McKenzie crew and BK810 – an amazing contact

comp original reduced

Top left, the grave of F/O Francis Max McKenzie, Jonkerbos Cemetery and recovered parts from Stirling Mk.III BK810 AA-G

I was really surprised to be contacted by Benny a few days ago regarding information on the McKenzie crew and BK810. Benny is the Founder and Chairman of ‘Planehunters‘, an aircraft recovery team in Belgium, who have found the crash site of BK810.

BK810 crashed in Holland on the 23rd of June 1943 on the Mulheim Op, with the loss of the Pilot, Francis Max McKenzie and John Blank the Air Bomber – the remaining crew members surviving, but ending up as prisoners of war.

Given the sensitivities of such discoveries and rather sadly the problem of relic hunters, Benny does not disclose the location of discovered crash sites, however, if we are able to locate any relatives of the crew, he is of course prepared to pass on additional information regarding the crash site to them. Obviously, Benny is keen to find out as much information as is available about the crew and the aircraft and the local historical society is keen to place a memorial for the crew once the investigation is complete.

Information is a little scant regarding this story, so as a tribute to Francis, John and the rest of the boys and also to help Benny, we really need to try to find out as much as we can about them.

The McKenzie crew arrived at Newmarket between the 3rd and 5th of June 1943.
NZ41344 W/O. Pilot. McKenzie F. Posted from 1657 Con. Unit w.e.f. 5.6.43, (Authy.P/N. 3G/164/43 dated 4.6.43)
NZ421947 Sgt. Nav. (B) West A. Posted from 1657 Con. Unit w.e.f. 5.6.43, (Authy.P/N. 3G/164/43 dated 4.6.43)
NZ415986 Sgt. W/AG. Broadhead B. Posted from 1657 Con. Unit w.e.f. 5.6.43, (Authy.P/N. 3G/164/43 dated 4.6.43)
NZ422175 Sgt. A/B. Blank J. Posted from 1657 Con. Unit w.e.f. 5.6.43, (Authy.P/N. 3G/164/43 dated 4.6.43)
NZ421329 Sgt. A/G. McGonigal E. Posted from 1657 Con. Unit w.e.f. 5.6.43, (Authy.P/N. 3G/164/43 dated 4.6.43)
520340 Sgt. A/G. Crystal J. Posted from 1657  Con. Unit. w.e.f. 3.6.43 (Authy. P/N.3G/164/43 dated 4.6.43)
1323983 F/E. Triptree R. Posted from 1657  Con. Unit. w.e.f. 3.6.43 (Authy. P/N.3G/164/43 dated 4.6.43)

19.6.43. War Ops –  Attack Against Targets at Krefeld
Stirling Mk.I EH880
W/O Mckenzie joins the Joll crew for his 2nd Pilot Op.

22.6.43. War Ops – Attack Against Targets at Mulheim
The target tonight for Bomber Command was Mulheim, almost in the centre of the Ruhr Valley. A force of 557 aircraft took part, comprising 242 Lancasters, 155 Halifaxes, 93 Stirlings (15 from 75(NZ) Sqn), 55 Wellingtons and 13 Mosquito’s.
35 aircraft –

12 Halifaxes, 11 Stirlings (4 from 75(NZ) Sqn), 8 Lancasters and 4 Wellingtons, lost – 6.3 percent of the force.

Although the Pathfinders had to mark the target through a thin cloud layer, their accuracy over this medium sized town, and ferocity of the ensuing bombing, earned praise in local records. In later stages of the raid, the Pathfinder markers and the bombing moved slightly, into the northern part of the town, This had the effect of cutting all road and telephone communications with the neighboring town, Oberhausen. Not even cyclists or motor-cyclists could get out of Mülheim .
The centre and northern parts of the city and the eastern areas of Oberhausen were severely damaged. A large proportion of industrial buildings were severely affected.
It was estimated by the British Bombing Survey Unit that this raid destroyed 64 percent of the town of Mülheim

15 crews were detailed to attack targets at Mulheim. 
Bomb loads carried were 30lb and 4lb incendiaries.
 All aircraft were airborne between 23.34hrs and 23.55hrs.
 Flying diversionary tracks, 75(NZ) aircraft took approximately 1hr 45mins to reach the target area. They successfully bombed their targets, noting the whole area was by now a mass of concentrated fires, with some intermittent explosions. The whole of the Ruhr area was under a pall of smoke from the bombing.

A very heavy AA barrage co-operating with searchlights was encountered and five aircraft received minor shrapnel damage.
Some enemy aircraft were seen, three of which attempted attacks on unit aircraft. None received gunfire damage from these fighter attacks.

Weather conditions in the target area were relatively clear with only 3/10ths cloud, and visibility was quite good except for dense smoke haze.
Navigation was very good.

All aircraft returned to base safely, landing between 03.27hrs and 04.06hrs., except:

Stirling Mk.III EF399 AA-O
Take off 23:37 Newmarket. Last heard on W/T at 02:25 indicating the Stirling had been badly damaged by flak. Soon after making this call, the bomber was intercepted by a night-fighter (Hptm Egmont Prinz zur Lippe Weissenfeld, III./NJG1) and shot down at 02:47 near Markelo (Overijssel) 23km SW of Hengelo, Holland.
(from RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: 1943, W R Chorley, Midland Publishing, page 198)

F/Sgt Kenneth Alfred Burbidge RNZAF NZ412200. Pilot
Died age 22.
Buried Markelo General Cemetery, Netherlands.
F/Sgt Walter Frederick Wilcockson RNZAF NZ42314. Navigator
Died age 34.
Buried Markelo General Cemetery Netherlands.
F/Sgt Andrew James McEwen RNZAF NZ417077. Air Bomber
Died age 25.
Buried Markelo General Cemetery Netherlands.
F/Sgt Donald Ernest Martin RNZAF NZ413872. Wireless Operator
Died age 26.
Buried Markelo General Cemetery Netherlands.
Sgt George Lockey RAFVR 1142645. Flight Engineer
Died age 21.
Buried Markelo General Cemetery Netherlands.
Sgt Gibson Cameron RAFVR 1304742. Mid Upper Gunner
Died age 23.
Buried Markelo General Cemetery, Netherlands.
Sgt Kenneth Fazackerley Shaw RAFVR 1132866. Rear Gunner
Died age 22.
Buried Markelo General Cemetery Netherlands.

Stirling Mk.III EF408 AA-P
Take off 23:40 Newmarket. Hit by flak and crashed near Gelsenkirchen, where all are buried in the Bismark Friedhof. Their graves are now in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
(from RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: 1943, W R Chorley, Midland Publishing, page 199)

F/Sgt Benjamin Brimley Wood RAFVR 656588. Pilot
Died age 24.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.
(more information here)
F/Sgt George King Samson RNZAF NZ402563. Navigator
Died age 27.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.
F/Sgt Stuart Richard Bisset RNZAF NZ415738. Air Bomber
Died age 20.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Germany.
Sgt Edgar Henry Reader RAFVR 1331432. Wireless Operator
Died age 21.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.
(more information here)
Sgt Stanley Lawrence Webb RAFVR 1266998. Flight Engineer
Died age 33.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.
Sgt Frederick Johns Hobbs RAFVR 1609558. Mid Upper Gunner
Died age 19.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.
Sgt Cyril Benjamin Hemmings RAFVR 1235070. Rear Gunner
Died age 21.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

Stirling Mk.III EH889 AA-Z
Take off 23:48 Newmarket. Shot down by a night-fighter (Obit Lothar Linke, IV./NJG1) and fell 00:26 into the  Ijsselmeer. F/L McCrorie lies in Hemelumeroldeferd (Molkwerum) Protestant Curchyard; P/O Stuckey rests in Wonseradeel (Makkum) Protestant Churchyard and the Tod twins lie in Medemblik General Cemetery. Sgt. Kennedy is buried at Wieringermeer (Middenmeer) General Cemetery, while the others are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
(from RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: 1943, W R Chorley, Midland Publishing, page 199)

Lothar Linke (23 October 1909 – 14 May 1943) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Lothar Linke claimed 27 aerial victories, 24 of them at night.[Notes 1] On 14 May 1943 Linke and his crew were forced to bail out after their Bf-110 was hit by British fighters. He struck the tail end of the plane and was killed. On 19 September 1943, he was posthumously awarded the Knight’s Cross. (Wikipedia) – Linke’s identification as the Pilot responsible for shooting down the McCrorie crew seems to be contradicted slightly by Linke apparently being killed some five weeks previously……

F/L Thomas Fraser McCrorie, DFC , RAFVR 1365093/ 68770. Pilot
Died age 27.
Buried Hemelumer-Oldeferd (Molkwerum) Protestent Churchyard Netherlands.
F/Sgt James Leonard Richards RNZAF NZ404946. Air Bomber
Died age 25.
No known grave. Commemorated on Panel 199 Runnymede Memorial.
P/O William Stuckey MiD, RAFVR 51042. Navigator
Died age 29.
Buried Wonsuradeel (Makkum) Protestant Churchyard Netherlands.
Sgt Eric Grainger RAFVR 625045. Flight Engineer
Died age 21.
No known grave. Commemorated on Panel 151 Runnymede Memorial.
WO2 Richard Douglas Tod RCAF R.91741. Wireless Operator
Died age 23.
Buried Mebemblik General Cemetery Netherlands.
WO2 Robert Ernest Tod, DFM, RCAF R.91742. Mid Upper Gunner
Died age 23.
Buried Mebemblik General Cemetery Netherlands.

The Tod twins flew in the same crew from 12th May 1943 onwards.

The citation DFM (7 May 1943) for Robert Tod reads as follows:
This airman was the wireless operator of an aircraft which was damaged by anti-aircraft fire during an operational flight over enemy territory. The aircraft gradually lost height and the pilot was eventually compelled to bring it down on the sea. Meanwhile Sergeant Tod coolly worked his apparatus, maintaining contact with base. His excellent work enabled the aircraft to be continuously plotted from the ground and plans for rescue to be made. The entire crew of the aircraft were picked up within 15 minutes of coming down on the sea. This airman displayed great coolness and unswerving devotion to duty throughout“.
(A little more about this incident here)

Sgt Raymond Anthony Kennedy RAFVR 1003148. Rear Gunner
Died Wednesday age 28.
Buried Wieringermeer (Middenmeer) General Cemetery, Netherlands.

Stirling Mk.III BK810 AA-G
Take off 23:47 Newmarket. Shot down by a combination of flak and night-fighter, the latter believed to have been flown by Hptm Wilhelm Herget of I.NJG1, crashing at 02:10 at Oostrum (Limburg) 3km East of Venray, Holland. P/O McKenzie RNZAF is buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery, but the grave for F/S Blank RNZAF is located in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, thus suggesting he may have left the aircraft prior to the night-fighter making its attack. All five crew except P/O McKenzie and F/S Blank parachuted to safety and were captured as POW’s.
(from RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: 1943, W R Chorley, Midland Publishing, page 199)

Wilhelm Herget (30 June 1910 – 27 March 1974) was a night fighter flying acein the German Luftwaffe during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Herget is credited with 72 aerial victories (57 at night and 16 during daylight missions) in 700 combat sorties. This included 8 RAF bombers claimed in just 50 minutes during a raid against Frankfurt on the night of 20 December 1943. (Wikipedia)

P/O Francis Max McKenzie RNZAF NZ41244. Pilot
Died age 26.
Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery Netherlands.
Sgt Albert Edgar West RNZAF NZ421947. Navigator
Baled out and survived.
PoW No. 6475. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft VI, and 357. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK – 27 Apr 1945.
F/Sgt John Frederick Blank RNZAF NZ422175. Air Bomber
Died age 20.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.
Sgt Basil Henry Broadhead RNZAF NZ415986 Wireless Operator
Baled out and survived.
PoW No. 222488. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag IVB. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK 26 May 1945.
Sgt R A W Triptree RAFVR 1323983. Flight Engineer
Baled out and survived.
PoW No. 358. PoW camps Dulag Luft, Stalags Luft VI and 357. Safe UK not known.
Sgt J R G Crystal RAFVR 520340. Mid Upper Gunner
Baled out and survived.
PoW No. 95. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft VI/357. Promoted to F/Sgt while a PoW. Safe UK, NK.
Sgt Eric William McGonigal RNZAF NZ421329. Rear Gunner
Baled out and survived.
PoW No. 334, PoW Camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags Luft VI and 357. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe U.K. 8 May 1945.

BK810 was only on its 11th Op when it was lost – arriving at Newmarket on the 2nd of May 1943.

02/05/1943 Stirling III BK810 Received from Austin Motor Co., Birmingham. (Authy.41G/1183)
Date Target Pilot
04/05/1943 Dortmund Herbert James Dalzell
12/05/1943 Duisburg Herbert James Dalzell
13/05/1943 Bochum Herbert James Dalzell
17/05/1943 Mining off the West Coast of France Cyril Philip Bailie
21/05/1943 Mining off the Frisian Islands Thomas William Darton
23/05/1943 Dortmund Herbert James Dalzell
01/06/1943 Mining off the Frisian Islands Charles ‘Charlie’ Eddy
05/06/1943 Mining off the Frisian Islands Charles ‘Charlie’ Eddy
11/06/1943 Dusseldorf Michael Wyatt
21/06/1943 Krefeld Jack Joll
22/06/1943 Mannheim Francis Max McKenzie
*13/07/1943 Aachen John Milward Mee
*The Op above is clearly a mistake in the ORB, given the loss of the A/C on the previous raid

One thought on “McKenzie crew and BK810 – an amazing contact

  1. Hub Achten

    McKenzie crew and BK810 – an amazing contact.
    Sgt Basil Henry Broadhead RNZAF NZ415986 Wireless Operator
    Baled out and survived. PoW No. 222488. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag IVB. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK 26 May 1945.
    My father (Karel Achten) was a pilot helper and member of the resistance. He helped Basil Broadhead to escape. Basil spent some time at my fathers house and in a hole in the Woods. He did not escape to England but was captured in Apeldoorn with 4 other airmen and 2 men from the organisation. I would like to know the exact location in Oostrum where the plane was crashed. I live mot so far away from Oostrum where the plane was crashed.
    A few weeks ago i found a letter that Basil wrote in mai 1946 to the Achten family. From that moment I was curious and started searching for information about Basil, the crew and the plane.
    I would like to know if Basil is still alive and make contact with Basil or his family.
    Hub Achten

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s