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  #1  
Old 16th April 2017, 01:32
Tobermory Tobermory is offline
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Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

I am investigating the loss of this 138 Squadron 'Special Duties' Halifax, which was one of several sorties for SOE to drop two NKVD agents into Austria, under a high-level agreement between the two allies.

On a Tempsford-related website, there is an indication that this Halifax might have been shot down by a German night-fighter near the Tegernsee, right on the border between Germany and the Austrian Tyrol. It crashed into the mountains near the village of Kreuth, but the peaks where it crashed are just lower than 6,000 feet. Does this forum perhaps have anyone familiar with Luftwaffe records who might know of any reports that might support this, or at least where they might be found? There are other possible causes for the loss, but a combat report by a night-fighter unit (for example) would rule these out.

Nick Livingstone
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Old 17th April 2017, 20:11
Black6 Black6 is offline
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Re: Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

I have a fairly good library but I cant see a fighter claim which might match. The various published sources seem to suggest that V9976 was flown by F/O R Zygmuntowicz (Polish AF) with W/C WR Farley DFC (OC 138 Sqdn) aboard and crashed into the mountainside in heavy fog.

I am surprised to see mention of NKVD agents aboard the aircraft, a seriously explosive mix with Free Polish airmen (in my view), although if there were such people aboard that might explain why Farley was there.
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Old 17th April 2017, 20:32
Black6 Black6 is offline
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Re: Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

It is interesting to note that the original May 1948 paperwork dealing with the exhumation of the 8 airmen from their burial place in a mass grave on the side of "Blauberg Mountain" for removal to the war cemetery (reburial on 25 May 1948), specifically names Farley and each of the 7 Polish crew and only mentions these men, although current records of Durnbach War Cemetery show the 8 airmen plus two Austrian Civilians (Franz Loeschel and Lorenz Mraz). Generally I'd have expected to see mention of "two unknown" if other remains had been included in the task.
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Old 17th April 2017, 22:06
Theo Boiten Theo Boiten is offline
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Re: Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

Hello Nick,

There was no German night fighter claim for this a/c. Cheers, Theo
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Old 20th April 2017, 17:23
Tobermory Tobermory is offline
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Re: Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

Many thanks Theo and Black6.

Your research tallies with information provided by Dr Michael Heim and published in Bernard O'Connor's book about 'Operation PICKAXE', the programme of RAF flights to insert NKVD agents. Tonight is the 70th anniversary of Operation WHISKEY, the attempt to drop two NKVD agents.

The German equivalent of the Royal Observer Corps appears to have followed the aircraft by sound-location in its transit eastwards across southern Bavaria, but there is no mention of the aircraft being intercepted. However, the following day, a German broadcast claimed that: "A single British aircraft which undertook a harrassing flight last night into the Ruhr territory, was shot down in southern Germany." This now looks like mere propaganda. Black6's 'explosive mix' looks a more likely cause of the loss, though it could simply have been weather.
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Old 24th April 2017, 23:51
zmirek zmirek is offline
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Re: Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

Hi,
Let me I add 0,03 PL to this interesting topic.

Since almost all (to be explained later) crew members were Polish airmen this flight has record in "Polskie załogi nad okupowaną Europą. Polacy w operacjach specjalnych" (Polish crews over occupied Europe. Poles in special ops) by Kajetan Bieniecki recognized expert in these aspects of PAF operations.
According to information given there it was third attempt to "deliver" NKWD agents to Austria. 1st flight with Polish crew of F/O Zygmuntowicz (using the same Halifax V9976) was aborted due to bad weather, 2nd captained by P/O L.M. Anderle returned with no success by the same reason. So before next flight there was big political tension to successfully complete this operation. High ranked SOE officer contacted 138 Sqn CO to make it happened.
Weather forecasted for 20/21 of April was so bad that all BC operations planed for that day were cancelled. But not this flight. To make it successful both agents agreed to be dropped over clouds.
In my opinion both bad weather and no BC operations that night exclude German night fighter as a reason of loss of Halifax V9976, her crew and “passengers”

Despite of his “reverse sympathy” to Polish airmen W/C Farley chosen Polish crew for that mission. Surprisingly another non-Polish crew member was gunner F/O Pulton.
Frankly speaking I don’t think that presence of W/C Farley was due to expected “bad interaction” between Polish airmen and NKWD agents. Remember that basis rules of special duty flights do not allow crew members to contact carried agents no matter which nationality they were. 138 Sqn CO was aboard rather due to express his personal commitment and responsibility for success of this flight.

Mirek
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Old 26th April 2017, 00:54
Tobermory Tobermory is offline
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Re: Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

Zmirek,

Many thanks for giving me information about Katejan Bienieki's book about the Polish crews of 138 Squadron. I have located a copy of the book; all I have to do is find someone who can translate the relevant pages from the original Polish.

The formal photo of 138 Squadron's officers on the book's front cover, taken in the early summer of 1942, shows the squadron's Polish and Czech officers, including Leo Anderle, Krol, Dobromirski, Pieniazek, Paddy Szrager, Wodzicki; all identified by their national insignia. About a year ago I was in Malta on holiday, and visited the graves of those 138 Sqn aircrew killed in December 1942: several were Polish, and Anderle was lost then, too.

Nick L.

Last edited by Tobermory; 26th April 2017 at 01:29.
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Old 26th April 2017, 16:28
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Nick Beale Nick Beale is offline
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Re: Loss of 138 Sqn Halifax V9976 20-21/4/1942

If the subject of this discussion is now Allied Special Duties ops., it would be more logical if I moved the thread to the Allied board, I think.
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