Sgt. Ross McLachlan of Halifax JD214 - "Midnight Cocktail"
Sgt. Ross McLachlan's recollection from an interview many years after his Halifax was brought down:
McLachlan mentions that it was near Cologne that their
bomber was attacked by two FW190s. A fragment from one of the shells fired by these night fighters hit his arm. At
first he said he did not notice the wound. It was not until he saw the blood seeping on to his maps on his
navigation table that he knew he had been hit.
He continued on telling how his pilot Sgt. George Neale struggled to gain control of the aircraft. That during the attacks
the outer starboard engine had disintegrated after being hit. Then the starboard inner engine then caught fire.
The bombs were jettisoned and with the two remaining engines not able to maintain the aircraft's altitude,
Neale circled at around 10,000 feet looking for a place to land.
(He forgot to mention that damage had been done to the Halifax's tail surfaces and fuselage and that after dropping the
bombs they were unable to close the bomb doors.)
In his own words he said "Neale using all his skills, brought the aircraft safely down". He mentioned how
Neale was thrown forward with the impact of the landing and through the open escape hatch.
At first light they
split up into 2 escape groups leaving Jaffray and himself to destroy all the sensitive instruments and documents,
maps and such. At 0530 the two made up a third group and walked west to Hemmen.
There they met a 15 year old boy, Bart Franken who worked at a local castle. He led the two men into a nearby
orchard where locals were picking cherries. Sgt. McLachlan was by now in need of medical attention, after a
breakfast of cherries they headed to Zetten to a local doctor. They became disoriented and unsure of the way to the
doctor when they were overheard by one of the towns people.
As they discussed their situation in English a student of languages 16 year old Roelf Polman ,
could see the two were in trouble and agreed to be their translator. He then accompanied
the two airmen to Dr. De Hully's offices.
There were concerns that the Germans might find out about the doctor helping the airmen without
informing the authorities and reprisals by the German occupiers against the people of the town and their doctor would result.
So it was agreed by McLachlan and Jaffray that the police be called.
The doctors concerns proved to be correct outside a large crowd had gathered, not only were
they noticeable but they were singing the Dutch National Anthem, taunting the pro-German policeman Lassche
when he arrived in answer to the doctor's call.
The local grocer Van Ijzendoom at some point handed Sgt. Jaffray a bag of oranges and said "These are the colour
of our Queen's house- good luck. All this was strictly against regulations and at great risk to the grocer.
Lassche the policeman knocked the oranges from Jaffray's hand. Van Ijzendoom picked them up and again handed
the oranges to the airman and with a growl faced down the pro-German policeman.
As the crowd grew, Lassche and two Germans marched the two prisoners towards the bus stop. The crowds made it
impossible to stay outside, so for the time being the captors and their prisoners awaited the Arnhem bus
in a nearby kitchen. McLachlan remembers that the crowds almost rioted as they left for the German Police HQ at
At Arnhem German Police HQ they were soon reunited with three other members of the crew; Neale, Cleaver and Griffiths
From here the five airmen were sent to Amsterdam for questioning. During a roll call the five found out
that the two air gunners, McLeod and Kenwell who had been unknowingly in the cell next to them.
After spending a day in solitary confinement. On June 30th they all began the trip to Stalag Luft VI in East Prussia, where they arrived
July 1st. From the writings in George Neale's diary they stayed close all during the confinement of camps. All the
men went through the harsh treatment and starvation rations that Stalag Luft VI and Camp 357 threw at them. For
Jaffray the years took their toll, by the time he was liberated he weighted only 100 pounds. For "Ken" Kenwell
the closing days of the in the camps and the nervous tension of the guards caused him to be shot by a guard who
seemed to have gone berserk. A French POW, a doctor, gave his arm the medical aide he needed.
After the war the crew kept in contact with each other, so there is a brief record of their return to civilian life.
Sgt. Ross McLachlan became Post Master of Kamloops. Kamloops being
the home town of 419 Squadron's first Commander John "Moose" Fulton.
Sgt. George Neale returned to Hamilton Ontario, working as CPA and business advisor. He passed away December 2011.
Sgt. William "Jaff" Jaffray weight was only 100 pounds when he was finally liberated. He recuperated at his aunt's home in Scotland
before returning to Canada. Mr. Jaffray held high offices in the Ontario government, he passed away in May 1985.
Sgt. Jack Griffiths-RAF, moved to Canada and became a VP at CIBC banks. He passed away in July 2002.
Sgt. "Ken" Kenwell, was shot in the arm by a camp guard during his time as a POW. He returned to Minesing Ontario
where he was bricklayer. he passed away in December 2001.
Sgt. Reg Cleaver RAF continued to do engineering work in the British aircraft industry. He passed away in November 2011 after
a motoring accident.
Sgt. Bill "Dusty" McLeod returned to ranching and continued on into his senior years, riding the range before handing the
ranch over to his son.