Dakota Mk III KG489
July 2020 - I am immensely grateful for Mr Dale Cressman for his kind permission to share his story and reserach of his uncle Flying Officer Charles Herbert Cressman and his heartening words to me - "On behalf of our family, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the work you are doing to remember these men. And thank you for thinking of me and for reaching out." (Dale Cressman)
Dale's story not only sheds a personal light on the loss of Dakota KG489 but also brings some clarification on the loss of RCAF Dakota KG387 on the same mission – there is a separate article regarding KG387 for clarity.
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..."
Dale takes up the story;
In 2005, I accompanied my father and brother to Europe. As an accredited journalist, I covered the Canadian and Dutch governments' observation of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Holland. But there was a more personal reason for the trip: to visit the gravesite of my uncle, Charles Herbert Cressman (pictured right). Uncle Herb had been lost to our family since he was shot down while flying in Operation Market Garden in September 1944. Until the late 1990s, the location of his grave was unknown. Thanks to Louis Kleijne of Sint-Oedenrode who hosted us, and to my wife Rebecca and my Dad's wife Judy for supporting our venture.
The crash of those 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."
Map showing (approximate) crash sites of by KG387 and KG489 redrawn by website author, triangulated back to the castle Henkenshage to provide clarity - crash site information courtesy of aviation-safety.net and maps by Google. Approximate RAF Blakehill UK location shown by white dot - white square is inset map location.
According to Arie-Jan Van Hees, author of Green On!, [sic] "KG 489 was hit by machine-gun and canon fire from the Focke-Wulf 190 fighters and badly hit. Apparently none of the flying crew and the air dispatchers had any chance to bale out and the aircraft was seen going down and disintegrating before hitting the ground. All aboard were killed and buried near the crash site. The aircraft crashed near the farm of Mr. Van de Ven, along the "Everse Akkerpad' at the village of Eerschot, just south of Sint Oedenrode and only a short distance from the 'corridor' or "Hell's Highway.'
"Regrettably, one of the dead could not be identified and Charles Cressman was buried at Uden War Cemetery as an 'Unknown British Airman.'"
Thanks to the efforts of Messrs. Lex Roell and Jan Hey who both supplied information to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, enough substantial evidence was produced which eventually led to identification of the unknown airman. Flying Officer Charles Herbert Cressman received his own gravestone on Monday 24 August 1998.”
Click to read the article
Above - Dale Cressman by the grave of his uncle Flying Officer Charles Herbert Cressman - below Dale's brother Jeff and their late father Bev, brother to Charles who sadly passed away in 2010.
Known crew who perished
437 Squadron RCAF
J35991 F/O Charles Cressman (Captain)
J36992 F/O J S Blair (Second Pilot)
J24238 P/O Steffin (Navigator)
J27326 P/O T J Brennan (Wireless Operator)
Royal Army Service Corps
Donald Frederick Tite (Driver) - 799 Air Despatch Company
George Henry Rhodes T/10694070 - 799 Air Despatch Company
Reginald Arthur Adams T/3911832 - 799 Air Despatch Company
Rowland John Claxton T/5770427 - 799 Air Despatch Company
Driver Donald Fredrick Tite
799 Air Despatch Company, Royal Army Service Corps
Donald Frederick Tite was the son of Albert and Elizabeth Tite, of Kettering, Northamptonshire. He enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps, and volunteered for Airborne forces.
Driver Tite successfully completed Air Despatcher training and was posted to 799 Air Despatch Company, Royal Army Service Corps, and took part in Operation Market Garden (Arnhem).
Dvr Tite was killed in action on 21 September 1944, aged 19, when RAF 437 Squadron Dakota KG-489, base Blakehill Farm, was shot down by German FW 190 fighters and crashed alongside Everse Akkerpad at Eerschot near St. Oedenrode.
There were no survivors and the Air Despatchers were buried in the St Oedenrode Roman Catholic Churchyard. (Roll of Honour, 5th Revised Edition, 2011).
Information and photo courtesy of Paradata.org.uk
Cpl G.H. Rhodes - ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORP
George Henry Rhodes T/10694070 was the son of George Albert and Caroline Rhodes and the husband of Vera Rhodes, of Hildenborough, Kent - was killed in action on 21 September 1944, aged 33
L/Cpl R.A. Adams - ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORP
Reginald Arthur Adams T/3911832 - Died 21 September 1944
Age 29 years old - Son of Thomas and Harriet Adams; husband of Irene Adams, of Caerphilly, Glamorgan. Buried at St Odenrode Roman Catholic Churchyard Grave 29 Netherlands
Dvr R.J. Claxton - ROYAL ARMY SERVICE CORP
Rowland John Claxton T/5770427 31 years old - Son of Bertie and Beatrice Claxton; husband of Norah Agnes Claxton, of Great Dunham, Norfolk. Buried at Buried at St Odenrode Roman Catholic Churchyard Grave 28 Netherlands
Information courtesy war graves commission and Paradata
For many years, a propeller from KG 489 acted as a local monument
Sadly the propeller was stolen in 2003