Halifax crash in Weert

On September 22, 1944 the town Weert was liberated by the 1st Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment from the 3rd Infantry Division. Nederweert, a village about 5 km. to the north of Weert, was still occupied territory.

The Halifax Mark III, Serial Number MZ 763, of 78 Sqdn. was part of an allied bombardment on the city of Neuss in Germany. The crew left from their airbase at Breighton, in Yorkshire, England, on 19.02 hour. The attack consisted of 549 heavy Lancaster and Halifax bombers and that night the allies lost 20 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes, with the latter both crashing in the province of Limburg, The Netherlands. One in crashed in Wijnandsrade and other in Weert, in the neighbourhood of Moesel, 1Km.SE of Weert. The time of the crash was 22.05 hour.
The Halifax that crashed in Weert was shot down by Oberfeldwebel Wolfram Möckel.

The crewmembers:
Pilot, John Stewart R. Swanson, Flying Officer (Pilot), age 22, Monifieth, Angus, Scotland,
Radio-operator, Alistair Campbell, Sergeant (W. Op.), age 20, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland,
Air gunner, William Thomas Grew, Flying Officer (Air Gnr.), age 22, Chelmsford, Essex, England,
Flight engineer, Robert Lawrence Nutbrown, Sergeant (Flt. Engr.), age 37, York Yorkshire, England,
Navigator, A.T. Barnes, Flight-Sergeant, England,
Air Gunner, Louis F.F. G. Robert, Sergeant, age 32, Buenos Aires, Argentina,
Air gunner, J. S. Bennett, Sergeant, England.

Not wanting to crash in occupied territory the pilot turned the plane towards Weert, while the crew was getting ready to jump out of the plane. There was great panic in that plane, as to get out they first had to clear the hatch.
Four of the crew (Bennett, Robert, Barnes and Nutbrown) jumped out of the stricken bomber, with Sergeants Bennett and Robert landing in liberated territory. Sergeant Robert was originally a Belgian, Pierre Davreux and because his family was with the resistance, had changed his name to Louis Robert, so that if he was ever caught his family would not be endangered.

The Navigator Flight-Sergeant Barnes was carried by the wind in the wrong direction and landed in occupied territory. He became a POW until the end of the war, as Prisoner Number 1015, in Stalag Luft 7, Bankov (Polen). [In English this Bankau (today Bąków) in modern day Poland].

Flight Engineer Nutbrown was the last one to leave the plane, but his parachute didn’t open and died upon hitting the ground. He landed Nederweert in occupied territory and is buried at the British Nederweert War Cemetery.

The three crewmembers who were still in the plane; Pilot Swanson, Radio-operator Campbell and Air gunner Grew, were killed when their Halifax crashed in Weert. In his hometown, F/O Grew was reported missing on September 29, 1944.
All three crewmembers were buried by the Suffolk regiment, at the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Molenpoort. They still rest there today.

The boys were flying their 31st mission when this happened on their way home.


Wesley and Irma Haex.

Ton Bosmans


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