Warrant Officer K Baks turns out to be Flight Sergeant F.J. Golightly
Both during and after the war, the correct identification of aircraft crew members who had been shot down was sometimes a complicated task for both the German and the allied troops.
One such case is that of the officially still listed as missing Flight Sergeant Frederick James Golightly from Liverpool.
He served as Air Gunner aboard the Vickers Wellington R1349 of 12 Operational Training Unit which was on its way to Bremen on 26 June 1942. However at half past two that night the aircraft was attacked and shot down by Lieutenant R. Denzel of 2nd Night Fighter Group. The Wellington crashed in the Wadden Sea at 5km south-east of De Kooy, Texel.
All 5 crewmembers were killed. The bodies of the Observer, Wireless operator and Bomb aimer were recovered two days later by the lifeboat Dorus Rijkers from Den Helder, which was built in 1923 by Roland Werf at Hemelingen near Bremen! They were buried at the Huisduinen cemetery in Den Helder.
On 1 July the body of the pilot was washed ashore at De Kooy, he too was buried in Den Helder.
After the war the four were buried at the British Military Cemetery Bergen op Zoom in the graves 31.B.6, 31.B.7, 31.B.8 and 32.B.4 respectively. The body of Sergeant Golighlty was not found.
GRAVES Concentration Report Form, source CWGC.
However on 20 July two decomposed bodies of two English airmen were found on the coast at Wijnaldum and Sexbierum.
One was a human torso dressed in a dark tunic with the letters R.A.F. on the upper chest.
The second one was a tall person, he was estimated to be 1.75 metres tall, the head and both hands were missing. He was dressed in grey overall including tunic and grey jumper, on the collar of the tunic the letter A.G. could be read and on the sleeve sergeants stripes. Six photos were found on the body with some text on them.
On 1 photo it said 446100 AC 2 K. Baks, 9 Blackwood, Liverpool. It was assumed by probably the Dutch and German authorities that the unknown person was a certain K. Baks and he was buried as such on the Dutch Reformed Cemetery of Pietersbierum, where he is still buried as an unknown person.
The photos were taken by Oberartzt Dr Unger from Fliegerhorst Leeuwarden and what happened to them after that is unknown. A fountain pen found on the body was sent to the Hafenuberwachungstelle at Harlingen.
When, after the liberation, the English Graves Service checked the details of the grave of Warrant Officer K. Baks, it appeared that nobody with these details was missing. And it became as yet an unknown Sergeant.
During our many visits to the municipal archives throughout the Netherlands, we also came across the data in the municipal archives of the municipality of Barradeel. In itself it seemed an impossible task to find a name for this unknown Sergeant, but with the guideline of the date of arrival and a possible link to Liverpool, I went to work on the sites of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission and the loss register of Study Group Air War 1939-145, to find out which RAF personnel who were still listed as missing could qualify for this, and came to the conclusion that three missing persons could qualify:
Sergeant/Air Gunner Thomas Gower Gunn, 405 Squadron RAF, missing since 30-6-1942 and from Liverpool. However his plane a Halifax W7714 had crashed near Deersum and Sybrandaburen, 13km south/south/west of Leeuwarden, so he was not considered.
Sergeant/Bomb Aimer Alan Danby, 405 Squadron RAF, missing since 27-6-1942, also from Liverpool, his plane a Halifax W1175 had crashed in the North Sea 25km west of Den Helder.
Flight Sergeant/ Air Gunner, Frederick James Golighlty, 12 Operational Training Unit RAF, missing since 26-7-1942, also from Liverpool, his aircraft a Wellington R1349, crashed in the Waddenzee 5km south-east of De Kooy.
With this information and that on the back of the photos, it soon became clear that one person could qualify. Flight-Sergeant Frederick James Golightly from Garston, Liverpool. Because from the description on the pictures it appeared that there had to be a connection:
No.1 Miss W. Jolly, 113 Charleston, Garston Liverpool, Alice Berg Segmonds, Sungreal Stores, 8 Southampton Road W.B.1 London, taken in front of a church entrance.
No.2 of a small boy of about 1 year o Mlnell Lec Baby John
No.3 446100 A.C.2 K. Baks 9 Blackwood, Liverpool
No.4 Miss M. Lucking, 6 Belldan, Allerster
No.5 Mrs Dunn Norman, 15 condor Close, Gladstone, Liverpool 119. Joster St Hendon N.W.4 Miss D. Fricke
No.6 a soldier sitting shining a shoe.
However, after the war it appeared that they had only looked for the name A.C. K. Baks and not for anyone with any connection to the name or location. Correspondence from 1947, shows that people were even thinking about whether K. Baks might have been a Dutch soldier, possibly in English service, not bad considering the surname, but this turned out not to be the case either.
Archive document Gemeentepolitie Barradeel (source: Gemeentearchief Barradeel).
I put a request on the facebook page Garston Memories Past & Present and got a response from Rebecca Black who did a lot of local research and was willing to help me.
First she came up with a piece from the local paper with a picture of Flight Sergeant Golightly and a message about he being missing in June 1942.
She also found a Golighlty family who had lived in Dulverton Road, Aigburth, both father and son were called Frderick James, this son was often called Erik.
She was also able to find out the details of some of the names of the people mentioned on photographs.
1. Miss W. Jolly, 113 Charleston Garston, Liverpool appeared in the 1939 Register, she indeed appeared to have lived at that address and had married George Birkenhead in 1944.
2. Due to presumably wrongly noted data on the seawater damaged photos, nothing could be traced with these data.
3. 446100 A.C.2 K.Baks, 9 Blackwood, Liverpool. At first it was thought that it might be Banks, but on investigation it turned out to be a Dutchman, Cornelis Baks married in Liverpool in 1943 to Mary Rowlands living at 14 Thomas Street in Garston.
4. Miss M Lucking, 6 Belldan,Allester, could not be traced although it is suspected that Allester, Allerton must also be a suburb of Liverpool.
5. Mrs Dunn Norman, 15 Condor close, Gladstone, Liverpool, she had a hairdressing salon in Garston.
6. The shoe-shine soldier might have been Flight Sergeant Golightly.
Unfortunately this cannot be determined as it is not known exactly what happened to the pictures. If the Germans indeed sent them to the Red Cross, I could not forward them because there was no name or address known.
All in all it appears that there must have been a connection with Flight Sergeant Golightly because the people on the photos appear in a number of cases to come from the same neighbourhood as the missing sergeant.
Frederick was a member of the Liverpool and Distric area club and had received his pilot's licence on 17-2-1939.
There is however a problem to come to a 100% identification that it is indeed the missing Flight Sergeant.
And the known problem that unfortunately no DNA profile will be taken, especially because the head was missing, and there are no teeth data to compare with those of Flight Sergeant Golighlty, so only DNA could indicate that it is indeed Frederick Golighlty, however, the Commonwealth War Grave Commission does not open war graves, so grave 28.2 on the Reformed Cemetery in Pietersbierum will always remain the grave of A Sergeant Royal Air Force 20th July 1942.
With thanks to L. Mensink, Rebecca Black
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Philip Reinders, 2016