Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1944, Sergeant Frederick Harold Habgood, the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, was executed by the Gestapo in the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in German-occupied France.
Three days earlier he had been one of a crew of seven who took off in a Lancaster bomber from the air base at North Killingholme near Grimsby. Their target was the industrial area of Stuttgart, but before they reached Stuttgart they were attacked by a German Messerschmitt over the Alsace region of France.
The plane crashed in a forest, killing one of the crew while another did not survive a parachute jump. Three others were taken prisoner and survived the war, while another escaped and found his way back to Britain with the help of the French Resistance. Sergeant Habgood, who was the aircraft’s bomber, had managed to get away from the crash site and hide on some nearby property, but on the 30th of July his hiding place was betrayed by a local woman. He was taken to the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp where he was hanged and cremated the following day.
In June of 1946, a British military court convened at Wuppertal and found five men guilty of the murder of Sergeant Habgood. Two men were hanged in October of that year, while the other three received prison sentences.
A year before his death Sergeant Habgood had been given a gift of a silver bracelet by his aunt, uncle and cousin, it was inscribed with his cousin’s name and his own along with his service number and R.A.F. wings, to mark the completion of his training. He had told his family in a letter a few days before his death that he wore it, so they assumed that when he was captured it had been stolen. In the summer of 2018, a young woman was watering the flowers at the site of the old concentration camp when she discovered the bracelet in the soil and ensured that it was returned to Sergeant Habgood’s family. He is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.
Frederick, from Wandsworth, was 21 years old.