Beesel Roman Catholic Cemetery – Netherlands

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On the 21st of July 1944, 147 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos took off to attack the Fischer Tropsch oil refinery/aviation fuel producer in Homberg. Although the raid was considered a relative success, this success came at a massive price – whilst the ground anti aircraft  defenses were as expected, the German Nachtjagd fighters were merciless in their assault when they came across the approaching bombers.  20 aircraft failed to return – 7 of which were from 75(NZ) Squadron RAF – the Squadrons highest single loss figure for any raid during the War.

Lancaster Mk I HK56, AA-Q, Piloted by F/S Neil Douglas Davidson was intercepted by a German night-fighter on the outbound leg of their flight, at approximately 01.25 hrs at Heibloem, Limburg, 5 miles South, South West of Venlo Holland.

In a desperate attempt to control the now blazing and badly damaged aircraft, F/S Davidson flew over the River Maas, but then turned and tried to land it in the river, he succeeded but the aircraft hit the river bank and with its full bomb load on board, HK569 exploded.

Prior to impact, the Air Bomber, Sgt. T. G. Little had baled out, but was seriously injured on landing, after his parachute failed to open properly. Sgt. Little was captured and spent the remainder of the War as a Prisoner of War in Stalag Luft IXC.

Prior to impact with the river bank, the tail section of the aircraft broke away and landed in a nearby field. The Rear Gunner, F/S Henry is thought to have perhaps survived in this wreckage for up to 2 days after the crash, but his body was not found until 2 weeks later by a farm labourer, working with the Dutch Resistance. Henry’s body was buried in Beesel Roman Catholic Cemetery.

F/S Henry John Hiscox RAFVR 928092 – Rear Gunner. Age 35

The ferocity of the impact and subsequent explosion meant that no remains of the rest of the crew were found. The are commemorated  at the Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England

F/S Neil Douglas Davidson RNZAF NZ422057 – Pilot. Age 21
Sgt Arthur Ernest John Goddard RAFVR 1323147 – Navigator. Age 22
Sgt Douglas Corris RAFVR 1501099 Wireless Operator. Age 21
Sgt Robert Gerald Sloman RAFVR 914220 – Flight Engineer. Age 24
Sgt Raymond Stanley Lang RAFVR 1896528 – Mid Upper Gunner. Age 32

To read a more detailed account of the loss of the Davidson crew and to see the list of all 75(NZ) Squadron RAF crew lost on the 21st July 1944 Homberg Op, click here.

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