30 August 1944

Handley Page Halifax Mk II (JP164 - code YG-?)
At sea, off Saint-Nazaire

(contributors : Daniel Dahiot, Frédéric Hénoff, Gilbert Colas, France-Crashes 39-45, The National Archives UK)

Handley Page Halifax Mk II - Photo : © Imperial War Museum IWM CH 11328

Crew (No. 502 Squadron RCAF)

- Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) Godfrey Brian ECCLES, service number 62684, 32 years old.
Son of Harold and Jessie Eccles, Oxted, Surrey (UK). His younger brother was killed in Dunkirk in May 1940.

RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL, Panel 202, in England.

- Flight Lieutenant (2nd Pilot) Harold LAWSON, service number 45539, 30 years old, Royal Air Force.
Son of William and. et Florence Lawson. Husband of Pearl E. Lawson.
Grave 2. J. 4. War Cemetery PORNIC.

- Flying Officer (Navigator) Ernest Thorburn LESLIE, service number 420393, 30 years old, Royal Australian Air Force.
Son of George Swinnerton and Jessy Dorothy Leslie, husband of Letty Leslie, Bellevue Hill, New South Wales, Australia.
Grave 2. H. 7. War Cemetery LA BAULE-ESCOUBLAC.

- Warrant Officer (Wireless operator – Air gunner) Dennis Austin DENTON, service number 650890, 22 years old, Royal Air Force.
Son of Hubert Austin and Norah Elsie Denton, South Port, Lancashire (UK), husband of Patricia Alexina Denton, region of Ainsdale, Southpoirt.
Grave 2. H. 9. War Cemetery LA BAULE-ESCOUBLAC.

- Flight Lieutenant (Wireless operator – Air gunner) Ronald Bartle MOTZ, service number J/9878, 22 years old, Royal Canadian Air Force.
Son of Roland Leslie and Leone M. Motz, Centralia, Ontario, Canada, husband of Patricia S. Motz.
Grave 2. H. 8. War Cemetery LA BAULE-ESCOUBLAC.

- Flying Officer (Air gunner) Vivian Alexander ROBERTSON, service number 157995, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Son of William and Marion Ethel Robertson, Belfast (Ulster).
Grave 53, allée A, Communal Cemetery LA BERNERIE-EN-RETZ.

- Flight Sergeant (Wireless operator – Air gunner) Ronald Forster WARDLE, service number 1166659, 22 years old, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Son of Norman Askew and Adelyne Anne Wardle, husband of Ena Margey Wardle, Southgate, Middlesex (UK).
RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL, Panel 223 in England.

- Sergeant (Engineer) Kenneth KAY, service number 1684152, 23 years old, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Son of William and Lucy Kay, Liverpool (UK).
RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL, Panel 232 in England.

- Warrant Officer (Wireless operator – Air gunner), John Bernard HILL, service number 1684152,
captured at sea, hospitalized in La Baule (dislocated shoulder), prisoner in St-Nazaire and escaped on November 29, 1944.



On the evening of August 29, 1944, the Handley Page Halifax Mk II registered JP164 took off at 7:23 p.m. from RAF St David, Pembrokeshire, Wales), for an anti-submarine patrol mission. At 00:14 am, a faint SOS signal was heard by Beaulieu RAF station, indicating figures "59" (call sign of JP164). Nothing else was heard from the aircraft and it failed to return to the base. The aircraft had probably been hit at two engines by the Flak of a defense vessel in the port of Saint Nazaire and would have crashed at 00:15 a.m., 5 miles south-west of Saint-Nazaire (44)..

Orb 502 sqn raf 1944 08 30 halifax jp164Orb 502 sqn raf 1944 08 30 halifax jp164 rafTwo extracts from the Operational Record Book of No. 502 Squadron RAF of August 1944. The quality of the document is low but we can read
that the aircraft of F/Lt Eccles took off at 7:23 p.m., call sign "E". At 00:14 am, a faint radio signal is heard by Beaulieu RAF station. 
The only part of the message heard evoked the figures "59" which was the call sign of the aircraft. Nothing was heard afterwards

Source : The National Archives UK 

War diary german naval staff operations division august 1944Another German document, translated in english, mentions the fall of a four-engines aircraft on August 30, 1944 shot down by the Flak from
a defense vessel in the port of St-Nazaire. This plane could be our Halifax JP164

Document via Frédéric Hénoff (ABSA 39-45)


At "La Bernerie-en-Retz" (44) Cemetery

Grave flying officer vivian alexander robertsonFlying Officer Vivian Alexander ROBERTSON - Photo collection Gilbert COLAS

At "La Baule-Escoublac" (44) War Cemetery

Grave flying officer ernest thorburn leslie
Flying Officer Ernest Thorburn LESLIE - Photo www.auzeau.fr

Grave warrant officer dennis austin denton
Warrant Officer Dennis Austin DENTON - Photo www.auzeau.fr

Grave flight lieutenant ronald bartle motz
Flight Lieutenant Ronald Bartle MOTZ - Photo www.auzeau.fr

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