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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 14:07 
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The Last B26 Martin Marauder (HD667) of 25 Sqd SAAF, lost to AA fire near Zagreb, former Yugoslavia (now Croatia) on 4 May 1945.

Image

Following from references on this Forum, and new sources, I have now put this story together.

Lt. L. J. van ROOYEN 18523V Pilot SAAF ** † Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia Collective Grave 5, A. 3-7
Lt. M.C. BEKKER "Tienie" 582086V Pilot SAAF 21 † Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia Collective Grave 5, A. 3-7
Capt. D.E. HARDING Dennis E 103865V Observer SAAF 38 † Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia Collective Grave, 5, A. 3-7
W/O1. J. SMIT 328853V W.Op-Air Gnr SAAF ** † Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia Collective Grave 5, A. 3-7
W/O1. J.N. THIRION 581450V Air Gnr SAAF 21 † Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia Collective Grave 5, A. 3-7
Sgt. R.S. NEALE Roy Sidney 185957 Air Gnr RAFVR 20 † Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia 5. A. 1
Sgt. J.G.H. COX John Geoffrey Hayler 1813120 Air Gnr RAFVR 19 † Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia 5. A. 2

B26 Martin Marauder over Yugoslavia
Image
Picture from the Internet

I am in possesion of the SAAF Logbook of Lt. M.C Bekker, "Tienie" to his friends, after securing possesion of it a month ago. Tienie was an uncle of mine on my father's side who started his SAAF training in Randfontein, Transvaal.
- Ab initio training in a DH82A at No 2 Air School, Randfontein, December 1943.
- Twin engine training in a AIRSPEED OXFORD at 21 Air School, Kimberley, March-October 1944.
- SAAF Flying Badge 19 Aug 1944.
- Transitting by DC3 as 2nd Pilot to Cairo via Bulawayo, Ndola, Dbora, Nairobi, Kisumu, Juba, Malukwal, Khartoum, Wadi Alfa and Cairo over four days from 17-20 October 1944.
- Conversion and operational training on the B26 MARTIN MARAUDER from 13 November 1944.
- Posted to 25 Sqd SAAF at BIFERNO (now Campomarino), Italy, 2 March 1945.
- Reported missing (all 7 crew of HD667) on 4 May 1945.

The logbook states "Interdiction of railway line DUGO SELO - POPOVACO at RK840870".

- Total flying hours 390
- On B26 Marauder 136
- Operational Sorties 25
- The Logbook is signed off by Maj. Gericke, OC 'B' Flight 25 Sqd SAAF on 4 May 1945.

The crew of HD667 was referred to as "the farmers crew". 25 Sqd SAAF was part of what was known as the 'The Balkan Air Force'. All 25 Operational Sorties by Lt Bekker, were flown over Yugoslavia, in aid of Marshall Tito's partisans, in cutting off the retreat of German forces to Austria. Marshall Yosip Broz Tito became President of Yugoslavia from 1953-1980.

Also refer by 'Spice'
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3110&start=210
and by W407594F
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=4153&start=0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_B-26_Marauder

Please feel free to add or comment.

Thank you!

Editing to add details

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Last edited by Tally-ho on 09 May 2013, 11:30, edited 14 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 14:31 
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The Balkan Air Force continued to fly combat missions when the other Sqns in Italy ceased once the Germans in Italy surrendered as the Balkans had not surrendered and did not do so until Donietz surrendered


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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 17:38 
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The following from the B26 Marauder Association:-
Quote:
5 SAAF Marauder Squadrons;

No 12 Squadron

No 21 Squadron

No 24 Squadron

No 30 Squadron

No 25 Squadron
Formed on 1 July 1942 in South Africa for coastal reconnaissance duties, and with it's Lockheed Ventura's in May 1944, it left to deploy in the Mediterranean theatre, and was in position at Pomigliano, Italy, by 9 July 1944. It was allocated to the newly formed Balkan Air Force, and based at Biferno (now Campomarino), beginning operations over Yugoslavia on 20 August 1944. In October 1944 conversion to Marauders began, and the last Ventura mission was flown on 8 November 1944. Marauder operations started on 20 November 1944, and continued to the end of hostilities on 4 May 1945, when the last Marauder mission was flown. The Squadron lost HD667 to flak on this mission, with it's complete crew, and was the last Marauder casualty of the war. Disbandment took place on 15 July 1945. The Squadron was part of No. 254 Wing at Biferno.

25 Sqd SAAF, together with 39 Sqd RAF and two Italian Co - belligerent Air Force Martin Baltimore Squadrons, formed No. 254 Light/Medium Bomber Wing, an all Martin Unit of the Balkan Air force, dedicated to supporting the Partisan Army of Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 17:53 
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On the 2nd May 1945 all German forces in Italy surrendered unconditionally as per the agreement reached during the negotiations with SS-General Karl WOLFF and the C-C of Army Group C General Heinrich VON VIETINGHOFF the day before 1 May 1945


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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 18:45 
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W407594F wrote:
The Balkan Air Force continued to fly combat missions when the other Sqns in Italy ceased once the Germans in Italy surrendered as the Balkans had not surrendered and did not do so until Donietz surrendered

Correct.

The following trivia for the record on the German surrender:-
General Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander) cabled the British and American Chiefs of Staff: "The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 0241 local time, May 7, 1945. Eisenhower"

This explains why 25 Sqd SAAF still flew a mission on 4 May 1945 into Yugoslavia from their base in Italy, although hostilities in Italy had ceased.

Source; Purnell's History of WW2 page 2423.

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 19:15 
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Good stuff Tally-ho :smt023

I take it you have seen these :?: Extracts from the war diaries for the 4th May.

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OPREF#124

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25 Sqdn Operational Review May 1945 - page1

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25 Sqdn Operational Review May 1945 - page2

Image
25 Sqdn Operational Review May 1945 - page3

Cheers

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 19:27 
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@ Kremlin =D> :D

Man o man! Now that makes my day. No I've not seen those pages, although I downloaded those files and read them, on this particular story of HD667, but somewhere I've missed this. :(

I will now go back to them and check it again, if I don't come right I'll give you a shout.

Many thanks! :smt023

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 19:37 
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Sorted :D :smt023

I extracted the pages from the pdf:

AIR 54-193 No. 22 Squadron 3-3.pdf
(pages 23,24,25 & 36)

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 20:48 
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Kremlin wrote:
Sorted :D :smt023
I extracted the pages from the pdf:
AIR 54-193 No. 22 Squadron 3-3.pdf
(pages 23,24,25 & 36)

I only downloaded what pertained to 25 Sqd not 22 Sqd, maybe this is why I missed it? Why would it be under 22 Sqd?

Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 21:58 
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I have come across this additional info though on Archive documents, AIR 54/193/35046 or page 323:-
Quote:
Since it [aircraft] fell in enemy territory the fate of the crew could not be positively ascertained and they were listed 'Missing believed killed'. They were known as the 'Farmers crew' and amongst the most popular in the Squadron. A few days later when the territory fell into the hands of the Yugoslav partisans, we [25 Sqd] applied for permission to land an aircraft at Zagreb to investigate. This was refused and we found the Yugs most unco-operative ....

This does not surprise me, the Yugs were and are known for their obtuseness, as was witnessed during the civil war in the Balkan of the late 1990's after the break up of Yugoslavia.

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Last edited by Tally-ho on 14 Jan 2012, 22:55, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 22:10 
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The order is rather confusing..., best to download the AIR 54-205 S.A.A.F. Operations Master List index file, it does help to make sense of the pdf's.

Sometimes the file is labelled as one squadron, then contains only 10 pages on that squadron & 500 pages on another squadron ... so the pdf names are not an indication of what's inside .. the Master List index sorts them by squadron & also lists the individual AIR54 file contents.

Tally-ho wrote:
Since it [aircraft] fell in enemy territory the fate of the crew could not be positively ascertained and they were listed 'Missing believed killed'. They were known as the 'Farmers crew' and amongst the most popular in the Squadron. A few days later when the territory fell into the hands of the Yugoslav partisans, we [25 Sqd] applied for permission to land an aircraft at Zagreb to investigate. This was refused and we found the Yugs most unco-operative ....

All this makes for fascinating, albeit sometimes eye-opening reading :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 22:17 
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Kremlin wrote:
The order is rather confusing..., best to download the AIR 54-205 S.A.A.F. Operations Master List index file, it does help to make sense of the pdf's.

Sometimes the file is labelled as one squadron, then contains only 10 pages on that squadron & 500 pages on another squadron ... so the pdf names are not an indication of what's inside .. the Master List index sorts them by squadron & also lists the individual AIR54 file contents.

Thanks for the advice and guidance - most appreciated! :smt023

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 22:21 
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Where can I download this info please?

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 22:27 
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Download links here :D

http://www.saairforce.co.za/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3723

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 Post subject: Re: The Last Marauder
PostPosted: 03 Jan 2012, 22:29 
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Ah, shot Brent!

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