The latter stages of WW2 & Post Hostilities
Steenockerzeel & Immediate Post War
With the termination of hostilities, the largest job of all fell onto the shoulders of the RAF Bomb Disposal organisation, which became responsible for the clearance of huge stocks of German Air Force ordnance on the Continent. During the task, 161,088 tons of explosive ordnance, 28,088 tons of chemical weapons (Sea Dumped) and 4,370 tons of V weapons were disposed of. Most bombs were transported to suitable areas for wholesale demolition.
These pictures show Personnel of 6229 BD flight loading German Bombs and Incendiary containers in Steenockerzeel Bomb Dump prior to demolition and burning. The centre photo shows German incendiaries burning in a pit near the bomb dump in 1945
A situation at here at Steenockerzeel just outside Brussels called for exceptional skill when 700 tons of aircraft bombs were found to be booby trapped with 22 bombs armed with No 17 delay fuzes and Zus 40 anti withdrawal devices. Moving the bombs was considered too dangerous, as was the thought of defuzing them within the Bomb Dump. However, Wg Cdr Len Harrison (that man again!) assisted by Sqn Ldr T.M. Clark, came out from London and spent 3 weeks in February/March 1946 in winter weather conditions of snow & ice defuzing the 22 bombs where they lay.
Roll of Honour
Listed below are the names of personnel of RAF Bomb Disposal who were killed & wounded as a result of the disposal of German Munitions. We know this list is not fully complete and we are constantly looking to update the information. Please help complete this list if you know of anyone who should be here.
1408823 Sgt DH Comer 6223 BD Flt Killed 29/10/45 Eindhoven 1006380 Sgt K Dorsett 6228 BD Flt Killed 13/12/45 Aalhorn 929413 Cpl EG Evans 5139 BD Sqn Died of wounds 16/01/45 Knokke 914792 Cpl WW Fordham 6224 BD Flt Killed 23/06/45 Kaltenkirchen 972574 Cpl WA Franks 6223 BD Flt Wounded 29/10/45 Eindhoven 1307162 Sgt RH Giles 6223 BD Flt Killed 29/10/45 Eindhoven 1014419 LAC AT Glass 6218 BD Flt Wounded 17/08/45 Oslo 55198 F/Sgt JR Ings 6214 BD Flt Wounded 20/08/46 Lubeck 1187711 Cpl G Kenna 6223 BD Flt Wounded 29/10/45 Eindhoven 1808509 LAC HW Lomax 6228 BD Flt Wounded 13/12/45 Aalhorn 1691674 LAC W McCallum 6224 BD Flt Killed 23/06/45 Kaltenkirchen 971313 Cpl G McNiell 6223 BD Flt Wounded 29/10/45 Eindhoven 1272546 Cpl TR Powell 6201 BD Flt Killed 05/07/45 Eudenbach 952457 Cpl F Reid 6223 BD Flt Wounded 29/10/45 Eindhoven 922950 Cpl SB Rice 6201 BD Flt Killed 04/07/45 St Wendel 1702549 LAC EW Rowe 6228 BD Flt Killed 13/12/45 Aalhorn 1623486 Cpl F Taylor 6225 BD Flt Wounded 20/08/46 Lubeck 1509875 Cpl G Telford 5139 BD Sqn Died of Wounds 10/11/44 Knokke *639123 Cpl AE Whiting 6223 BD Flt Killed 29/10/45 Eindhoven* 1265175 LAC JA Winn 6218 BD Flt Wounded 17/08/45 Oslo 1170082 Sgt KT Wyllie 6223 BD Flt Killed 29/10/45 Eindhoven
You may notice an asterisk beside the name of Cpl AE Whiting. Since this list was compiled just after the war there was obviously some confusion about who exactly was involved in the Eindhoven accident in which 4 personnel were killed and 4 wounded. As time passed, it came to light that Cpl Whiting was not killed after all but wounded so the mystery still remains as to who exactly was buried in the grave marked as Cpl Whiting. No coffins were used in burying the dead from this incident just body bags and service issue blankets. An exhumation would probably reveal the identity of who is in the grave but do we really want to dig the poor guy up after nearly65 years?
6223 Flight taken at Floralaau Eindhoven Holland before the accident which killed 4 & wounded 4. Personnel shown are named below:
Left to right.
Three of the personnel
involved in the Eindhoven Accident are not on this picture I would assume they
joined the Flight after this photo was taken.
This is a photo of the funeral of the 4 Airmen killed in the Eindhoven accident.
What really happened at Eindhoven? Find out here.
This is personal account of the incident at Eindhoven from Cpl Arthur Whiting who was thought to have been killed and buried in the grave at Tilburg Cemetery but turned up live and well later after a stay in hospital having shrapnel wounds treated.
The account starts:
"There were many smiling faces and outstretched hands when a visitor in the shape of Sgt Danny Comer arrived at the house in Floralaan, a very select street in Eindhoven. This was the HQ of 6223 Flight in which there were a number of Danny's acquaintances. He decided to stay for a couple of days with his old friends before returning to the UK for another Bomb Disposal course."
"The usual flow of conversation took place over a few beers in that part of the house turned over to a bar and stocked with Stella Artois from Louvaine. 6223 Flight was currently engaged in the final clearance of the old Luftwaffe Base at Welscap near to Eindhoven. All the large Bomb Dumps had been cleared and the remaining task was to clear the surrounding areas of scrubland before handing the area back to the Dutch Authorities who were eager to take the base for their reformed Air Force."
Two thumbnails of BD Personnel at the demolition site Louvaine
"Some personnel from 6223 Flight were detailed to carry out the final clear up and Danny Comer went with them. Most of the day was spent searching through the long grass and thickets which resulted in a large number of assorted explosive ordnance including SD1's Butterfly Bombs, Panzerfausts, Grenades, Ammunition and a number of 250 Kg HE bombs."
"Two vehicles were employed, Sgt Wylie drove the one containing most of the ordnance whilst Sgt Giles followed at a safe distance in the other truck with the rest of the work party. On arrival at the demolition site the trucks were reversed up to a crater from a previous demolition that already had some HE bombs prepared for disposal. The personnel formed a chain and passed the items hand to hand down into the crater."
"I was in the back of the truck passing the objects within reach of the first man in the chain, the exact positions cannot be remembered but it is sure that those nearest the bottom of the crater were Sgt's Wylie & Comer with Sgt Giles at the crater's rim. LAC Harry Gibson was behind a German Half-Track vehicle paying a call of nature and was spared injury when the explosion occurred. Harry helped the seriously wounded into the remaining undamaged vehicle and drove to the Dutch Army Unit based at the Main Camp. Sgt's Wylie, Comer, Giles and I were left where we fell."
Left to right: Sgt's Wyllie, Comer, Giles. LAC Gibson & Cpl Whiting
"After a period of time I was able to drag myself around the area finding the other three men. Sgt Wyllie was dead. Sgt Comer was barely alive and in a terrible condition and Sgt Giles had had all the flesh stripped from his face and his arms & legs were contorted. I managed to get Sgt Giles into a sitting position by propping him up back to back and in a hissing voice Giles asked "Gis a fag, Gis a fag"....he had no lips to hold one!"
"Help finally arrived and we were transported to the St Joseph Hospital in Eindhoven ant later taken to the Field Hospital at Tilburg where surgery was performed. Sgt's Comer & Giles died in the Field Hospital and were buried at Tilburg. I had several pieces of shrapnel removed and was transferred to No 6 British Hospital at Antwerp where I spent a few weeks before returning to 6223 Flight at Eindhoven where I was promoted to Sgt and moved to Germany with the Unit."
"The mystery of my reported demise and entry into the BD Role of Honour will remain such as will the mystery of the Fourth Grave. I hope this will give you some insight into the events of the 29th October 1945."
Here's to you and yours