Halifax HR839

Crew HR839 

you tube link to the news report







28/29 JUNE 1943


Shot down by Night Fighter Lt. Gunther Franz 5.NJG1. on the return from a bombing mission to Cologne at about 02.23 h.

The plane crashed close to Olen (Belgium) in the hamlet of “Gerheiden”


Local resident André Brankaerts (+) recalled: “We wore awakened by a tremendous noise.

We stormed out of the house and just saw an enormous plane going down, the left wing was on fire, all the trees were on fire from the fuel that run out of the wing”


Six of the crewmembers did not survive, namely

P/O J.P. Tay                  Pilot                      RAFVR

Sgt. A.C. Redshaw        Bomb Aimer        RAFVR

Sgt. A. Smith                 Flight Engineer    RAF

Sgt. W.C. Butler            Air Gunner            RAFVR

W/O A.E. Vidal            Air Gunner             RCAF

P/O J.L.R. Houlston      Wireless Op.        RAF


Two crewmembers left the burning plane on time

P/O T.H. Popley            Navigator             RAFVR

Sgt. D.R.G.  Eldridge    2nd Pilot                RAFVR


Sgt. Eldridge was successful in his escape ,he fell in to the hands of the secret army. With the help of the “Comet Line” he made it back to England.

P/O Popley was captured by the Germans.


We have the full report of what happened that night above Olen, please contact me if you wont more information

Stopwatch,with the name “Houlston” engraved in it, 100% id


On August 8 2009 we put up a memorial for the crew (see “Monuments”)


Reburial,attended by two familymembers of  W/O Vidal


Special thanks to Neil Smith an Peter Gulliver from 51 History team

Researchers :Chris Van Kerkchoven ,Peter Celis ,Cynrik De Decker ,Luc Cox, Wim Govaerts

Planehunters : Jan Jacobs(+), Thijs Hellings ,Kris Vanturnhout , Mark “Max” Verwimp

Eyewitness reports: Louis Baetens , Maria Van Houdt , André Brankaerts (+)

And my very special friend Boni Wouters (+)


For photo’s see this link




Benny Ceulaers

Category(s): RAF Recovery

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