Rheal Robineau…There’s more

Several of my previous posts in this blog discuss Rheal Robineau, his crew mates and their bombing mission over Germany.  Well now, thanks to Joerg Mezger, who apparently is a person who goes around to German WWII crash sites and takes picture and occasionally recovers small pieces of “remains” from the plane, i have pictures of the crash site and some small remains of the plane.

Thanks Joerg

I have posted the pictures he has sent me.  Joerg also sent me a picture of Rheal’s grave site at Durnbach in Germany.Rheal – Germany 1Rheal – Germany 3Rheal – Germany 5Rheal – Germany 4

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Leda Robineau (Malette)

Leda Robineau (Malette) was my grandmother.  She was born in about 1895, in Ripon (Labelle) Quebec.  She eventually married Leonel Robineau in 1914 in Montpelier , Quebec.  She died in February 1969.

In the 1911 census, these were the family members living with Leda. She was 15 at the time and they lived in Ripon (Labelle). The two listed at over 70 years (Mathias and Elmire) old may be Joseph’s parents:

Joseph Malette  age 42
Alma Malette  age 42
Elzéar Malette  age 17
Daniel Malette  age 16
Leda Malette age 15
Henri Malette  age 13
Avila Malette  age 11
Dolorés Malette  age 6
Alcide Malette   age 4
Paul Emile Malette  age 2
Edna Malette  age 1
Mathias Malette  age 71
Elmire Malette age 75

The attached picture is of Leda (middle of bottom row).  I don’t know who the others are.

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Rheal Robineau – The rest of the crew

There were 7 crew members on Rheal Robineau’s plane. When it was shot down in February 1944, Rheal and the other Gunner died, probably before the plane even crashed. The other five parachuted to earth (some just barely) and were captured by the Germans. They spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III. Stalag Luft III is the same prison from which there was a major prisoner escape that became the movie: The Great Escape. Once the war was over the returning crew members had to make statements about the crash and those statements are listed below:

Aircraft: Halifax III

Serial No: LW-597

Code: QO-C

Target: Augsburg

Pilot: Lt A. Lubold O-886266 pow

Flt/engineer: Sgt L. Bean 1803536 pow

Navigator: F/O A. Turton J-23342 pow

Bomb Aimer: F/O R. Richards J-25697 pow

Wireless Operator: Sgt J. Cannon 1561875 pow

Mid upper gunner: P/O G. Robineau J-91090 +

Rear gunner: Sgt W. Thompson 1553058 +

Time off: 21:40 Time down: missing

Bomb load: 40 x 30 lb and 630 x 4lb incendiaries.

Service File: Crashed 1.5 km south west of Frankenhofen (L48/X-377713). Witness states that an aircraft came from the direction of the target in flames at approximately 02:00 hours. When over the village it made three large descending spirals, finally crashing in the woods, 1.5 km south west of the village.


NAME. Bean L. F


DUTY. Flt/engineer

We left base, East Moor, after dark, somewhere around 21:30. Fairly cloudy weather, but clear, 3/4 moon above 10,000 feet. Only light flak was encountered until the target, but even here we seemed to be above most of it. We flew all the way at approximately 21,000 feet. We arrived at the target on time but no flares had been dropped by P.F.F so the skipper having flown over the target circled back into bomber stream. Flares were down by this time. We bombed the target and turned onto track. Approximately, half hour later, skipper asked me to check that bomb doors were isolated on the hydraulics. I went back to check, taking my log to fill in. As I plugged into the intercom, I heard the skipper warning the gunners that there were fighter flares going down ahead. As far as I remember we stayed on course and did not weave. A few minutes later, approximately 2:00 I heard a banging noise underneath and the overload tank in the bomb bay exploded. I then heard the skipper give the order to bale out and went forward and handed him his chute, as he was leaving his position. I then got my chute and went to follow him into the nose, but stayed on the steps. Later when the aircraft had dropped quite a height the wireless operator managed to open the hatch. The order of leaving the aircraft was wireless operator, pilot, navigator, bomb aimer and myself (flt/engineer). After pulling the ripcord I blacked out and remember nothing until I came to in the snow. I had no chute or harness or Mae west and 2 German landwatch with shotguns were standing around, apparently waiting for me to recover. When the tank exploded, it blew the floor in and the flames came through. Window was being dropped. Upward firing guns.


NAME. Turton A. G.


DUTY. Navigator

Airborne 21:44 hours 25.2.44, shaken by flak crossing Schelte Islands. No known damage. Bombed target at 22,800 feet T.A.S. 237, Hdg. 060″ (12 cans I.B.’s 4 lb.) at 01:22 hours 26.2.44. Bombing time was 01:18 – 01:21 hours but delayed as pilot altered course to avoid flak before the run up. Set course from target 01:23 hours, aircraft 01:28 hours to 260ET. 0140 hours – aircraft to 263ET. 01:42 hours hit in belly by unseen fighter while flying in lanes of flares. Other bombers were visible ahead, but gunners didn’t see fighters attacking from below. The pilot immediately ordered abandon aircraft. I reached for my chute on the table and was flung to the floor as we went into a spin. I got my chute on with great difficulty. Five of us were huddled on the floor in the nose, unable to move. The aircraft levelled out into a flat spin. The wireless operator and I folded the navigation bench and I opened the hatch with considerable difficulty. Someone went out as soon as the hatch was open, then I went out. I opened the chute after counting to five then was in the air for about 20 seconds. I landed in several feet of snow. Hearing engines, I looked up and saw the aircraft going over at about 300 feet in a wide flat turn to starboard. She was well alight from wing to tail. I could see through the fuselage. She did a half circle and crashed and exploded in woods about 3 to 5 miles off. She burned and ammo etc. exploded for half an hour.



NAME. Richards R. A.


DUTY. Bomb aimer


On the night of 25/26 of Feb. We were briefed for Augsburg. On crossing the coast at Over Flakke we were hit under the mid upper gunner’s turret by flak but it didn’t cause any damage. On arriving at the target we did evasive action to get out of large searchlight batteries and flak which was quite heavy on our course. We bombed the target at 01:17 hours which was 1 minute after zero hour. After proceeding from the target we were attacked by an ME-210 from underneath. He hit us in the reserve tanks and all controls were lost. The time was 01:40 hours. As soon as the kite was hit the pilot hollered to bale out as he, the navigator, wireless operator and flt/engineer and myself were thrown down in front on the escape hatch. We spun straight down all the time being unable to move due to the force, then when we were about ready for the crash the aircraft began to flatten out by itself. We quickly opened the escape hatch, the pilot out first, then the wireless operator, then the navigator got stuck in the hatch and I had to help him out by giving a good hard push at about 800 to 1,000 feet. My chute no sooner opened and I was in a big snow bank without my flying shoes. I got up and I was faced with a number of men and boy with shotguns all pointing them at me. I was taken to a house where I met the flt/engineer. The rest of the crew were found within the day and then we were taken to Dulag at Frankfurt. Aircraft crashed on fire as it was going down. Window being dropped. Nitrogen petrol tanks.



NAME. Cannon J.


DUTY. Wireless operator

Take off was at 21:00 hours on Feb. 25th 1944. Everything went okay until about 15 minutes after leaving target when we were hit by fighter. To my knowledge no warning was given from gunners, so no evasive action was done. No clouds in sky. Nearest big town – Ulm. On being hit we lost control of aircraft and went into steep dive, wasn’t able to open hatch until aircraft levelled itself out at about 3,000 feet.

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Rheal Robineau – Post 3



The original reports i read regarding the crash of Rheal’s plane during WWII implied that he survived the crash and later died in a German hospital.  This is apparently not the case.  After the war the RCAF did further investigations on the crewmembers who died in combat in order to find their grave sites.  The Report below is the one concerning Rheal’s death in the February 1944 crash.

Investigation Report

From: No. 3 M.R.E.U.  B.A.F.O.

To: Air Ministry, P.4. (Cas), 73/77 Oxford Street, London

Date: 20th January, 1947……Investigation Officer: F/Lt. McKitrik……..Section: 17

A.M. File Reference: P.414208/44/RCAF Eng.    A.M/ Cas. Enquiry No: G.1176

Unit Reference:……….                Section Reference: 17MRES/G.1176

Aircraft Type and Number:  Halifax LW. 597    Date and time: 0200hrs. 26.2.1944

Position of Crash: 1 1/2 km S.W. of Frankenhofen

Map Reference: Sheet N.48/X377.713

Crew………………………………………………………….Particulars of Burial

Sgt. Robineau, G.E.        A/G (Can)        Mass grave. Joint cross. No inscription
Sgt. Thompson, W.        A/G (Eng)        Mass grave. Joint cross. No inscription
1st Lt. Lubold A.L.        Pilot (Amer.)        Safe
F/O Richards, R.A.        A/B (Can)        Safe
Sgt. Cannon, J.        WOP/AG (Eng)    Safe
F/O Torton, A.G.        Nav. (Can)        Safe
Sgt. Bean, L.            F/E (Eng)        Safe

Cemetery and Map Reference: Cemetery at Frankenhofen. “X” 385.720.

Articles Found: Nil

Any Further Action:  As requested.

Results of Investigation and Finding:

Exhaustive investigations in the Ersingen-Risstissen areas revealing no trace of any aircraft. I proceeded to the Rathaus Ehingen (“X” 47.67) and i examined the relevant files for the whole of Ehingen landkreis.  The only incident recorded there which refers to British aircraft was a report from the Buergermeister at Frankenhofen (“X” 38.72) concerning a supposedly American 4 motored bomber which crashed near there on the night 25/26:2:1944.  Heir Reisch, clerk to the Landrat, who is at this moment engaged in compiling a record of Allied Personnel buried in this area for the French Authorities, assured me that this was the only aircraft to crash at that time in the whole Ehingen area.  The following is a report i took from from Hernn Eierstueck, Buergermeister of Frankenhofen: “ About 02:00 hours on the night of 25/26.2.1944 I was standing outside my home watching the air attack against Augsburg, when suddenly i noticed an aircraft approaching me in flames, flying from the direction of the target.  When over our village it commenced to make large descending spirals and in all it circled Frankenhofen three times before it finally plunged into the woods about one and a half kilometers S.W. of the village.  Search parties immediately went out to look for any fliers who might have parachuted in our parish and also to visit the scene of the crash.  There, lying among the widely scattered wreckage two badly mutilated and charred were found but not removed.  Within an hour of the crash three flyers were brought to my house, all three having been captured in the immediate neighborhood of the village.  Of these three one was definitely a dark haired officer, one was a blond Sgt. and the other was presumably a Sgt. with dark hair, but i can’t be certain of this as he was wearing a white sweater. All three were tall and slender and very young, not being much more than 20 years of age.
These men spent the night in my house and about 8:00 next morning they were taken to the Rathaus where two of their comrades later joined them.  Of these two, one had been brought from the village of Daechingen (“X” 39.40).  This man was smaller and fatter than the others and had dark hair and i believe that he too was an officer.  He arrived about 9:00 o’clock and at 10:00 o’clock the fifth man was brought from Bremelau (‘X” 33.73) and he too was said to be an officer.  At 08:30 hours a party of men with an officer arrived from the Luftgau at Ersingen (“X” 57.68) and they later removed all five prisoners to the airfield at Ersingen.  The officer told me that this was the only aircraft to to crash in the area during the night.  Some police from Ehingen were left to guard the aircraft.  The two dead airmen were buried on 3.3.1944 in the local cemetery and a few days later the complete aircraft wreckage was removed by a detachment from Ersingen.”

Herr Hohenlen, of Ehingen, a member of the aircraft guard when interviewed told me that he had spoken with the officer (Haupt. Maul) who came on 26.2.1944.  This officer stated that the pilot was an American and there were at least two other Canadians among the prisoners so that it was commonly assumed that the aircraft was an American one operating with the RAF.  The two dead airmen, who were lying near the front of the fuselage when found.  From the identity tags found it was assumed they were Canadians and they were buried as such.  No names were passed on to the Burgermeister and so the airmen were buried as unknown Canadians, but no inscription was placed on the wooden cross at the grave as the Burgermeister hoped to hear from the Luftwaffe at Ersingen.

From the above evidence it is quite apparent that this is in fact Halifax LW.597 and it is requested that the grave be now registered.  Owing to vagueness in the Cas. enquiry the investigations in this case were started and completed by this section, although we have finally located the position of crash in the French zone.


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