Crew Hart

Pilot:  P/O Allan Robert Hart,  Leslie Clifton, Harold James Boal, Gordon Ivan Williams, William Joseph Jones,  Douglas Frederick Hicks, Charles Melville Price

30 January 1944, shot down in Holland

Pilot:  P/O Allan Robert Hart, 22 years old, 412434, RAAF
Killed, buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery
Flight Engineer: Sgt Leslie Clifton, 24 years old, 1146496
Killed, buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery
Navigator: F/S Harold James Boal, 20 years old, 409497, RAAF
Killed, buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery
Bomb Aimer: W/O Gordon Ivan Williams, 21 years old, R/119950, RCAF
Killed, buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery
W/Op: Sgt William Joseph Jones, 21 years old, 1131932
Killed, buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery
Mid-Upper Gunner: Sgt Douglas Frederick Hicks, 24 years old, 1397995
Killed, buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery
Rear gunner: F/Sgt Charles Melville Price, 30 years old, R/182206, RCAF
Killed, buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery

From the ORB
JB659J  P/O A.R.Hart, Sgt L.Clifton, F/Sgt H.J.Boal, Sgts C.I.Williams, W.Jones, E.F.Hicks, C.M.Price.  Up 1710  – missing.

Extract from Bomber Command Losses – 30/31.1.44
Lancaster III  JB659  OF – J.  Op Berlin.  T/O 1710  Bourn.  Homebound, shot down by a night fighter and crashed 2210 near Zwanenburg (Noord-Hollan), roughly midway between  Haarlem and Amsterdam.  P/O Hart RAAF and F/S Williams RCAF are buried in Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General cemetery; the others have no known grave.
P/O A.R.Hart RAAF(+), Sgt L.Clifton(+), F/S H.J.Boal RAAF(+), F/S G.I.Williams RCAF(+), Sgt W.J.Jones(+), Sgt D.F.Hicks, F/S C.M.Price RCAF(+).

Since the Bomber Command Losses books were compiled, the situation has changed and the remaining members of the Hart crew have been found beneath the ruins of the farmhouse and given a military burial.

Crash Details
The Lancaster was shot down by a Messerschmitt BF110 at ten o’clock at night, on its way back from the Berlin operation. The shooting down was extremely violent, the cockpit of the Lancaster being blasted away from the fuselage and falling to earth with the bodies of Alan Hart and Gordon Williams inside it. The rest of the aircraft, with two engines still running, crashed into a farmhouse called “Sumatra”, killing all five of the remaining crew, together with a farmer’s wife and four of her nine children. The farmer, Cor van der Bijl, died two days later in hospital. The five eldest children were sleeping in another part of the farm and survived.
Subsequently Hart and Williams were buried at Haarlemmermeer (Zwanenburg) General Cemetery, but the other five crew members lay undiscovered for 57 years until the former site of the farmhouse was required for the expansion of the Amsterdam docks. The excavation was undertaken by the Royal Netherlands Air Force Salvage Team and took five weeks, being one of the largest the team had ever handled. The remains of the last five crew members were discovered and identified, and now lie in the same cemetery as their pilot.
What remained of the aircraft were then transferred in January 2001 to the RAF Wickenby Memorial Museum.

If you would like to see a map of where the crash occurred, in North Holland in the Houtrak polder, the best place to look for it is a marvellous database complied by Jan Nieuwenhuis on the Dutch island of Texel. This database has been brought together with a huge amount of work and is an enormous labour of love. It remembers all the Allied airman lost in the Netherlands during the war.
The software to run the database can be downloaded via the website Once the files are downloaded, and unzipped, they can be run as a program using the CRASH.EXE command. The process is very simple and well worth going through.
If you want to see how greatly the RAF are still honoured in the once occupied Netherlands, this is the place to look.

The colour-tinted crew photograph below is a huge improvement on the very blurry one I had before – many thanks to Steven Hanglands and friend.
Steven Hanglands emailed me in early September 2007 about the shooting down of J-Johnie.
“I believe the shooting down of JB-659 was claimed by Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer of 12/NJG 1. Nicknamed the Night Ghost of St. Trond, and probably one of the most successful Luftwaffe night fighters, he claimed a ‘victory’ in the area of the crash at roughly the same time (he records it as 2215hrs).”

He has since made a video of the Hart crew and their fatal trip, which can be found on YouTube, in two parts. Click here for Part One.

Above Left: Harold Boal, the baby of the crew, only 20 years old
Above Right: Leslie Clifton

Left: Melville (not called by his first name of Charles) Price, also called ‘Prez’ or ‘Dad’ as he was 30 years old.

Left: Gordon Williams, Below: Bill Jones
The Lancaster broke up in the air after being attacked. Hart and Williams died when the cockpit was blown clear, the rest of the crew died when the remains of the aircraft hit the farmhouse, “Sumatra”, shown in this photograph. Tragically most of the Dutch family were killed.
L-R: Bill Jones, Boal, Williams, Price, Clifton, Hicks, Hart
Clearly taken only a moment later. Bill Jones is standing on his head. It is great to see this image of the crew having fun even though it is so blurry.