The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market-Garden

The crash of Halifax-II JD207 on the Kampina

On 26 July 1943 at 01.20 hrs a British Halifax-II bomber aircraft crashed on the Kampina heather north of Oisterwijk.  

This Halifax-II fell victim to a German night fighter when it was on the return flight from a raid on the German city of Essen in the Ruhr area, Germany's industrial hart.

The aircraft had a British/Canadian crew of seven men onboard and flew as number 26 in a formation of Halifax aircraft.

Four miles North-East of Tilburg, while at 18.700 feet, the aircraft was suddenly attacked by an enemy night fighter.

With a series of deafening crashes followed by a load roar the bomber pitched forward and started to go down with the starboard wing on fire after the German night fighter scored a direct hit.

The aircraft plunged to earth and moments later crashed on the Kampina heath, some 218 yards south of moor Belvertsven, were the aircraft partly burned out.

Radio Operator Smith and Pilot/Officer Hartnell-Beavis were the only crew members that had been able to bail from the doomed aircraft using parachute’s.

The remainder of the crew perished either during the attack ore in the crash.

After the crash the aircrafts front section burned out halfway to the wings, the tail section remained reasonably intact.

 

The Halifax-II with serial number JD207 and code ZA-V was nicknamed by her crew as 'V' for Victor . \

The aircraft was attached to "A" Flight in spite it was a 'C' flight bomber.

The aircraft was a Royal Air Force 10 squadron bomber based on RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, England.  

10 squadron was the only bomber squadron operating from this airfield during the Second World War and it flew a total of 300 bombing missions in which 128 Halifax bombers were lost.

 

Badge RAF 10 Squadron

The formation of bomber aircraft from RAF 10 squadron took off from RAF Melbourne on 25 July around

22.15 hrs for a successful bombing mission on Essen in Germany.

During their return flight the Halifax-II piloted by P/O Hartnell-Beavis fell victim to the German Major/Group commander Werner Streib, a German fighter pilot of NJG/1. (Nacht Jagt Geschwader/1)

This German pilot had taken off from airfield Venlo in occupied Holland.

The experienced Werner Streib was a real "ace" and at the end of the war he could count no less than 66 victory’s with a total of 65 score’s during night missions.

The often as "Father of Nachtjagt" named Streib developed the operational tactics of the ‘Nacht Jagt’ (Night Hunt) during the beginning until the middle of the Second World War.

Together with pilot Wolfgang Falck he developed the Luftwaffe night fighter section into a effective group that fought against the night bombing offensive, launched by the Royal Air Force.

 

 

During the months of June and July of 1943 Werner Streib flew the prototype night fighter aircraft Heinkel He.219 in which he claimed to have shot down five Lancaster bombers during the month of June in just 30 minutes!  

One night during his return to the airfield of Venlo Streib miscalculated his approach by a poorly lighted runway and touched down hard on the runway.

The aircraft broke apart on landing with the cockpit section sliding down the runway for 55 yards.  

Streib and his radar technician where slightly injured and the aircraft was totally written off.

Nevertheless Streib kept on flying the prototype (Heinkel He.219) in the 10 days that followed in which he managed to shoot down twenty RAF enemy aircraft, including six Havilland Mosquito's.

During his night mission with the new fighter he had adopted the tactic to infiltrate between the formations of enemy bombers which enabled him to successfully shoot down no less than four Halifax bombers and one Lancaster.

Werner Streib would end his career at the end of the war as Inspector of the Night Fighters with the rank of Oberst.

 

 

 

 

A British Halifax bomber
Pilot/Officer of the Halifax II, F J. Hartnell-Beavis

De crew members onboard the Halifax-II where:

 

S/L, F J. Hartnell-Beavis (DFC, Distinguished Flying Cross) - Pilot/Officer

P/O, C E. Hightower, RCAF, (DFC) - Engineer/Co-Pilot, KIA, age 32

P/O, W. Jones-Navigator, KIA, age 34  

P/O, D B. Ackerly- Bomb-Aimer, KIA, age 22   

Sgt, R A. Smith - Radio-Operator

Sgt, W. Collins-Gunner, KIA, age 21  

F/O, G. Downey - Tail-Gunner, KIA, age 36

 

After the crash the aircraft was thoroughly investigated by a technical team of the German army.

Some objects were removed from the wreckage and taken for further investigation.

What remained of the bomber was removed in parts to a unknown location.

Such aircraft parts were often processed as a raw material after they were transported by train to either Germany or somewhere in Holland.

Many aircraft that had crashed in Holland ended up at Camp Vught near ‘s-Hertogenbosch or airfield Ypenburg near The Hague were the Germans had aircraft scrap yards.

 

 

The five crew members that were killed in the crash were removed from the wreckage by the Germans and with military honour and in the presence of a priest buried at the General cemetery in Woensel, Eindhoven.

After the war P/O, C E. Hightower of the Royal Canadian Air Force was relocated and buried on the Canadian military cemetery in Groesbeek in Holland.

 

 

After Sgt Raymond A. Smith (radio operator) bailed out by parachute he landed in a forest approximately 5 miles from the city of Tilburg.

There he received help from two English speaking Dutch and was brought to the city of Rotterdam.

From Rotterdam he was hidden  at various places in Holland between 26 June and 9 October.

On 9 October he left for Paris by means of Amsterdam were he stayed until 14 October.

He left Paris on 14 October and travelled to Bordeaux and Bayonne.  

Along with a few companions he reached Dax in southern France were he spent a day in a hotel.

When they wanted to travel to the Spanish Irun by train they where warned in time that the train they wanted to board was full of enemy troops.

One way or another they were able to hide underneath a train carriage by clinging on the cross girders with hands and feet.

It became a hazardous journey and they could just keep themselves from falling from the train during the time the it was moving.

After they reached Hendaye near the Spanish border they crawled from underneath the train carriage and ran up the tracks in search for the train to Lisbon.

They discovered that the Lisbon train had already left so they spend the day hiding underneath a train again.

In the end they were able to board a train to the Spanish San Sebastian were they arrived on 16 October.

Since they didn’t have any tickets they managed to get out of the train station by walking through the goods entrance while wearing berets and coveralls for disguise.

In the main street they stopped a man and asked him the way to the British consulate.

The man showed them the way and there they waited until personnel of the consulate turned up.

The next day they were taken to Madrid and from there to Gibraltar were they arrived on 25 October

Two days later Raymond Smith reached England safe and uninjured.

 

 

Pilot Hartnell-Beavis was also able to bail out by parachute and he came down safely north of Oisterwijk.

Hartnell-Beavis was an experienced pilot who was at the end of his 2nd ‘tour’ (he had flown 25 ops, 5 more than the required 20 for a second tour).

Hartnell-Beavis had decided to fly the mission despite the fact that he didn’t need to fly anymore.

He was awaiting posting at a transport command, but because of rivalry with the 'Timber crew’ he had hoped to get one ahead of them since they were not scheduled to fly this mission.

Hartnell-Beavis had experienced an aircraft accident during his career once before when he flew Blentheims at 82 Squadron.  

During a flight in bad weather his aircraft on 9 June 1940 his Blenheim R3759 was hit by lightning causing him to make a forced landing on Hendon aerodrome.       

After two attempts to land in very bad weather he touched down besides the runway and couldn’t prevent crashing into a gun emplacement.

Hartnell-Beavis was seriously injured in the crash as was his navigator Sgt. Phipps.

 

 

After Hartnell-Beavis landed safely by parachute on the Kampina heath he could see his burning aircraft from a distance and decided to leave the area quickly.  

He was able to reach the area of Eindhoven all the way up to the Belgium/Dutch border the following day’s.

There he came in to contact with locals who gave him the impression of dealing with the underground were he was assiduously in search for in the hope to be helped with an escape back to England.  

Unfortunately his helpers had other plans and betrayed him by delivering him to the Germans.  

He became imprisoned and was interrogated by the Germans and finally transported to Germany by means of Amsterdam were he was locked up in prisoners camp Stalag Luft III.

Stalag Luft III was the camp from were in 1944 the famous Great Escape took place (from the movie).  

By digging tunnels underneath the camps fence work more than seventy prisoners were able to escape.

The Germans were able to catch most of the prisoners again and in order to set an example for any future attempts to escape more than fifty of the caught  prisoners were executed.  

Three prisoners managed to stay out of the hands of the Germans and found their way to safety.

The Dutch prisoner Bram van der Stok was one of the lucky three that could escape.

While the two Norwegian prisoners Per Bergsland and Jens Müller paddled to neutral Sweden by boat Bram van der Stok bicycled on his own to Holland.

Because Hartnell-Beavis had studied architecture before the war he could assist in making a monument for the murdered escapee’s from Stalag Luft III.

This monument, named “The Fifty”, was placed on the local cemetery near Stalag Luft III, along the road leading to the entrance of the former camp.

Hartnell-Beavis survived his imprisonment and the war and he returned to England were he lived until he passed away in July of 2007.

 

Above a German Heinkel He.219 night fighter.
Left the German pilot Major/gruppenkommandeur Werner Streib.

The Luftwaffe allowed the prisoners to design and make the monument for the fifty Allied prisoners who were killed by the Germans.  

The monument was designed by Wilton Todd (169 Sqdn shot down 15/16 Feb 1944 Mosquito II HJ707 VI-B).

The three stone blocks with the fifty names were engraved by Dickie Head (139 Sqdn shot down 24-25 Nov 1943 Mosquito IV DZ614) and F. J. John Hartnell-Beavis.

On the monument it reads “in memory of the officers who gave their lives. Sagan March 1944.”

 

De crash van Halifax-II JD207 op de Kampina
Monument The Fifty at Stalag Luft III