John Hampden Grammar School

Walter Keal

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Bernard Keal worked for Davenport Vernon, who were a car showroom based where Argos is today. He enlisted in November 1943 into the RAF and was killed, aged 19, on February 7th 1945. He is buried at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery (situated North West of Cologne.) It is thought that his plane collided with another and crashed near Winnekendonk in Germany near the Dutch border. His listing with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission can be found here.
 

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We have received some further information from Mr Ray Taylor, whose brother was killed in the same accident.
 
I will try to give you some facts on the raid in which my brother and Sgt Keal died,  they were members of 77 squadron and stationed at Full Sutton airfield in Yorkshire.
 
The raid was preparing the way for the attack of British 30 Corps across the German frontier near the Reichswald (Operation Veritable)  the Germans had included the towns of Goch  and Kleve in their strong defence of their homeland.

The cloud base was only 5,000ft, the Master Bomber ordered the force below the cloud base.  The raid was stopped after 155 aircraft had bombed because smoke was causing control of the raid to become impossible."
It was as they were making their turns for home that the 2 Halifaxes collided, the other Halifax was from another squadron.  These 2 aircraft were the only casualties of that raid, in total there was 464 aircraft on the raid made up of 292 Halifaxes, 156 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitoes.  There is more in the report abot the damage and casualties that the raid inflicted. 


The Halifax they died in was (MZ 689-Z)  The following are the crew members:


Pilot                                                   Flt. Sgt. DW Muggeridge
Flt. Engineer                                            Sgt. WB  Keal
Navigator                                                 Sgt. AH  Croll
Bomb Aimer                                             P/O   H  Wright
Wireless Operator                                   Sgt.   W  Forbes
Mid Upper Gunner                                   W/O  CE Foster
Rear Gunner                                             Sgt   ME Taylor
Air Gunner                                                W/O   J   Stewart


The usual crew on the Halifax was 7 but the last chap in those above was probably on a trip to gain experience in air gunnery.  Sgt Keal and my brother were the 2 youngest crewmen they were 19 years of age.


The aircraft crashed about 5km from a town called Winnekendonk, there were no survivors the crew was buried in the local cemetery but at the end of hostilities they were exhumed and laid to rest at the Reichswald Forest British Military Cemetery Germany.  I have visited the cemetery 3 times and the crew are laid side by side in this beautifully kept place.