Reginald Herbert (Bertie) Allen‘s son Dennis Roy Allen (my wife’s 1C1) was a sergeant navigator in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in WWII. On 11 June 1944 he and his Wellington Bomber crew were assigned to 50 squadron.
They flew missions in June: to Watten 19th June, Gelsenkirchen on 21st, Limoges on 23rd, Prouville on 24th, Vitry on 27th and Beauvoir on 29th. After an eight day break, in July: to St Leu de Esserent on the 7th, Thiverny on the 19th, Courtrai on the 20th, Kiel on the 23rd, Stuttgart on the 24th, St Cyr on 25th, Givors on the 26th and their thirteenth mission to Stuttgart on the 28th.
But they did not return from their fourteenth operation, on the 29 July. After bombing Stuttgart they were lost over Huchenfeld.
I owe all this fascinating detail to Dennis’s daughter Mary who had been told nothing about her father’s death but tenaciously delved into the records to establish this material. Her mother had remarried and discussion of Dennis became suppressed but she still had the desire to know what happened. Flying Officer Thomas Curphey who was also lost was her godfather.
Dennis had prepared a note to be sent upon his loss to advise that ‘he wanted his family to know that he went with a very brave band of men, and was honoured to do so’.
Quite recently Mary received a letter from a local German Jeorg Mezger, who had been at the crash site and she travelled to meet him. She was shown the indentation in the forest where VN-D had come down. Jeorg had a metal detector and they collected these pieces of the aircraft.
The site is a national forest which was the reason it remained undisturbed although many ‘treasure hunters’ had removed larger souvenirs of the wreckage.
She obtained eye-witness accounts (in German) provided by someone described as the ‘grave-digger’ and learned that the aircraft had broken up. The tail had broken away and the tail gunner was found attached to it by his parachute; he was nineteen. Bizarrely she met the grave-digger and shook the hand of the man who had removed her father’s corpse from the wreckage.
Finally she went to the war cemetery at Durnbach, Gmund am Tegernsee, Miesbacher Landkreis, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany.
The memorial says ‘sweetly sleeping, in God’s safekeeping, always in our thoughts’ – Dennis was just 25 years old.
|Note on shorthand acronyms being used in the DFB:|
– GGF1 / GGM1 – means first great-grandfather /mother;
– GU11 / GA11 – means eleventh great-uncle / great-aunt;
– 1C3 – means first cousin three times removed