Many thanks to Dirk for contacting me and passing on some new information relating to the loss of the Whitmore crew on the 27th of September 1943, the only survivor being Fred Cowan, the crew’s Wireless Operator.
Dirk lives in Hülsede, a small village about 50km form Hannover. For about the last 30 years he has spent time researching aircrew losses form the War in the vicinity. This research has included Stirling Mk.III EH877 JN-C.
Dirk has sent material which has been added to the Whitmore crew page. This includes an interview with a witness of the events of that night, Mr. Karl-Heinz Brandau.
At the time of the crash, Karl-Heinz was 17 and training for a job as a mechanic in Hanover. Due to the raid of the previous night, he had to ride his bike early the following morning to Hanover and on his way, saw a single captured airman, being guarded by German soldiers/ Police and a Red Cross Sister in the village of Gleidingen, the suggestion of this account being that the airman might have been wounded. He later learned the airman (we assume Fred Cowan) had been taken to the German Army Hospital in Hildesheim.
Karl-Heinz did not see the crash, but a number of his younger friends did and were able to say where and how EH877 met its fate. Having been attacked by a night-fighter and set on fire, the Stirling went into a steep dive, exploding in the air, just before hitting the ground. Wreckage was spread very widely, between Gleidingen and Heisede. By the following morning, the crash site had been cordoned off by German air force crew from Hildesheim Airfield for recovery of the wreckage and as such, the boys were not able to get closer to the scene. At a later point when the main wreckage had been recovered, the boys returned to explore the crash site, finding many parts of the bomber and also small parts of human remains……..
In the 1950’s the area where EH877 crashed was completely changed by the building of a railway and the digging of gravel ponds. the map below shows the site of the location of the crash site of EH877.
I was also interested to see within the material that Dirk sent was a picture of the crew from the New Zealand War Graves Project website on Richard Whitmore’s memorial page. The picture is credited to Sherryn Cepulis (the Niece of Richard Whitmore) and is taken apparently from David Adamson’s photo album. Obviously if Sherryn see’s this post, I would love to hear form her.
See all of Dirk’s information on the Whitmore crew page here.