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Robertson, William Anthony (Flying Officer)

Evader 1944-05-13

Birth Date: 1921-06-13 (age 23)

Home: Toronto ON

Service
RCAF
Unit
158 Sqn- Squadron (RAF)
Strength In Unity
Rank
Flying Officer
Marshal
Air Chief MarshalA/C/M
Air MarshalA/M
Air Vice MarshalA/V/M
Air CommodoreA/C
Group CaptainG/C
Wing CommanderW/C
Squadron LeaderS/L
Flight LieutenantF/L
Flying OfficerF/O
Pilot OfficerP/O
Warrant Officer 1st ClassWO1
Warrant Officer 2nd ClassWO2
Flight SergeantFS
SergeantSGT
CorporalCPL
Senior AircraftmanSAC
Leading AircraftmanLAC
Aircraftman 1st ClassAC1
Aircraftman 2nd ClassAC2
Position
Service Numbers
J/24485

Took off from Lissett at 21:56 in Halifax Mark III (Sqn code: NP-C Bomber Command).

Crashed Monastry Bokrijk

Evasion

Shot down by a night fighter (see below). The crew baled out and the aircraft crashed at the Monestry Bokrijk between the target and the town of Genk. Of the other members of the crew, two were taken Prisoner of War whilst the other five (including ‘Robbie’ Robertson) evaded capture.

Robbie relates

“ I had made a few operational flights, but on my twelfth operational flight, I was on a raid to Hasselt, Belgium and our mission was to disrupt the railway marshalling yards so later on, troops or material could not be moved to the front. We had just finished our bombing raid and were set to come home, when a fighter shot us down. Actually he set the starboard side of the fuselage on fire and also one of our starboard engines were on fire. At that point, our pilot decided it was a good time to leave the aircraft especially as shells were coming through it and the order was Jump, Jump, Jump, which means no questions asked, just bale out. So I baled out with the others and fortunately I landed in a field and I was trained that the best thing to do was go into hiding as soon as possible as the Nazis would only look for you for about 24 hours. So I found a spot and hid out there for about 18 hours, I think it was. By this time I was getting thirsty and I headed into nearby woods. I met two young lads, about eight or nine years old. I told them I was with the Royal Air Force. They scooted off and came back with an uncle of theirs who brought a farmers coverall to cover my uniform and took me off to the farm. A little while later, two gentlemen came in to interview me. I found out that they were actually from the Belgian underground. Their job was to decide whether or not I was a genuine allied airman or whether I was an infiltrator. The enemy would disguise one of their men as an allied airman so he would get mixed in with the Underground and then he would turn in each one as he was passed along in the Underground. So, in other words, if they decided I was an infiltrator, or the enemy in disguise, I would be shot at that point. I passed with flying colours apparently and they decided I was genuine, and the next thing I was given, was some wooden clogs, as flying boots would be a dead giveaway I was a pilot.

F/O Robertson was officially reported ‘missing after air operations’ in Casualty List 913 issued by the Canadian Governments Department of National Defense for Air on June 1944. This was amended in Casualty List 1006 of 5 October 1944 to ‘Previously Missing – Now Reported Safe’. Chuck Tolley, 158 Squadron Archivist

Target
Google Map Hassett

Handley Page Halifax

(RAF Photo, 1942)(Source Harold A Skaarup Web Page)A Royal Air Force Handley Page Halifax Mk. II Series I (Serial No. W7676), coded TL-P, of No. 35 Squadron, RAF, based at Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire in the UK, being piloted by Flight Lieutenant Reginald Lane, (later Lieutenant-General, RCAF), over the English countryside. Flt Lt Lane and his crew flew twelve operations in W7676, which failed to return from a raid on Nuremberg on the night of 28/29 August 1942, when it was being flown by Flt Sgt D. John and crew.

The Handley Page Halifax is a British Royal Air Force (RAF) four-engined heavy bomber of the Second World War. It was developed by Handley Page to the same specification as the contemporary twin-engine Avro Manchester.

The Halifax has its origins in the twin-engine HP56 proposal of the late 1930s, produced in response to the British Air Ministry's Specification P.13/36 for a capable medium bomber for "world-wide use." The HP56 was ordered as a backup to the Avro 679, both aircraft being designed to use the underperforming Rolls-Royce Vulture engine. The Handley Page design was altered at the Ministry to a four-engine arrangement powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine; the rival Avro 679 was produced as the twin-engine Avro Manchester which, while regarded as unsuccessful mainly due to the Vulture engine, was a direct predecessor of the famed Avro Lancaster. Both the Lancaster and the Halifax would emerge as capable four-engined strategic bombers, thousands of which would be built and operated by the RAF and several other services during the War.

On 25 October 1939, the Halifax performed its maiden flight, and it entered service with the RAF on 13 November 1940. It quickly became a major component of Bomber Command, performing routine strategic bombing missions against the Axis Powers, many of them at night. Arthur Harris, the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Bomber Command, described the Halifax as inferior to the rival Lancaster (in part due to its smaller payload) though this opinion was not shared by many of the crews that flew it, particularly for the MkIII variant. Nevertheless, production of the Halifax continued until April 1945. During their service with Bomber Command, Halifaxes flew a total of 82,773 operations and dropped 224,207 tons of bombs, while 1,833 aircraft were lost. The Halifax was also flown in large numbers by other Allied and Commonwealth nations, such as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Free French Air Force and Polish forces. Wikipedia

YouTube Halifax Heavy Bomber WWII

General Harold A Skaarup Web Page

Wkikpedia Wikipedia Halifax Bomber

Museum National Air Force Museum of Canada

CASPIR Aircraft Groups:
RCAF On Strength (5), RCAF 6 Group (1596), RCAF 400 Squadron (1443), Canadian Aircraft Losses (1562), Canadian Museum(2)
last update: 2023-12-08 20:34:11

Halifax B/GR.Mk.III HX334

Failed to Return, Hasselt, 13.5.44
Unit 158


158 Sqn- Squadron (RAF) Strength In Unity

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