E.J. Roberts crew 27.7.43 †

24/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Twenty-three aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000lbs., 1,000lbs., and incendiaries of 30lbs., and 4lbs. Of these aircraft, two returned early due to unserviceable W/T and engine trouble respectively, and one aircraft failed to return. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. It was a very concentrated and successful attack. Very large spread fires were seen with black smoke rising to height of 1,400ft., some heavy explosions were also seen. A heavy A.A. barrage co-operating with searchlights were encountered and two aircraft were coned in the searchlights but neither were hit. The aircraft captained by F/O. G. TURNER whilst avoiding a searchlight cone, the starboard wing was struck by a JU 88approaching head on. The enemy aircraft turned over and dived to the ground, it was claimed to be destroyed.. The Stirling was badly damaged having more that 4ft. of the starboard mainplane torn off, and the aileron and aileron controls being useless. The captain had extreme difficulty in controlling the aircraft, but kept it on an even keel with the assistance of the Air-bomber, and after the 3 hours return flight to base, made a perfect landing. Two other short combats took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was very good, with clear visibility, except for haze caused by smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.III EE890 captained by Sergeant H. Nichol.

Stirling Mk.I EE897 AA-G

F/S Walter Donald Whitehead, RNZAF NZ416565 – Pilot.
F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Peter Gerald Dobson, RNZAF NZ439022 – Navigator.
F/S Maurice Edward Parker, RNZAF NZ414332 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Charles Leonard Parker, RNZAF NZ41228 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. H. McLellan, RAFVR 537228 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. George Stokes,   – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Vincent Rex Jamieson, RNZAF NZ416431 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 04:50
Flight Time 06:50

25/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Essen
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000lbs., 1,000lbs., and incendiaries of 30lbs., and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to take off, and two returned early, wing to engine trouble and an intercommunication failure respectively, and one aircraft failed to return. Sixteen aircraft successfully dropped their bombs on target area, which was an absolute mass of flames. Many huge explosions were seen in the midst of the fires. Moderate A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, one aircraft receiving slight damage. An aircraft was held in a searchlight cone for 3 minutes, but avoided it by making diving turns. Some enemy aircraft were seen. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. H.C. WILLIAMS sighted an unidentified aircraft 400 yds away approaching from astern. The Stirling corkscrewed and the Mid-upper and Rear gunners fired a long burst, the enemy aircraft exploded in the air and dived to the ground. It was claimed to be destroyed. Another aircraft was sighted by them approaching on the port quarter, the Rear gunner fired two short bursts and the enemy aircraft broke away. The weather was hazy to the enemy Coast, but clear over the target. Visibility was good except for haze caused by smoke from the fires, which could be seen west of the DUTCH coast. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling MK.III EE892 captained by Sgt.. M. ASHDOWN

Stirling Mk.I EH928 AA-A

Sgt. Cyril Philip Bailie, RAFVR 1578834/ 155786 – Pilot.
F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O William, Turner, RNZAF NZ416579 – Navigator.
Sgt. Joseph Isherwood, RAFVR 1502733 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edward ‘Eddie’ Millward, RAFVR 1385557 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Howard Thompson, RAFVR 1484375 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Thomas Purdie,   – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Ernest Francis Hunting, RAFVR 1358198 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:25 – Landed 03:05
Flight Time 04:40

27/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Twenty two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with bombs of 2,000lb., 1,000lb., and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb.. Two aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This attack was more concentrated than the previous one, colossal fires and explosions were seen with smoke rising to 20,000ft. , a ship was also seen to be on fire in a Dock south of the target. Moderate heavy and light A.A. fire co-operating with search lights operating in belts were encountered, although the A.A. fire was heavier than the previous attack, it was ineffective except for slight damage to three aircraft. Some enemy aircraft were seen. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt.E.J.ROBERTS sighted a JU 88 approaching from port beam above and all gunners opened fire, the enemy aircraft broke away firing and then approached on the port beam below. Mid-upper and Rear gunners fired a long burst and the enemy aircraft was claimed to be damaged. The Stirling was also damaged, having a bomb door blown off and a petrol pipe-line pierced, nevertheless the captain brought his aircraft safely back to base. The weather was good except for 3/10th cloud at the target, visibility was good, although smoke haze prevented identification of ground detail. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:55 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 06:20

29/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with incendiary bombs of 30lb. And 4lb. Two aircraft returned early and the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a very successful attack, large concentrated fires with heavy explosions and smoke rising to 15,000ft., were seen. Moderate heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, which were scattered and unpredictable. One aircraft was held in searchlights cones for periods of 10 and 8 minutes, he avoided them with extreme difficulty and whilst so doing was hit in the fuselage by A.A. fire. Two other aircraft also received slight damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen and the aircraft captained by Sgt. P. Hartstein sighted a JU 88 which came in from astern firing a cannon, the Rear gunner replied and the enemy aircraft broke away. The aircraft captained by F/O. G. DUNCAN sighted a JU 88 on the port quarter , the Mid upper gunner gave a 10 second burst and the enemy aircraft dived away. The aircraft captained by F/S/ E. WILKINSON sighted a JU88 on the port quarter, the enemy aircraft opened fire and the Rear gunner replied, the enemy aircraft then broke away. The aircraft captained by F/S. J. DARNEY encountered an unidentified enemy aircraft which fired from the starboard quarter, the Rear gunner replied and the enemy disappeared. It was clear at the target area and the visibility was good except for haze from the fires. Navigation was excellent. The aircraft captained by P/O. A. SEDUNARY just after bombing, had one of its engines failed. After unsuccessful attempts to start it, he brought the aircraft back to base on three engines and made a perfect landing.

Stirling Mk.III EH880 AA-J

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:25 – Landed 04:05
Flight Time 05:40

02/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb and 4lb. Six of the aircraft returned early owing to severe icing and engine trouble, two failed to return. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Large fires and columns of smoke were seen although this attack was not considered to be a successful as the previous one. Moderate heavy and light A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, which proved to be ineffective. Some enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. The weather was good at the beginning of outward journey, but cloud gathered and was 10/10ths at the target, icing and electrical storms were also encountered. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk. III EH928 captained by Sgt. Baille, P. and BF 557 captained by F/Sgt. Couper, J.A.

Stirling Mk.III BF518 AA-E

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:15 – Landed 05:45
Flight Time 06:30

A.T. Dance listed as Front Gunner

06/08/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb. One aircraft returned early owing to inter-communication failure and bought its mines back and one aircraft failed to return. The remaining aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area and the parachutes were seen to open. Slight heavy A.A. fire and one searchlight were encountered, but were ineffective. A few enemy aircraft were seen, one short combat took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The weather was good above 1,000ft. and visibility was fair to good. On the return journey, F/Sgt. Mayfields aircraft fired at a locomotive and the engine was seen to blow up with a brilliant flash. The missing aircraft was a Stirling Mk.I HK614 captained by F/Sgt. Mayo, J.R.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:45 – Landed 04:35
Flight Time 06:50

16/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Turin
Twelve aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000lb. and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb.. All of the aircraft successfully bombed the target except one which jettisoned its bombs 10 miles N.W. of Turin owing to an electrical equipment failure. Some huge explosions and very large fires were seen, which appeared to be spreading. Slight A.A. fire and a few searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective except for one aircraft that received negligible damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was good except for ground haze. Navigation was very good. All the aircraft were diverted to other aerodromes on return, owing to fog at base.

Stirling Mk.III BF518 AA-E
details in Mepal log regarding fog at base and alternate return destinations for aircraft – try to sort out which went where

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
F/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 07:20

23/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Berlin
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000lb., 500lb., and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb.. Five aircraft returned early owing to failure and three aircraft failed to return. The remainder of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area and all of the crews agreed that it had been well and truly hit. The fires were all concentrated and huge columns of smoke together with heavy explosions could be seen. A moderate heavy A.A. barrage co-operating with searchlights were encountered, but only one aircraft received damage. A great number of enemy aircraft were seen and several combats took place. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. WILKINSON sighted a JU88 passing above, the Mid-upper and Rear Gunners fired and strikes were seen on the enemy aircraft which was then lost sight of and is claimed to have been damaged. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. WHITEHEAD whilst over BERLIN sighted an enemy aircraft on the starboard quarter, 300yds away. The Rear Gunner fired a five second burst and the enemy aircraft was seen in flames diving to earth, and was claimed as probably destroyed. The same aircraft encountered another unidentified aircraft 300yds away on the starboard quarter. The Rear Gunner fired another five seconds burst and the enemy aircraft exploded and disintegrated. It was claimed to be destroyed. The aircraft captained by F/O. A. Alexander, whilst over the target sighted a ME110 approaching from the starboard quarter above and firing at his aircraft. The Mid-upper and Rear Gunners replied with long bursts and the enemy aircraft was seen to be in flames. A fire was later seen on the ground and the enemy aircraft was claimed as probably destroyed. Scattered cloud was met on the outward route, but it was clear over the target. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk.III BF465 captained by P/O A. RANKIN, BF564 captained by P/O A. Sedunary and EE938 captained by W/O T. Fear.
The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. WHITE, O.H. whilst approaching the target area was coned by searchlights and repeatedly hit by heavy A.A. fire, sustaining considerable damage to port mainplane. He continued towards the target though still coned by searchlights and was then attacked by a JU88 sustaining hits in the rear of the fuselage which shattered the rear turret and killed Rear Gunner Sgt. Poole, J.. The aircraft was forced into an uncontrollable dive and the captain warned his crew ‘Prepare to abandon the aircraft’. Unfortunately, in the middle of this order the inter-communication failed, and the Navigator, Air Bomber and Wireless Operator abandoned the aircraft, due to the fact that they were unable to contact their Captain. F/Sgt. WHITE jettisoned his bomb load whilst in the dive directly over the target area, managed to regain control of the aircraft when height had been lost down to 6,000ft. The captain and two remaining members of the crew after taking stock of the damage decided to attempt the long and hazardous return journey to base. This they did successfully and made a perfect crash landing at base without lights, flaps or under carriage, as the electrical leads were shot away.

Stirling Mk.III EE918 AA-D

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 23:05
Flight Time 02:35

27/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Nuremburg
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to return, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Good concentrated fires and heavy explosions were seen. A moderate barrage consisting of light and heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, and two aircraft received slight damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen, one short combat took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The weather was cloudy on the outward journey but clear over the target and visibility was good. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.III EE955 captained by F/Sgt. Higham.

Stirling Mk.III EE918 AA-D

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:20 – Landed 04:40
Flight Time 07:20

30/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Munchen-Gladbach
18 Aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. All aircraft with the exception of one which failed to return, successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very large fires which were well concentrated and spreading, were seen. All crews were of the opinion that this was a good attack. Moderate heavy A.A. fire and a few searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective. A great number of enemy aircraft were seen and some short combats took place. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. Batger, H. sighted an enemy aircraft 600 yards away, ahead and the front gunner fired a long and short burst, the enemy aircraft then disappeared and was claimed as possibly destroyed. . The aircraft captained by F/S McGregor,K. sighted an Me110 astern, the rear gunner fired a long burst. The enemy aircraft replied and dived away with smoke pouring from its engines. It is claimed as a possible destroyed. There was 8/10ths cloud at the target approaches although it was clear in the target area. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was  Stirling MK.III EH938 captained by Sgt. Parkin, T.

Stirling Mk.III EE918 AA-D

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:20 – Landed 04:10
Flight Time 03:50

31/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Berlin
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000lb., 500lb. and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb. Two aircraft failed to take-off and four did not return, the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Large fires were seen, although rather scattered they appeared to be progressing very well. Moderate heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered and one air craft received slight damage. Enemy night-fighters were in great prominence, the aircraft piloted by F/Sgt. Wilkinson, G encountered a JU88 approaching from astern 500yds away. The rear gunner fired a long burst, the enemy aircraft replied and stalled. The mid-upper gunner then fired three long bursts. The enemy aircraft was seen to fall away and is claimed as probably destroyed. Our aircraft received damage to the rear of the fuselage and had part of the tailplane and fin badly damaged. The aircraft captained by F/O Alexander sighted two Me109’s, the first opened fire from the starboard quarter and the rear gunner replied with a short burst. The enemy aircraft stalled and the mid-upper gunner fired a short burst. The enemy aircraft then dived to the ground and exploded, it was claimed to be destroyed. The second Me109 opened fire with a short burst from the port bow to the port quarter. The rear gunner then fired a short burst and tracer was seen to enter the enemy aircraft, which dived. It was claimed as possible destroyed. The aircraft captained by W/O Moseley, P. sighted a Me110 on the port quarter, the mid upper and rear gunner fired a long burst and the enemy aircraft turned over and dived with smoke pouring from its starboard side. It was claimed as probably destroyed. The aircraft captained by P/O C.Logan sighted a Me109 sixty yards astern, the mid-upper and rear gunner  fired and tracer from the rear gunner was seen to hit the aircraft. The Stirling then corkscrewed and the Me109 disappeared. It was claimed to be damaged. Two other aircraft crash landed away from base due to damage caused by enemy fighters, none of the crews were injured however. 8/10ths cloud was encountered on the outward journey and 9’10ths at the target, visibility, nevertheless, was good. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings MK.III EE918 captained by F/Sgt. Roberts,E, EE878 captained by F/Sgt. Henley, D, EE905 captained by F/Sgt. Helm,G. and EF501 captained by F/S McGregor, K.

Stirling Mk.III EE918 AA-D

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Stirling Mk.III EE918 AA-D was brought down over Germany, crashing at Derental, 5 miles South South East of Höxter. All except the mid upper gunner, P/O Haydon, RAAF, died and were buried at Hoxter, but later reinterred at Hanover. Jack Haydon, the only survivor, was captured as a P.o.W.

F/S Eric John Roberts, RNZAF NZ417107 – Pilot.
Killed age 25.
Son of Albert Harry and Gertrude Elizabeth Roberts, of Pleasant Point, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 16. C. 10.

F/O Robert Gorman Rainford, RAFVR 134553 – Navigator.
Killed age 28.
Son of Robert and Mary Rainford, of Blackpool, Lancashire.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 16. C. 11.

P/O John Cecil Giles, RAFVR 138329 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 19.
Son of George Albert and Irene May Giles, of Peckham Rye, London.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 16. C. 9.
‘He was our baby
Our pride and joy,
In life felt so manly
In death just a boy’

F/S Kensington Campbell Jackson, RNZAF NZ42330 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 23.
Son of Albert Ernest Jackson and of Maude Alice Jackson (Nee Holton), of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 16. C. 7.

Sgt. Eric Saunders, RAFVR 1605321 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 20.
Son of Geoffrey Charles and Violet May Saunders, of Wokingham, Berkshire.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 16. C. 12.
‘We shall always remember,
So deep is the night’

F/O Jack Henry Haydon, RAAF AUS.408400 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 2366
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft III
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

F/S Darcy Leslie Conrad Haub, RNZAF NZ42326 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 23.
Son of Reuben Leopold Haub and of Violet Alma Haub (Nee Hartnell), of Whangarei, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Hanover War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 16. C. 8.

Contact from Diane, the daughter of Jack Haydon, adds the following information about the events of that night and Jacks subsequent time as a Prisoner of War.

On the night of 31 August, 1943 he was mid-upper gunner  in Stirling Mk.111 EE918 AA-D and was returning home, having dropped bombs on Berlin, when the aircraft was hit by enemy fire. The aircraft sustained damage but continued to fly for possibly 10 – 15 minutes. Eric, the pilot radioed Jack (as mid upper gunner he was the closest to the rear gun turret) and requested that he go back and check on Darcy (rear gunner) because he had heard nothing from him since the attack. Jack discovered that he was dead and was returning to his position when there was an explosion which broke the plane into two pieces.

Jack, the only member of the crew not in his position, was not in his harness and therefore fell out of the plane which went down with the rest of the crew all still harnessed in. Upon landing, Jack only suffered a badly injured foot, which caused him trouble for the rest of his life. He began walking to habitation, where he was captured.

After  being given medical treatment for this , Jack was now a Prisoner of War and was first moved to Dulag Luft.

Dulag Luft was the abbreviated name given to Prisoner of War (POW) transit camps for Air Force prisoners captured by Germany during the Second World War. Their main purpose was to act as collection and interrogation centres for newly captured aircrew, before being transferred in batches to the permanent camps. Dulag Luft derives from the German Durchgangslager der Luftwaffe (Transit Camp – Air Force). Several camps where set up throughout Germany and the occupied countries, however the main centre used throughout the war was at Oberursel near Frankfurt. A satellite camp at Wetzlar was set up later in the war to help cope with the large numbers of aircrew captured as the bombing campaign intensified against Germany. Allegations of interrogation under torture have been made by numerous POWs who passed through the camps.
Wikipedia

Jack was next moved to the now (in)famous  Stalag Luft III.

Stalag Luft III (Stammlager Luft, or main camp for aircrew) was a Luftwaffe-run prisoner-of-war camp during World War II that housed captured air force servicemen. It was in the German province of Lower Silesia near the town of Sagan (now Żagań in Poland), 100 miles (160 km) southeast of Berlin. The site was selected because it would be difficult to escape by tunneling. The camp is best known for two famous prisoner escapes that took place there by tunneling, which were depicted in the films The Great Escape (1963) and The Wooden Horse (1950), and the books by former prisoners Paul Brickhill and Eric Williams from which these films were adapted.
Wikipedia

During his incarceration, Jack “celebrated” his 21st birthday and the birth of his first daughter.

One of the activities he participated in was stacking wood on the back of a truck. The instructions were to put a nail in every 5th /6th log to secure the load for travel. The prisoners placed a nail in every log so that the logs were absolutely solid wood when they came to be unloaded. Apparently, every PoW took very seriously the order to hinder the enemy in any way possible!

Jack  was involved in the preparations for the Great Escape. His skill as a cabinetmaker was useful to maintain the stability of the bunks which were depleted of wood and he also had gold fillings in his teeth which were removed to make compasses.

On the night of the escape Jack  was waiting to go when the alarm was raised. Like others, he was placed in solitary confinement for at least 3 week and on 5 days running was dragged out and actually lined up in front of a firing squad. No one knows why he was not shot, but one theory was that he was young and good-looking and as Hitler wanted a pure Aryan race he may have been spared for that. He was also given a photograph of a young, pretty blonde woman, maybe to encourage his willingness.

Towards the end of the war, when defeat was inevitable, the Germans removed the prisoners and they began “The March”.

“The March” refers to a series of forced marches during the final stages of the Second World War in Europe. From a total of 257,000 western Allied prisoners of war held in German military prison camps, over 80,000 POWs were forced to march westward across Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany in extreme winter conditions, over about four months between January and April 1945. This series of events has been called various names: “The Great March West”, “The Long March”, “The Long Walk”, “The Long Trek”, “The Black March”, “The Bread March”, but most survivors just called it “The March”. As the Soviet Army was advancing, German authorities decided to evacuate POW camps, to delay liberation of the prisoners. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of German civilian refugees, most of them women and children, as well as civilians of other nationalities, were also making their way westward on foot, in hazardous weather conditions.
Wikipedia

Jack Haydon was returned to England and later embarked on a ship headed for the war against Japan, but peace was declared while he was en route – Dianne does not know if he was returned to England or Australia at that stage.

On his return home he spent many weeks in rehabilitation and in truth, she believes he suffered from PTSD for the rest of his life. He apparently did manage to write to the families of at least 2 of the 3 NZ members of his crew.

Jack Henry Haydon died at the age of 48, in 1971.

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