Gresse, Germany RAF Friendly fire incident

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Davenport7, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    How about....
    Reinstorf is about twelve kilometers east of Lüneburg in Lower Saxony . Neighbouring villages are Wendhausen, Lumber and Horndorf , Sülbeck, New Wendhausen and New Sülbeck, the districts of the municipality are Reinstorf. Independent neighbouring municipalities are Barendorf, Vastorf, Thomas Burg and Neetze from the Ostheide and Scharnebeck and the Hanseatic city of Lüneburg.
    ("W" would be pronounced as "V" in German and haven/hafen could be a simple phonetic error for hausen....?

    It doesn't sound far, but in wartime, movement would be restricted to night time which, though longer in winter, would drain their limited energy fairly quickly, so 25 kilometers in 5 days might be just as far as they could safely progress, towards the sound of the guns...

    Only problem I see is that it is EAST of Luneberg whilst Sudergellersen is west, which is the direction I would expect them to head....

    Sounds like you have a New Year assignment to meet up!
    Merry Christmas, what a lovely present.
  2. Davenport7

    Davenport7 Member

    Just an update, I had a reply from someone on the Key Publishing forum regarding the place in Germany 'Vendishaven'. This was where Charles Hall (in my grandfathers 'combine') described that was where him and Les Davenport (my grandfather) met the British on the 18th April 45 after escaping from the column 5 days previous.

    I have now found out Vendishaven is a place but spelt pronounced differently as Wendisch Evern (Lunenberg area in Germany).

    This has helped me establish where my grandfather was, he must have met the 3rd Royal Tank Reg, and 4th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry who advanced into this area on the same dates.

    Im not sure what they would have done for 5 days but there was alot of fanatical SS troops about making 'last stands' in key areas, so it must have been a terrifying time.

    Kevin thanks for investigating but I have one other POW story that they made there way to the above and were met by British for repatuation.

  3. GaryClarke300

    GaryClarke300 New Member

    Hi, A William E Jones was a Flying Officer and was sometimes the 8th member with my Grandfathers Crew on NA584MPF. On the 21st February the crew were on NR121MPE on a mission to bomb Worms, Germany. William Jones was not on this one. The crew all died as it crashed near Hohen-Sulzen, Germany.
    The crew were Harold Ball Pilot, W B Mallen Navigator (my grandfather), J Pennington, JJ McNeil, E Boydell, J Faulkner, W J Phillips. I have a crew photo. How do I see a copy of the photo you mentioned?
  4. NickFenton

    NickFenton Well-Known Member


    Did you receive any response to this post?


  5. GaryClarke300

    GaryClarke300 New Member

    Hi, no I haven't had a reply yet but managed to view the member's photos.
  6. NickFenton

    NickFenton Well-Known Member

    On the case.


  7. Davenport7

    Davenport7 Member


    hello nick emailed me to say that you replied. Wow thats great news I will DIRECT private message you on this site with my email address so you can send it to me. Do you know where about he was originally from and lived. At least you have given me a starting point for who to research now.

    So your family relation passed? I think my grandfather was very lucky to survive. I would love to hear more.

    I am so pleased.


    ian davenport


  8. GaryClarke300

    GaryClarke300 New Member

    Hi, the crew picture I don't think includes William Jones I'm afraid. Sorry if my previous comment was misleading. I have February 1945 action report which shows the sortie results and crewlists.
    I'll send an email
  9. Fraser Downie

    Fraser Downie New Member

    My uncle is listed as one of the dead in this thread. Lance Corporal William Downie 3245722 6th Bn Cameronians died 19th April 1945 during the long march from Stalag XXA in Torun Poland. He had spent the war in there after being captured following being parachuted into the Norway failed campaign of 1940. Yes one of the five year men. I have visited his grave in Berlin.

    Attached Files:

    alieneyes likes this.
  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Fraser

    Welcome -
  11. NickFenton

    NickFenton Well-Known Member

    That is exactly why we post the information on here.
    Anything you can add would be of great interest.
  12. bombtheb

    bombtheb Member

    One of the mortally wounded was W/O A G C Read. He was one of the two survivors from 76 Sqn Halifax JB800 shot down on Pilsen, 16-17 April 1943. I'm including him in my talk on local RAF/FAA men killed in WW 2 if anyone can shed more light on him?

    Bob C

    Attached Files:

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  13. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    From the service file of R122884 F/Sgt Fraser Allan Robb, RCAF. These pertain to W/O Read.


    Attached Files:

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  14. GerardNZ

    GerardNZ Member

    Hello. I note that the last coms are dated Oct 17. Is anyone still 'listening' in out there? My Great Uncle was WO John Gage, who was killed at Gresse. I have completed some research and put together a booklet about the event for my family. I suspect that all those who were on the March with John (or Jack as he was known by mates and family) have Crossed the Bar. Would be wonderful to know if anyone's relatives knew him.
  15. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Hi Gerard - oddly enough, I was looking for some info on the Gresse incident on an unrelated matter and ended up here. Where I found some of the answers I needed, written by me 5 years ago...

    My previous post #18 (S2) has attached to it an extract from the burials log for Berlin 1948 which lists Warrant Officer John Gage among those that were re-interred.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  16. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    "One of the mortally wounded was Warrant Officer Read" "From the service file of R122884 F/Sgt Fraser Allan Robb, RCAF. These pertain to W/O Read."

    The service file extract provided by alieneyes mentions that WOFF Read died at BOIZENBURG - this links back to how I found my way here again.

    The statement attached to my previous post #18 (S3) was written by an AIF PoW who survived the attack at Gresse. It details the death of the two Australians (Woodgate & Shierlaw) and states that all of those killed were buried in GIESLER

    Plus it also mentions another couple of Aussies that were injured in the attack:

    SGT Cyril Bolden service number NX? was wounded in the knee - Sergeant Cyril Archdale Bolden Service Number NX9137 of 6 Division Supply Column - Date of Enlistment 15 Dec 1939 / Date of Discharge 31 Oct 1946

    CPL Fred Surmon service number VX? was very badly wounded in back - Private Frederick Henry Surman Service Number VX6250 of 2/8 Australian Infantry Battalion - Date of Enlistment 23 Oct 1939 / Date of Discharge 21 Jan 1946

    The personnel file for Private Surman contains a copy of his returned PoW questionnaire - he refers to the attack itself “BOIZENBURG - Shrapnel wound in buttocks received in Allied Bombing raid” and regarding treatment “BOIZENBURG Emergency Hospital (German) 10 days 19 April 1945 - 29 April 1945”

    This would be the same facility where Warrant Officer Read died from his wounds. BOIZENBURG is on the Elbe, a few miles from Gresse

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  17. GerardNZ

    GerardNZ Member

    Hi Dave. VMT for your reply and the info on the exhumation at Gresse and burial at Berlin. A few years ago I visited the church at Gresse, the grounds of which those killed were buried. Very humbling to think what my Great Uncle has been through... so close to the end of the war in Europe too. A couple of years after visiting Gresse I managed to visit the Berlin Commonwealth War Graves cemetery along with my mum and dad. John was mum’s uncle whom she never met... we have a POW card from John to his brother (Don) congratulating him on the birth of mum... he must have found out somehow. We have a photo of him and his friend in one of the POW camps. How did they manage to do that and get this smuggled out or perhaps taken on the March by one of his mates and then handed to his parents?

    How were they able to determine which body was John’s during exhumation so that he was buried properly in Berlin? ID tag? Dread to think what was left of him after the attack. Awful to think about. RIP John.
  18. GerardNZ

    GerardNZ Member

    I live in NZ now. I wonder if those Aussies you mention are still alive? Doubt it.

    I’d be grateful for any info about Gresse. I wrote to the RAF records and obtained John’s details, but there was no reply to my question about the incident.
  19. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Cheers Gerard - I think I have finished editing my posts now

    The ID of bodies was done very thoroughly from the documentation I have seen, in the case of Warrant Officer Shierlaw apparently he wore a distinctive white pullover which was used for his ID

    In other cases it was known dental work, tattoos, dog tags etc - some may still have had personal possessions (a ring or a watch etc) which would help with the process.

    As for still being alive - those army blokes were 39's (enlisted in 1939) and captured in North Africa in 1941 - there wouldn't be many left seeing as how they would be around 100 years old
  20. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    There can be so much pain for families when seeing this information, usually for the first time, but as for W/O Gage, he had been mortally wounded, so had been receiving medical care at Gresse hospital, so he probably had bandages and/or other medial clues, to aid identification.
    Having known a chap who reburied the dead in Holland, I am certain that they were extremely thorough in making accurate and correct identifications, and there would be the same rigour applied elsewhere, as at Gresse. Please don't agonise over that issue, he has a known burial, which is more than many others.

    Take comfort from the epitaph his parents chose TIME OR YEARS WILL NEVER DIM THE HAPPY MEMORIES LEFT OF HIM. GOD BLESS.

    Have you though to contact the churches in Harnham (All Saints and St Georges) to see if there is any Memorial to him there?
    canuck likes this.

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