21/22 May 1944
510 Lancasters and 22 Mosquitoes of 1, 3, 5 and 8 Groups carried out the first large raid on this target for a year. 29 Lancasters were lost, 5.5% of the force.
The target was covered by cloud but the Oboe
sky-marking was accurate and much damage was caused in the southern areas of the city. 350 buildings were destroyed and 665 seriously damaged but no other details of material damage are available. 124 people were killed.
Roosendaal-Nispen, Noord Brabant, the Netherlands
Two Lancasters crashed, one was shot down a minute before the air raid alarm was sounded from 02:05 – 2:50. This hit and four others elsewhere were claimed by Hauptmann Martin Drewes, who seems to have considered himself as the Red Baron of the Luftwaffe in WWII.
One plane, a Lancaster I, DV 365, came down near the Kapelberg just north of Roosendaal, parts of the plane were found in different places in the city. The other one, a Lancaster III, LM 539, crashed on a shed next to a house in Nispen, a village a few miles south of Roosendaal. Parts were scattered for miles around.
The police journal for that night is rather chaotic, which is understandable. Bodies and parts of planes found everywhere. Survivors they found were handed over to the Germans, the trains were searched by the police with “no positive result”. The DV 365 had come down very close to the railway tracks to Antwerp.
In a letter to the Dutch Red Cross, dated 5 June, the mayor of Roosendaal and Nispen writes he didn’t receive the wills or identity tags of the crew. He supplied the Red Cross with the details as far as he had been able to find out. Also a map of the general cemetery showing where the dead were buried.
The DV365 and its crew:
When lost this aircraft had a total of 150 hours Airborne 22:35 21 May 44 from Elsham Wolds.
Pilot Officer E.H. Stansel RCAF was found alive with his parachute on the roof of a house in Roosendaal, PoW
Flight Engineer Robert Walter Ball, 20, KIA
Navigator Arthur Wilfred Cooper, 32, KIA
F/S H.L. Arrowsmith, PoW
Sgt G.Webster, PoW
Gunner Christopher Lister, KIA
Gunner Arthur Leslie.Green, 22, KIA
F/S H.L.Arrowsmith was interned in Camp L7. PoW No.73.
F/O E.H.Stansel in Camp L3, PoW No.6081.
Sgt G.Webster initially evaded until captured in Antwerp 10 Jul 44 and joined his comrade in Camp L7, PoW No.422.
The LM539 and its crew:
When lost, this aircraft had a total of 64 hours Airborne 22:21 21May44 from Fiskerton.
Pilot Officer H.J. Carrington RAAF, KIA
Flight Engineer Ronald F. Coleman, 21, KIA
Navigator Joseph Harold England Hales, 31, KIA
Bomb Aimer S.A.Silver RAAF, PoW
Wireless Operator Ronald Charles Hill, 20, KIA
Mid-Upper Gunner Robert William Berry, 19, KIA
Rear Gunner Lawrence Foulkes, 19, KIA
This crew were on the seventh operation. F/S S.A.Silver was interned in Camp L7, PoW No.238.
Sgt Foulkes was an ex-ATC cadet, whose Service Number indicates he had served less than a year.
On return from PoW Camp, W/O Silver RAAF applied to become a member of the
'Caterpillar Club'; his application reads as follows:
"Dear Sir, Life is sweet and I'm thankfully disposed towards an Irving Chute; May 44 saw me
float earthwards... of course, if the chute had failed to function, a year’s PoW life would not
have materialised - that can be overlooked. I wish to apply for membership of the Caterpillar
Faithfully yours S.A. Silver AUS 419348 W/O
Politie-journaal gemeente Politie Roosendaal en Nispen (Roosendaal Archives)
Beware of the Dog at War: Operational Diary of 49 Squadron Spanning Forty Nine Years, 1916-1965, by John Ward.
Lost Bombers: www.lostbombers.co.uk/
Various information from Dick Breedijk, RAFA, Amsterdam Branch