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September 22, 2002
Ed. Note:Some weeks ago I received an email from a gentleman in Belgium regarding a Capreol resident whose plane was shot down in 1944 over Belgium. The email inquired about living relatives of MacLeod and the possible existance of photos. Thanks to the assistance of Mrs. DiCarlantinio we have been able to forward more information on Joseph MacLeod and his two brothers to Belgium. You can read the whole story below. A photo of the three brothers is at the bottom of the page.To view a photo of the memorial erected April 24, 2004 in Belgium click here
Joseph Murdoch MacLeod

Dear Sir,
I’m writing to you from Belgium, in the hope you can help me. After reading an article about a plane crash nearby my home, and of my interest in local history, especially WO II.

I’m searching for relatives, next of kind, of the gallant airmen that lost their lives for the freedom we today find so normal. I’m a member of several organisations which are trying to keep the memory alive so that never will be forgotten what happened in the dark years of Nazi occupation.

We are building a memorial to those who died, and plan to unveil it sixty years to the day after the tragic event. We also have an exhibition in September 2004 in the City Mechelen by then we celebrate our liberation 60 years ago, September 4th 1944. For this I would like to give the names a face, photographs and documents are more than welcome to honour these men and to give them a place in this exhibition. So all help and leads are more than welcome. Here is their story!

The instruction came from Bomber Command tasking an air raid on the night of 24/25 April 1944, against the transportation system at Karlsruhe West-Germany, 637 aircraft would take part on this night sortie.

Pilot Officer Robert CAGIENART, pilot commander, and his crew flew the Lancaster MkII Bomber, DS 734, KO-Y, it was the crew’s 8th flight over enemy territory. At 21.51 hour, they take of Witchford airbase (Cambs) where since November 1943 the 115th Squadron (3th group ?) was operating. The heavy loaded plane gets slowly airborne setting of to the rally point near Reading, 60 Km east of London, the bomb bay containing a load of one heavy brisant high explosive bomb of 500 kg, 108, 30 pond and 1053, 4 pound incendiary bombs, good for a destructive load of 4 tons.

As the “Loss Card” of the plane notes, is the plotted route going further south west to cross the English coastline over Beachy Head. The point Le Touqet-Paris-Plage marked the beginning of hostile territory, in straight line to Arras and Cambrai, next turning point at 50°00 northern latitude – 04° 15 east longitude, a point that is located in the south from the Belgian province Henegouwen, nearby the place Fourneau d’Oise. Then straight southeast, 150 Km further, crossing the French Ardennes reaching Vitry-le-Franchoy. After a last turn straight east they should be flying over Lotharingen and Elzas. When the French - German border is crossed is the primary target some 25 Km ahead. On the more than 900 Km long flight back to base are merely no more than 25 Km over Germany where in case of bad luck, there was no hope of help or sympathy what so ever of the German people, on the contrary.

After the devastating bombardment above the German City the bomber stream took off to their home bases in England, presumably they altered the original plotted route and were flying over Belgium. Normally they would fly south. Why the diversion? Six planes were to crash that night in the northern provinces of Belgium During this time all their movements were watched by the German Freya and Wartburg radar. All useful information, height, speed and direction of the overhead flying bombers were transmitted to the anti aircraft Flak and to the standby night fighter squadrons. Also the night fighters from IV/NGJ 1 from Sint-Truiden, who with the instructions from radar control are lead to the prey.

Heinz-Wolfgang SCHNAUFER, his wireless operator Leutnant fritz RUMPELHARDT and gunner Oberfeldwebel Willi GAENSLER have taken off at Brustem on a Messerschmitt BF-110 G-4. By the Nieuwkerke ground station directed heading east on the interception mission. At 02.03 by Alken a first Lancaster of the 115th squadron is shot down. Nearly 20 minutes later the Lancaster of Pilot Officer Cagiernard and his crew is attacked. At 02.28, 3 Km north from Mechelen at a height of 5.800 m. the Messerschmitt of SCHNAUFER fires his cannon shells in the belly of Lancaster KO-Y. “Brennender Absturz nach 1 Angriff” is later added by RUMPELHARDT in the logbook of his commander, it was his 33rd air victory.

That night 9 Lancaster and 8 Halifax airplanes were shot down. Two were accounted by SCHNAUFER “the Ghost of Sint-Truiden” as he was named by his British counterparts.

My I kindly ask is if your website can publish a small appeal to find relatives of:

MACLEOD JOSEPH MURDOCH - Pilot Officer - J/92030, Air Bomber
115 (R.A.F.) Sqdn, Royal Canadian Air Force
Shot down 25 April 1944 - age 23.
Son of John George and Emma Justine MacLeod.
Capreol, Ontario, Canada.


Filip Doms
Member of the 8 May Comity
Mechelsesteenweg 315
2860 Sint-Katelijne-Waver
Belgium, Europe
e-mail : filip.doms.j@planetinternet.be website www.8meicomitemechelen.be

Joseph Murdoch MacLeod
Jim MacLeod
George MacLeod