During the night of 29 to 30 May 1943, an Allied bomber was shot down here at the Gelmelslot. The Handley Page Halifax Mark II with serial number HR833 was part of No. 35 Squadron of the British Air Force. The four-engined plane had taken off in the United Kingdom from Graveley base in Cambridgeshire. Their assignment was to mark the target for an attack on Wuppertal-Barmen in the German Ruhr area. However, this pathfinder never got there. While approaching, the Halifax over Antwerp was hit by anti-aircraft guns. This caused a fire in the bomb load. A night fighter may also surfaced to give the hit aircraft the final blow. In any case, the bomber exploded shortly after midnight at a low altitude above Hoogstraten. Five of the seven crew members - a Canadian, an Australian and three British - were killed. They rest in the Schoonselhof cemetery in Antwerp. With the help of the local population, the two British survivors tried to stay out of German hands, but were rounded up and had to spend the rest of the war as prisoners of war. The debris of the Halifax damaged buildings of the Penal School and some surrounding houses and one in Lindendreef burned out. Later on that dramatic 30th May 1943, 60-year-old Hoogstratenaar Gust Noeyens was fatally hit by a shot from a German sentry near the wreckage.
The Halifax HR833 crew consisted of:
Warrant Officer II James Livingstone Lee (CAN) pilot, killed in action
Flight Lieutenant William Abbotson Tetley DFC (UK) navigator, killed in action
Sergeant Herbert John Ross (Aus) radio operator, killed in action
Sergeant Frank Morley Traynor (UK) air gunner, killed in action
Sergeant Victor Stanley Platt (UK) air gunner, killed in action
Sergeant George Arthur Jones (UK) Bombardier, POW
Flight Officer John Goodson DFM (UK) Flight Engineer, POW
This memorial plaque is an initiative of Erfgoed Hoogstraten vzw and the City of Hoogstraten.
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