LOSS OF LANCASTER ND586
460 SQUADRON RAAF
NEAR VIEUX-MESNIL, FRANCE
ON 11 APRIL 1944

 

Lancaster ND586 of 460 Squadron RAAF took off from RAF Binbrook at 2341 hours on 10 April 1944 to bomb the railway junction and marshalling yards at Aulnoye, France. Bomb load 12 x 1000 lb bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twelve aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid.

All the crew of ND586 were killed when the Lancaster crashed:-

RAAF 420054 FO Arthur Harold Probert, Captain (Pilot), 25 years old
RAAF 410609 FO Robert Bruce McDougall, (Navigator), 24 years old
RAAF 425207 Flt Sgt Austin Hardcastle Palfreyman, (Bomb Aimer), 22 years old
RAF 1338956 Sgt Dennis Robbins, (Wireless Operator Air), 22 years old
RAF 1603151 Sgt Basil Guy Wiseman, (Flight Engineer), 20 years old
RAAF 429322 Flt Sgt William George Hogg, (Mid Upper Gunner), 19 years old
RAAF 418695 FO Keith Francis Ryan, (Rear Gunner), 20 years old

It was established post war that the aircraft crashed at Vieux Mesnil in France at 0230 hours on 11 April 1944. Vieux Mesnil is near Maubeuge situated on the River Sambre close to the Belgium border. All the crew were killed and they are buried in the Maubeuge-Centre Cemetery, Nord, France. Maubeuge is a large town in the department of the Nord. Maubeuge-Centre Cemetery stands inside the Communal Cemetery of Maubeuge on the route de Mons (N2).

 


Photo:- Bernard Feutry

Crash Site of Lancaster ND586 on 11 April 1944

 


Photo:- Bernard Feutry

Crash Site of Lancaster ND586 on 11 April 1944

 

A member of the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (I will call him the "Inspector" went to the scene of the crash of Lancaster ND 586 at 1700 hours on 11 April 1944 accompanied by German soldiers in order to try to identify the victims. At a distance of about 200 metres from the wreckage of the aircraft he found a body which he assumed to be the body of a Lt. Riaz, based on this name inside his boots. His body was not burnt but his body had been looted. His watch, his money and probably his identity disc had been stolen. All of the other bodies were eventually found in the burnt wreckage of the Lancaster. He found an identity disc for W.G. Hogg on the 3rd body that he examined.

 

Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Hogg, of Goondi, Greenmount, have received official notification that their only son, Flight-Sergeant, William G. Hogg, who was previously reported as missing as a result of air operations on April 10. 1944, is now reported missing, believed to have lost his life. The notification mentioned that a report received from the International Red Cross at Geneva stated

that according to an official German casualty list Flight-Sergeant Hogg and the remaining members of the crew of the plane is which he was flying lost their lives. This report added that Flight-Sergeant Hogg was buried in the parish cemetery at Maubeuge Nord, France. Although only 19 years of age, Flight-Sergeant Hogg had seen a lot of active service, and it was on his fourteenth operational flight that he was killed. He was a former pupil of the Greenmount State School and the Church of England Boys' Preparatory School, Toowoomba.

 
Newspaper article from unknown paper via Derek Hogg

 

Identification work finished after this, as it was becoming too dark to continue. In the morning the "Inspector" was surprised to find five of the bodies already placed in coffins. Another two bodies were placed in coffins by the soldiers after he left. One of these last two bodies was F/O McDougall and the other was a Machine Gunner E (possibly Ryan or Hogg perhaps). The "Inspector" did not know what happened to the personal effects from the last two bodies. The "Inspector" noted in his report that the bodies were taken to the British Section of the cemetery on 12 April 1944. He noted that their graves were marked as follows:-

No. 54 Lieutenant RIAZ K.R.
No. 55 Unidentified
No. 56 HOGG W.G. 429322 R.A.A.F. Of.
No. 57 Mac Dougall 410609 R.A.A.F.
No. 58 Sergeant machine gunner E.

A French Pastor conducted a very simple burial ceremony. No Germans were present. The "Inspector" had requested local Police to attend.

On 14 April 1944 at 0800 hours, the "Inspector" was advised by the local Police of Vieux Mesnil that they had found three young men searching the body of an airman which they had recovered from the burnt out wreckage whilst there were no guards at the crash site. The three young men had recovered a wrist watch from the body which was marked as follows:-

    PROBERT A.H. - R.A.A.F.

The "Inspector" identified that he was a "Lieutenant" from the remains of his jacket. His watch, some money and a signet ring were sent in a sealed envelope to the Luftwaffe at Denain.

The lower part of a 7th body who had been pinned under the wreckage was also located. The "Inspector" found a purse and a small cylindrical lighter in his pocket. A person at the crash site informed the "Inspector" that a pocket book from this body was in the possession of an inhabitant of Neuf-Mesnil. The "Inspector" went to the village and was able to recover the pocket book. Amongst the book and some other papers was a Leave Pass for a Sgt. Davies Robbins which the "Inspector" assumed was the airman's name.

On 16th April 1944, the "Inspector" was informed that the persons who had searched the bodies resided at Hautemont and they they held personal effects belonging to the deceased.  The "Inspector" rang the Gengarerie of the town and asked them to institute an enquiry to attempt to recover the dead airmen's personal effects.

The bodies were placed in coffins and taken to Maubeuge where they were buried in the British Section of the cemetery at 0900 hours on 17 April 1944.

Their graves were numbered as follows:-

    No. 59     Lieutenant A.H. PROBERT
    No. 60     Sergeant Davies ROBBINS

In accordance with orders received from the K.K., the Pastor was not asked to deliver the service, and the "Inspector" was the only person present at the burial. Neither the Police nor representatives of the Municipality were present.

 

Bernard Feutry sent me the following news article which I translated from French to English
using Google Translate. If anyone can improve on the translation, please contact me:-

The untold story of a British aircraft,
shot down in Vieux-Mesnil during the
war

The German officer Helmut Bergmann
bombers
kill seven in 47 minutes!
Vieux
-Mesnil that was the first.

| FACES OF THE NEWS |

A British bomber crashed into a field in Vieux-Mesnil in the Second World War. Using local and regional historians, we were able to reconstruct the last hours of the crew Probert, whose seven members died in the night from 10 to 11 April 1944.

"With violent flames coming out of its fuselage and wings, the plane fell in a heap (...) and struck the ground about 2 am on burning for 2 hours 20 minutes. "Confinement in his combat report, this is the testimony of Helmut Bergmann, the German pilot who shot down the Lancaster ND 586 (*), an aircraft of the British Royal Air Force. In the night of 10 to 11 April 1944, the Hauptmann (captain) Bergmann tear down seven bombers in 47 minutes! One that crashed in a meadow in Old Mesnil is the first of September.

Helmut Bergmann narrates his feat: "I took off about 2:04 am for an intervention. After about eight minutes of flight, my browser radar operator told me there was a plane behind us, about 1500 m above ... I corrected the path and turn to my seeing the enemy flying at 3,000 m above sea level (...) I recognized a "Lancaster" enemy on which I opened fire at a distance of 100 m.

 "According to British records, the Lancaster had taken off from Binbrook (north-east of England) at 23 hrs 41 mins with a mission - successful - to bomb the rail yards Aulnoye-Aymeries. During the war, a Hautmontois wrote down all the bomb threats in a notebook. The bombing of the station Aulnoye is noted. And it is in the minutes of the Lancaster was shot by a German officer. There will be no survivors. But the crew Probert will be avenged: Helmut Bergmann died in August 1944 during a dogfight over the Cotentin. His plane is shot down by ... the Royal Air Force.

 


Photo:-
Daniel Hopper via Kate Tame, Aircrew Remembered

Flying Officer Arthur Harold Probert

 


Photo:- Daniel Hopper via Kate Tame, Aircrew Remembered

Flying Officer Arthur Harold Probert

 


Photo:- via Bernard Feutry

A Plaque which marks the ashes of Marjorie Palfreyman, a Journalist and WW2
Member on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur and in memory of her son Flight
Sergeant Austin Hardcastle Palfreyman who died in the loss of Lancaster ND 586

 


Church of England Boys prep School, Toowoomba - via Kate Tame, Aircrew Remembered

An Honour Board in Church of England Boys' Preparatory
School in Toowoomba showing A. Palfreyman and W.G. Hogg.

 

On 21 May 2011, Peter Hogg, son of Derek Hogg, the cousin of F/Sgt William George Hogg, visited Vieux Mesnil in France and met up with Bernard Feutry who took him to the crash site and arranged a small reception with the Mayor.

 


Photo:- Bernard Feutry via Derek Hogg

Peter Hogg at the crash site on 21 May 2011

 


Photo:- Bernard Feutry via Derek Hogg

Peter Hogg at the crash site on 21 May 2011

 


Photo:- Bernard Feutry via Derek Hogg

Peter Hogg at the Maubeuge-Centre Cemetery on 21 May 2011

 


Photo:- Bernard Feutry via Derek Hogg

Peter Hogg at a meeting with the Lord Mayor of Vieux Mesnil on about 21 May 2011.
Left to Right:- Peter Hogg, Bernard Feutry, Lord Mayor Michel Wasse, Ms Lambert Hemming

 


 

The following is an English Translation of an article on this French web page

A Maubeugeoise flourished without knowing the grave of one victim!

Oddly, this story remained unknown to Old Mesnil. It was not until 2001 that Patrice Rivart asked the village elders. ...

The seven graves of victims of the crash of Vieux-Mesnil.
Yvonne Lambert's grave flowers Robbins (first left).

This Old Mesnilois, military history buff, manages to locate the crash. The plane crashed in a field near the city Ernest Applincourt (in 1944 there was only one farm). Patrice Rivart unearthed several pieces of the aircraft chu (data from the association Amifort): armor plates, strips, compass, pedal, tachometer ... But no carcass. "The Germans have recovered all materials, like aluminum. "Two months ago, another Old Mesnilois Bernard Feutry, interested in Lancaster. Seeking to trace the families of the victims, he turns to his wife. Ms. Feutry takes English classes at UTEL. And his teacher, an English Maubeuge named Yvonne Lambert, is a passionate ... Military History! When Ms. Feutry present him the libretto of Sergeant Dennis Robbins, Yvonne Lambert does not believe his eyes: "It is worthy of Hitchcock! Robbins is buried in Maubeuge. It is precisely his grave that flourished for a dozen years! Now, Lambert never knew that Robbins had died in the plane crash in Vieux-Mesnil (this episode it was also unknown). But it is by viewing the guestbook of the cemetery that she and her daughter were intimately linked to the fate of Robbins. "It was very touching to read a message from a lady named Dorothy. Dorothy was married to Robbins. She lived in Australia and his daughter Shirley, who in the 80s, had begun the journey to Maubeuge to leave a word on behalf of his mother. Touched by this message, Yvonne Lambert had contacted Shirley and Dorothy. And every year since it flowers the tomb of the soldier Robbins. Yvonne Lambert does not know if Dorothy is still alive. Neither Shirley. If so, it will teach them that their husband / father died in the plane of Vieux-Mesnil. J. CA

 

NOTE:- I originally had shown this aircraft as ED586 as per a file on the AWM site. The National Archives of Australia shows the aircraft as ND586. Bernard Feutry believed it was MD586. Can anyone please help to confirm which is correct..

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thanks Bernard Feutry who lives in France for his assistance with this web page.

I'd like to thank Kelvin Youngs of Aircrew Remembered for his assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Derek Hogg, cousin of F/Sgt William George Hogg for his assistance with this web page. Peter Hogg, Derek Hogg's son, visited the crash site on 21 May 2011 and met up with Bernard Feutry.

I'd also like to thank Jodie Klein, whose husband David Klein, is the great nephew of Flying Officer Arthur Harold Probert.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

Disclaimer

Please e-mail me
any information or photographs


"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

Byron Bay Web Hosting
Green Web Hosting

 

This page first produced 15 May 2011

This page last updated 04 February 2015