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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Rheal Robineau – Post # 2

In 1946, the RCAF , apparently made further investigations into the death of air crew members who had not returned.  The memo below, received from Archives Canada, indicates that further investigation was suggested.  The results of that investigation will be in my next post.

Our File: J.91090 (R.O.)

Royal Canadian Air Force

Ottawa, Canada  19th June, 1946

Casualty Enquiry G 1176 (P.414208/44)    American Zone

Halifax L? 597 was reported missing on the 25th/26th February, 1944 as the result of operations against Augsburg.

O-886266    1st/Lt    A.L. Lubold        pilot        safe
J.23342    F/O    A.G. Turton        nav        safe
J.25697    F/O    R.A.Richards        A/B        safe
1561875    Sgt.    Cannon, J.        Hop/AG    safe
R.220136    Sgt.    Robineau G.E.    A/G        Missing P.D.
(now J.91090 P/O)
1553058    Sgt.    Thompson, ?.    A/G        Missing
1803536    Sgt.    Bean, L.        F/E        Safe

The entire crew is safe with the exception of the gunners, P/O Robineau and Sgt. Thompson.  The aircraft crashed near Risstissen, (map ref. L49/x56.  F/O Richards was told by the Germans that the two Air Gunners were in hospital, which was not identified, and that there was little hope for their recovery.  The Germans told F/O Turton that both the Air Gunners were killed and gave Sgt. Robineau’s flying boots to him to wear. Ehingen(Map Ref. L49x46) and Ulm are also mentioned in repatriation statements, so it is possible that the hospital is located in one of those towns.  It is known that the Gunners died as F/O Richards was shown their identification tags soon after he was taken prisoner.

In view of the conflicting statements it is suggested that enquiries be made in the vicinity of the crashed aircraft to locate the graves, in the event the information about the hospital should be incorrect.

(W.A.Dicks),
Group Captain,
for Chief of the Air Staff.

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Rheal Robineau

Rheal Robineau was shot down over Germany on the night of February 25th, 1944.  Below  is an extract from a Casualty Report report prepared on May 12, 1944.  A few of the crew on Rheal’s plane were taken prisoner by the Germans.  At Stalag Luft III they were allowed to report on the events of the flight and the status of their crew members.  The full memorandum is copied below and the middle section refers to Rheal Robineau.

Memorandum

From: Mrs. Lliewellyn,                                           To: Wing Commander A.B. Mathews
Wounded, Missing and Relatives Dept.              P.4.Cas(Can) Air Ministry
7 Belgrave Square, S.W.1                                        73-77 Oxford St. London, W.1

6th December, 1944
DL/AGJ/RAF

I enclose copies of reports received from the Senior British Officer, North Compound, Stalag Luft III, concerning: –

Flight-Lieutenant A.G. Dickie J9270
Sergeant G.E.R. Robineau R220136
Sergeant C.D. Duncan R.183624.

———————————————————————————————————————

Extract from the casualty report from Senior British Officer, Stalag Luft III, dated 12th May, 1944.
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2F/Sgt. R. Lambe, Serv. No: 1339552 POW No:4192 states:
‘On the night of 9th/10th April, 1944 our aircraft was attacked by night-fighters near Horsens, Denmark.  The Captain, ordered the crew to bail out as the aircraft was out of control.  I was second to leave the aircraft.  I was told at Dulag Luft that the bodies of F/Lt. Dickie and Sgt. Price were found in the aircraft.  I did not identify the bodies of this Officer and NCO.
——————————————————————–

F/O R. Richards Serv. No.J.25697 POW No.3585 states: “On the night of 25th/26th February 1944 we were attacked by night fighters 50 miles west of Augsburg.  Our inter-communication was unserviceable after the attack and the aircraft caught fire.  We bailed out over Eppingen.  I was fourth to leave the aircraft.  The German authorities at Dulag Luft told me that Sgt. Thompson and Sgt. Robineau were in hospital but did not say where. They also informed me that there was little hope for their recovery.
——————————————————————–
F/Sgt.I.Bertram. Serv. No:A.413817. POW No.4178 states:- “On the night of 20/21 April 1944 our aircraft was directly hit by flak over Cologne and attacked by night fighters after leaving the target area.  Our inter-communications was unserviceable.  I was fifth to leave the aircraft.  At Dulag Luft I was shown some personal effects of Sgt. Casey who the German authorities said, had been killed. I did not identify his body.  He is buried somewhere near Aachen.  I know nothing of the date of Sergeant Dunkin.

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Ancestry.com DNA

I just went through the Ancestry.com DNA test process.  I was surprised by the results, although maybe i should not.   I am French and my tree does go back to France in 1700. Granted that is only 400 years ago and i don’t know where the Robineau’s were before that date.   The test involved a swab from my cheeks and their is no reason to believe it is not scientific.  So, the test says that my ethnic genealogy is 66% British Isles, 24% Southern Europe (Spain and Italy) , 5% Eastern Europe and 5% Uncertain. Apparently , British Isles can be “stretched” to include Normandy.  But the analysis from Ancestry does not  mention France. I suspect that the Robineau ancestors spent a lot of time in the British Isles.  One theory is that the Robineau’s, or whoever they were back then were part of the invading Roman hordes who invaded the British isles. Perhaps my ancestors spent a fair amount of time there (at least that is the genetic implication). I presume that at some time they decided the food and wine was better in France and moved there, a mere few hundred years ago. This just  means i have to learn more about genetic testing and what it means for the Robineau family history.

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