Dakota Mk III KG387
Loss - 21st September 1944
RAF 437 Squadron Dakota KG-387, base Blakehill Farm, was shot down by German fighters and crashed near the ‘Sonniushoeve’ farm at Son, near Eindhoven, on the 101st US Airborne Division Landing Zone.
Dale Cressman - with kind permission
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The National Archives
Pilot F/L R.W. Alexander - KILLED
F/O W.S. McLINTOCK - RCAF J/38773 - KILLED
F/O Rechenuc – taken to US hospital and returned to RAF Blakehill next day
F/Sgt McHugh – Wounded - taken to US hospital in Belgium
Despatchers – Royal Army Service Corps
Lcpl O.R. JONES – Wounded taken to US hospital
Cpl A.E. HALL - T/187220 – age 32 – KILLED Son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Hall, of Derby; husband of D. E. Hall, of Derby.
Driver H. WOODWARD - T/1455222 – age 30 - KILLED - Son of Frederick and Martha Ann Woodward, of Widnes, Lancashire; husband of Hilda Woodward, of West Bank, Widnes.
Driver F.G.W. YEO - T/14673529 age 19 – KILLED - Frederick George William Yeo was the son of Ernest Wilson and Caroline Yeo, of Horfield, Bristol. He enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps, and volunteered for airborne forces.
We pick up on the loss of KG387 with the same squadron log entry of the 21st September 1944, from the squadron logs of 437 Squadron RCAF of 21st September 1944 at RAF Blakehill Farm.
"Today's re-supply serial involved 28 Dakota aircraft ...18 Dakotas of the 233 Squadron and 10 of the 437 Squadron. The latter unit would suffer its first casualties due to enemy action. Carrying 488 panniers, loaded with ammunition, food and medical supplies, the aircraft took off between 1310-1315 hours, led by Wing Commander William Coles of 233 Squadron. Three aircraft of 437 Squadron took off slightly later than the rest, between 1335-1337 hours and two of these 'tail end Charlie's,' flying in the rear of the whole resupply force, would suffer the consequences; they were amongst the nine Dakotas which would not return to base..."
After dropping their cargo, the planes climbed to an altitude of 7,000 feet to begin the journey home, heading south (source https://www.bhic.nl/ontdekken/verhalen/de-lotgevallen-van-dakota-kg-387 - author Rien Wols September 7, 2012)
The crash of two Dakotas (KG489 and KG387) was witnessed by George Koskimaki, the radio operator for the 101st Airborne Division's Commanding Officer, General Maxwell D. Taylor, whose headquarters had just moved from Eindhoven to the castle Henkenshage, south of Sint Oedenrode. According to Koskimaki, "On the night of 20 September we moved the Division Command Post up to Sint Oedenrode and on the 21st an aerial resupply was dropped to us by C-47s..and two German fighter planes appeared from the clouds and quickly shot down two of them almost directly overhead. The crews didn't have a chance to bail out." Source Dale Cressman
KG387 crashed into the Sonse heath around 5.30 pm, near the Sonniushoeve. Only three of the crew survived this crash. Radio operator John Rechenuc was the first to jump out of the burning plane, the pilot of which, Robert Alexander, had probably already been killed by the German fighter who had attacked the plane.
Navigator McHugh also managed to get out of the plane alive, as did one of the despatchers, Corporal Jones.
Rechenuc landed in a forest, his parachute hanging from the tree branches. He hid in a ditch along a dirt road, but was soon found by an unknown girl who took him to an American hospital. From there he went to Brussels and then returned to RAF Blakehill Farm the very next day.
McHugh was more serious. He had been hit by bullets in the back and landed in a canal from which he was rescued by Americans who then took him to a hospital.
Jones was also seriously injured in a forest, where he passed out. When he came to, he found himself in a wheelbarrow being pushed by a Dutchman towards an American field hospital.
It is unclear whether these three men ended up in the same hospital, but it could well be the former sanatorium in Son, which the Americans had already set up as a field hospital on 17 September. The deceased crew members were initially buried in Son's temporary American military cemetery. At the time only Dvrs Woodward and Yeo could be identified All the casualties were re-interred in the British War Cemetery at Bergen op Zoom on 19 November 1946. Cpl Hall was identified in 1948 and the remaining RAF crew were identified in 1996
In the Eindhovens Dagblad of September 18, 1992, an extensive article by Ed van de Kerkhof about this crash was published under the title The day the Dakotas fell
Unfortunately the website author is unable to find this article to date.