IN MEMORy by Pierre Vandervelden

The visit of Commonwealth graves in Communals Cemeteries & Churchyards in Belgium & France

TAILLETTE Communal Cemetery (Ardennes France)

Page 1 The Pictures

Page 2 More about Douglas's plane

Page 3 The Tribute Ceremony

Page 4 After the Ceremony (Under construction)

Duisburg-bound Halifaxes Collide in Flight near Rocroi, Northern France
Fourteen Killed but One Survived

Leopoldsburg War Cemetery

On December 18th, 1944, as part of Bomber Command’s ongoing campaign against industrial targets in Nazi Germany, 523 aircraft were assigned to a raid on the Ruhr town of Duisburg, north of Cologne. Eight Halifaxes never made it back. One of the doomed bombers was Mk III LV818 coded ZA-F, of No. 10 Squadron RAF. Based at this time at RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire, the four-engined aircraft was captained by F/L GD Body and departed the airfield at 02.57 hrs. Just after 06.00, near the French village of Taillette, some 3 km WNW of Rocroi, F-Freddy collided in mid-air with another Hallie, Mk VII NP699 of 432 (RCAF) Squadron. Both planes fell to earth at a spot known as ’Les Bernes’, just south of the hamlet of Rouilly.

LV818 came down on a course roughly SE to NW

Fourteen of the fifteen crew on board the two bombers lost their lives, the only survivor, F/O Max Krakovsky RCAF parachuted to safety and landed near Brûly, just over the border in Belgium.

On board LV818 were an eight-man crew :

F/O Geoffrey Deller Body
RAF, Pilot, missing, commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial – Panel 201 (*)

P/O William Hewison Leese
RCAF, Air Bomber, aged 20 – buried in Leopoldsburg War Cem., Belgium (8.B.10)

Sgt Kenneth Forshaw Matthews
RAF, Air Gunner, aged 23 – buried in Leopoldsburg War Cem., Belgium (8.B.8)

Sgt William Ernest Mawson
RAF, Air Gunner – buried in Leopoldsburg War Cem., Belgium (8.A.20)

F/O Douglas John Mole
RAF, Wireless Operator, aged 29 – buried in Taillette Communal Cemetery

Sgt Esmond Nicholson
RAF, Flight Engineer, aged 23 – buried in Clichy Northern Cem., Paris (16.10.11)

F/L Noel Curtis Tatam
RAF, 2nd Pilot, aged 26 – buried in Leopoldsburg War Cem., Belgium (8.B.9)

F/O John Henry Waldron
RAF, Navigator, aged 28 – buried in Taillette Communal Cemetery


The wreckage of Halifax LV818 at Les Bernes photographed on January 1st, 1945

At the time of the crash and shortly afterwards, several bodies were recovered by an American graves investigation team and laid to rest in their provisional burial grounds at Fosses-la-Ville, near Namur, and Champigneul in the Marne. In 1945, 1948 and 1951, three further bodies were found in the surrounding area and buried locally. In the ensuing years, graves were moved and transferred to Leopoldsburg War Cemetery in north-east Belgium, Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, Choloy War Cemetery, near Toul, and Clichy New Communal Cemetery, near Paris The two missing airmen, F/L GD Body RAF and Sgt JW Green RCAF are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial (*).

A specially-commissioned painting of LV818 by JR Taylor © David Mole

The crew in Halifax VII NP699 consisted of :

F/O Max Krakovsky
RCAF, Pilot, surviving.

P/O Michael Joseph Boylan
RAF, Flight Engineer, buried in Leopoldsburg War Cem., Belgium (8.B.11)

F/O Robert Leslie Cann
RCAF, Navigator, buried in Dieppe Canadian war Cem., Hautot-sur-Mer, (N.30)

F/O Gordon Douglas Wilson
RCAF, Air Bomber, buried in Dieppe Canadian war Cem., Hautot-sur-Mer, (N.20)

P/O Alfred Goodman-Wells Blayney
RCAF, Wireless Operator, buried in Leopoldsburg War Cem., Belgium (8.B.7)

F/S Stanley Ernest Zadorozny
RCAF, Air Gunner, buried in Choloy War Cemetery, (4.D.10)

F/S James William Green
RCAF, Air Gunner, missing, commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial – Pan. 250 (*).

(*) The Royal Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, near Egham, Surrey commemorates by name 20,547 of those who went missing in the Second World War while based in the UK or in north-west Europe. The hill-top site was unveiled by HM Queen Elizabeth II on October 17th, 1953.

Grateful thanks to David Mole, the son of F/O Douglas John Mole, for the loan of photographs and the extended file he provided on this tragedy.




Jean-Michel Dominique and Pierre Vandervelden

IF You have a casualty picture, please send me a copy, I'll be glad to show it on this page.

IF You want a king size copy of this picture (300/900 ko - 2592/1944 pixels) please e-mail me.

Casualties informations come usualy from Commonwealth War Graves Commission, see links for more informations © Pierre Vandervelden - Belgium