Sergeant Raymond John Liversuch R.A.F. V.R.
109E Squadron, R.A.F. Stradishall, Suffolk
One night in 1982, the phone rang in the early hours of the morning. It was a very cheerful British reporter asking how we felt about finding our brother Ray. We made tea, knowing there would be no further sleeping that night while Ron conversed with the reporter.
It was a call that would define the beginning and the end. The end of a forty year long search, and the beginning of a new era for Ron and Daisy.
After speaking to the caller for about 45 minutes, Ron hung up the phone, lit a cigarette and explained that they had just found his brother. It was the first time he had explained that his brother Ray had been missing all these forty years. That Ray's plane had been shot down in 1942 over Holland but his body had never been recovered. Now he had finally been found. In actual fact, everyone had known where Ray was, but he was unreachable.
Ray was a good-hearted son with a love for family, and was openly pursued by the local girls.
Shortly after finishing grade schooling, Ray interviewed and was selected for enrolment in the Sir William Reardon Smith Junior Nautical College in Cardiff. He was looking to become an officer in the Merchant Marines on the line of British American oil tankers sailing to all parts of the world. Ray scored well in his studies through the first and second years and started his third year as a Cadet Captain.
At that time, money for the family was tight. Albert was working away from home, Ron was away in the R.A.F., Bert was working in the grocery business and Jessie was in the hospital following a surgery. She received a letter from Ray stating that he was taking his leave from school until after the war. He was now working in Birminghan in a munitions factory and not to worry.
She broke down crying upon reading the letter.
While there, Ray was working on a rainy day with a pot of lead on a burner when rain from a leaky roof dripped into the pot. The resulting explosion sprayed molten lead over the area and Ray was badly burned over the face an forehead. She spent some time in hospital and then rode his bicycle from Birmingham to Cardiff. Within a week, he was working at a machine products plant and glad to be home.
One year later he was in the R.A.F. and taking Wireless Operator and Maintenance training. He was also sent on an Air Gunnery course and flight indoctrination on medium bombers.
At the end of a short leave, Ron went with Ray to the bus station. Ray shook Ron's hand and said "Look after mom, Ron." He boarded the bus and it drove away. That was the last time Ron was to ever see Ray alive.
Ray in 1934.
Ray in 1935.
Ray in 1939.
For most of his tour of operations, Ray saw action over German territory and was now nearing the specified total number of flights necessary to complete his tour of duty. His plans after that were to take an instructors course and then remuster as an instructor himself.
He was hand-picked along with the rest of his crew to undertake a secret mission to test the abilities of some new and experimental radio and radar equipment know then as "OBOE".
On the night of Thursday, 2 July 1942, the mission for Ray's plane, a Vickers Wellington Bomber AD605 was ordered on a mission. Its planned route was set as Stradishall, Cromer, Bremen, Bussum, Costricum, Southwald and back to Stradishall. The flight was scheduled to take five and a half hours and they carried 750 gallons of petrol. It was under heavy guard and a cloak of secrecy. While the Wellington was regularly assigned a five man crew, on this flight, they had seven. Normally, the Wellington was employed as a bomber, but on this particular mission they carried no bombs at all. They only had machine guns for defence. Ray was the wireless radio operator and air gunner.
They were attacked by a Messerschmidt 110 nightfighter. Enemy cannon shells entered the fuselage from below and exploded, rupturing the fuel tanks and tearing the plane apart. Only the pilot and co-pilot were able to bale out.
According to Ron's book, the pilot of the nightfighter was a man named 'Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weisenfeldt'. A feared and famous nightfighter with an impressive record of victories over Holland.According to reports: At approximately 2:30 am on the night of Friday, July 3rd, 1942. It fell from the sky in four flaming pieces. It was three days after his twentieth birthday.
PRIORITY MRS J LIVERSUCH 46 CAERAU SQUARE ELY CARDIFF
REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON RAYMOND JOHN LIVERSUCH IS MISSING IN ACTION AS A RESULT OF AIR OPERATIONS ON THE NIGHT OF 2/3 JULY 1942 STOP
LETTER FOLLOWING STOP
ANY FURTHER INFORMATION RECEIVED WILL BE IMMEDIATELY FORWARDED TO YOU STOP
Then a second telegram followed;
IMPORTANT MRS LIVERSUCH 46 CAERAU SQUARE ELY CARDIFF
TELEGRAM FROM INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS QUOTING GERMAN INFORMATION YOUR SON 1257329 PREVIOUSLY REPORTED MISSING IS NOW REPORTED MISSING BELIEVED KILLED IN ACTION STOP
REPORT STATES HE LOST HIS LIFE ON 3RD JULY 1942 STOP
LETTER FOLLOWS STOP
RECORDS TELEX GLOUCESTER
In a letter from the Mayor of Harenkarspel to the American Graves Registration Command, U.S. Army, the report was as follows:
In connection with your inquiry: after investigating further, the remains of the two English (American) do rest in this area. On 2 July 1942, a plane crashed to the ground in this area. One of the occupants was able to bale out. At least two of the bodies were taken by the Germans and buried.There is a possibility that two of the bodies are still in the wreckage of the plane which we cannot reach because it lies underwater.
On Thursday, 2 July 1942, there was a heavy bomber raid over Berlin, consisting of a thousand or more allied aircraft. The pathfinders had pinpointed the target with incendiaries, leaving it well illuminated for the main bomber stream. Bomber Harris' boys swept in to do all the necessary bombing of special targets.
The anti-aircraft guns encircling Berlin in a ring of steel were ineffective against this armada. Losses and casualties were inconsequential in the overall number of attackers. They left Berlin writhing in a sea of fire and rubble. The loss of life was staggering as justice was meted out that night in retribution for the british cities of London and Coventry. The meteorological forecast for the raid predicted a "Bomber Moon" – clear and bright.
In the aftermath of this melee, Ray's Wellington bomber was now alone and returning to its base. Its mission of testing the OBOE equipment accomplished.
According to sources, Ray's plane was attacked by Weisenfeldt at approximately 2:30 am on Friday, 3 July 1942.
THE HEAD OF CIVIL DEFENSE IN THE CITY OF HARENKARSPEL
BRINGS SERVICE THIS REPORT ABOUT THE SHOOTING DOWN
OF AN AEROPLANE NEAR THE CITY.
Approximately at 2:30 am of July 3rd 1942, an English bomber was shot down by a night fighter plane. The plane suddenly fell to the ground in four fiery pieces – part of it landing in a potato field in the polder of Woudmeer belonging to C. Francis. One motor fell into the Kalver dyke near the premises of A. de Groot. One gas tank fell near the land of Kuilboer as well as a wing that fell near the Kalver dyke.
Damage to houses around the area were caused by this also. On the property of A. de Groot, the gas tank fell through the neighbouring house. Fortunately nobody was there. There was a large hole made in the potato field. The other damage was that there were two fields of hay burned.
Directly after the shooting down of the plane, I personally went to the above mentioned areas. There was nothing I could do to save anything of any of the men. Police from the area and the military police worked together with the military policefrom Langendyke to see if it was possible to save any of the plane's men. Various roads were blocked off ane the investigation performed.
Already after the shooting down, the Mayor of Warmenhuizen was holding two airmen from the plane. In our area, however, there were no dead or alive found. Later that morning, there were three bodies snatched by the German armed forces.
At 05:00 hrs, the police and myself looked around the still burning wreckage again and again and sent everyone and ourselves home. Shortly after we left, os when the German forces arived at the sight.
MILITARY DIRECTOR OF THE
FIRST MILITARY DIVISION
Reports say that an attacking Messerschmidt 110 nightfighter came from behind and underneath and fired on the Wellington bomber. Cannon shells tore through the underbelly of the fuselage, exploding in the interior of the craft, likely killing some of the crew instantly. One of the fuel tanks was ruptured and exploded into flames. The pilot and co-pilot gave the order to 'Bale Out' but only they themselves were able to get out of the plane.
As it began to heel over and arc downward toward the earth, the extreme forces of the plunge caused the already weakened structure to break up into four pieces.
In an excerpt from a letter to Ron:
What of the night of 3 July 1942, a raid on Bremmen was carried out by eight hundred bombers of the R.A.F. the night was clear and fourteen planes did not return to base. One of them was a Wellington AD 605 of the 109 squadron.
Also aboard the Wellington Bomber that lost their lives that night were Warrant Officer Roydon Allison (24), Australian Pilot Officer P.R.V. Sullivan (22), Sergeant Radio Operator J.A.Eyers (32). Two other men were aboard as well, but managed to parachute to safety and were soon taken prisoner of war in Warmenhuizen. Roydon Allison, like Ray was not found until 1982.
Born in Salzburg, Austria on 14 July 1918, Viesenfeldt was the first of four children of German Prince Alfred of Lippe-Weisenfeld and Countess Anna of Goës. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
On a routine flight from Parchim to Athies-sous-Laon, he and his crew ran into bad weather and a dense snow storm. Reportedly, they were forced to reduce their altitude as ice began to form on their wings and they apparently crashed into the Belgian Ardennes Mountains near St. Hubert on 12 March 1944 and was completely burned before being found the following day.
He is buried at Ysselsteyn, Netherlands.
Ron and his parents have visited the site of Ray's crash as well as many officials, various V.I.P.s, the Mayor and city planners, members of the Queen's forces, the R.A.F. and the British Ambassador.
Ron, Albert and Jesse continued the search after the end of the war through visits to the crash site, calls and letters to municipalities, government officials and war bureaus. Below is the answer to one such letter.
A Letter to Jessie:
Mrs. A. Liversuch
Dear Mrs, Liversuch
With further reference to previous correspondence, we have to inform you that we have heard from the Continental Representative who had recently received a visit from the RAF Liaison Officer to the Imperial War Graves Commission who have confirmed that your case has not yet closed.
The officer concerned is visiting the scene of the crash again in two or three weeks time with a view to ascertaining wether it is at all feasible to bring down from Germany, heavy lifting equipment in a final attempt to recover the wreckage. Simple digging operations are out of the question owing to water difficulties, but if the nature of the terrain permits it, it is just possible that the wreckage may be lifted for inspection by heavy equipment.
We will keep you advised of any further developments.
For A/Area Secretary
In answer to many letters Jessie was sending out in search of Ray:
R.A.F. Liason Officer
Your Letter of February 10th, 1950
Dirkshorn, February 2th, 1950
SUBJECT: Wreckage of Fighter Plane.
In answer to your letter of February 10th, 1950, about the plane that crashed on July 2nd, 1942, we have had no luck bringing it up. The remains of the plane are so deep in the ground that getting it out is very difficult.
In November of the previous year, mister James of the British Legion from Brussels arrived to see how difficult it would be to recover the wreckage of the plane. He tried to see if he could come close but up until this point, he has still not been able to recover it.
I hope this information will help you.
The Mayor of Harenkarspel.
Lost along with Ray was the only other man who had not escaped the fiery crash or been recovered. Warrant Officer Royden Allison. Roydon had left school in the 1935 era when the world was still recovering from the Great Depression.
Times in Canada and the United states were harsh to say the least. In England, times were not much better. Jobs were very difficult to find and one of the few options afforded to the man of the day was the Royal Air Force. Many of the men looked o the skies to see the planes passing overhead and performing maneuvers and thought that his might just be their future.
Royden was an astute young man and a skilled navigator. He had led his planes and crews on manymissions and back again safely employing his accuracy as a plotter map reader and would set the most appropriate course for his craft to avoid problems and make it back to base with fuel to spare.
Judging from his service number, it appears that Royden enlisted in January of 1939. He spent long schedules and practice flights in the biplanes of the squadrons of the Bristol Bulldogs, vying for supremacy with the sleeker Hawker Super Furies with their distinctive checkered, red and white markings on top of their silver wings.
After four years, Royden became a Sergeant Navigator and found himself flying with a squadron of Faerey Battles. Then the Second World War broke out. Promotions came rapidly for Royden. Before long, he made Flight Sergeant and then Warrant Officer.
He found himself in the 109 Squadron and was selected along with Ray to test the new and experimental apparatas, 'OBOE'. As with Ray, Royden was unable to evacuate the Wellington that night when it was hit by enemy shell fire and would suffer the same fate as Ray. Lost for forty years in Holland. His remains were recovered at the same time and his sister and her husband were able to attend the burial service.
Like Ray's parents, Royden's mother and father did not live to see him recovered and buried in the cemetery at Bergen in Dirkshorn, Holland. It was reported that they had made visits to the spot where the plane had crashed and where he and Ray were still laying until 1982.
Royden's Mother Jane Allison.
Royden's Father William Allison.
A Letter to Albert and Jesse:
8th September, 1950
re: 1257329 R.J. Liversuch
With further reference to your letter P. 208750/80 of 22nd July, we have now a report from our Liaison Officer, who has been to the crash scene at Herankarspel, Holland, and interviewed local authorities about the possibility of salvage.
He reports as follows:
The aircraft crashed in low lying ground, the sort typical to this area of Holland; smallish fielsd with the usual small canal border. The surface of the ground is approximately three feet above the water level and digging for salvage operations would be impossible below that level. All local authorities who have a thorough knowledge of the conditions contend that it would be impossible to proceed with such an undertaking.
In view of this report, it is regretted that all hope of salvage must be abandoned. The names of Sergeant Liversuch and of the other airman concerned - Warrant Officer W.R. Allison - will be recorded on the memorial to the missing at Runnymede.
There were many other letters, inquiries, phone calls, visits to the crash site and visits to the offices of any officials who might be able to help in the search. After a lifetime of searching and inquiries to any and all authorities they could think of, Jessie and Albert were never able to recover the remains of their son Ray and give him a proper burial. Albert passed away in 1969 and Jessie in 1970 without seeing that final goal completed.
With his parents now gone and his last ties to Wales severed, Ron was happy to spend the rest of his life with his family in Canada. He had long since given up hope of seeing his brother's remains being recovered.
Then on 21 July 1982, a letter was sent to the Mayor of Bergen.
City of Harenkarspel
To the Mayor of the City of Bergen
City Hall, Bergen, North Holland
Dirkshorn, July, 21st, 1982.
SUBJECT: Wreckage of Fighter Plane.
On the 12th and 13th of July, a recovery group of the Queen's Forces together with the recovery group of the Air Forces, were successful in recovering the remains of the two missing British pilots who crashed in 1942 in the city of Harenkarspel.
It is not certain whether their reimans will be buried next to their colleagues in Bergen or not.
We request from the British Military, Mr. ******* (Wing Commander, R.A.F.), what would you like done with the remains in Bergen?
Your answer is being awaited.
The Mayor of Harenkarspel.
BERGEN - After 40 years, 6 months, plus 11 days, five of the seven men of the Wellington Bomber AD605, from the 109E Squadron of the R.A.F. were reunited together yesterday afternoon. In the Allied War Cemetery, parts used by the general public as a burial ground near Bergen on the church Dyke. Yesterday, under great interest, Warrant Officer, Royden Allison (24) and Sergeant Raymond John Liversuch (21) were buried with limited military honours.
Until approximately mid-July, their bodies were resting in the wreck of their bomber, which on the morning of the 3rd of July, 1942, at approximately 2:30 a.m. crashed in the potato field belonging to C. Frances on the Zut read near Dirkshorn.
Allison and Liversuch have finally found their resting place beside three of the colleagues of the Wellington AD 605; Australian Pilot Officer P.R.V. Sullivan (22), Sergeant Radio Observer J.A. Eyers (32) and Sergeant W. Adamson, DFM (20). Their bodies were buried by the Germans shortly after the crash. The Wellington Bomber had special radio and radar equipment on board.
Thew plane was always manned by a five man crew, but on this night, there were seven men on board. Two of the men managed to abandon the burning wreckage in time, but they were made prisoners of was by the Germans in Warmenhuizen. These two men are missing but are presumed to still be alive, though.
The night of July 2nd, a very clear night, 800 aircraft were sent to Bremen on a raid. At least fourteen planes never returned to base. Of the fourteen, the Wellington Bomber AD 605, of the 109th Squadron was shot down in north Holland by a German night fighter plane.
For many years, the place where the plane crashed was marked with a cross. When the family of Warrant Officer Allison wanted to find the final resting place of his remains, hardly a trace could be found.
Mayor Wesselink from the city of Harenkarspel, at the time of the occurence was in a rather excited state. He was determined to find a proper resting place for the men. last sumer a recovery crew from the Quees's Forces found the remains of Allison and Liversuch.
Yesterday afternoon, R.A.F. Military Personnel, two generations younger, carried their coffins to the graves. A brother of Liversuch came over, all the way from Canada, to take part in the memorial service. He was very thankful to Mayor Wesselink who initiated the whole procedure.
WESSELINK: In the region of Holland, there are still many field graves to be found. Because the crosses have been removed, is why some of these field graves cannot be located. These boys did not deserve that.
Other field graves have been found in Berkout, Wognam and Beemster.We are not able to identify the reporter or the Paper that carried this story but still wanted to share it.
Excavation crews working at the site of the crash.
Careful excavation of artifacts.
Recovering a propeller blade from the excavation site.
At the time of the exhumation, Ron vowed that he would be there for the funeral of his brother. Though it would not be easy. Ron had just undergone a major surgery and was topping the scales at 96 lbs. When January came and the trip to Holland drew close, Ron had gotten up to 106 lbs.
When he got to Gatwick Airport, Ron was met by M. Tom Webb from the Department of National Defence who took him to the Mount Pleasant Hotel to let him relax for the first night. The next norming they went to Adastral House for a chat and a briefing. Ron was filled in on the details of the ceremonies and had any questions answered.
Ron was then guided to the Euston Railway Station in London. There, they met with Doctor E Nicholson (retired), The sister of Roydon Allison who had also been lost with Ray since 1942. Mr. Webb then took them to Heathrow Airport where Ron and Doctor Nicholson boarded a British Airways flight to Amsterdam.
Upon landing, they were met by Mr. Peter Sainsbury O.B.E and Wing Commander Brian St. Clair, the British Attaché to the Netherlands. Ron and Doctor Nicholson were then taken for a dinner at the RAFA Club and then to the Central Hotel Amsterdam for the night. They were now guests of the Hague.
The next morning there was a light snow as a number of cars showed up at the hotel to pick up the entourage. The snow forced them to take a detour and they arrived slightly late.
Ron was seated in the front row where Mr. P.R.A. Mansfield CMG introduced himself. Mr. Mansfield was at the time the British Ambassador to the Netherlands. Ron conversed with him before the service began. He noticed that he was very close to the coffins of Sergeant Raymond Liversuch and Warrant Officer Roydon Allison. Each had a large brass plate with their respective name, rank and number engraved on them. The caskets were covered in the Union Jack flags and this was the closest Ron had been to his brother Ray in over 40 years. A mere few feet away.
A hymn and psalm had been Doctor Nicholson while back in her home country; the 23rd psalm and the hymn 'Abide With Me'. Ron was shocked that when given the choice back home, he had made the exact same choices. The service, in both English and Dutch was beautifully conducted and very moving for Ron.
After the service, the interment was held at the Bergen Cemetery with Limited Military Honours. The pallbearers were men of a Royal Airforce regiment who were led by a Wing Commander. They carried the beautifully crafted, polished oak caskets in a slow march into position and gently lowered them into the gravesites side by side. Right next to the resting places of their comrades who had also died in the Wellington bomber that night. The strains of the bugle playing the Last Post as the servicemen all stood in rigid salute, was followed by two minutes of silence.
Ray had finally found a resting place and Ron was there to see it. 'Deo Gratia'.
On behalf of my dad and family, I would like to express my thanks to the members of the armed forces who attended, the mayors of Bergen and Harenkarspel, the British Attaché, the British Ambassador, the Recovery Officer of the Dutch Air Force, Colonel Gerry Zwanenberg MBE and the people of Holland.
Finally, Ray had been interred in a proper resting place.
This story ran in the South Wales Echo on 22 November 1982.
by Geoff Williams
Ron Liversuch lost two brothers in the war.One was buried in France but the other, shot down over Holland was never found until now.
Mr. Liversuch – originally from Cardiff but now retired and living in Calgary, Canada – has just been informed by the Defence Ministry that the remains of his brother Ray have been recovered from marshy farmland at Dirkshorn in Northern Holland.
Sergeant Liversuch was 20 when the RAF aircraft on which he was wireles operatorcrashed and sank in 1942. His family lived at Fonmont Crescent in Ely, Cardif.
Two of the crew baled out after coming under attack from a German fighter.
The bodies of three others thrown clear on impact were buried at the local Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bergen.
And today, 63-year-old Mr. Liversuch said from his Canadian home: "It's wonderful news – I can't describe how I feel. I was always upset because I could never visit Ray's grave. Now I'll make the trip as soon as I can.
"After the war, I visited the field and saw pieces of the plane scattered about.
"I found a handful of metal buttons and presumed my brother must have been incinerated in the explosion."
Mr. Liversuch's other brother, Bert who was also 20 was likked while serving with the parachute Regiment after D-Day. He is buried in a military cemetery at Caen in Northern France.
Sgt Liversuch's body and that of another airman were found when the bomber was excavated by a Royal Netherlands Air Force salvage team.
The pair were identified by their watches.
The second man is believed to be Warrant Officer Roydon Allison, whose family then lived at Dunston-On Tyne.