Ronald Aaron Zahl
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, 434 (Bluenose) Squadron
Service number 908648
Died 29 September 1943
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany
‘TO LIVE IN HEARTS WE LEAVE BEHIND IS NOT TO DIE’
Ronald was born in 1921 in Cardiff, Wales to Harry and Jane née Lublinski and he had eight siblings, Hyman, Paul, Reva, Louis, Samuel, Ruth, Josephine and Ephraim. The family lived at 15 Edwards Terrace, Cardiff and their father was a concert variety agent. Ron’s father Harry predeceased him dying in 1928 and his older brother Hyman founded the Hyman Zahl Vaudeville Agency in 1937. Three of Ron’s brothers also served in the Forces in WW2.
The Jewish Chronicle reported in 1943 that Ron sent his mother a letter to be opened on the event of his death. In the letter he addresses and thanks in turn his mother and his brothers and sisters, and then wrote; ‘There is one more thing, dearest Mother, please do not grieve for me, for I have been trying to end this war with my little effort so that you, the Empire and Jewry may have a free and peaceful world to live in.’
Ron was the wireless operator on Halifax LK634 which departed RAF Tholthorpe on a night operation to Bochum. The aircraft was shot down by Hptm E. Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld killing five of the crew. Repatriation statements from the two survivors stated, ‘We were just turning southwest and about thirty miles of Münster when we were attacked by a night fighter. No one in the aircraft saw the fighter at all. No one even said a word about it. The aircraft was racked by canon shells from the rear turret to the pilot’s cockpit. The only part missed was the nose where Ron Earl and I were located. I asked Chet how badly we had been hit and his answer was, ‘abandon the aircraft’ and that was all he said. I immediately put on my parachute and turned to the escape which was directly under my seat. The the hatch jammed, and I was unable to move it. I took off my helmet which contained my oxygen mask so that I could get down on my hands and knees. Due the lack of oxygen I don’t remember anything after my chute opened. That is all I know about the attack. Ron Earl told me in England after our release from the POW-Camp when we met in England, that he had helped me to get the hatch open and that he pushed me out and left the aircraft half a second after me. Ron also stated that the aircraft was in a spin when he baled out.’
A/G, Wesley Glenn Bailey, RCAF, R/86191
A/G, Trevor Davies, 1339176
F/E, Norman Thomas Harris, 1653119
Pilot, Chetwin Hamre Popplewell, RCAF, J/16305
Ronald Arthur Earl, 1322260, POW Stalag Luft L6
Nav, Charles ‘Ted’ Frederic Kirk, RCAF, J/17740, POW Stalag Luft L3
On 1st October the dead were taken out of the wreckage and were all buried at Roman Catholic churchyard in Legden. After the war their graves were opened, and they were reinterred at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery near Kleve.