Preparation
  Warrant Officer Douglas Nelson - 429 Squadron  
 

W/O2 Douglas Rae Nelson - RCAF 

 
W/O2 Douglas Rae Nelson was serving as Bomb Aimer on board Halifax Mk.V LK995 coded AL-C during an operation to Leipzig on November 25/26, 1943. The aircraft failed to return after being shot down by a night fighter. F/Sgt Davis was killed, all other crewmembers were either captured or evaded capture.

The crew consisted of:

Name

Service

Trade

Hometown

Age

WO2 David Smith, DFM,- POW

RCAF

Pilot

-

-

Sgt J. Renton - POW

RAFVR

Flight Engineer

-

-

F/O Jacob Thurmeier - EVD

RCAF

Navigator

Southery, Saskatchewan

27

W/O2 Douglas Rae Nelson - POW

RCAF

Bomb Aimer

-

-

F/Sgt Randy Abbott - POW

RAFVR

W/Op/AG

-

-

F/O M. Rabinovitch - POW

RCAF

Air Gunner

-

-

F/Sgt Robert Davis

RCAF

Air Gunner

Winnipeg, Manitoba

21

In a report extracted from a POW report by the pilot WO2 David McMSmith DFM, RCAF on the 11th of May 1945 he states:

"After setting course, I checked D/R compass with P/p and found a difference of several degrees from the navigators figures and we had some difficulty in getting it settled upon crossing the French coast we were port of track and the navigator suggested greater alteration to starboard. When I saw other aircraft crossing in front I resumed course. In 15 minutes, we were port of track again when we were attacked. I had every confidence in F/O Thurmeier as a navigator and believe that the P.4 compass was unserviceable. We were attacked with only a pip or so from Monica just before being hit. The Rear gunner saw and I believe fired in exchange to two bursts from the fighter which severed all controls and set incendiaries afire in centre and port bays. I gave the order to prepare to abandon, when attempts to jettison failed (circuit cut), then almost immediately I ordered to abandon the aircraft, to which only the navigator was heard to acknowledge as intercom faded out. I had made an attempt to hold the aircraft straight and level while the others got out but the controls were dead and useless. There seemed to be some delay as others were waiting to leave. Since I had on a seat type chute, I stood up in the seat and had the fantastic idea of sliding down the fuselage. of course I was gone immediately I felt the slipstream. There was only one crewmember that I could see left and about to leave the aircraft (W/O Nelson who was last to leave the aircraft) when I had left. There was no word from the rear gunner and call light received no reply. I found my chute split in several places and almost severed when I attempted to stop turning. I landed safely but sprained my ankle and wrenched my back"

 W/O Doug Nelson recounted his experience after the war to his daughter, As bomb aimer, his position in the plane was such that he was responsible for holding open the hatch door for the rest of the crew to jump out (the hatch opened inward and had to be held up). After the rest of the crew jumped, Doug attempted to follow them but, as he exited the trap door, it fell down and held him by the ankle. He hung underneath the aircraft as it continued on its flight until such time as it disintegrated enough for his foot to be released and let him fall. Because of this delay in parachuting out, the other crewmembers landed in Germany and he landed in France and was helped by the Resistance. Dressed as civilians they reached Paris where they and their rescuers were betrayed and picked up by the SS. As they were in civilian clothes, they were treated as spies and tortured over a long period of time. This was to leave an enduring legacy by way of treatment and operations to repair the damage to body and mind.

 Flight Sergeant Davis RCAF, the rear gunner is believed to have died in the attack and is buried in Hotton War Cemetery, possibly being brought here from Florennes.W/O Smith’s DFM was Gazetted on 27th of July 1943.

Sgt Bob Davis,Sgt Randy Abbott,Sgt Doug Nelson,Sgt Bill Pass,Sgt Dave Smith August 1943.

 Flying Officer Thurmeier RCAF evaded capture and was to be hidden and helped by the Comet Line (Belgian Resistance). While evading he apparently met up with Doug Nelson after three days. Although Doug and the remaining crewmembers were to eventually become pow’s. Flying Officer Rabinovitch RCAF was arrested in Brussels and taken to the notorious St.Gilles Prison for interrogation before being taken to Camp L3 as a POW.In 1945,Doug and his fellow pow’s took part in the long march before being liberated.

 Douglas Rae Nelson RCAF was born on the 25th of May 1920 in St.Catharines, Ontario to Everett Parmer Nelson and Annie Lulu (nee Smith.) On the 12th of January 1926 Everett crossed the border and went to live in North Tonawanda, New York State and Annie and the six children joined him in September 1927. On the 5th of July 1941, Doug returned to Canada intending join the RCAF and after training joined 429 squadron. While he was stationed at East Moor he met his future wife Margaret Elizabeth (Peggy) Collingbourne.

 Guests of Doug & Peg's Wedding.

 After he was liberated in 1945, Doug returned to England and married Peggy. He took her back to St.Catharines where some of his siblings also lived One of his brothers, Gordon Russell, known as Russell was a Flight Lieutenant in the Airforce and also a witness at Doug’s wedding. In December 1955 Doug, Peggy, son David and daughter Sheila came to live in England where Doug started his own business as a motor mechanic, owning his own service station at Green Hamerton, Yorkshire till he retired.

Doug & Peg's Golden Wedding Anniversary.

 

 Sadly Peggy died of cancer in Harrogate General hospital of the 23rd of July 1996,the day after her 74th birthday. Doug died of heart problems on May 3rd 1997.

Photos courtesy of Sheila Ibbotson and David & Linda Nelson. additional information courtesy of Richard Koval and the Comet Line (Belgian resistance) website, research by Linda Ibrom.