WITH the flare from the Stirling bomber’s exhaust in his sights, Luftwaffe pilot Karl Haisch pressed his gun button and as he peeled away the British bomber went down in flames.
For the seven crewmembers aboard Stirling 'Q'
Queenie of 75 Squadron the cold waters of the North Sea off the Frisian islands are their only grave.
The remains of neither crew nor bomber were ever found.
“But one thing we do know is that although the aircraft was assigned to a New Zealand squadron, two of the crew were Welsh and almost certainly from the Gwent area,” says aviation researcher Paul Aston, 69, of Woodchester, near Stroud.
The four-engined bomber took off from Newmarket air base on the night of March 3, 1942 its mission being to drop mines off the Frisian Islands so as to frustrate German shipping movements off occupied Europe.
Emrys Herbert Weaver, aged 20, was the flight engineer responsible for maintaining the giant bomber’s systems in flight and assisting the pilot, Sergeant Raymond C Going, a New Zealander.
Sergeant Kenneth Eyre was the aircraft’s wireless operator doubling as a gunner.
“Sergeant Eyre had the nickname Mad Taff so his Welsh origins are absolutely certain,” says Mr Aston, who has a life-long obsession with wartime flying.
“Sergeant Weaver’s name is on our local war memorial and I have spent years trying to find out more about him.
The maddening thing is that as a boy I knew his mother, but when you are a lad you never know the questions to ask until it is too late.”
The details of the death of Q-Queenie come from German records which state that Haisch of Night Fighter Squadron 3 and flying a Messerschmitt encountered the British bomber at 22.26 hours (10.26pm) at a height of 3,000 feet seven miles west of the islands.
With darkness favouring the attacker, the Stirling, which was Oberfeldwebel Haisch’s eighth kill was sent crashing into the sea.A later search yielded no bodies or wreckage.
“The names of the two Welshmen appear on the RAF memorial at Runnymede but these brave young men have no grave other than the North Sea,”
Mr Aston says. “I am working with a Canadian researcher to find out as much about them as I can.
“I am absolutely sure this would be of interest and comfort to Sergeant Weaver and Sergeant Eyre’s families the trouble is I am not absolutely sure where they came from.
“One clue I do have is that the Weavers may have come to Gloucestershire to escape the Depression because they had only been in the village of Woodchester a fewyears before Emrys was killed.
“I have heard that the Weaver family might have run a bus company in Wales and that Emrys had a brother named Gordon.
“Since the Depression hit mining areas worst of all it is quite possible that one or both men came from the Gwent Valleys. A photograph of four members of the crew taken before their fateful mission shows Sergeant Eyre third from left.
"It is therefore possible that the airman on the extreme right wearing the cap is Sergeant Weaver.
“Haisch was not to outlive his victims for very long. He died in a flying accident before the end of the war.”
The telephone directory for Newport and South-east Wales yields half a column of Weavers but only ten Eyres.
“Sergeant Weaver may have had a brother,” Mr Aston continued.
“In both men’s cases there must be living relatives.
“If any relatives, or anyone who knows anything about these brave you men would like to contact me on 01453 765043 or Aston.firstname.lastname@example.org “Somewhere in the depths of the North Sea their Stirling is entombed.
“I am in the process of putting together my files of RAF and Allied losses which will eventually be turned over to the records office or to the RAF Museum.”