Stichting Vliegeniersmonument Giessenlanden WO2
Airmen Monument Foundation Giessenlanden WW2
Halifax II JB785 - 35 Squadron RAF Bomber Command
Pilot Office A.V Wallace, Gunner - POW
After a week of evading the Germans Wallace is eventually captured at Turnhout and ends up in POW camp STALAG LUFT III where on March 24th and 25th the famous "Great Escape" takes place immortalised in the film with the same name. On January 27th 1945 the 11.000 prisoners were forced to march 80km to another camp as the Russians were only 20km away from the camp. In the freezing cold and in high snow the men suffered greatly. When the war is over and Wallace in back in England he doesn't forget the people who helped him and he visits the van de Broek family so he can thank them. This doesn't go unnoticed and a local newspaper prints an article
Flight Sergeant Ernest Cassingham, Navigator - KIA
The family of Sgt Cassingham hailed from Hastings and he was married to Myra who came from Ightam. Ernest was an RAF Reserve as an aircrew navigator and at the outbreak of war was called upon straight away. Myra too joined the war effort and became a WRAF. Living close to London they often travelled into the city and on one occasion in 1940 were caught in a bomb blast with the bus they were on taking a hit leaving many dead and Myra with shrapnel injuries to her head though Ernest escaped with few injuries. In 1941 Ernest travelled out to Florida where he took up training which was finally completed in Ontario in June 1942 as a Pathfinder.On his return to the UK he took up his flying duties. After Ernest's death Myra was in contact with one of the surviving crew members A V Wallace as her address book show the addresses of two POW camps against his name.
Halifax JB785 crashing down after being hit by German pilot Werner Baake in his Bf110-G4.
Artist Scott Nelson
On June 11th 1943 at 23:39 Halifax II JB785 takes off from RAF base Graveley in Cambridgeshire.Together with 29 Lancaster’s, 21 Stirling and 21 Halifax bombers they fly towards their target, the railroad emplacements at Münster in Germany. The JB785 functions as a “pathfinder” which means that it flies ahead of the formation to mark the target with flares for the approaching bombers. After missions to Essen,Duisburg,Bochum,Dusseldorf, Essen,Wuppertal this is for the crew yet another dangerous mission. It would be their last.
A British 1000 pounder found during groundwork at Münster railway station
The target is attacked and aerial reconnaissance later shows that the mission is a success. On the journey back the formation is picked up by German radar and nightfighters are being scrambled to intercept the Bombers. Amongst these nightfighters is also the Messerschmitt Bf-110 piloted by Hauptmann Werner Baake who is stationed at the Luftwaffe airbase at Gilze-Rijen in Holland.
German map with airfields and radar stations in the Netherlands
At 01:10 Baake shoots down a Wellington bomber which crashes at Neeroeteren in Belgium. He then lands at Gilze-Rijen and takes off again and intercepts Halifax JB785 at 02:40. He shoots down the plane which than crashes near Giessenburg in the Netherlands. Five crewmembers are killed; Pilot Officer G.R Herbert, Flight Sergeant E. Cassingham, Flight Sergeant F. Greenwood, Sergeant R.H. Boone and Sergeant F. Stewart .Two men survive, Pilot Officer Wallace en Sergeant R. Makin manage to bail-out.
Hauptmann Werner Baake. During the war he shoots down 33 allied aircraft. he survivies the war but dies in July 1964 in a crash with a Lufthansa plane
The story of Sergeant Makin
Sergeant Makin is severely wounded when he comes down with his parachute. The diary of Mr. Herman Bakker from Hoogblokland contains the following entry. “Saturday June 12th, that night an English bomber crashes behind the Lage Giessen. One crewmember survives but was wounded. Because of his injuries he decided to hand himself in and knocks on the door of Mr. de Krey who lived at Muisbroek.The people there were afraid of German represailles so they brought him to Mr. C. Beuzekom. Doctor den Duin than arrived and treated him after which the notified Germans collected him and brought him to hospital in Gorinchem. From there he was taken to the Luftwaffe hospital in Amsterdam and after recovery he was transported to a POW camp in the east of Germany. Towards the end of the war the Russians approach and all prisoners are marched off to camps in the west of Germany. During this March he managed to escape but is captured again in April 1945. In May 1945 he is than liberated by American troops.
RAF standard issue axe. Found in a ditch near the crash location of the JB785
The story of A.V Wallace
When the plane is hit and going down Pilot Officer A.V Wallace bails out and lands near Hoogblokland in the dark of night. At that time he is unaware of the fact that five of his friends just died. He hasn't got much time to think about it and he buries his parachute and decides to walk to a North-West direction until daybreak when he hides in a cornfield. When it’s dark he starts to walk again but this time towards the south. Somehow he manages to cross the rivers Merwede and Bergse Maas and at 08:00 in the morning he arrives at a farm near Waalwijk. Almost 26 miles from where he landed by parachute. The farmer there feeds him and gives him civilian clothes and gives him instructions to go to a hideout at Tilburg. He sets of and arrives there the next day. The resistance there informs him of a hideout at an Abbey in Turnhout, Belgium. He then walks to Turnhout and when he arrives there he is spotted by a German patrol and he is captured. Via prisons in Antwerp and Brussels he is transported to POW camp Stalag IIIa in Luckenwalde from where he is liberated in May 1945 by Russian troops.
Part of the statement made by A.V Wallace about what happened on and after June 12th
We are still looking for photos of the other five crewmembers
Pilot Officer George Racine Herbert, Pilot - KIA age 21
Flight Sergeant Ronald Henry Boone, Gunner- KIA Age 22
Flight Sergeant Francis Joseph Greenwood, Radio operator -KIA age 22
Flight Sergeant Frank Stewart, Engineer - KIA age 23
Flight Sergeant R.H Makin, Gunner, - POW age 21
Click here for the missions of Pilot Officer Herbert and the rest of the crew. Document courtesy of Paul Herod
Recent photos of the area where JB785 crashed