Tag Archives: 21st July 1944

Emotional journey for Kiwi WW2 bomber pilot’s family

A number of people have passed on the link at the bottom of this post that shows an article form TVNZ One News about a moving reunion for the Niece of Brian Roche who was killed with 4 other members of his crew when their Lancaster crashed in a potato field in Heythuysen in Holland. The villagers have remembered the airmen every year since, but it was only this year that Brian’s Niece, Sharnee McGill travelled from New Zealand to take part in the remembrance ceremony. Here she met Ria Schmeider, whose Father had arrived at the crashed aircraft to discover a suitcase full of sensitive navigation documents. At personal risk to himself and his family, he kept and hid the documents from the Germans.

The Roche crew’s Lancaster crashed on its return from Homberg – one of seven aircraft lost on the nightmare Op to this target on the 21st July 1944 – the Squadrons highest single loss total during the War.

Roche Crew – 5 crew killed, 2 captured.
Lancaster Mk.I ME752
F/S Gerald Brian Roche RNZAF NZ413219 – Pilot.
Died age 21. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery Nijmegen Netherlands.
F/O Horace Callow RNZAF NZ427185 – Navigator.
Died age 27. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands.
F/S John Burgess RNZAF NZ4211008 – Air Bomber.
PoW no. 442. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft Vii. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK 26 May 1945.
Sgt Jack Frank MacDonald Barson RAFVR 1324529 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 21. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands
Sgt Joseph Armstrong RAFVR 1684332 – Flight Engineer.
Died age 40. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery War Cemetery, Netherlands.
F/S William Edward Mcgee RNZAF NZ427902 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Successfully evaded capture and was safe in the U.K. 14 September 1944.
F/S Keith Emmett Smith RNZAF NZ425179 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 21. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery Nijmegen Netherlands.

An emotional journey