Type: Handley Page Halifax Mk. III

Part: 77 Squadron RAF

Crash date: 17th June 1944 

Crash location: Melkdreef, Ochten 

Commander: P/O A. Crain 

Occupants: 7

​This aircraft, serial number MZ715, took off from Full Sutton’s RAF airport on 16th June around 23:30 hours and headed for a Fischer Tropsch fuel factory in Sterkrade, near Bocholt in Germany. On board was a British-Australian crew. P/O pilot Alan Crain and gunners W/O Alexander Braid, F/S Alfred Burns and F/S Patrick Tiernan from the RAAF. As well as navigator F/O Trevor Davies, flight engineer sergeant Victor Gledhill and liaison officer W/O Arthur Owen from the RAF.

​The Halifax was attacked above the town of Zetten by a German night fighter around 04:10 hours. It plunged down and shot at the rear turret and subsequently the outer engine. The fighter went for the crew area when it returned again and everything went up in flames and the Halifax exploded in the sky. 

The aircraft came down in the Melkdreef at Ochten. The entire crew was killed, except the 29 year old liaison officer Arthur Owen, who, against all odds, was thrown from the aircraft and was admitted to Arnhem hospital with only minor injuries.

​He was visited by the German pilot who had shot down his aircraft that very same day. This pilot spoke English fluently, as he had studied at Oxford for six months before the war. He continued visiting Owen every morning. Sometimes he would bring soft fruit, as Owen’s teeth had been damaged. Until he was sent east 8 to 9 days later.

​Arthur Owen was subsequently transferred to Stalag Luft 3 or Stalag Luft 7. Then onto Stammlager IIIA in Luckenwalde, 50 kilometres south of Berlin.

Four crew members were buried at the War Cemetery in Uden. But gunners Patrick Tiernan and Alfred Burns are buried at the General Cemetery in Dodewaard. 

​You can find more details about this crash here.

A Handley Page Halifax Mk. III.

The Australian newspaper The Mirror dated Saturday 16th December 1944 devoted attention to the death of the pilot and commander Alan Crain.er Alan Crain.

The letter from the Air Ministery which confirmed the death of sergeant Burns and sergeant Tiernan.

The crash location: 200 meters south of the Bonegraafseweg, just to the west of the Melkdreef.

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Memorial photography: Kees Holtman | Text and web design: Arjen de Jong