On The War Memorial Trail…..The Memorial Panel In Wons Is Unveiled!

November 18, 2019. On October 12, 2019, the day of the unveiling of the memorial panel in The Netherlands to honour the crew of Halifax L9561 finally arrived, with a series of events organized by the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, a non-profit volunteer organization based in the province of Friesland. In the last posting about the events, we had a brief introduction to the crew members of Halifax L9561 at Het Hannemahuis Museum in Harlingen (See On The War Memorial Trail…..The Halifax L9561 Crew).

When we walked out of the Het Hannemahuis Museum in Harlingen, the dry but cloudy skies we had at the Harlingen General Cemetery had changed to rain.  Out came the umbrellas as we made the long walk to the bus for the trip to Wons.   We were keeping our fingers crossed that this was just a shower, but it wasn’t to be.  Instead it rained even harder, meaning the memorial panel was to be unveiled in the rain.  It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits though.

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Waiting for the unveiling of the memorial plaque in Wons. You can see the flags of the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Canada flying. (Photo credit: Sikko Drijver)

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The memorial panel was hidden from view by the flag of Wons when we first arrived. (Photo credit: Sikko Drijver)

The memorial panel is located along a bicycle path and overlooking a field on the Politiek farm where Halifax L9561 came down.  In addition to our Canadian and British group and volunteers from the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, we were joined by dignitaries and citizens from the village of Wons and nearby communities.

One of the dignitaries was Colonel Timothy Young, Canadian Defence Attaché to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, based at the Canadian Embassy in The Hague, who attended the day’s events with his wife Michelle.

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Three proud Canadians… Pieter Valkenburg, Colonel Timothy Young, Elmer MacDonald. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Finally the moment to unveil the memorial panel arrived, and the unveilers represented organizations that had provided funding towards the memorial panel.  The unveilers were:

  • Knilles Elgersma, on behalf of Dorpsbelang Wons
  • Maarten Offinga, on behalf of the municipality of Súdwest Fryslân (Southwest Friesland)
  • Pieter Valkenburg, on behalf of the Tryon & Area Historical Society
  • Hans Groeneweg, on behalf of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation
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Unveiling of the memorial panel. Left to right: Maarten Offinga, Knilles Elgersma, Hans Groeneweg, Pieter Valkenburg. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The memorial panel was highly anticipated and didn’t disappoint.  The title was a quote from Halifax L9561 Co-Pilot Norman Frank Trayler “He died that we might live”.  The story of Flight Halifax L9561 on October 12, 1941 was briefly told, from when it left Middleton St. George airbase, how it was attacked by a German nightfighter, the burial of Elmer Muttart in Harlingen General Cemetery on October 16, 1941, the fate of the rest of the crew in POW camps in Germany, and ends with the unveiling of the memorial panel in Wons on October 12, 2019.  At the bottom of the panel are photos of each crew member.

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The memorial panel in Wons, overlooking the field on the Politiek farm where Halifax L9561 came down. The title translates to “He died that we might live…”, a quote from co-pilot Norman Frank Trayler. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

The memorial panel unveiled, the remembrance ceremony began, with the playing of the Last Post by Sgt Major Piet Bergsma of the Dutch Air Force, followed by a minute of silence and then the playing of the Reveille.  Next came the laying of wreaths by:

  • Maarten Offinga, on behalf of the municipality of Súdwest Fryslân (Southwest Friesland).
  • Cor Politiek, grandson of eyewitness to the crash Cor Politiek, on behalf of Dorpsbelang Wons.
  • Colonel Timothy Young, Canadian Defence Attaché to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, on behalf of the Government of Canada. He was accompanied by Elmer MacDonald.
  • Shane Aldridge, grandson of Halifax L9561 crew member David Cotsell, on behalf of the Embassy of Great Britain.
  • Fred Jackson, on behalf of the Middleton Saint George Memorial Association.
  • Douwe Drijver and Alexander Tuinhout, on behalf of the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation.
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Wreath laid by Colonel Timothy Young, Canadian Defence Attaché to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. (Photo credit: François Breugelmans)

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Colonel Timothy Young, left, who laid the wreath on behalf of the Government of Canada. On the right, Shane Aldridge, grandson of David Cotsell, laid a wreath on behalf of the Embassy of Great Britain. (Photo credit: Sikko Drijver)

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Some of the wreaths and flags laid by the memorial panel in Wons. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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Card with the wreath placed by the Middleton Saint George Memorial Association. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

After the official ceremony was finished, family members were invited to get a closer look at the memorial panel.

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Pam Alexander, daughter of Halifax L9561 Navigator Reg Alexander, at the memorial panel. (Photo credit: François Breugelmans)

The Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation volunteers are commended for the wonderful job they did in designing the memorial panel.

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Members of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation by the memorial panel in Wons. Left to right: Hans Groeneweg, Douwe Drijver, Alexander Tuinhout, Sietse Kuiper. (Photo credit: Sikko Drijver)

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A remembrance project that has come full circle for Pieter with the permanent recognition given to the crew of Halifax L9561. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Once everyone had a chance to see the memorial panel, we were invited to the community hall in Wons for a small reception.  Back on the bus we went!

Thank you to François Breugelmans and Sikko Drijver for sharing their photos.  If you have stories or photos to share about the crew or the events of October 12, 2019, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

The Importance Of Remembrance

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November 10, 2019. On this Remembrance Sunday, we’d like to pause briefly in telling the story of the Halifax L9561 commemoration events of October 12, 2019 to acknowledge acts of remembrance made this weekend regarding unrelated stories.

Yesterday, friends Jacqueline and Graham Hocking of England visited Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England.  They’d read about two names from the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion that are buried there, and knew we had not yet been able to visit this cemetery in England.  In an act of kindness and remembrance, they took photos of the graves of WW1 soldier John Goodwill HOWATT (See The Archive Photo That Put A Face To A Name) and WW2 soldier Austin Harry BOULTER (See The WW2 Soldier Who Drove On The Wrong Side Of The Road).

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Canada House at Brookwood Military Cemetery. (Photo credit: Jacqueline & Graham Hocking)

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Brookwood Military Cemetery exit, with pine trees on either side of the road. (Photo credit: Jacqueline & Graham Hocking)

Jacqueline Hocking by grave of John Goodwill Howatt.  (Photo credit: Graham Hocking)

Graham Hocking by grave of Austin Harry Boulter.  (Photo credit: Jacqueline Hocking)

Pam Alexander, daughter of Halifax L9561 Navigator Reg ALEXANDER, who had attended the commemoration events in The Netherlands on October 12, 2019, sent the following message:  “Thinking of Elmer Muttart, his family and all the crew and their families today as we watch the Cenotaph ceremony and observe the two minute silence for all who have fallen in wars and conflicts for the UK and our Allies.”  (See On The War Memorial Trail…..The Halifax L9561 Crew)

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Grave of Elmer Muttart at Harlingen General Cemetery on October 12, 2019. (Photo credit: Pam Alexander)

Robert O’Brien, who also attended the commemorative events for Halifax L9561, wrote a brief summary of the events in the November 8 & 15, 2019 issue of Rotary Voice from the Rotary Club of Toronto.  (To read his article, see voice-nov-8-2019)

Thank you to Jacqueline and Graham Hocking, and to Pam Alexander and Robert O’Brien for these moments of remembrance. If you have stories or photos to share about the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

 

On The War Memorial Trail…..The Halifax L9561 Crew

November 9, 2019. On October 12, 2019, the day of the unveiling of the memorial panel Netherlands to honour WW2 pilot Flight Sgt Elmer Bagnall MUTTART and the crew of Halifax L9561 arrived, with a series of events organized by the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, a non-profit volunteer organization based in the province of Friesland. (See Unveiling of the Memorial Panel for Downed WW2 Plane Halifax L9561 in Wons) In the last posting, our group visited the Het Hannemahuis museum for lunch and presentations. (See On The War Memorial Trail…..The Presentations At Het Hannemahuis in Harlingen)

An excellent presentation by Alexander Tuinhout and Douwe Drijver of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation gave everyone an idea of the events that led up to the crash on October 12, 1941 and what happened to the surviving crew members.

In the presentation, Alexander Tuinhout explained that “The story of this Halifax begins at the aerodrome of Middleton Saint George, which is about 3 miles east of Darlington in the county of Durham.  The airbase was the most northern of Bomber Command during the Second World War….

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Middleton Saint George Aerodrome. (Photo courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

Middleton became the home base of 78 Squadron, flying with twin-engine Whitley bombers in April 1941 and three months later, in June, 76 Squadron also commenced flying operations from Middleton Saint George. It was no coincidence that 76 Squadron became stationed at the airfield as the Squadron was the second in the RAF flying with the new Handley Page Halifax bombers.  These modern planes were so heavy that they required long and paved runways for their takeoffs, runways that were present at Middleton.

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Elmer Bagnall Muttart (Photo from Canadian Virtual War Memorial at http://www.veterans.gc.ca)

One of the pilots who switched from flying Whitleys to Halifax bombers and from 78 Squadron to 76 Squadron was Elmer Muttart, who received a promotion from Sgt to Flight Sgt in October 1941, shortly before his last flight on October 12, 1941.  Muttart’s story has been extensively covered in this blog as he was one of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion.  (See The Elmer Bagnall Muttart Story)

Of the crew members who were on the Halifax L9561, only Sgt Reg ALEXANDER had flown with Muttart before, as his navigator.  Tuinhout explained further that “Sergeant Reg Alexander, an Observer who had already flown 12 missions with Elmer Muttart, also switched from 78 to 76 Squadron.  Alexander had volunteered for the Royal Air Force in the spring of 1939.  He was born in 1919 in Finchley, near London, but the family moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland before the war.

Reg Alexander

Sgt Reg Alexander. (Photo courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

The October 12, 1941 crew of Halifax L9561 was composed of:

  • Pilot Flight Sgt Elmer Bagnall MUTTART
  • Co-Pilot Flight Sgt Norman Frank TRAYLER
  • Flight Engineer Sgt David COTSELL
  • Flight Engineer Sgt Leslie Albert ROBERTS
  • Navigator Sgt Reg ALEXANDER
  • Wireless Operator Sgt William Herbert HUNT
  • Gunner Sgt George Henry PATTERSON
  • Gunner Sgt John William DUFFIELD.

Tuinhout continued his report on the Halifax L9561 crew… “Sitting in the seat next to Muttart was the 21 year old Co-pilot Norman Frank TRAYLER, a married man from Basingstoke.  He was an accountancy clerk before the war but volunteered, like so many young men in those days, for the Royal Air Force in July 1940.”  Trayler’s son Robert had been in touch with us last year, and shared information about his father, which was summarized in a blog posting.  (See Family of Crew Member of WWII Pilot Elmer Muttart’s Final Flight Found)

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Flight Sergeant Norman Frank Trayler. (Photo courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

The roll call of crew members continued in Tuinhout’s presentation…. “Bill HUNT, the plane’s first Wireless Operator and Air Gunner, had enlisted in January 1940.  He was born in Dublin in 1919, but lived in Mitcham, Surrey when he entered the service...

Bill Hunt

Sergeant William “Bill” Herbert Hunt. (Photo courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

Tuinhout’s presentation continued…. “Hunt’s backup was George Henry PATTERSON from Doncaster, the second Wireless Operator and Air Gunner.  Patterson had worked as a gas and electricity repairman before he entered the RAF in November 1939, shortly after the outbreak of war….

George Henry Patterson

Sergeant George Henry Patterson. (Photo courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

Next, Tuinhout mentioned the two Flight Engineers….  “Both of the Flight Engineers of L9561 had long careers in the Royal Air Force.  Sergeant Leslie Albert ROBERTS from Romford, Essex, became an apprentice in 1931, at the age of 15.  The second Flight Engineer, David COTSELL from Chatham, Kent, was also the same age when he joined in 1935.

Leslie Roberts

Sergeant Leslie Albert Roberts. (Photo courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

David Cotsell

Sergeant David Cotsell. (Photo courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

Tuinhout then discussed the last crew member…  “The last man on board Halifax L9561 was 20 year old John William DUFFIELD from Oxford, who manned the tail guns.” Like Trayler, family of Duffield had been in contact with Pieter, and several letters about the events that happened on October 12 were shared.  (See On the War Memorial Trail ….. At The Politiek Farm In Wons and On the War Memorial Trail ….. At Harlingen General Cemetery) Duffield had written that the plane had three extra people – himself, Roberts, and Hunt – to help with the flight as the Wireless Operator, Engineer, and Rear Gunner were inexperienced.  He also noted that, unfortunately, a key position was left unmanned – a gunner in the front turret – and he always wondered if events would have turned out differently had this position been filled.

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John William Duffield. (Photo courtesy of Lesley Newland)

Tuinhout then related details of the flight of Halifax L9561 on October 12, 1941…. “Shortly after 7 o’clock on the evening of the 12th of October, five of 76 Squadron Halifax bombers set course to the east.  Four planes flew to Nuremburg and took part in an air raid against the Siemens factory.  L9561 left the runway of Middleton Saint George just after half past seven and was the only plane of the Squadron that flew a more northerly route towards Bremen.

map of route taken by Halifax L9561

Map of route taken by Halifax L9561. (Map courtesy of Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation)

Unfortunately, that evening RAF planes were observed by a night fighter base in Leeuwarden.  Halifax L9561 was one of 4 bombers that were shot down.  Tuinhout explained that “Two Wellingtons crashed near Blankenham and Westergeest and a Hampden was lost over the IJsselmeer.”  The fourth plane was Halifax L9561.

Tuinhout quoted a description made by Co-pilot Norman Trayler, about “what happened shortly after the aircraft passed the Dutch coast.  He said that ‘We were unfortunate enough to bump into a couple of night fighters.  They immediately opened up at us with all they had, and I can say their aim was good – too good for my liking.Muttart’s plane was intercepted at an altitude of 3200 metres and attacked twice.”  (For more on the night fighter attack see Halifax L9561 Flight Mentioned In ‘The Night Hunter’s Prey’ and On the War Memorial Trail ….. At Harlingen General Cemetery)

Muttart gave the order for the crew to evacuate and all were able to parachute out, except for Muttart himself.  During a meet and greet on October 11, 2019, family members of some of the British crew members explained that the order to leave the plane struck the crew with terror as they had never jumped out of a plane before, let alone one that was on fire, under enemy attack, and in the dark in an unknown country!  Their only practice had been to jump from the roof of a building in England.

Tuinhout explained that “As befits a good Captain, Elmer Muttart stayed at the controls of the crippled Halifax.  Norman Trayler said ‘Elmer was still at the controls when the last chap went through the hatch. He must have tried a crash landing then…The machine must have been well on fire by this time and Elmer was either burned to death or killed when the machine blew up.  He was a gallant captain and he died that we might live. It was only his efforts that kept the disabled machine from crashing with all of us inside.’ At about 10:15 pm, local people witnessed a bright red glow in the cloudy sky.  The Halifax approached the village of Wons sliding and zigzagging when bombs came down in a meadow.  The plane lost a wing and eventually crashed about 100 metres past the farm of Johannes Politiek and his family….”  (For an eyewitness account from the 9 year old son of Johannes Politiek, see On the War Memorial Trail ….. At The Politiek Farm In Wons)

All of the surviving crew members spent the rest of the war years, in difficult conditions, in prisoner of war camps before returning to Great Britain to pick up their interrupted lives.  Tuinhout explained that on October 13, 1941, Elmer Muttart’s “body was brought to the nearby town of Harlingen, where a German physician could easily identify him, because his Royal Canadian Air Force identity papers were still in his pocket.  Muttart was laid to rest, with military honours, in the Harlingen General Cemetery on Thursday, the 16th of October.

Present at these commemoration events were family members of British crew members Reg Alexander, David Cotsell, Bill Hunt, and Leslie Roberts.  With an introduction to all crew members, we next made our way to Wons, for the unveiling of the memorial panel.

If you have stories or photos to share about the crew or the events of October 12, 2019, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

On The War Memorial Trail…..The Visit To Harlingen General Cemetery

October 15, 2019. Over the past few years, plans for a memorial panel outside the village of Wons in The Netherlands to honour WW2 pilot Flight Sgt Elmer Bagnall MUTTART and the crew of Halifax L9561 have been underway.  On October 12, 2019, the day of the unveiling of the memorial panel finally arrived, with a series of events organized by the Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, a non-profit volunteer organization based in the province of Friesland!  (See Unveiling of the Memorial Panel for Downed WW2 Plane Halifax L9561 in Wons)

Before the unveiling of the memorial panel in Wons, however, we went to Harlingen, with the first stop at the Harlingen General Cemetery where Muttart is buried.

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We travelled in comfort on this tour bus, which picked everyone up at the Oranje Hotel in Leeuwarden. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

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On the bus. We were very happy that we weren’t responsible for navigating the narrow streets! (Photo credit: Douwe Drijver)

The weather was very inclement, but luckily the rain held off while we were at the cemetery.  Two members of the Royal Canadian Legion in The Netherlands were present to lay a wreath.

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Left to right: Legion president Martin Reelick, retired RAF member Ian Aldridge, Legion vice-president Wim Poppenk, retired RAF member Mark Aldridge. Ian and Mark Aldridge were present to honour crew member David Cotsell, flight engineer. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In addition to the wreath placed by the Royal Canadian Legion, flowers had been placed earlier on behalf of Pam Alexander and her sister Carolyn Moncur, whose father Reg Alexander was the navigator on Halifax L9561.  The family of David Cotsell, flight engineer on Halifax L9561, placed a small cross. Flower bouquets were also placed by Pieter and Daria Valkenburg, Annie Lee and Elmer MacDonald, and Don Coutts, nephew of Elmer Muttart, on behalf of the Coutts family.

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Left to right: Pieter Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, Don Coutts with flower bouquets for the visit to Elmer Muttart’s grave. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Don Coutts, nephew of Elmer Muttart, placed small flags of Canada and Prince Edward Island by his uncle’s grave. In memory of Elmer Muttart’s birthplace of Cape Traverse and his ancestor Lewis Muttart, who was the owner and captain of the Cape Traverse ice boat, Lori Eggert brought a T-shirt saying ‘Cape Traverse Ice Boat Crew’.

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Lori Eggert with T-shirt saying ‘Cape Traverse Ice Boat Crew’. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

In addition to the families of the British crew members, ten Canadians made the trip to The Netherlands.  The Canadian contingent gathered behind the grave of Elmer Muttart for a group photo.  Flying proudly behind Elmer Muttart’s grave were the flags of Canada and Prince Edward Island.

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Canadian contingent by Elmer Muttart’s grave. Left to right: Pieter Valkenburg, Annie Lee MacDonald, Daria Valkenburg, Don Coutts, Elmer MacDonald, Robert O’Brien, Valerie Muttart, Ralph Muttart, Heidi Eggert, Lori Eggert. (Photo credit: Pam Alexander)

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Grave of Elmer Muttart at Harlingen General Cemetery. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Flight Sgt Elmer Muttart is not the only Canadian buried in Harlingen General Cemetery.  There are 9 more known servicemen, and two unidentified servicemen.  While we were there, Pieter, with the help of Alexander Tuinhout and Sietse Kuiper of the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, placed a Canadian flag at the graves of the two unknown Canadians and at each of these graves:

  • William Raymond James BROWN, died September 29, 1941
  • Donald Edward CAMPBELL, died June 26, 1943
  • Francis Arthur DAVIEAUX, died July 14, 1945
  • James MCDOWELL, died May 16, 1943
  • Murray Hudley NESBITT, died May 13, 1943
  • John Beverley PLEASENCE, died July 22, 1942
  • William Maurice POPPLESTONE, died March 26, 1942
  • Thomas ‘Tommy’ Clayton REID, died July 22, 1945
  • Robert WISHART, died July 22, 1942

The ceremonies at the Harlingen General Cemetery over, we next went to the museum for lunch and presentations.

A big thank you goes to the caretakers at Harlingen General Cemetery for arranging the flags for this special memorial visit.  Thank you also to the Office of Senator for Prince Edward Island Mike Duffy for providing the flag of Canada, and to Borden-Kinkora MLA Jamie Fox, Minister of Fisheries and Communities, for providing the flag of Prince Edward Island.

If you have information to share about the Canadian soldiers buried in Harlingen General Cemetery, please contact Pieter at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on the blog.

© Daria Valkenburg

Family of Crew Member of WWII Pilot Elmer Muttart’s Final Flight Found

April 25, 2018.  The story of WWII pilot Elmer Bagnall MUTTART, from Cape Traverse, is unusual in that information keeps coming in, almost 77 years after his death on October 12, 1941.  Over several blog entries, you’ve learned about the events of the plane crash just past the village of Wons, The Netherlands, and read an account offered by Sgt John William DUFFIELD, who was the gunner on the flight.  We’ve also told you about a visit made to Muttart’s grave in Harlingen by his navigator, Sgt Reg ALEXANDER, and his daughter Pam Alexander.

On October 12, 1941, with his regular navigator Reg Alexander and six other crew members, Muttart began his 21st mission into enemy territory, a bombing raid on Bremen, Germany.  The crew members of Halifax L9561 were:

  • Pilot – F/S Elmer Bagnall MUTTART (age 23)
  • Co-Pilot – P/O Norman Frank TRAYLER (age 21)
  • Flight Engineer – Sgt David COTSELL (age 21)
  • Flight Engineer – Sgt Leslie Albert ROBERTS (age 25) (previously recorded as bomb aimer)
  • Navigator – Sgt Reginald William Purchase ALEXANDER (age 22)
  • Wireless Operator – Sgt William Herbert HUNT (age 22)
  • Gunner – Sgt George Henry PATTERSON (age 28)
  • Gunner – Sgt John William DUFFIELD (age 20)

The plane was shot down and crashed just past the village of Wons, but not before all of the crew members, except for Muttart, had parachuted out.  The crew members, all British, spent the rest of the war in various prisoner of war camps.  The only casualty of that night was Elmer Muttart.

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Elmer Bagnall Muttart (Photo from Canadian Virtual War Memorial at http://www.veterans.gc.ca)

Over the past year, preparations have been underway for a planned Memorial Panel in Wons to honour the entire crew.  Outreach efforts to locate family members of the crew have met with some success, as the family of Reg Alexander and John William Duffield have been in contact.  Now, most recently, Robert Trayler, who lives in France, has been in contact regarding his father, Pilot Officer Norman Frank TRAYLER, who was the co-pilot on the flight. Trayler had gotten married on September 20, 1941, just a few weeks before the ill-fated flight that would separate him from his bride for the rest of the war.

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Centre couple: Norman Trayler with his wife Daphne Jefferd on their wedding day in Basingstoke, England. (Photo: courtesy Robert Trayer family collection)

After the plane crash in Wons, Trayler spent 4 years at Stalag Luft 3 prisoner of war camp in present day Poland, where he was a member of the prison camp orchestra and was able to write his intermediate accountancy exams, with papers sent over from London.  His son Robert recalled that “Dad was elected barrack room cook and centralized all the Red Cross parcels to make something edible every day.

After his return to England, Trayler moved to Bognor, where he began an accountancy practice, and took up cricket.  He passed away on June 19, 2009 at the age of 88.  Son Robert explained that “Although I am obviously very proud of what he did during the war, as a family, we always added a dash of humour. As I said at his funeral, he was at least partly responsible for the destruction of three aircraft: A Tiger Moth which couldn’t be persuaded to come out of a spin, a Whitley which while taxiing went up the back of the one in front, chewing off the (happily unoccupied) tail turret, and finally the Halifax.

Trayler’s obituary noted that his back had been badly injured in a Royal Air Force training accident in a Tiger Moth, and he had taken up cricket to alleviate the pain and keep moving.

We thank Robert Trayler for his recollections about his father, and hope to hear from more family of the crew of the Halifax L9561 flight.

In the next blog entry, we’ll share an excerpt from a 2016 book describing the events of the Halifax L9561 flight.

Photos and stories are still needed for many of the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion. You can email us at dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on this blog.

Donations are still being collected towards the ‘Muttart Memorial Fund’ for a memorial panel in Wons, The Netherlands.  If you would like to donate, cheques may be written out to TAHS and mailed to Tryon & Area Historical Society (TAHS), PO Box 38, Crapaud PE C0A 1J0.  In the subject line, identify your cheque as being for the “Muttart Memorial Fund”.  A charitable donation receipt will be sent to all donors. 

If you wish to donate and you live in Europe:  Bank transfers may be made to Stichting Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation, Bank Account # (IBAN) NL35ABNA0569579856, and state in the subject line “Attn D.S. Drijver for Halifax L9561”.

© Daria Valkenburg