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Can you help?
Have you ever witnessed any aircraft crashes during World War Two? We are looking to hear from anyone with ANY information regarding aircraft crashes in the UK and Europe. Have you ever wanted to know more about why it crashed or perhaps you have often wondered about the pilots name, age etc. If so we can often help.
 
WANTED
WW2 Casualty Groups - RAF, Army, Navy. We will ensure their names are not forgotten.
 
WANTED
Volunteers wanted to attend museum during open weekends - would suit retired person within the Surrey/Sussex area.
 
BAPC Member

Member of the British Aviation Preservation Council

WINGS MUSEUM
REGISTERED CHARITY
NO. 1117879
 
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Handley Page Halifax II Serial No. DT556 – 76 Squadron Royal Air Force

 
 
 
Memorial dedication to the crew of Halifax DT556 - 21st June 2014.
 
On Saturday 21st June 2014 a memorial was unveiled at Gootress near the town of Kasterlee in Belgium to the crew of a 76 Squadron Halifax bomber which was shot down in the early hours of 2nd March 1943. The memorial was a joint venture between the Wings Museum, the Heemkundige Kring a local history group in Kasterlee and the community of Kasterlee. 11 relatives of 2 of the crew attended the memorial service traveling from England & Canada.
 
The investigation into the circumstances of the loss of Halifax DT556 & her crew were first investigated in 1998 when the Wings Museum wrote to the local Mayor for information on the incident. Several searches were made over the years by the Wings Musuem with lots of small fragments being recovered, these findings backed up eye witness reports that the Halifax exploded over the small hamlet of Gootress scattering wreckage on the surface of the fields. These pieces also confirmed that this was indeed a Mark II Halifax by identification from part numbers located on the wreckage. The investigation came full circle when finally in 2014 a memorial was unveiled to commemorate the crew.
 
The Last Flight of DT556...
 
Handley Page Halifax II Serial Number DT556 MP-U was one of two 76 Squadron Halifaxes lost on the night of the 1st/2nd March 1943. The crew of DT556 took off at 18.27 from RAF Linton-on-Ouse to bomb Berlin. A second pilot by the name of Arthur Thomas Wheatley was on board DT556 to gain combat air experience.
 
After bombing the target and on the homeward leg of the flight DT556 was shot down by a German night fighter at 00.13 at Grootrees near Kasterlee in Begium. The aircraft exploded in mid air scattering wreckage over a 1km radius. Tragically out of the 8 crew members on board only 3 managed to bale out, 2 being captured by the Germans and 1 managed to evade back to England. 5 of the crew were buried at ?SCHOONSELHOF Cemetery.
 
On 1/2nd March 1943 a bomber force of 302 aircraft which was comprised of 156 Lancasters, 86 Halifaxes, and 60 Stirlings were briefed to bomb Berlin. During the raid the Pathfinders experienced difficulty in producing concentrated marking because individual parts of the extensive built-up city area of Berlin could not be distinguished on the H2S screens. Bombing photographs showed that the attack was spread over more than 100 square miles with the main emphasis in the south-west of the city. However, because larger numbers of aircraft were now being used and because those aircraft were now carrying a greater average bomb load, the proportion of the force which did hit Berlin caused more damage than any previous raid to this target. This type of result, with significant damage still being caused by only partially successful attacks was becoming a regular feature of Bomber Command raids. Some bombs hit the Telefunken works at which the H2S set taken from the Stirling shot down near Rotterdam was being reassembled.
 
The set was completely destroyed in the bombing but a Halifax of 35 Squadron with an almost intact set crashed in Holland on this night and the Germans were able to resume their research into H2S immediately. 17 aircraft, they being 7 Lancasters, 6 Halifaxes, and 4 Stirlings were lost on the raid. Returning from the raid shortly after midnight the aircraft was intercepted by an German night-fighter and shot down at 0013 hours, crashing between Kasterlee and Turnhaut (Antwerpen), Belgium. Five of the crew were killed and are interred in the same cemetery, two were captured, but Flying Officer E. L. Souter-Smith avoided capture and reached Switzerland where he was interned. After the Second World War he moved to Australia, but was sadly killed in a motoring accident in 1973.
 
The Crew of Halifax DT556
     
Remembrence Remembrence Remembrence
Fletcher (DFM, MID)
JOHN LAWRENCE
Wheatley
ARTHUR THOMAS
Blackman
W.P.
Rank: Squadron Leader
Age: 29
Trade: Pilot
Ser. No: 44065
Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Age: 22
Trade: 2nd Pilot
Ser. No: 42290
Rank: Pilot Officer
Age: Not known
Trade: Bomb Aimer
Taken Prisoner of War by Germans
     
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sgt_trinder_halifax_dt556
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Crutch
V.J.
Trinder
LOUIS ARTHUR
Standley (RCAF)
GRENVILLE GORDON
Rank: Sergent
Age: 20
Trade: Flight Engineer
Taken Prisoner of War by Germans
Rank: Sergeant
Age: 19
Trade: Air Gunner
Ser. No: 1320028
Rank: Pilot Officer
Age: 22
Trade: W.Op./Air Gnr.
Ser. No: J/17008
John's personal account>    
     
Remembrence Remembrence  
Moore (RCAF)
HAROLD BARBOUR
Souter-Smith
Ernest Lawrence
 
Rank: Pilot Officer
Age: 23
Trade: Air Gunner
Ser. No: J/17007
Rank: Flying Officer
Age: 32
Trade: Navigator
Ser No. 126710
 
     
 
The memorial service and unveiling ceremony took place on Saturday 21st June 2014 attended by the mayor of Kasterlee. Speeches were read by the mayor, a representative of the Heemkundige Kring Historical Society and Luc Cox an Aviation hitorian. The memorial service included a faultless sounding of the last post followed by laying of wreaths and flowers by the families and then a flypast by 3 Piper Cubs over the crash site. An exhibition presented by the Wings Museum about the aircraft and its gallant crew were then attended in the marque close to the crash site, this was then followed on with a reception at a local restaurant.
 
 
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We were pleased to be able to show the families where the Halifax came to earth 70 years ago.
 
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The family of Grenville Stanley stand on the exact spot where the Halifax crashed - visiting the exact crash site was an important & emotional part of their visit
 
 
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Representative from the family of Stanley placing flowers at the momunment
 
 
A representative of the Trinder familyl placing flowers in memory of their loved one
 
 
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A touching & moving message from the Trinder family
 
 
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The Kasterlee Fire Brigade who always show great support & repect
 
 
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Family members of Sgt. Trinder & P.O. Stanley stand next to the memorial
 
 
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Representatives from the community of Kasterlee - without their co-operation none of this would be possible
 
 
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The Marque erected close to the crash site
 
 
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The Wings Museum exhibition inside the Marque
 
 
Visit by families to Schoonselhff Common Wealth War Graves
 
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They lay in peace in the soil that they gave their lives to protect.
 
 
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Our Candadian friends John & Maxwell Ingalls from Manitoba Canada.
 
 
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They travelled a long way from Canada to visit the grave of Greenville Stanley and even after all this time the tears were still as fresh as they were 70 years ago.
 
 
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A relative of Sgt. Trinder pays their respects, in background relatives of Pilot Officer Grenville Stanley from Canada pay their personal emotional tributes.
 
 
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Those crew members who lost their lives are buried together in a row of five at Schoonselhof.
 
Remembrence
 
 
With thanks to the community of Kasterlee. Also Heemkundige Kring local history group, Marcel Borgh, Luc Cox, Kasterlee Fire Brigade and of course the families for attending.
 
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The Kasterlee Fire Brigade who always show great support & repect