Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Whitmore crew – some new information

Whitmore Crew cpdandcont

The Whitmore crew.
Back row right to left: Hugh Munn (Air Bomber) and Tame Hawaikirangi Waerea (Rear Gunner)
Front row right to left: David Maurice Adamson (Navigator), Frederick Charles Cowan (Wireless Operator), Richard Charles Whitmore (Pilot), John Bosworth Beresford (Flight Engineer) and Frederick John Charles Chesson (Mid Upper Gunner)
Image from, image supplied and © by Sherryn Cepulis (Niece of Richard Whitmore)

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.

AP Gleidingen (3)

The crash site today.
© Dirk Hartmann

John De Hoop

JdeH cropped

A picture of John taken in June 2012 a day after the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London

It is with great sadness that I must pass on the sad news that John De Hoop has passed away. John flew as Wireless Operator, with the Wylie Wakelin’s crew between October 1944 and January 1945, before completing his tour with 5 Ops with S/L Bob Rodgers.

I had the pleasure, albeit brief ,of meeting John and his lovely wife Helen on a number of Association Reunion weekends, in fact on my first reunion, less than a year after my Father had died, I had the pleasure of John and Helen’s company at their table for the reunion evening meal, John had a dry sense of humour and a forthright way of telling it how he was.

John was a tireless supporter of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park and spent much of his time campaigning and supporting fund raising events.

comp of both images

left picture: the boys signing pictures at a garden center. right picture: meeting Princess Anne at a Buckingham Palace garden party.

In a post of some 3 years ago, John’s wife Helen wrote up a piece to describe the veterans efforts:

“About three years ago a group of Bomber Command veterans (12) were organized out of our local Aircrew Association to raise funds for the building of the BC Memorial in London. A super lady PR was recruited and also a number of authors of WW2 books and a collection of prints and other pictures of WW2 aircraft.

A venue for the display and sale of the items was investigated and we were lucky to find a keen aircraft enthusiast in the owner of a string of Garden nurseries. On each occasion a stall is set up to sell the memorabilia which are signed by the veterans with name and Squadron. With some publicity, large numbers of people have come often being the same people who have previously attended. Up to the moment we have raised in excess of £30,000.

Although the monument is now built the RAF Benevolent is left with the task of the maintenance of the structure so we are carrying on with the fund-raising for as long as we can.

Last week our team were invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and were introduced to Princess Anne which was a nice recognition of our efforts.

Some of us veterans who were in the TV programme ”Bomber Boys” broadcast last year, have been in demand to give talks to various organizations for which we have received extra donations for the Fund. One very rewarding venue (not monetary) has been visiting schools to talk to the children as part of the national curriculum.”

Watch ‘Bomber Boys’ here.

I am sure you will all join me in passing on the most heartfelt of thought to Helen and the family at this sad time.

If you wish to donate to the Bomber Command Memorial you can do so here.

Ake AKe Kia Kaha