158 Squadron Association

"Strength in Unity"

Memorial Plaque To F/O G.B.Herbert and Crew

- Stillingfleet Yorkshire

At 18:16 hours on the evening of February 14th, 1943, Halifax II, Serial No. DT696, coded “NP-O” of 158 Squadron was detailed to carry out an attack on the German industrial city of Cologne. It departed from RAF Station Rufforth, where the squadron was based at the time, with F/O, G B Herbert as Pilot and carried the usual crew of seven. The port outer engine failed on take off and the pilot, in a desperate attempt to lighten the aircraft, opened the bomb doors of the heavily loaded aircraft to jettison the bombs. The aircraft was still at a very low altitude and the low speed and the drag from the opened bomb doors caused the aircraft to stall from which the pilot could not recover. The aircraft crashed at Stillingfleet, Yorkshire, approximately 13 k (8 mi) southeast of Rufforth, at approximately 18:30 hours. All of the members of the crew were killed in the crash. As their deaths occurred in Britain the airmen were returned to their home parishes for burial with the exceptional of the airman from New Zealand who is buried at Stonefall Cemetery at Harrogate, Yorkshire. Eleven bombers from the Squadron were involved in the operation that night and two aircraft did not return with a loss of 12 airmen.

   

   

The Crew

 

1. Pilot: F/O George Bevill Herbert, RAFVR,was from Theale, Berkshire, and was the son of Philip and Gwendoline Herbert. He undertook conversion training with No. 35 Squadron and was posted to 158 Squadron at East Moor on the September 26, 1942. He was on his 11th operation with the Squadron when he was killed on February 14, 1943. He was 20 years old at the time of his death and is buried in the Theale (Holy Trinity) Churchyard Berkshire.

 

2. Navigator: Sgt Arthur Bruce Langeland, RAFVR,was from Staines, Middlesex, and was the son of George and Andrea Langeland. He was married to Ellen Margery Langeland. He was posted to 158 Squadron at East Moor October 1, 1942 and appears to have been part of the crew of F/Sgt R.D. Roberts. He was injured in a crash landing in Sussex near Gatwick airfield while returning from an operation to Genoa and spent some time recovering. He returned to the Squadron in early February 1943, and appears to have become part of F/O Herbert’s crew. He was on his second operation with this crew when he was killed on February 14, 1943. He was 26 years old at the time of his death and is buried in the Staines (London Road) Cemetery, Middlesex.

 

3. Bomb Aimer: P/O Reginald Flood, RAFVR,was from Staveley, Derbyshire, and was the son of James and Eliza Flood. He was posted to No. 1658 HCU for conversion to the Halifax and was posted to No. 158 Squadron at Rufforth on February 4, 1943. This was his second operation with the Squadron and his first with F/O Herbert as pilot. He was 26 years old at the time of his death and is buried in the Staveley Cemetery, Derbyshire.

 

4. Wireless Operator: Flt/Sgt Sidney William Cains, RNZAFwas from Kerikeri, Auckland, New Zealand, and was the son of Richard and Gertrude Cains. He was trained in Canada under the BCATP and arrived in the UK on September 15, 1941. He was posted to No. 10 OTU at Abingdon and later to 158 Squadron at East Moor on June 16, 1942. He was injured in a crash landing in Sussex near Gatwick airfield while returning from an operation to Genoa and spent some time recovering. He returned to the Squadron in early February and appears to have been assigned to fly with F/O Herbert’s crew. He was on his third operation with this crew when he was killed on February 14, 1943. He was 24 years old at the time of his death and is buried in the Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Yorkshire.

 

5. Mid Upper Gunner: Sgt Dennis Booker, RAF,was from Wybunbury, Cheshire, and was the son of John and Agnes Booker. He was posted to No. 1484 TT Flight at Driffield and then to 158 Squadron at East Moor on July 30, 1942. He flew seven operations with the Squadron and five of these were with F/O Herbert as Captain. He was 22 years old at the time of his death and he is buried at Wybunbury (St. Chad) Churchyard, Cheshire.

 

6. Rear Gunner: Sgt William Ruth, RAFVR,was from Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, and was the son of Margaret Smith. He was posted to No. 35 Squadron for conversion training and then to 158 Squadron at East Moor on September 26, 1942. He flew eight operations with F/O Herbert as his Captain He was 21 years old at the time of his death and he is buried Barrow-in-Furness cemetery, Lancashire.

 

7. Flight Engineer: Sgt John Rust Mace, RAFVR,was from Brundall, Norfolk, and was the son of Frederick and Louisa Mace. He was posted to No. 35 Squadron Conversion Flight and then to 158 Squadron at East Moor on September 26, 1942. He flew nine operations with F/O Herbert as his Captain. He was 29 years old at the time of his death and is buried at North Walsham New Cemetery, Norfolk.

   

Grave marker for Sgt JR Mace, North Walsham, New Cemetery, Norfolk

(courtesy 158 Squadron Association archives)

   

Memorial Plaque

 

A memorial plaque to commemorate the loss of F/O Herbert and his crew has been placed in St. Helen’s Church, Stillingfleet, North Yorkshire. No further information about the plaque is available at this time.

   

Memorial Plaque St. Helen's Church, Stillingfleet, North Yorkshire

(copyright Tony Hibberd)

   

St. Helen's Church, Stillingfleet, North Yorkshire

(copyright Tony Hibberd)