At 2255 hours on the evening of 24th May 1944, Handley Page Halifax Mk III LV905/EY-W, 78 Squadron RAF, departed RAF Breighton tasked, alongside 400+ allied bombers, with delivering a deadly payload of bombs on the railway marshalling yards of Aachen. Following the raid the returning bomber was attacked by Luftwaffe Messerschmitt BF110 G4 night fighters. Pilot Karl-Heinz Scherfling unleashed his cannons on the aircraft and the shells ripped into the lumbering giant, setting it on fire and sending it into a steep dive. The aircraft then began to break up and subsequently crashed near Bergse Maas, approximately 1KM south of Hank (Noord-Brabant), 11KM NNE of Oosterhout. Two of the crew were thrown from the aircraft on impact, the other five were buried deep in the peat with the wreckage, sadly none of the seven crew members survived.
In 2003 a group of Dutch aviation archeologists with the assistance of the municipality of Werkendam, established the Salvage Halifax 1944 Foundation with the intention of salvaging the surviving wreckage and laying to rest the remains of the crew.
The crew of LV905 were subsequently reunited and buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Nijmegen. They are: Pilot P/O E.B. Wilson, Flight Engineer Sgt W.J. White, Navigator F/O S.C. Peterson RCAF, Bomb Aimer F/O N.A. Marston DFC, Wireless Operator F/Sgt J. Henderson, Mid Upper Gunner Sgt G.H. Butler, Rear Gunner Sgt J.T.L. Leblanc RCAF.
(ABOVE) The memorial at Hank, marking the spot where LV905 crashed (Dave Sharp).
Recently we reported that The Salvage Halifax 1944 Foundation and The Mayor of the Municipality of Werkendam, had agreed that we may return one of the aircraft's engines to Breighton and we're pleased to say that this has now been achieved, almost 66 years to the day since it departed on that fateful mission, just in time for Exercise Halifax Shadow.
(BELOW) Les Clark, Tony Simms and Dave Sharp travelled to Holland to meet the Mayor of Werkendam and members of the Foundation on Thursday 27th May at Fort Altena near Werkendam to be presented with an engine from the aircraft together with other salvaged components. These were transported to Breighton on the Friday night ferry to Hull and arrived at Breighton Saturday morning for display in the main hangar in readiness for Halifax Shadow.
It is our intention to display the engine to honour the crew of LV905 and all 78 Squadron personel who lost their lives during WW2 however, the form in which the Memorial will take has yet to be decided - watch this space. Many thanks to Dave Sharp for information and pictures.
The history of the aircraft and salvage is detailed in a collage hung in the Breighton Clubhouse.
(ABOVE) The finished memorial