Tag Archives: Keith Halliburton

A remarkable find and another game of chance……..

Young page 001

Arrival page of Arthur Young, Pilot. Arthur undertook  his 2nd dickie Op with my Fathers crew in 1943.

Haliburton page 001

Arrival page of Keith Halliburton, Pilot. Keith and all of his crew were lost on a Gardening Op to Kiel Bay on the 28th April 1943.

McFarland page 002

Arrival page for John McFarland, Navigator with the Murray crew. Shot down on the night of 18/19th April 1944 on a Gardening Op to Kiel Bay. John and the Air Bomber, Douglas Hill were the only survivors and spent the remainder of the war as PoW’s.

Sachtler page 001

Arrival page for Euan Sachtler, Pilot. Euan and the rest of his crew were lost on the night of 2nd May 1944 on the Chambly Op.

Many many thanks to Steve for passing on these log book pages from 4 airmen who served with 75(NZ) Squadron. Steve cannot recall how he came by these pages, but once I had looked through them, I was astonished (again) by the chance and coincidence of the pages he had sent to me.

The first set of pages comes from the logbook of Arthur Russell Young. Arthur completed his 2nd dickie Op with the Mayfield crew on the 19th November to Leverkusen. Whilst Dad and the rest of the boys didn’t know it, this was to be their last Op with the Squadron before being screened – a certain irony therefore that it was Arthur’s first!
View the pages from Arthur’s logbook here

The second logbook is Keith Halliburton’s. Keith and the rest of his crew were lost on the 28th April 1943 on a gardening Op to Kiel Bay. I know the relatives of both David Church, Wireless Operator and Devinder Singh Sidhu, the Flight Engineer with the crew. All of the crew are commemorated on Panel 147 Runnymede Memorial. I hope Dave, Michael and Tony find this little fragment of their shared history of interest.
View the pages from Keith’s logbook here

The third logbook took a little bit of digging to establish the identity of the navigator (partly because the other 3 had the owners names written at the foot of the first page……..:P).
I was astonished to discover it was from the logbook of John McFarland, Navigator with the Murray crew – John’s grand daughter had only contacted me some 2 weeks ago about her grand father and his time in with the Squadron and I had in fact managed to get John to sign my copy of ‘Forever Strong’ the previous November at the UK Squadron Association reunion…….
View the pages from John’s logbook here

The final logbook pages are those of Euan Sachtler, Pilot who was lost with all of his crew on the 2nd May 1944, during a raid on Chambly.
View the pages from Euan’s logbook here

Times change – and places do to…..

Well, what are you supposed to do when you have a total travel time from Thessaloniki, in Greece to Manchester of 10 hours, when only 4.5 of those are actually flying?

I decide to go through the ORB putting together a cut and paste history of the Halliburton crew (Devinder Sidhu and David Church being my interest). Working up from the op where the boys were lost, the realisation dawns on me that David was not part of the crew per se and it makes me think, once again the ORB’s have shown a sad trick of fate. I have known his son, also David Church since last summer reunion and at the time I was amazed that having spent the weeks before talking to Tony about Devinder and then meeting David, that they were the ‘crew’ as it were – apparently not…..

I don’t normally find my self in 1942 – most of my research efforts inevitably have been focused on 1943 – 45. I decided a few months ago to undertake the (in hindsight) slightly stupid attempt of cataloguing the Stirling’s of the Squadron – from arrival to replacement by the Lancasters. A full Sunday satisfied me this was a task greater than a whim and a weekend, but it let me see and begin to remember names – coming back to the ORB for ’42, I am pleased that I still recognise the names.

Running backwards with the Halliburton crew I reach the point where Keith undertakes a 2nd dickie flight with P.J. Buck – now that is a name I remember from my last stay in 1942. Reading back to the description of the raid I come a cross an amazing description of the fate of F/S  C.A. Rothschild’s aircraft and their subsequent rescue – This level of reportage I find really touching – something that certainly humanizes these boy’s experiences and something that slowly evaporates through the following 3 years of the war.

“Stirling III BF455, captained by Flight Sergeant Rothschild, was hit over the target by A.A. Fire and also chased by fighters. This caused him to run out of fuel over the English Channel on the way home, and he eventually crashed landed in the sea 3 miles off Shoreham. The wireless procedure had been perfect, and Spitfires had been escorting it from the French coast, and a Walrus flying boat was waiting for it to crash land. Dinghy drill was perfect and all the crew got in safely after an immaculate landing – the Stirling floating for 25 minutes. The final scene enacted in the Channel as the Walrus collided with the dinghy and dropped all the crew in the sea. No ill effects except for Sgt. Grainger, the Flight Engineer, who suffered from shock.”

When I scroll further back to see the raid destination……it’s Frankfurt – I am sat in its airport typing this…..

New information for another search

Stirling W7513 crew – Sgt. David Church on extreme left, Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter 2nd left, Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu 3rd from left, centre Sgt. Keith Halliburton – remainder awaiting identification. (Photo courtesy of David Church and 75 Squadron Association, England branch)

I think its always important to remember that I am not the only person searching for information about a relative – on Saturday morning Dave Church came up to me to let me know that he had just been messaged by his son – with the news that he had found a Danish website that seemed to identify the place (approximately) where his Fathers aircraft crashed on the 28th April 1943 on a mining operation to Kiel.

Here is the Google map with a pin identifying the approximate place of the crash

What made David’s loss all the more cruel was that despite arriving with a crew of his own, for a reason I do not know, he was drafted into the Halliburton for his first and as it sadly transpired, only operational raid – David’s ‘original’ crew, captained by Ronald Hugh Laud (based on information linking individual members from the Squadron nominal roll) were lost 2 months later on the 12th of June on a raid to Dusseldorf, the only survivor being Sgt. M.K. Matthews, the rear gunner who ended up a PoW.

The Loss Card details are as follows for the crew/ raid;
Mission: Gardening (Mine Laying – Kiel)
Date: 28/29th April 1943
Unit: No.75 Squadron (R.N.Z.A.F.)
Type: Stirling I
Serial: W7513
Code: AA-G
Base: Newmarket, Suffolk
Location: Unknown – probably over target area.

Pilot: Sgt. Keith Halliburton 415411 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 23. Killed
F/Eng: Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu 946455 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? Killed
Nav: Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter 42297 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 29. Killed
A/B: Sgt. Leslie Thomas Scarfe 1261331 R.A.F.V.R. Age 21. Killed
W/Op: Sgt. David Church 1196564 R.A.F.V.R. Age 29. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Henry George Boxall 1393248 Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alexander Clunie Howell 392104 Age 23. Killed

Took off at 20.42 hrs from R.A.F. Newmarket in Suffolk. Part of a huge 207 aircraft force on a “Gardening” (Mine laying) operation. A total of 593 mines were laid off Heligoland, in the river Elbe and in the Great and Little Belts. Low cloud base forced the aircraft to fly very low over the German and Danish coasts. Because of this they took very heavy flak and also attacks from Luftwaffe night fighters.
Although this was the largest mine laying operation in one night of the whole war it came at a price. A total of 22 aircraft were lost (75 Squadron lost 4 aircraft alone, with a total of 28 crew members killed) – 9 aircraft were lost by the night fighters and the remainder from the flak.

Stirling W7513 is not on the Luftwaffe claims list for this raid so it is thought that it had been taken down by flak – the aircraft was lost without trace.

Listening to him and the excitement in his voice was actually quite humbling – Dave has been researching his Father for a considerable amount of time and the most agonising part of his search has always remained that a crash site was not known – I can only imagine this need to find a place – and I suppose looking at the bigger picture of my search over the last 14 months, I at least had and knew Bob – Dave was not so lucky.

I was surprised when Dave’s excitement at this new revelation was tempered by the fact that because this was not an ‘official’ identification of the crash site, it would be unlikely that RAF records would be updated, to change the location to a specific place, rather than simply ‘unknown’.