signals, and Hilda Helen Williams, of Thornton Heath, Surrey. Grave 4.
Deze bemanning maakte deel uit van de Whitley V Z6803 MH-J van het 51 Sqn. In de nacht van 5 op 6 augustus nam het toestel deel aan een raid op Frankfurt. Op de terugweg werd het toestel geraakt door de boordwapens van nachtjager Fw Reinhard Kollak van I./NJG 1 en crashte op 6 augustus om 01.36 uur in de Maas te Souverain-Wandre. Wireless Sgt Hart zou de crash overleefd hebben, hij werd krijgsgevangen gemaakt.
Reactie van Albert Dean (22 mei 2012):
One of the RAF bomber crewmen was my cousin, Kenneth Dean.
1. Initial Information about the bomber, crew and mission that was provided to me by Mr. Dennis G. James of “RAFRESEARCH in 1995.
Base: Dishforth near York, England.
Squadron: RAF 51 Squadron.
Aircraft: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V, Serial Z6803 MHJ. Manufactured by Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Limited in 1939. The aircraft was delivered straight from the factory to 51 Squadron at Dishforth in early 1940. The “V” meant “Mark V” = “Mark Five”. The “MH” was the code letter group for 51 Squadron. The “J” was the aircraft’s call sign “J for Johnny”.
The target that night was Frankfurt.
The total force sent comprised 46 Whitleys and 22 Wellingtons. 11 of the Whitleys, including Z6803, where from 51 Squadron. Z6803 did not return. 1 Wellington and 1 other Whitley that was not from 51 squadron also failed to return.
2. From other sources:
2.1 As a general principle only major modifications to the design of a type of aircraft were reflected in its Mark Number. So, though Z6803 was built in 1939 to include all prior modifications up to and including those for Mark V, by the time it was shot down in mid 1941 it was old enough it would have had some of its parts replaced in servicing and repair, and it might also have had several subsequent minor modifications incorporated. So some serial numbers and modification states on any discovered parts of the aircraft might not necessarily be as noted in any early manufacturing or maintenance records.
2.2. The Whitley was always intended to be a night bomber but was used not only in the northern Europe theatre but also in the desert. Many children’s toy and later modeller’s versions were produced. There were also many photographs and artists depictions of it. These show the aircraft in a wide range of different camouflage schemes, even desert yellow. However, when Z6803 was shot down in mid-1941 it was almost certainly painted in the by then standard RAF northern Europe theatre night bomber camouflage colours; plain black underneath and along both sides of the fuselage, upper surfaces done in a mottled dull green and brown pattern.
Pilot: Pilot Officer M. W. Tilley 61034 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
2nd Pilot: Sergeant O. L. M. Williams 1162621 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Air Observer: Sergeant K. A. Dean 903312 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Gunner: Sergeant D. W. E. Creedy 909837 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Gunner: Sergeant L. W. J. Hart R/66039 Royal Canadian Air Force
Insofar as the night of 5th/6th August 1941 is concerned it is not known who was actually doing the navigating on Z6803. In Whitley’s the 2nd Pilot had a swivel seat that could be turned around to face a small navigation desk, and many 2nd Pilots doubled up as navigators. However, Sgt. Dean was trained in navigation and a passed down family story is that he was a navigator. That story presumably must have come from whatever he sometime said he was doing. Only Sgt Hart would probably have been able to say for certain whether Sgt. Wiliams or Sgt, Dean were navigating.
2.4 The four war graves at Saint Walburge Communal Cemetery are detailed in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission index and there is also excellent detailed coverage of them on Mr. Remits’ website http://clham.org/050495.htm . On Mr. Remits’ website close inspection of the old black and white photographs of the headstones and the more recent colour photographs shows that sometime Sgt Dean’s headstone was replaced with a new one. On the new one, at the bottom of the headstone, what was the middle line of the three line inscription has larger lettering and has had to be split to make the inscription four lines.
2.5 It was in your database that I discovered the aircraft my cousin was in was shot down by Reinhard.
2.6. This link is to a book on Google books and on page 28 it has the entries below, showing the Whitley was the third bomber Reinhard and Herman shot down that night.
2.7. I’ve got a fairly comprehensive biography of Reinhard from varies websites, I know he died in Germany about 30 years ago. And I’ve also got the basic information about NG1 and how the German nightfighter system was arranged in 1941; the Kammhuber Line with its Freya, Wurzburgs and searchlights.
2.8. Mr Remits website says Sgt Hart was taken prisoner. From that I found him listed, with his POW number , R/66039 and a Stalag Luft 6 reference at:
Based upon that and what various website say about the stalags, I am fairly certain that after being taken prisoner at Liege his subsequent WWII timeline was probably Auswertestelle West > Dulag Luft > Stalag Luft 1 at Barth > 1943 to Stalag Luft 6 at Heydekrug > 1944 railway transport to Stalag Luft 4 at Thorn (The Swiss Red Cross recorded that the men who made it to Stalag Luft IV included 147 Canadians) > Jan 1945 The long march to Stalag XIB at Fallingbostel > the short march to near Hamburg, when they were then suddenly all “liberated” by some British unit who told the POWs to just march west until someone else could look after them. Anyway, it seems Sgt Hart was eventually repatriated back to Canada and appears to have then “vanished”.
One of the websites about the stalags said that in mid 1944 when Stalag Luft 6 was closed the camp’s Americans prisoners were transferred to Stalag Luft 4 by means of two dilapidated coastal tramp steamers named « Masuren » and « Itsteburg”, but its British POWs were transferred by train. In the Sgt Hart timeline above I’ve assumed Sgt. Hart;s transfer was by train because the Red Cross report said the 146 Canadians had been listed as British.
I would emphasize that all that is guessed from Sgt. Hart having been RCAF and listed as repatriated from Stalag Luft 6, and from what is said about the relevant Stalags. But I have no certain information about what happened to him whilst a POW at all.
Info Michel de Norman et d’Audenhove, Chairman Royal Air Forces Association Brussels Branch (6 June 2017):
Regarding Air Gnr Sgt Leslie Wilfried Hart of the RCAF 51 Squadron Whitney V Z6803, the only crew member that survived the crash of the night of 4-5 August 1941 was indeed made POW following his attempt to join the UK. When crossing the demarcation line he was arrested (13 September 1941) by French Vichy Gendarmes at Saint-Laurent-Du-Jura. He was part of a group of 4 airmen led by my grandfather from Brussels on 10 August 1941. My grandfather was assisted by his sons Guy and Jean (my father) and Ms Alberte Heintz, a Belgian nurse from Bastogne.
The other three airmen guided from Brussels in 1941 are all crew members of 12 Squadron, Wellington II W5421 that crashed near Antwerp on 5 August 1941 (Sgt. John Warren McLarnon the second pilot, Sgt. Harold Joseph Edwin Burrell the navigator and Sgt. R.D. Porteous RNZAF the rear gunner.) They were also arrested on 13 September 1941, together with Leslie Hart.
For the story of the Wellington W5421 see also www.626-squadron.co.uk/willem29.htm