The Murder of Five Captured RAF Officers. Warning: Graphic Images

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Drew5233, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    From WO235/691 Courtesy of Brian.

    Gustav Schmidt
    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive


    142217 Flight Lieutenant (Air Gnr.) Sydney Clayden Matthews DFC, 214 Squadron, RAFVR
    CWGC :: Casualty Details :poppy:

    169864 Flying Officer (Air Gnr.) Harold Frost DFM, 214 Squadron, RAFVR
    CWGC :: Casualty Details :poppy:

    149916 Flying Officer (Air Gnr.) Gordon Albert Hall, 214 Squadron, RAFVR
    CWGC :: Casualty Details :poppy:

    1263001 Flight Sergeant (Air Gnr.) Edward Arthur Perciaval DFM, 214 Squadron, RAFVR
    CWGC :: Casualty Details :poppy:

    Also mentioned in further documentation:

    169518 Flying Officer (Flt Engr.) James William Vinall DFM and twice Mentioned in Despatches, 214 Squadron, RAFVR
    CWGC :: Casualty Details :poppy:
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  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    On the night of 15-16 March 1945 Fortress III HB779 BU-L 214 Squadron was carrying out a bomber support operation during which nine members of the crew baled out of the aircraft over enemy territory. Five were subsequently murdered. The captain of the Fortress F/L. J G. Wynne succeed in flying the aircraft back to Bassingbourn, and following repairs it continued in service.

    The Nine........

    F/O. J W. Vinall DFM Twice MiD + - Flight Engineer
    F/L. D P. Heal. pow - Navigator
    F/L. Pow. pow - Air Gunner
    F/L. T H. Tate pow - Wireless Operator
    F/S. N J. Bradley. pow - Air Gunner
    F/O. G A. Hall + - Air Gunner
    F/O. H. Frost DFM + - Air Gunner
    F/L. S C. Matthews DFC + - Air Gunner
    F/S. E A. Percival DFM + - Air Gunner

    Bomber Command Losses Vol.6 - W R. Chorley
  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Just out of interest, F/L. Wynne the pilot of Fortress HB779 / 214 Squadron flew Valiants with 214 in 1956 during the Suez crisis.
  10. Pollux5

    Pollux5 Senior Member

    Hi guys,
    this murder happened in my hometown Pforzheim/Germany and i´m very interested in that case. You can find in our history books about our town a lot about the airraid but nearly nothing about the warcrimes done by the people by killing extremly brutally these 5 prisoners of war.
    So I decieded to investigate in this case. Unfortunately I found nearly nothing in our townarchive, only some english articles in the internet before I yesterday discovered this great board where I got in contact with Andy.

    Here are two Articles which I still found about this case:

    (Edit by VP - below taken from No. 214 (FMS) Squadron RAF - Home)

    Photo of the crew


    And how they end in Huchenfeld


    By Trevor Grove Daily Mail
    Saturday 21 December 2002

    From the cockpit of his B-17 Flying Fortress John Wynne could see through the clear night the oil tanks 22,000ft below him exploding into flames.

    Although only 23, Flight Lieutenant Wynne was already a veteran bomber pilot. As he swung the nose of his aircraft towards home, he was confident the mission had been a success: the Nazis had suffered another punishing blow. It looked 'bloody good', Wynne thought. Now his task was to get his nine-man crew safely back to Britain in time for an early breakfast. Although German fighters and anti aircraft fire would harass them much of the way, this was a gauntlet the cool-headed young RAF pilot had run many times before.

    On this occasion, however, the return journey was to be brutally interrupted. For five of the men men on board, it was not merely fear that loomed, but death - or more accurately, calculated murder of the most savage kind. Captured by German forces, they were to become the victims of one of World War 2's final atrocities, whose grim details would remain hidden for many years to come, even from their own skipper. Old hatreds and bitter shame conspired to conceal this ugly episode of war. Even in Britain, little was known of it. Only now, thanks to a sequence of coincidences - and a remarkable escape has it become possible to piece together the full story of what happened to the crew of that B-17.

    The target that Wednesday night, March 14, 1945, was the oil refinery at Lutzendorf, a few miles south of Leipzig. Although Germany was by now only months away from defeat, the Allied bombing campaign was continuing unabated, in the hope of hastening the end. On this raid, however, Wynne's bomb-bay was empty. His task was not to drop high explosives on the oil refinery but to fly above the main wave of 244 Lancasters, jamming the enemy radar.
    The B-17 was specially equipped for this task, with two wireless officers (Gordon Hall & Tom Tate) trained to detect both ground-based and airborne radar transmissions, then knock them out with signals powerful enough, it was said, to silence the BBC itself.

    Tom Tate, the 26-year-old survivor of a remarkable 44 sorties and with his 45th almost completed, could not know that his luck was about to be tested once again. He settled himself at his post halfway down the fuselage for the four-hour journey homewards. The crew were at their stations around the very large plane: rear - gunner, top-gunner, two waist-gunners, navigator, flight engineer, wireless operator, the radar jammer and the pilot himself who was now bringing the aircraft down to a lower altitude.

    As Wynne well knew, after a raid like this 100 or more enemy night-fighters would have been directed towards the bomber stream, seeking to exact revenge. So the whole force, including the B-17, rapidly dropped to 3,000ft. At such a low level, the echo from the ground confused the German fighters' radar, even though it did make the lumbering bombers easier targets for the ack-ack batteries below. In two hours' time they should be across the Rhine and over territory held by the Allies. Ahead of him, Wynne saw two bombers hit by ground fire. He altered course, dodging the flak that was coming up at them 'like ping-pong balls'. 'We were doing very nicely,' he remembers. 'Then suddenly a shell hit the port landing wheel, ricocheted and exploded. There was a bang and then a flash and some of the hot fragments hit the inner port engine.' For a while it seemed the damage wasn't serious. 'One was used to being hit,' says Wynne, now 81, with a laconic chuckle. Then the oil pressure plummeted in the stricken engine. Even so, they reckoned the aircraft could probably be nursed across the Rhine to the emergency Allied airfield at Rheims.

    That hope was short-lived. Fire broke out in the engine, the pistons seized up and soon the whole aircraft was shaking furiously, with gauges and light fittings breaking loose and flying about the plane. They were only 1,000ft above the ground. 'Amazingly, no one shot at us,' says Wynne. 'With that bonfire on the wing they could have hit us with a rifle.'

    Once they had crossed the Rhine, he ordered the crew to put on their parachutes and open the escape hatches. When the vibration became so severe it seemed that the whole plane was about to disintegrate, he told them to jump. Tom Tate remembers the order: 'Bale out! Bale out!' He obeyed, hurling himself into the rushing darkness. Above him, the aircraft flew on. With remarkable bravery, Wynne had decided to stay at the controls to the last possible moment, perhaps the aircraft could be saved, he hoped, and his conscience was now clear as far as the safety of his men was concerned. They would be landing in friendly territory, after all. In fact, five of them would never be seen again.

    Tom Tate drifted in the inky blackness unsure whether he was even descending. 'Everything was dead still,' he recalls. 'There was no movement, no sensation, no lights. Suddenly there was this mass of earth rushing up towards me.' He landed safely and, after blundering about for half an hour, bumped into a fellow crew-member Norman Bradley. Together they set course west. It proved a short journey. At the very first village they came to, they were surrounded by local people and hauled off to a nearby interrogation centre. Clearly, there had been something dreadfully amiss with the B-17's navigation. They had not crossed the Rhine, it seemed. They were east of Strasbourg rather than north-east, as they had thought, and had dropped straight into enemy hands.

    For all of Thursday and most of Friday, Tate was interrogated by German forces in a perfectly acceptable fashion. As well as Bradley, five other crew members had also been captured and the next day the seven men were transported under armed guard en route for a prison camp. The journey was to take them through a town called Pforzheim, which three weeks earlier had been the target of a devastating raid by Bomber Command.

    Tom Tate would never forget his first sight of Pforzheim. The town lay in a valley. When the RAF men looked down on what had once been a thriving community of some 70,000 souls, all they could see was ruins. 'It was no more than a pile of rubble,' Tate remembers in awed tones. According to official records, a huge force of Lancasters and Mosquitoes had dropped 1,825 tons of bombs on Pforzheim in just 22 minutes, causing a firestorm that destroyed more than 80 per cent of the town's built-up area and killed at least 17,000 people. Many died in their cellars, when their lungs burst with the intense heat. Although Tom Tate's crew had not taken part in the raid, his shock at this ghastly evidence of the bombers' capacity for destruction was immense. He was certainly not surprised when some of the surviving townsfolk, catching sight of the prisoners' RAF uniforms, began stoning them furiously with the rubble that lay at their feet. If it wasn't for the armed guards defending them from the onslaught, all seven men might have been killed there and then. As it was, they reached the neighbouring viIlage of Huchenfeld, where they were billeted for the night in a boiler room filled with heaps of coal. They were given buckets of water. Tom Tate was exhausted and after he had removed his boots to wash his feet and socks, he lay back on the coal and was instantly asleep.

    The next thing he knew, he was being violently dragged up the iron staircase out of the cellar. A gang of young men hauled him and his fellow prisoners along the street. Their captors were dressed in ordinary civilian clothes, but there was a menacing air about them and they were evidently in a state of high excitement. 'Then someone hit me on the head,' Tate says. 'Blood flowed. God, I thought, this is lynching.' The mob now turned right taking their captives toward the church. Increasingly alarmed, Tate noticed a barn with a huge pair of doors. Inside in one of them was a small door, which was open. An electric light burned inside. And it was then that Tate saw something that froze his heart: a stout beam from which hung several heavy ropes. I saw those ropes and that instant my imagination told me we were going to be hanged, he remembers. Driven by fear of his imminent execution at the hands of a baying mob his instinct for survival kicked in.

    Bursting free from his captors, he ran like mad in his bare feet, back up the road. It was a spontaneous action, and it saved Tate's life. One shot was fired alter him, but he ducked down past some houses, raced across a field and plunged into the nearby woods.

    Luck was with him. Most of the trees in the area were pines, difficult to hide among, but by chance he had found a copse of oaks, whose leaves lay thickly on the ground. With the Instinct of a wild animal, and without even thinking what he was doing, he burrowed under the leaves until he was hidden from sight.

    For a while he lay awake, troubled by a sudden burst of gunfire he had heard coming from the village, wondering what had become of his comrades. Then he fell asleep. Tom Tate awoke in his leaf-mould bed at dawn on Sunday. By lunchtime he had been recaptured. But now, at least, he was in the hands of the German Army, not the dangerous youths of the night before.

    He spent the remainder of the war as a PoW - much of it in horrendous conditions. For weeks he was on the road with thousands of other, near-starving men, mostly Russians, as the Germans retreated from the advancing Allied forces. But he survived. Amazingly, so did four other members of the Flying Fortress crew who had been on board that fateful night. Norman Bradley had made a successful run for it at Huchenfeld, like himself, and then been recaptured and imprisoned. The navigator, Dudley Heal, also survived a spell as a PoW. The Red Cross had already shipped another man, who had broken his leg when his parachute landed, home.

    As for the skipper, John Wynne, he had managed to fly the crippled B-17 all the way back across the Channel single-handed. It was an astonishing feat. Trapped by the pipe supplying oxygen to his mask, he had piloted the plane for much of the journey standing up, and then landed it safely at an unfamiliar aerodrome with his port landing wheel shot away.

    Tom Tate knew none of this when he returned to Britain after Germany's defeat. But he was soon to learn the fuIl, horrifying details of what had happened to the other five men who had been marched towards the barn and its dangling ropes, when the Air Ministry asked him to return to Pforzheim to help with a war crimes Investigation.

    Four of them, he discovered, had been murdered soon after his own escape. They had not been hanged, as he had feared when he glimpsed the dangling ropes. Instead, they had been shot In the Church Yard In cold blood, at the very moment that a little girl was getting ready for her confirmation service. The fifth man, the night engineer, had made a run for it, but was caught later in a neighbouring village. A mob hauled him out of the police station, beat him half to death, and then shot him in the head.

    When Tate walked into the churchyard at Huchenfeld with the investigating team, so very nearly the scene of his own death, he saw the five new graves. The French soldiers who had been the first of General Patten's army to enter the area had Inscribed each cross with simple but telling words: 'British airman, assassinated by the SA, 17/18 March 1945.'

    A year later, in June 1946, Tom Tate and Norman Bradley returned to Germany as witnesses in the war crimes trial against 22 men and youths who had taken part in the killings. They helped identify a few of them. Tate was filled with disgust at confronting the killers of his friends. Although some were mere boys, he said: 'I felt no compassion.' In evidence at the trial, it became clear the murders were carried out as a deliberate revenge for the Pforzheim bombing.

    Local Nazi leaders had ordered a lynch mob of Hitler Youth to dress in civilian clothes, posing as outraged villagers. They were to assault the schoolhouse where the RAF men were being held, and take them to their deaths. Seventeen were convicted. Three... officials were hanged, others; imprisoned. The youths were given lighter sentences. Tom Tate vowed never to go to Germany again in his life As for the people of Huchenfeld; they hugged their shameful secret to themselves for many years to come.

    Then a very remarkable thing happened. A retired pastor from what was then East Germany came to live in the village. Dr Heinemann-Gruder, a former army officer, was a man of immense moral rectitude. When he learned about the murder of the RAF men, he resolved to put up a memorial at the place where they had died. Against strong local opposition, he got his way, contacted relatives of some of the British airmen, and in November 1992 a simple plaque was erected on the wall of the church. It bore the names of the victims and the words 'Father, forgive'.

    From this brave act of expiation flowed an extraordinary series of events, beginning with the confession of one of the murderers at the dedication service itself. The by now-elderly man broke into sobs. "I was one of the boys who killed them" he said. The widow of one of the murdered men, Harold Frost, then quite unexpectedly stepped forward to address them with great dignity, assuring them of her forgiveness. The reconciliation process was under way.

    Upon hearing this story, a newspaper reporter tracked down John Wynne, now a hill farmer In Wales, and told him of the ceremony in Huchenfeld. Wynne was astonished. Nearly half a century on from that desperate night In March 1945, this was the first he had heard about the dreadful fate of his missing crewmen. Greatly moved, he commissioned a Welsh artist to make a wooden rocking horse that he and his wife Pip donated to the kindergarten at Huchenfeld in 1994. The horse was called Hoffnung, the German word for 'hope', and bore the inscription: "To the children of Huchenfeld, from the mothers of 214 RAF Squadron:" It was the start of a close relationship between the Wynnes and the villagers.

    Tom Tate, In turn, then read this story in a magazine, and made contact with his former crewmates. With some reluctance, he forswore his vow never to return to Germany and, in 1995, encouraged by John Wynne, he revisited the village where he had almost lost his life. Since then he has been back ten times. Now a vigorous, golfing 84-year old, he has obviously come to love both the people and the place, as listeners to Radio 4 on Thursday evening heard in a compelling programme, A Rocking Horse, Called Hope.

    Out of the horror of Pforzheim and the Inhumanity of Huchenfeld has grown a very personal understanding between these former enemies. The bombs and the blood, the mayhem and the murders are not forgotten. But for these people, at any rate, In the words of the man who piloted the B-17 that fateful night, the future rides on the back of a rocking horse called Hope.

    "Footprints on the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock

    B-17 Flying Fortress HB779, 214 (SD) Squadron, was returning from a Jostle patrol in support of the attack on Lutzkendorf on the night of 14/15 March 1945 when, somewhere near Pforzheim, it was hit by light flak. Fire took hold of NO.2 engine. Flight Lieutenant John Wynne, the pilot, ordered the other nine of his crew to bale out. Intending to follow them he became so tangled up in his oxygen tubing that by the time he had extricated himself the fire was out. Alone in the aircraft he flew back to RAF Bassingbourn. The rest of the crew, meanwhile, had baled out and been captured. The navigator and bomb aimer were safely dispatched to a PoW camp, but the other seven were kept in Buhl prison before being transferred to Pforzheim, a few kilometres to the north-east. On 17 March they were being transferred on foot into Luftwaffe custody, but had only reached the village of Huchenfeld at around seven o'clock in the evening. On a cold day, none of the seven airmen minded being locked up in the warm boiler-room of the Neuen Schule (New School). Having had little sleep in the last three days, at least they had the chance to get comfortable. Some dozed off in the warmth. Outside, a solitary Luftwaffe guard was on duty.

    Earlier that afternoon, aware that the airmen were on their way to Huchenfeld, the Kreisleiter of Pforzheim, Hans Christian Knab, got hold of his subordinate officers, including Hitler Youth commander Max Kochlin and said to him: 'Now you must get hold of your Hitler Youth people and tonight we shall stage a demonstration.' Knab also spoke to Standartenfuhrer Becker, in command of the SA at Dillweissenstein (locally known just as Dillstein): 'Now you, Becker, must get hold of as many men as you can and march to Huchenfeld from Dillstein, and your men will also take part in the demonstration. We shall all meet then at the paper factory in Huchenfeld. ' Weapons were distributed to the Hitler Youth by Kochlin, whose fiery speech made their 'young blood boil', and the armed men and boys made their way to the rendezvous at Huchenfeld.

    Half an hour or so after the Luftwaffe guard had taken up his post outside the boiler-room a crowd of civilians, perhaps fifty in number, arrived and demanded access to the airmen: 'We want to revenge our women and children.' The guard was powerless to stop the mob from bursting in and dragging the prisoners outside on to Forstrasse.
    Flight Sergeant Norman Bradley DFM:
    'As soon as we got outside the building I realised in all probability we were going to be hung or shot, so I decided to hang back with a view to escaping. I heard a scuffle in front of me as though another member of the crew was trying to escape. It might have been more than one. I tried to hang back and so did Fg/Off Vinall with the two men who were holding him. There was another scuffle in front and it looked as if one of the members of the crew got away. The Germans who were holding us ran forward to give assistance and Vinall and T took the opportunity of hiding between a wall and a car. I heard two screams of pain. Vinall moved forward in the shadow and I followed him. The last thing I heard of him was shouting to me to follow him. I shouted back that he was going the wrong way as he was going in the direction of the shooting, and I heard nothing more. I ran across some fences and wire netting and escaped across a field and into the woods. There were about six shots fired when Vinall shouted to me the last time. Later, while I was crossing the wire fence I heard further shots from automatic weapons, several bursts. I was later captured about 22 miles the other side of Pforzheim. The day after I was captured two of my guards told me that two members of my crew had been shot.'
    A third airman, Flg/Off T.H. Tate, had also escaped but had been recaptured. He and Bradley were not to know that the bursts of gunfire that they had heard had signaled the end for four of their crew - Flying Officer G.A. Hall, Flight Lieutenant S.C. Matthews DFC, Flight Sergeant E.A. Percival DFM and Flying Officer H. Frost DFM - who had been taken to the cemetery and shot.
    Flying Officer J.W. Vinall DFM MiD (twice), aged 40, was recaptured the next day, and locked up in the police station at Dillstein, only a few yards from the Hitler Youth barracks. Ortsgruppenleiter Paul Ecker ensured that Kreisstabfuhrer Niklas, a Major in the Volkssturm, knew of Vinall's presence. Niklas prepared a warm reception for the prisoner before he went to the police station and ordered Vinall to be released into his custody. Vinall was taken outside, where Wilhelm Maxeiner beat him about the head with a heavy stick until he was felled, probably unconscious, when Hitler Youth Gert Biedermann shot him in the back of the head.

    At the Huchenfeld shootings on 17 March and at the Dillstein shooting on 18 March neither Knab or Kochlin was present. The evidence was overwhelming, however, that not only had these two men staged the murders to make them appear to be spontaneous outbursts of mob anger, but also none of those involved were dressed in uniform. It was not clear, though, who fired the first shots at the cemetery at Huchenfeld, but two Hitler Youths, Gerhard Stahl and Rolf Heil, admitted that they had fired some of the shots. Both were sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, as was Biedermann, whilst a dozen others received sentences ranging from 2 to 12 years. Knab, Kochlin and Niklas were sentenced to death by hanging.

    I now want to envestigate more how the killings happend. Which people were how involved. Which Places were involved. I´m searching for whitness testifies on trial. What did the shooters testified about the course of the event. What did they say about their motivation. Who gave orders. And afterwards I would try to talk to the remaining people who were envolved and live next to us about what happend annd maybe write something for University.

    I hope you can understand my english, was long time ago i wrote so many sentences. I´m a bit out of practise.
  11. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    Thanks all for posting on what is a sad story
  12. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member


    Good Luck!

    I can't help thinking what Flt Lt Wynne must have thought when he found out. Presumably he ordered the crew to bail out in order to save their lives; to discover that they were murdered after capture must have been a heavy burden to carry.


  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Hi and welcome to the foum.

    Many thanks for posting, especially the pictures.

  14. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Welcome Pollux5 and thanks for posting that article.
  15. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Good Luck with your research Pollux.
    Not many of members would come on the forum & say ''that happened in my town & I know the people involved''
    Quite remarkable the Internet at times.
  16. Pollux5

    Pollux5 Senior Member

    geoff501 likes this.
  17. Pollux5

    Pollux5 Senior Member

    (Edit by VP - below taken from No. 214 (FMS) Squadron RAF - Home)

    The murdered airmen:

    [​IMG]Fg/Off Gordon Albert Hall MiD


    Fg/Off Gordon Albert Hall MiD, Non Com 1258412 Com 149916, Wireless Operator, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 17 March 1945, Aged 22, Date taken POW 15 March 1945, POW number None

    Flt/Lt Sidney Clayden Matthews DFC MiD


    Flt/Lt Sidney Clayden Matthews DFC MiD, Non Com 1375209 Com 142217, Rear Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 17 March 1945, Aged 25, Date taken POW 15 March 1945

    Sidney was a former pupil of Wembley Hill School and assisted his father in business at Harlesden until 1940 when he joined the RAF. A Boy Scout and avid swimmer, he held several medals and certificates for swimming.

    He was made a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) from 6 February 1943, recorded in the London Gazette on 27 April 1943.

    He was then promoted to Flying Officer on probation from 6 August 1943, recorded in the London Gazette on 27 August 1943.

    He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 5 September 1944, which was recorded in the London Gazette on 15 September 1944. He was serving with 9 Squadron at that time.

    By the time he won his DFC at the young age of 23, he had already flown an incredible 57 Operations, which included several over the heaviest defended target in the heart of Germany, Berlin. Among others were attacks on two of Germany’s greatest battleships, the Scharnhorst and the Geneisenau at Brest.
    (Note the Scharnhorst was sunk on 26 December 1943 in the Polar Sea in battle with British naval forces. Of the more than 2,000 men aboard only 36 survived.)
    During the later part of World War 2 he was an Air Gunner in a B17 Flying Fortress HB779 BU-K as part of 214 Squadron based at RAF Oulton, nr Aylesham, Norfolk.

    On 6 February 1945 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. This was recorded in the London Gazette on 2 March 1945.

    He had it all, honour, rank, one of the highest awards an airman can receive, and a wife waiting at home. Truly a son any parent would be fiercely proud of.
    Given the number of operations and that many were essentially suicide missions from which most never returned, it is inconceivable how Flt/Lt Matthews could have survived as long as he did. It makes one wonder why the hand of fate kept him safe despite insurmountable odds, only to steal his life in "the last months of the war" in such a cruel and senseless manner.

    FS Edward Arthur Percival DFM MiD


    FS Edward Arthur Percival DFM MiD, 1263001, Waist Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 17 March 1945, Aged 30, Date taken POW 15 March 1945

    [​IMG]Fg/Off James William Vinall DFM & MiD(twice)

    James Vinall is the black man on the group photo.

    Fg/Off James William Vinall DFM & MiD(twice), 169518, Flight Engineer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 18 March 1945, Aged 40, Date taken POW 15 March 1945

    Before serving with 214 Squadron Flying Officer Vinall was with 9 Squadron in 1943.

    In September 1943 Vinall is mentioned when awarded his DFM in the 9 Squadron ORB.

    After baling out of the aircraft he was kept in Buhl prison before being transferred by foot into Luftwaffe custody on 17 March 1945. Upon reaching Huchenfeld he was locked into the boiler room of the Neuen Schule (New School) along with 6 others of his crew. A crowd of civilians demanded access to the 7 men, demanding revenge , and dragged them outside Vinall and 2 other men escaped to be recaptured. Four others were taken to the cemetery and shot.

    Vinall and Bradley took the opportunity to hide between a wall and a car, escaping using the shadows. Unfortunately Vinall went in the wrong direction and was recaptured the next day and was locked up at the police station at Dillstein. While Vinall was being released into the custody of Kreisstabfuhrer Niklas he was taken outside the police station and was beaten about the head with a heavy stick by Wilhelm Maxeiner, until he fell, when Hitler Youth Gert Biedermann shot him in the back of the head. He was buried with the other four airmen.

    [​IMG]Fg/Off Harold 'Jack' Frost DFM MiD

    Fg/Off Harold 'Jack' Frost DFM MiD, Non Com 1475544 Com 169864, Top Turret Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Nationality : United Kingdom, KIA 17 March 1945, Aged 24, Date taken POW 15 March 1945
    Drew5233 and Owen like this.
  18. canuck

    canuck Closed Account


    Excellent posts. Thank you.
    I assume that pursuing the details of this story in a small town could make you very unpopular. So many Germans emigrated to Canada after the war but it is difficult to find many who will speak about it in any detail.
    Ken P likes this.
  19. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    17th - 18/03/1945 assassination of five British airmen in Pforzheim-Huchenfeld.
    Sources: Crown, Peter: Historical Documentation "Executed" tombs in the cemetery Wehl in Hameln, Hameln, 1987, p. 70 ff
    Moll, Erwin Huchenfeld - From the origins to the present, Pforzheim 1995, p. 207-211.
    Werner, Marie-Christine: The British airman - The murder of Cyril William Sibley, broadcast of the SWR in Mainz on 10.2.2001, 21-22 Clock, typescript, p. 39 f.
    Bundesarchiv Koblenz: All acts of Prov. 8, 192 and 284 JAG
    Protestant church-Pforzheim Huchenfeld: (Internet) (10/04/2003) PS: Evang. Parish Pforzheim-Huchenfeld is one of currently (2003) 35 communities in Germany, which now belong to the global community Nail Cross (NKG). This community was founded soon after the destruction of Coventry Cathedral during a heavy air attack by German aircraft on 14./15.11.1940. The original nail cross, which still stands on the altar of the cathedral was rebuilt, at that time made ​​of nails, which the beams of the roof vaults had held together the old cathedral. - For more information on the history of the NCG and about their activities and varied efforts, you will find on the Internet at / history.html (9.10.2003).
  20. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Hello pollux5,

    Welcome to the forum and many thanks for the update on this thread, its appreciated


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