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The Final Flight of Hudson FK790


"Look for me by moonlight

Watch for me by moonlight

I'll come to thee by moonlight

Though hell should bar the way"

Alfred Noyes - "The Highwayman"


On the night of 5/6th July 1944, Hudson FK790 of 161 Special Duties Squadron, accelerated down the runway, at Tempsford in Bedfordshire, and took off into a bright, moonlit sky. The intended destination was Nijkerk in Holland. On board the aircraft the crew were: Flt. Lt. Menzies (Pilot), F./O. Bunney (Navigator), Sgt. Withers (Wireless Operator) and Sgt. Eliot (Air Gunner). Also on board were four passengers, Dutch agents, who were to be dropped into occupied Holland to team up with local resistance groups and carry out their alloted tasks. These four were, Peter Kwint, Jan Bockma, Pleun Verhoef and Johannes Walter. Little did those on board know that this was to be their final flight. No communications were received from the aircraft after take off and the following day (6th July 1944) it was logged as missing.

The course that the aircraft would have flown would have taken it from Tempsford, out over the coast at Aldeburgh and across the North Sea (at low level to avoid German radar), then turning between the Friesian Islands of Terschelling and Texel to continue on southwards to Nijkerk; the destination was never reached.

Over the past years during my research I have come across various theories as to why the aircraft went missing: collision with the dyke, as they would have been flying at extremely low level; being shot down by anti-aicraft fire and, of course, nightfighter action. The fate of FK790 has been in doubt for fifty-seven years now the final moments of that fateful flight can be told

In April 2001 I posted a request on an Internet site asking for information about the night of 5/6th July 1944 and the missing Hudson; of the replies I received one stood out from the rest. Huub van Sabben wrote "The Makkum-case has had my special attention for many years...". I immediately replied, giving details of the flimsy information that I had. It was this reply from Huub that, within 10 days, led to the finding of the German air gunner who shot down FK790.

Huub managed to conduct a telephone interview with the former air gunner which, whilst enlightening, was not really conclusive. That was until the interview took an unexpected turn towards the end.

The German, (I will call him Herr G, to respect his request to remain anonymous) was, at first, reluctant to talk. Eventually he gave a description of the night's events. He remembered being held in readiness on board his aircraft, at Leeuwarden, when the call to intercept a "Tommy" approaching from the North came through. He then explained that they had intercepted the aircraft and, by use of the upward firing cannons, shot the aircraft down.

It was at this point, with the conversation apparently drawing to a close, Herr G. instructed Huub not to hang up as he had more to tell. Did Huub know about the secret agents on board? Up to this point no mention of agents had been made. Herr G. went on to tell how he and the other two crew members of the Messerschmidt had been in trouble when they got back. Instructions had been issued, although not received by Herr G. or his fellow crew members, that the approaching aircraft was NOT to be shot down until after the agents were dropped. Herr G. said "We should have followed the aircraft until the agents were dropped. As we were expecting the aircraft the agents would have been arrested at the DZ...".

The mystery of the disappearance of Hudson FK790 has been solved except for one small point. How did the Germans know the aircraft was coming?


Home 101 Squadron 161 Squadron

Tempsford History FK790 Crew FK790 Agents

FK790 Final Flight FK790 Recovery Monument at Exmorra

Kazematten Museum Links & further reading Dutch Remembrance

Updated Saturday, July 4, 2009