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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 54018
Last updated: 17 November 2019
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Date:13-MAY-1940
Time:05:30 LT
Type:Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I
Owner/operator:264 (Madras Presidency) Squadron Royal Air Force (264 (Madras Presidency) Sqn RAF)
Registration: L6977
C/n / msn: PS-U
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Rijsdijk dyke, Willemspolder, Oosteind, Oosterhout -   Netherlands
Phase: Combat
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I L6977 (PS-U), 264 (Madras Presidency) Squadron RAF; Written off (destroyed) when lost (failed to return) from combat operations over the Netherlands on 14 May 1940. According to the the official Air Ministry file into the incident (File AIR 81/366): "Sergeant R H Greenhalgh and Pilot Officer P E J Greenhous: prisoners of war; Defiant L6977 lost in air operations, 12 May 1940".

According to unofficial sources: "Took off at 04.15 hrs from Martlesham along with 5 other Boulton Paul Defiant's together with 6 Spitfires from 66 Squadron. The object being to patrol the Dutch coast between Ijmuiden and the Hague to attack German troop transport.

They flew across the North Sea, making landfall about ten miles north of The Hague at 05:15, after which all aircraft turned north.

Over IJmuiden they were fired on by Dutch anti-aircraft guns located on the south side of the harbour. The guns were firing accurately but they ceased fire immediately the British signalled the Dutch letter of the day. All aircraft turned about and flew south along the coast. More fire, this time German, was met over Maassluis which caused sections to take evasive action.

Shortly after, the No. 66 Squadron Spitfires turned east towards Rotterdam where there were fires raging in various places while the Defiant's followed a more southerly route. Approaching Rotterdam, the crews of both flights saw about seven German Ju 87 Stukas (belonging to 12. Staffel of Lehrgeschwader 1) dive-bombing a target to the south-east.

The Defiant's went in to the attack and a ferocious air battle developed. Shortly after, Bf 109s from 5. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 26 joined the battle, which then developed into a series of individual dogfights.

During the air battle over the Biesbosch, the gunner of L6977 (Call sign "Green 1"), Sergeant Fred Greenhalgh, claimed two Bf 109s before their own plane was hit and he bailed out from the damaged and rapidly descending aircraft. Pilot Officer Patrick Greenhous, however, was under the impression that Greenhalgh was still aboard and tried to make an emergency landing putting the Defiant down in a meadow adjoining the Rijsdijk dyke in the Willemspolder at Oosteind, part of Oosterhout municipality. Greenhous landed safely, as did Greenhalgh by parachute, but both men were captured by German soldiers and transported to POW camps.

Greenhous went to Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan in Poland while Greenhalgh was taken to Camp No. 344 at Lambsdorf in Germany. In May 1945, after Greenhous had been freed from captivity and was on his way back to England, he happened to meet up with his old No. 264 Squadron, then based at airfield B-108 near the German town of Rheine. It was only when he filed his report with the unit’s Intelligence Officer that it became clear what happened to him and his aircraft five years earlier:

‘We were flying in a formation of six Defiants accompanied by six Spitfires from No. 66 Squadron. After flying along the Dutch coast we saw heavy flak just south of the Hook so we turned about and flew down the coast again and, when approaching Rotterdam, sighted a formation of Me 110s which we engaged at a height of 15,000 feet.

The Me 110s broke off engagement but we were then attacked by 12 Me 109s flying in line astern. My gunner gave the leading enemy aircraft a short burst and it caught fire and went down in flames. He immediately turned his attention to the second enemy aircraft and scored a number of hits, following which it went down out of control, and was seen to hit the ground.

Both the enemy aircraft fell in the Breda area. Shortly afterwards however we ourselves were hit, our guns were put out of action, and our starboard petrol tank caught fire. A cannon shell landed in the cockpit and injured me in the head. I then found that the intercom was unserviceable so, as pre-arranged, I rocked the aircraft as a signal for my gunner to bail out. As this produced no response, I thought he must have been wounded so decided to make a crash-landing, which I managed to do.

Unfortunately we landed in the middle of a mobile German infantry unit but, even so, they had to chase us on before we were captured by a German officer on a motor bike. As a result I have spent the last five years in a number of German prison camps. I claim two Me 109s destroyed.’

Crew:
Pilot Officer P E J Greenhous (pilot) survived, captured, taken as POW
LAC F D Greenhalgh (Air Gunner) survived, captured, taken as POW

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-L9999 (James J Halley Air Britain 1978 p 48)
2. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AIR 81/366: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14502170
3. The Boulton Paul Defiant: Day and Night Fighter By Phil H. Listemann (photo of wreck on p 21)
4. http://aircrewremembered.com/greenhouse-patrick.html
5. http://www.aircrewremembrancesociety.co.uk/styled-5/styled-7/styled-441/index.html
6. http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/264_squadron.html
7. https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/threads/defiants-and-spitfires-over-western-brabant-13th-may-1940.33184/


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-Dec-2008 11:45 ASN archive Added
29-Jun-2011 00:40 ThW Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Phase, Source, Narrative]
30-Dec-2011 09:15 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Source]
01-Feb-2013 12:57 Nepa Updated [Operator]
06-Aug-2013 13:29 JINX Updated [Operator]
13-Aug-2013 15:43 Nepa Updated [Operator, Narrative]
14-Aug-2013 20:23 JINX Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
10-Nov-2014 17:33 DG333 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
11-Jul-2019 21:48 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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