By John Preston, Stuart M. Preston’s nephew
Late on the evening of May 12, 1944, a four-engined Halifax bomber of 431 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force took off from its base at Croft, England. Its target that night, less than a month before the massive Allied invasion of D-Day, was the rail marshalling yards at Louvain, Belgium, just east of Brussels. Aboard were six Canadians of the RCAF and one Scottish member of the Royal Air Force. Shortly after midnight, the aircraft bombed the rail yards and began its journey back to England. It never returned. A German night fighter brought down the bomber south of Brussels, Belgium, killing six of its crew. Only the Canadian Navigator parachuted to safety, was hidden by the Resistance and eventually was returned to England in Sept 1944. His six fellow crew members are buried in the Brussels Town Cemetery.
The crew of that Halifax “MZ 629” consisted of:
Pilot – R112240 Warrant Officer Second Class Charles John “Chuck” Campbell (RCAF),
Heatherdale, Prince Edward Island. Born 6 Feb 18, Age 26. Enlisted 16 Sep 41, Charlottetown PEI,
commissioned 11 May 44 as Pilot Officer J90759. KIA
Flight Engineer – 1823549 Sergeant John Duncan “Sandy” MacPherson (RAF),
Kingussie, Scotland. Age 19. KIA
Navigator – R128361 Warrant Officer Second Class Cyril Simeon “Baz” Barzeele (RCAF),
Spruce Home, Saskatchewan. Born 4 Mar 20, Age 24. Enlisted 25 Sep 41, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,
commissioned 11 May 44 as Pilot Officer J86427. Died 1994. Escape Comete
Bomb Aimer – J25123 Flying Officer Stuart Marvin Preston (RCAF),
St. Catharines, Ontario. Born 16 Aug 22, Age 21. Enlisted 13 Apr 42, Hamilton, Ontario. KIA
Wireless Operator – R163628 Warrant Officer Second Class Andrew “Andy” Laturnus (RCAF),
Revenue, Saskatchewan. Born 7 May 21, Age 23. Enlisted 30 Apr 42, Regina, Saskatchewan,
commissioned 11 May 44 as Pilot Officer J86453. KIA
Mid-Upper Gunner – R207928 Sergeant Earl Dwight Empey (RCAF),
Winchester, Ontario. Born 16 Oct 24, Age 19. Enlisted 9 Feb 43, Ottawa, Ontario,
commissioned 11 May 44 as Pilot Officer J90085.
Rear Gunner – R197267 Sergeant Alvin Edward “Ted” Yarington (RCAF),
Brantford, Ontario. Born 23 Sep 23, Age 20. Enlisted 27 Oct 42, Hamilton, Ontario,
commissioned 11 May 44 as Pilot Officer J90047.
Taken at 1666 Heavy Conversion Unit, Halifax Bomber “Ferdinand”
Laturnus, Campbell, MacPherson, Preston, Barzeele, MacDermott (?? who trained with the crew but left prior to joining 431 Squadron), Empey