Lieutenant Edmund Francis Boyle.J12547 from San Francisco,
California.He graduated from 2 SFTS Uplands and was then
posted to No 9 SFTS before retiring from the RCAF on15.12.1943
(U.S.Serial number 0-886258).
He received his pilot training with
the RCAF and transferred to the USAAF in December 1943 but
remained on detached service with the RCAF. Americans serving
with Coastal Command & Bomber Command were allowed to transfer
to the USAAF but remain on detached service to keep their crew
together and hopefully complete their tour of operations.
Ironically 431 squadron would lose another USAAF pilot, 1st
Lieutenant Earman just a few days after the Boyle crew failed
F/O Peter George Harvey Macgregor
J/22743 RCAF aged 22, son of George & Ethel Macgregor of
P/O Norman Herbert Lynch. J/88774.
RCAF.aged 26,son of Clement & Eva Lynch of Kirkland Lake,
Ontario.Norman was single and his father of Irish descent&,
his mother from Quebec.
P/O Joseph Lidio Priamo J/90756 RCAF
aged 19, son of Antonio and Teonilda Priamo of 39 Webster
Street, Guelph, Ontario. Joseph was single and of Italian
Mid Under Gunner
P/O Robert Lachlan Lochhead
J/90280,RCAF, aged 19, son of Fraser & Gertrude Lochhead of
8521 Mount Elliott, Detroit, Michigan, USA and brother of
Elizabeth Dougher of Ontario. Robert, a musician, enlisted at
Windsor, Ontario in 1942 and although he had Canadian
citizenship was of Scottish descent. He changed his name from
Fraser Robert Lachlan Lockhead. For this operation he manned
the Preston Green ventral turret, a short lived experimental
gun turret on Halifaxes, soon after the loss of the crew the
turret was no longer manned for night operations.
P/O Fred Hatchman J/86443 RCAF, son of
Walter & Ellen Hatchman who emigrated to Canada from England
with his sister Lily. They lived in Providence, Rhode Island.
Fred graduated at No 6 bombing & gunnery School at Mont
Sgt Albert Howcroft, 1592318,RAFVR
aged 19,son of Charles & Ruby Howcroft of Doncaster,
Sgt.Ronald Blair Corkill, 2216220,RAF
aged 23 son of John and Emily Corkill and husband of Valerie
Elsie (nee Oates) Corkill of Mill Street, Castletown, Isle of
Sgt.Ronald Blair Corkill
Corkill (sister) & Emily Corkill (mother) at Blair's
grave at Reichswald
His peacetime occupation was a Wood
assembler (Aircraft) and he was one of eleven children. As
times were hard and money scarce, Blair used to go rabbiting
to put extra food on the table and also was a caddy on the
golf course to give his mother money. After the war he planned
to emigrate to Canada.
In 1951 he was posthumously awarded
the 1939-45 Star. Awarded for six months service on active
operations. Aircrew Europe Star, awarded for two months of
operational flying from Britain over Europe and the War Medal,
awarded to all full time personnel, for serving 28 days.
Ronald Corkill, known as Blair joined
the Reserves at Speke in January 1943,spending just over a
year on intensive training at St.Athans and 1664 H.C.U. before
being transferred to Croft. He was initially trained as a
Flight Mechanic but after more training was appointed to
Flight Engineer. He arrived at Croft on 13.3.1944 assigned to
He was killed on his second op.
The crew’s bodies were initially
buried at a local cemetery at Veen before being re-interred
and placed in Reischwald Forest War Cemetery in a multiple
grave, collectively marked.
On the night that the crew were lost,
their regular mid upper gunner Sgt. J.Content did not fly with
them, being replaced by Sgt. Howcroft & P/O Lochhead who were
spares. Sgt. Content was mentioned in dispatches for an
incident on 5th July 1944
when, after take-of with another crew, their plane crashed and
Sgt. Content returned to the aircraft, despite being injured
to rescue his captain from the burning aircraft.
He was nominated for the British
A copy of the Investigation report to
the Air Ministry from No 22 Section, No 4 M.R.E.U., RAF,
Germany dated 18th September
1946,the search officer was F/Lt P.Adams:
Result of Investigation & findings.
1) Calling at Veen cemetery, I met
a Mrs.Tiemann of Veen, the owner of the ground on which
the aircraft crashed. She quite distinctly remembered that
incident. She was up rather late and it might have been
around 02.00 hours or 03.00 hours when the a/c hit the
ground not very far from her house. It was seen as a ball
of fire in the sky and was said to have been brought down
by the flak from the nearby aerodrome at Bonninghardt, map
2) Although there was no terrific
explosion suggesting that the a/c was on it’s way back, it
disintegrated in mid air and broke up altogether, when
hitting the ground. The wreckage burnt fiercely for the
rest of the night and nobody could approach it, because of
the heat and the exploding ammo. In the morning, only 2
more or less complete bodies were found, totally burnt
through, 3 skulls and many bits and pieces of human
bodies. Mrs Tiemann remembers finding very small pieces of
the bodies giving some indication of the force of the
explosion. These bits and pieces were collected and put in
one grave, whilst the two bodies were placed in a coffin
and buried in the local cemetery.
3) Mr.H.Werner of Menthe the local
cemetery keeper, on whom I called next confirmed what I
had already heard from Mrs Tiemann.Asked how he came to
make just 5 graves, he said he had 2 bodies, and another 3
skulls, so he presumed that there must have been 5 men in
the crew. Graves No4 and 5 are empty, for there were not
even enough to fill Grave No3.
4) A farmer Van Husen of Veen had
found 2 Identity discs belonging to Boyle and Priamo
respectively, which he had handed in to the authorities
5) Calling on the Burgomaster of
Alpen, Map Ref.A1532, under whose jurisdiction Veen comes,
I met a Mr.H.Schoofs, a young official there. He proved to
be most helpful and had done some investigation on this
case already (with Squadron Leader Leagh-Murray). He
suddenly remembered that rumours had been going round to
the effect, that in the light of the search lights, 2
parachutists had been seen descending in the direction of
Sevelen(AO95225) and Issum(AO95225) and it was assumed
that they had come from this aircraft.
6) To cut a very lengthy story
short, I had to interview 17 people in different places
(see Appendix), I could not get any definite facts, but
assumptions, vague reports and rumours only.
7) It is therefore suggested, that
Air Ministry checks on all available records whether any
further reports had come through, referring to any member
of this crew. In the event of no further news, it is
requested that this section may be informed and
arrangements will be made for a “Comrade Grave” and cross,
giving the particulars of all 8 members of this crew thus
closing this case.
8) Exhumation would be without
result, as apart from the 2 bodies which are burnt beyond
recognition, nothing else would be found.
Appendix: in the course of my
investigation I interviewed:
Farmer Van Husen who found the discs,
but he had no further information. Burgomasters and police
stations of Sevelen and Issum, no records kept, everything
being destroyed through the war, they do remember POW’s being
taken near their places but nobody could state for definite as
it was after that night. O.C. of Aerodrome Bonninghardt, a
former Major Reier, remembers that all POW’s brought down in
his area were taken to Stalag Luft 111 via the aerodrome
Ober-Ursel near Frankfurt/Main has no records, is quite
certain that no records are available anywhere else and has no
recollection of that particular night, for he had a weekly
average of some 15 to 17 POW’s passing through his place.
Hilfspolizist Bohmanns of
17,Vichardstrasse, Geldern, who is said to have escorted some
of our boys does not remember that night, might have been his
day off he says………….no records, everything destroyed. Farmer
Wolfres of Sevelen on whose grounds the airmen were said to
have come down does not remember although he admits that many
airmen have come down near and around his place, but he always
avoided them and does not remember this specific case.
Several other farmers who were said to
know something…but all information I received was on the same
lines, rumours etc., but no concrete facts.
4 M.R.E.U. RAF
This report only goes to show how hard
it must have been for the RAF to find out the true facts. Did
any of the crew bale out and were subsequently murdered by
villagers or the Gestapo, or did they all perish in the crash?
We will likely never know.
Curran plaque, Castletown, Isle of Man Commemorating
Blair Corkill and others from the Isle of Man
The Author would like to thank the
Photos of Blair Corkill, crew &
family, supplied by Kevin Corkill with permission of Duggy
Corkill (Isle of Man), brother of Blair. (Thanks to Kevin for
all his prior research.)
Photo of P/O Joseph Priamo; courtesy
of Canadian Virtual war memorial, Wally Fydenchuk, Floyd
Williston, Richard Koval
Written by Linda Ibrom