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