The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market-Garden
The crash of Halifax-II JD207 on the Kampina
On July 26, 1943 at 01.20 hrs an British Halifax-II bomber crashed onto the Kampina
heather on Oisterwijk territory.
The Halifax-II bomber with seven British/Canadian crew members onboard was on the
return flight from a raid on the city Essen in the Ruhr area in Germany when it fell
victim to a German night fighter.
The aircraft was flying at 18.700 feet as number 26 in formation, 4 miles North-East
of Tilburg when it was suddenly attacked by an enemy night fighter.
With a series of deafening crashes followed by a load roar the bomber pitched forward
and started to go down with the starboard wing on fire after the German night fighter
scored a direct hit.
The aircraft came down on the heather of the Kampina, about 218 yards south of the
moor Belversven were the aircraft partly burned out.
Radio Operator Smith and Pilot/Officer Hartnell-Beavis were just able to bail out
the doomed aircraft using parachute’s while the other crew members were either killed
during the fighter attack or the crash and fire that followed.
After the crash the bombers front section entirely burned out halfway to the wings
while the tail section remained reasonably intact.
The Halifax-II with serial number JD207 and code ZA-V was nicknamed 'V', Victor by
her crew. The bomber belonged to "A" Flight in spite of the fact that the aircraft
came from 'C' flight (it was a loaned aircraft).
The aircraft belonged to Royal Air Force 10 squadron based on RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire,
10 squadron was the only bomber squadron flying from this airfield during the second
world war and flew a total of 300 bombing missions in witch 128 Halifax bombers were
Badge RAF 10 Squadron
The formation of bomber aircraft from RAF 10 squadron took off from RAF Melbourne
on July 25 around
22.15 hrs for a successful bombing mission on Essen, Germany.
During their flight home the Halifax-II bomber piloted by Hartnell-Beavis fell victim
to the German Major/Group commander Werner Streib, a German fighter pilot of NJG/1
(Nacht Jagt Geschwader/1) that had taken off that night from airfield Venlo in occupied
The experienced pilot Werner Streib, was a real "ace" and counted at the end of the
war no less than 66 victory’s with a total of 65 victory’s during night missions.
The often as "Father of Nachtjagt" called Streib developed the operational tactics
of the ‘nacht jagt’ during the beginning until the middle of the second world war.
He developed the Luftwaffe night fighter section together with Wolfgang Falck into
a effective group that fought against the night bombing offensive launched by the
Royal Air Force.
During the months of June and July of 1943 Werner Streib flew the prototype aircraft
Heinkel He 219 night fighter in which he claimed to have shot down 5 Lancaster bombers
during the month of June in just 30 minutes!
One night during his return to the airfield of Venlo Streib miscalculated his approach
by a poorly lighted runway and touched down hard on the ground damageding the aircraft
badly which broke apart with the cockpit section sliding further down the runway
for 55 yards.
Streib and his radar technician became slightly injured and the aircraft was totally
He further flew the prototype Heinkel He 219 in the 10 days that followed in which
he was able to shoot down twenty RAF enemy aircraft including six Havilland Mosquito's.
During those night mission he had adopted the tactic to infiltrate between the formations
of enemy bombers and was able to successfully shoot down no less than four Halifax
bombers and one Lancaster with his new fighter.
Werner Streib would end his career at the end of the war as Inspector of the Night
Fighters with the rank of Oberst.
A British Halifax bomber
Pilot/Officer of the Halifax II, F J. Hartnell-Beavis
De crew members on board the Halifax-II where:
S/L, F J. Hartnell-Beavis (DFC, Distinguished Flying Cross) - Pilot/Officer
P/O, C E. Hightower, RCAF, (DFC) - Engineer/Co-Pilot, KIA, age 32
P/O, W. Jones-Navigator, KIA, age 34
P/O, D B. Ackerly- Bomb-Aimer, KIA, age 22
Sgt, R A. Smith - Radio-Operator
Sgt, W. Collins-Gunner, KIA, age 21
F/O, G. Downey - Tail-Gunner, KIA, age 36
After the crash the aircraft was subjected to thorough investigation by a technical
team of the German army were by some objects were removed from the wreckage for
security reasons and taken for further investigation by the Germans.
The remains of the bomber were then further demolished and in parts removed to a
Such aircraft parts were often taken back in to pieces to either the "heimat" or
some where else in Holland to be checked on usable parts and further processed as
a raw material.
The parts were often taken in pieces by train to Germany or Camp Vught or airfield
Ypenburg both in Holland were the Germans had aircraft scrap yards.
The five crew members that lost their lives were removed from the wreckage and further
Later they were buried at the General cemetery in Woensel, Eindhoven with military
honour and in the presence of a priest.
Again in a later stage P/O, C E. Hightower of the Royal Canadian Air Force was relocated
and buried on the Canadian military cemetery in Groesbeek, Holland.
After Sgt Raymond A. Smith (radio operator) bailed out from the aircraft by parachute
he landed in a forest approximately 5 miles from the city of Tilburg.
There he received help from two English speaking Dutch and brought to the city of
He was hidden in Holland at various places between June 26 and October 9.
On October 9 he went to Paris by means of Amsterdam were he stayed up to October
He left Paris on October 14 and travelled to Bordeaux and Bayonne.
Along with a few companions he reached Dax, in southern France and spent a day in
When they later on wanted to travel to the Spanish Irun by train they were warned
the train they wanted to board was full of enemy troops.
In one way or another they were able to hide underneath the train by lying flat and
clinging on the cross girders with hands and feet making it a difficult and hazardous
journey were they could hardly hold on to keep from falling of the train, especially
during the time the train was moving.
After they reached Hendaye near the Spanish border they got off from underneath the
train and ran up the tracks.
They discovered that the Lisbon train which they had intended to catch had already
left so they spend the day hiding underneath a train again.
In the end they were able to board a train to San Sebastian, Spain were they arrived
on October 16.
Since they didn’t have any train tickets they managed to get out of the train station
walking through the goods entrance by wearing berets and overalls for disguise.
In the main street they stopped a man and asked him the way to the British consulate.
He showed them the way and here they waited until personnel of the consulate turned
The next day they were taken to Madrid and from there to Gibraltar where they arrived
on October 25. Within two days Raymond Smith reached England safe and uninjured.
Pilot Hartnell-Beavis was also able to bail out by parachute to come down safely
on the Kampina heather.
Hartnell-Beavis, an experienced pilot at the end of his 2nd ‘tour’ (he had flown
25 ops, 5 more than the requared 20 for a second tour) decided, despite the fact
that he didn’t need to fly anymore, (he was awaiting posting at a transport command)
to fly the mission anyway.
By rivalry with another crew, that of 'Timber’, which were not appointed to fly this
mission, he had hoped to get one ahead of them.
Hartnell-Beavis was involved in an airplane accident during his career once before
when he was stationed at 82 Squadron and flew Blentheims.
During a flight on 09/06/1940 in bad weather his aircraft, Blenheim R3759, was hit
by lightning and he had to make a forced landing on Hendon aerodrome.
After two attempts to land in very bad weather he touched down besides the runway
and couldn’t prevent crashing into a gun emplacement.
He was seriously injured as was his navigator Sgt Phipps.
After Hartnell-Beavis landed safely by parachute on July 26 he could see his burning
aircraft from a distance and decided to quickly leave the area.
He was able to reach the area of Eindhoven the following day’s all the way up to
the Belgium/Dutch border.
After coming in contact with locals here he is under the impression in dealing with
the ‘organisation’(underground) where he assiduously is searching for in the hope
to be helped with an escape back to England.
Unfortunately his helpers had other plans and betrayed him by delivering him to the
He is than imprisoned and interrogated by the Germans and finally transported to
Germany by means of Amsterdam where he was locked up in a prisoners camp for allied
air force personnel, Stalag Luft III.
Stalag Luft III is the camp from which in 1944 the famous Great Escape took place
(from the movie).
By digging tunnels underneath the stalags fence work more than seventy prisoners
were able to escape. Eventually the Germans were able to arrest most of the prisoners
again and in order to set an example for any future attempts of escape more than
fifty escaped prisoners were executed.
Three prisoners managed to stay out of the hands of the Germans and were able to
The Dutch prisoner Bram van der Stok was one of the lucky three that could escape.
While two Norwegian prisoners, Per Bergsland and Jens Müller paddled to neutral Sweden
by boat Bram van der Stok bicycled on his own to Holland.
Hartnell-Beavis survived his imprisonment and the war and returned to England where
he lived until he passed away in July 2007.
Because he had studied architecture before the war he was one of the prisoners in
Stalag Luft III who helped in making a monument called “The Fifty” in dedication
to the murdered escapee’s of the
‘Great Escape’ that was placed on the local cemetery along the road towards the former
Above a German Heinkel He 219 night fighter. Left the German pilot Major/gruppenkommandeur Werner Streib.
The Luftwaffe later allowed the prisoners to build a local monument for the 50 Allied
prisoners who were killed by the Germans.
The monument was designed by Wilton Todd (169 Sqdn, shot down 15/16 Feb 1944, Mosquito
II, HJ707 VI-B).
The 3 stone blocks with the fifty names were ingraved by Dickie Head (139 Sqdn, shot
down 24-25 Nov 1943, Mosquito IV, DZ614) and F J. John Hartnell Beavis and placed
on the local cemetery along the road to the former camp.
Here the urns with the ashes of the 50 cremated Allied victims were buried in first
On the monument is written “in memory to the officers who gave their lives. Sagan