The Night of December 24th 1944

Lancaster KB715 squadron ID VR-T on it's 60th mission took off at 1206 from Middleton St. George on a raid to bomb the airfield at Lohausen near Dusseldorf. It was during the Ardennes campaign of December of 1944 and was aimed at keeping enemy support from taking part in the action. The Lancaster was flying into heavy flak with the clear skies giving the defenders an advantage. Flak shrapnel both starboard engines and set them on fire and a number of controls became useless.
The order to bail out was given by the pilot F/O Thomas Cowtan.
The crew began the evacuation of the heavy bomber Flight Engineer P/O Ranson who was wounded in the action jumped first followed by Sgt. Colin Thompson, Sgt. George Little. When Bomb Aimer F/O Joseph Cartier finally managed to drop the bombs he then followed out the hatch. F/O Cowtan and Sgt Ferdinand Hector bailed out some time later, landing near Venlo. All six of the men were captured. F/O Hale was not mentioned.

Mystery Surrounding F/O Raymond Hale's Death

In the book "Moose Squadron 1941 -1945 the War Years", the details of F/O Hale are mentioned as "officially presumed dead".
Confusion by the comments made by an eyewitness to a Lancaster going down and his sighting of only six parachutes being seen leaving that stricken aircraft. This seems to have left the impression that it was Lancaster KB715 that had been seen and that Hale had not been able to exit the falling aircraft.

What I came across next, led me on a different path to the question of what happened to F/O Hale. Written by hand in my father's notes, was the word "murdered" . Nothing more, a word written some five decades ago with no direction to follow.

Then a few years back while doing research for this website I found again the word "murdered" in a comment on a short passage on F/O Hale that had been placed on the wartimememories project website, only the entry was more specific " captured and murdered by Gestapo "!
Again no details and no name or where the comment came from. There was still not much to go on but I went ahead and prepared a webpage for F/O Hale with what little I knew at that time. Hoping to find out more in the future.

Proof of the Murder of F/O Raymond Hale

This is what has come to light since then, in an article on F/O Raymond Hale from a 1947 news clipping:

The father of F/O Hale did not find out about the true events surrounding the death of his son from the RCAF or from any Canadian government department !
Instead two years after from being notified that his son had been shot down, the family learned the most horrible truth along with everyone else in the community by an article in the local newspaper.
The article told of how the twenty-one year old Hale had been killed by the Gestapo. The article then went into some details of the trial of the five men accused of the War Crime and that only three of them were convicted and sentenced.

Why had the news been kept back from the family, the RCAF in a letter to Hale's father after the newspaper revelation explained that they did not want the family to suffer the additional stress of what the RCAF spoke of as an incomplete report. Even though the news services already knew the details and the sentencing of the murders.
The news clipping goes on to mention problems could arise because of lack of witnesses or perpetrators, the fact that any of these would have made the trial impossible to proceed with. Also the fact that the trial was being conducted following the British Standards of Justice that releasing information could have some effect on the case and again the mention of additional distress that may have been felt by the family .
All of which to me, in my own personal opinion, sounds like "babble", the men were in captivity, witnesses eleven in total were present and the trial had proceeded and had been completed including sentencing. The RCAF had simply dropped the ball and allowed the family an even more stressful and public notice of their son's murder.

A Wrist slap Sentence

For their part in the cold blooded murder of a young Canadian airman POW in their hands; one man received a sentence of fifteen years and the other two just seven years. Two others were not sentenced.

Our thanks to Mr. Lauffbacher for his invalauble help with information for this webpage.