Yesterday Yorkie wrote about his Uncle Jack who was killed in World War Two while serving with the RAF and it seemed fitting to mark Remembrance Day by remembering my mother’s cousin who also lost his life in on a bombing mission.
Howard Hadfield was handsome and popular and had a great future in front of him. He had married in 1940 when aged 19 and a career in the family transport business beckoned, but he joined the RAF as war raged.
He trained in South Africa as a Sergeant-Observer, but transferred to the bomb-aimers section and returned to England at Christmas 1942. He joined 620 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and on Monday, 26th July 1943, he flew from Chedburgh, Suffolk, in a Mark I Stirling on a mission to Essen
His aircraft was shot down over Holland by Major Werner Streib, known as the father of the German night fighters. The plane crashed at 00.28 hours on farmland owned by the Bekx family, at Lieshout in the Noord-Brabant province.
Of the seven crew of the Stirling, five died that night — Sgt J R G McDonald, RCAF, Sgt G Jones, Sgt J B Lamont, Sgt H Hadfield and Sgt J McLauchlan.
The first mentioned was Joseph Roderick Gerald McDonald from Kindersley, Saskatchewan and the McDonald Falls in Northern Saskatchewan are named in his memory. Sgts C H Mutton and J Daly bailed out and became prisoners of war, the former at Stalag Muhlberg and the latter at Stalag Moosburg.
Howard’s wife remarried and the family firm is now Hadfield Transport Ltd. Above is a photo of his grave at Woesnel, Eindhoven, taken many years ago.
He was sorely missed by my mum and nana and the rest of their family and I remember them speaking of him often. It is a reminder that the dead are not the only victims of war, but also those they leave behind.