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John Vincent and the last flight of Halifax LL307 (NF-J)

FS J.K.R. Vincent

In all the histories of WWII very little mention is made of the people who supported and supplied the Resistance Agents working in occupied Europe. My Uncle, John Vincent, was one of these. As a crew member (tail gunner) he flew many times in a lone aircraft low over hostile lands dropping agents and supplies. I cannot guarantee that the information included in the external links is accurate but I have no reason to doubt any of them.
John Vincent 1336764, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

John had joined up as soon as he could after the war had started.

Earlier, on 17 Dec 1943, he and the rest of the crew had had to bail out over East Anglia when upon returning from a mission (OPERATION MARC 1) they found that the entire country was fog bound and they had nowhere to land. Without any visual references they had to bail out when they reached England, leaving the plane to crash in the North Sea. Unfortunately 4 of the crew landed in water (near Harwich) and were drowned. The aircraft (LW280 NF-K) and crew at that time are pictured below: (JV is on the right)

Sgt James Johnstone Hannah RAFVR Wireless Op / Gunner – died buried at Cathcart Cemetery
Sgt J.A. Vick – rescued
F/Sgt T.M. Thomas – Pilot – rescued
Sgt John Lynch RAFVR – Navigator – died buried at Hamilton West Cemetery
Sgt Tom Bailey Hawkes RAFVR Flight Engineer – died buried at Luton General Cemetery
Sgt Robert Marshall RAFVR – Air Bomber – died buried at Larkhall Cemetery, Dalserf, Lanarkshire
Sgt J.K.R. Vincent – rescued

Click here for a further picture of the crew of LW280

By June 1944 John had finished his tour and was due to take up a post in training. As the most dangerous part of his career had ended, he had got married. The crew were then asked to fly a few more missions as “there was a put of push on” (note the date)…

Of note: The Halifax bombers used by 138 Sqdn were modified and the mid turret removed to create more space – the full crew was kept as one “Air Gunner” was actually the despatcher, however it did leave the aircraft underarmed.

The information above was obtained from my father (John’s brother). Further details of the crew below the picture are taken from Aircraft lost on Allied Force’s Special Duty Operations & Associated Roll of Honour from the Carpetbagger Aviation Museum
3 June 1944

On 2 June 1944 – Halifax Mk V LL307 (NF-J) of 138 Squadron took off from RAF Tempsford carrying three agents to be dropped over Belgium.

They were shot down and crashed near Stavenisse, Tholen, Holland.

RAF Operation name: “RODERIGO 1″ and “OSRIC 77″

Belgian operation: “Andromaque”

Crew details (of the deceased) taken from Roll of Honour – Bedfordshire – Tempsford – Air Crew Losses:
Crew:
NELSON Eric
[Flight Sergeant] Pilot Officer 183617, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. W.Op./Air Gnr. Died on Saturday 3rd June 1944. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10.
PARRY Eric
Sergeant 1862502, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Flt. Engr. Died on Saturday 3rd June 1944. Age 20. Son of John Owen Parry, and of Elizabeth Parry, of Upper Bangor, Caernarvonshire. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10.
SMITH, DFC Derrick Albert John
Flying Officer , Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Nav. Died on Saturday 3rd June 1944. Husband of Elsa Smith. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10.
THOMAS Thomas Morgan
Flight Lieutenant 168842, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Pilot. Died on Saturday 3rd June 1944. Age 31. Son of David Daniel and Charlotte Thomas; husband of Rose Hannah Thomas. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10.
VICK James Albert
Sergeant 2209015, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died on Saturday 3rd June 1944. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10.
VINCENT John Keith Robert
Flight Sergeant 1336764, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Air Gnr. Died on Saturday 3rd June 1944. Age 22. Son of Dr. Leslie Jack Vincent, and of Marguerite (Rita) Vincent, of Norbury, Surrey; husband of Margaret Lewis (formerly Vincent) of Skegness, Lincolnshire. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10..
WARBOYS Leslie Victor
Flying Officer 131987, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Air Bomber. Died on Saturday 3rd June 1944. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10..
Agents:
FILOT Henri
Sergeant. SOE Agent. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10.
STROOBANTS Louis
Sergeant. SOE Agent. Buried in BERGEN-OP-ZOOM WAR CEMETERY, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. Collective grave 24. A. 2-10.
MASEREEL Gaston

Agent SOE. Survived crash. Captured but survived war.
See 1939-1945 La Belgique au combat – La Résistance – Un père tranquille
You can get a translation of this via Google, but it is quite hard work to decipher. Worth it though as M Gasereel went through a lot from the time of his capture to when he was liberated. I will try to get a full English translation in due course.
There is also a document The Belgian Connection which I cannot get to translate but with my limited French seems to give a full account of M Gasereels capture.

After the war Gaston Masereel and Johns mother exchanged letters. A copy of one sent by M. Masereel is included here.

On 3 June 2004 we made a visit to the cemetery.

Unfortunately we don’t have a picture of the crew or aircraft that were lost on 3 June 1944.

Checking through German Night Fighter kills claimed in 1944 it seems that the only claim for a Halifax on that night was by Hauptmann Heinz Strüning on 3 June 1944 at 00:36 near Schouwen (The island adjacent to Tholen)

See Aces of the Luftwaffe – Heinz Strüning

He was flying in a Heinkel 219 of 3./NJG 1

He was shot down and killed on 24 Dec 1944.

Further reading:

‘Agents by Moonlight’. F.Clark (other booksellers are available)

Mystery of missing war aviators remains in dutch. I do have a very literal translation somewhere – when I find it I’ll include it.

The Tempsford Airfield Pages

History of Tempsford Airfield at the Carpetbaggers Museum

This is a work in progress and will be added to as I gather more information.

Last updated 25 October 2009