In honour of our Liberator Spitfire Pilot Harold Chauncy Byrd

foto

Harold Chauncy Byrd
19 March 1945

Hello Pierre,

In honour of our Liberator Spitfire Pilot Harold Chauncy Byrd .

Now we have a picture behind the gravestone, thanks to You.

“Ne Obliviscaris”

Friendly Regards,

Met vriendelijke groet,

Hennie Berendsen

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Spitfire Vb R7290

A comment from a reader…

I am interested in Spitfire Vb R7290 in which P.O. N Warden may/may not have been killed. That particular aircraft was donated by William and Harold Cook from Donington Lincolnshire hence the name Donintonian. I know their daughter who is now in her 80s now and always believed that it was Warden who flew the aircraft. Do you have any particular information on this aircraft in particular Squadron, squadron markings, colour scheme and history? Their daughter still has the original plaque from the Ministry of Aircraft Production and out of the factory photograph etc.

Some information is found on this forum.

Footnote  

A comment from Dean Black

With respect to Spitfire R7290 (Manufacturer’s No. 1546) This MXII “Donningtonian” had its first flight FF on 29-4-41, and was then transferred to Maintenance unit 8MU on 30-3 (probably 1942, then to the squadron 91S probably on 4-5 (May) of 1942 and then it “failed to return) FTR from Ops 1-10 which means 01 October, probably 1942.

Then another comment…

Hello Pierre or Dean,

Is it still possible you can find the target from F/O Harold Byrd (Admiral) on 19th march 1945, (missing after leaving formation).

In the east of Holland that day there was an assault in the neighbourhood, a small town called Terborg, in a castle “Schuilenburg” there was the residence from General Model (obercom.West). However the day before ” the staff” was leaving. The castle was totally bombed.

The Allied stood before the Rhine (Rees) Germany, the end of War was near. Tragical for the 22 years old Spitfire pilot.

I hope you can help me,

Sincerely
gr. Hennie

This is the whole page of March 1945.

Walter Neil Dove was not flying on March 19, 1945.

Footnote…

Comment from a reader…

Hello,
Hank Byrd took off from Petit Brogel at 13.30h 19 march 1945
Target: Fighter Sweep in the Rheine-Osnabrick area.
12 a/c of 403 Squadron, 5 early returns.
Source: ORB 403 Squadron

Regards
Karl Lusink
ARGA

“Admiral” Byrd’s burial place

Hank Byrd was Admiral Byrd… This was how Wally called Hank Byrd.

Here is a picture of this pilot who disappeared after leaving formation.

Wally Dove collection

Someone had information on his burial place…

Hennie wrote back.

There is still an eyewitness alive of the crash, an 88 year-old man called Luycken,  landowner , told me that the “Spitfire” crashed in the “Wilhelminabos” at Landfort.

German soldiers were quick at the place.

The pilot was for a while buried at the border of that forest, he can remember a wooden cross with his flyercap on the top, later he is reburied at the Gendringen  Cemetery.

Footnote…

Comment from a reader…

Hello,
Hank Byrd took off from Petit Brogel at 13.30h 19 march 1945
Target: Fighter Sweep in the Rheine-Osnabrick area.
12 a/c of 403 Squadron, 5 early returns.
Source: ORB 403 Squadron

Regards
Karl Lusink
ARGA

Hank Byrd Service Number: J/89351

Hank Byrd’s name appeared in Walter Neil Dove’s logbook.

Hank Byrd disappeared after leaving formation…

This is what we have on Canadian Virtual War Memorial to pay homage to this Spitfire pilot.

In memory of 

HAROLD CHAUNCEY  BYRD

who died on March 19, 1945

Military Service:

Service Number: J/89351
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 403 Sqdn.
 
Burial Information:

Cemetery:

GENDRINGEN ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY

Netherlands

Grave Reference: Row B. Grave 22.

Location:

Gendringen is a village on the Dutch-German border 30 kilometres east-south-east of Arnhem and 15 kilometres south-east of Doetinchem. The GENDRINGEN ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY is behind the church of St. Martinus, which stands in the centre of Gendringen. The British plot is near the eastern boundary wall.

I wrote an article on Hank Byrd.

Now we have more information from someone…

I’ve a photo of the wreck crashed in Landfort near Megchelen/Gendringen on 19 march 1945. (Harold Chauncey Byrd) nearby a small forest at the German/Dutch frontier.


Pilots

This is the list of the pilots of 403 Squadron found in the logbook.

One thing that might not get noticed with the names highlighted is that Hank Zary survived the war contrary to Hank Byrd, Mac Reeves and Grant Aitcheson.

Hank Zary was a squadron leader and Walter Neil Dove called him the Chief…

The Chief died in 1946.

Hank Zary died of pleurisy on 11 February 1946 at the Royal Edward Laurentian Hospital (Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts division) where they specialized in treating tuberculosis & other chest problems.

Click here. 

Walter Neil Dove thus added this information after the war. Like so many war veterans Greg’s grandfather kept in touch with his comrades.

I wonder how the other pilots used to call affectionately Walter Neil Dove. 

Hank Byrd disappeared after leaving formation…

This is my 49th article since September.

I know that this is a lot of articles about RCAF No. 403 Squadron, but Greg sent me a lot of pictures and information about the 403. I just did not want to keep it just for myself.

That’s not the mission Greg and I had agreed upon… Hank Byrd’s name appears in Walter Neil Dove’s logbook.

Hank Byrd disappeared after leaving formation…

I don’t think Greg has a picture of Hank Byrd in his photo album, but I know he is going to double-check to make sure. He knows what this blog can do to reunite people. Tony also knows.His daughter is the one who sent him here on this blog and he wrote me.

I am glad he did.

As for Hank Byrd, this is what we have on Canadian Virtual War Memorial to pay homage to this Spitfire pilot.

In memory of 

HAROLD CHAUNCEY  BYRD

who died on March 19, 1945

Military Service:

Service Number: J/89351
Force: Air Force
Unit: Royal Canadian Air Force
Division: 403 Sqdn.
 
Burial Information:

Cemetery:

GENDRINGEN ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY

Netherlands

Grave Reference: Row B. Grave 22.

Location:

Gendringen is a village on the Dutch-German border 30 kilometres east-south-east of Arnhem and 15 kilometres south-east of Doetinchem. The GENDRINGEN ROMAN CATHOLIC CEMETERY is behind the church of St. Martinus, which stands in the centre of Gendringen. The British plot is near the eastern boundary wall.

No picture…

Nothing to remember him with.

People visiting the cemetery in the Netherlands would know nothing about this pilot or his squadron.

403 Squadron saw a lot of action in March 1945.

That month was no Piece of Cake…

Greg had these entries in his grandfather’s logbook.

Mar  15 George Boudreau forced down behind Ger. Lines…

Mar 19  Hank Byrd disappeared after leaving formation…

Mar 25 Was  shot at by unidentified A/C…

Mar 25  F/L  Gillis shot down by flak landed among our paratroopers…

 403 Squadron was based at B90 Petit Brogel in March.That’s in Belgium.

 
 

On March 25, 1945 Greg’s grandfather flew four missions and he damaged two Met (Mechanical Transport). 58 Mets!

That’s a lot…

Walter Neil Dove  was even shot at by an unidentified aircraft…

Fortunately he was not shot down by a Mustang!

Piece of Cake?

Have you seen this series on television?

Probably not.

It was aired in 1988.

March 1945 was no Piece of Cake for 403 Squadron.