Halifax aircraft shot down in Holland in 1943
among flight crews in World War ii they were the best - their mission among the most dangerous.
They were members of the pathfinder squadrons, the planes that flew alone over enemy territory, finding the targets and marking them with flares for the bombers that followed.
it was about the crew of a fourengined Halifax aircraft from 405 squadron, shot down over Holland in July, 1943, that formed the story told at the november meeting of Tillsonburg and district Historical society.
making the presentation were Frank moore, retired royal bank executive, and ben mayville, with the ontario provincial police forensics team here. members of the local military history club, both are devoted to researching canada’s military past.
The story started with a small suitcase.
a crew member of that Halifax pathfinder was alexander mccracken, navigator on the flight. The suitcase contained letters and memorabilia collected by his family.
With close members of the mccracken family deceased, the suitcase had been sold to a friend of moore by the executrix of the estate. later, when informed it would be auctioned off, it was purchased by moore before it hit ebay.
Then the research began: how the plane had crashed and exploded near the village of Ten boer; memories of villagers about the crash; how only one of the seven-man crew had survived and became a prisoner of war.
a tenacious researcher, mayville even found the name of the pilot of the german night fighter and his story of the tactics used to track the Halifax and maneuver for the attack.
a painting of that attack, with the night sky ablaze with the showing of northern lights, was arranged by moore and Jerry Vandyke, a cambridge travel agent. it was taken to Holland and presented to the mayor of Ten boer. mr. moore and their group also visited the graves of the six airmen in the village cemetery.
a book with photos and story of the plane and its crew was also prepared by moore and a copy presented to the Ten boer mayor.
letters from the suitcase, read by moore and mayville, added proof to a point they stressed: That those statistics of war -- the lives lost, the aircraft destroyed -- are about individual persons; young men, many barely past their teen years; about families craving for information about a son reported missing in action; about their grief when learning of his death.
What will happen to the suitcase and its contents? moore wants it to go where that aircrew lost their lives, preserved in the archives of Ten boer.
december 10 meeting of the historical society will be the christmas potluck. bringing items to donate to the food bank or salvation army is always appreciated.
a hand-crafted rocking horse, donated by pat mooney, with a second prize of a painting donated by patricia duwyn, are being offered in the christmas raffle by the society, with the draw date of december 19th making them prime gifts from santa.
The story of an aircraft and its crew, shot down over Holland in July, 1943, was told by Frank Moore and Ben Mayville at the November meeting of Tillsonburg and District Historical Society. They show details of that fateful night in a painting to Betty Lou Wallington and Carol Doerr.
Making rope at Breakfast in Bethlehem Saturday.