Zapfe, Merton Earl

Personal Information

Rank F/S
Forename(s) Merton Earl
Surname Zapfe
Gender M
Age 20
Date of Death 24-05-1943
Next of Kin Son of William Peter Zapfe and Mabel Anna Zapfe (née Gray), of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Aircraft Information

Aircraft Handley Page Halifax II
Serial Number HR836
Markings MH-

Memorial Information

Burial/Memorial Country Netherlands
Burial/Memorial Place Oegstgeest Protestant Churchyard
Grave Reference Grave 10.

IBCC Memorial Information

Phase 2
Panel Number 270

Enlistment Information

Service Number R/139842
Service Royal Canadian Air Force
Group 4
Squadron 51
Trade Air Gunner
Country of Origin Canada

Other Memorials

Location Zapfe Lake, Saskatchewan
Country Canada
Memorial Type Lake
Memorial Text
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Location RAF Snaith Memorial Gardens, Pollington, East Yorkshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Inscribed Marble Monument, Bench & Metal Plaques
Memorial Text In memory of the airmen of R.A.F. 51 Sqn. (687) and 150 Sqn. (205) between 1941 - 1945
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Location Village Hall, Pollington, East Yorkshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Inscribed Metal Plaque on external wall
Memorial Text 51 Sqn RAF Snaith Oct 1942 - Apr 1945
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Location St. John the Baptist Church, Pollington, East Yorkshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Sqn Crest & Roll of Honour
Memorial Text 51 Sqn Roll of Honour
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Location RAF Snaith Memorial Gardens, Pollington, East Yorkshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Inscribed Marble Monument, Multiple Inscribed Metal Plaques, Propeller Unit
Memorial Text In memory of the 687 airmen of 51 Sqn, 4 Gp, Bomber Command who lost their lives flying Halifax bombers Mks 2 and 3 at RAF Snaith between October 1942 and April 1945
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Location Stn Church, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Roll of Honour in Wooden Case
Memorial Text Roll of Honour of 51 Sqn
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Location Grounds of Selby Abbey, Selby, North Yorkshire
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Inscribed Memorial Stone
Memorial Text 51 Sqn RAF. In proud and undying memory of all ranks killed or missing 1939 - 1945
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Miscellaneous Information

Born 13 January 1923 in Hanna, Alberta, Canada. They all lived at 326-10th Street, Saskatoon and he had three brothers and a young sister, Audrey Arlene. His father was an engineer with C.N.R. and born in Zurich, Ontario and his mother Mabel was born in Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. Merton’s schooling was at Buena Vista School 1929 - 1937 and then the Nutana Collegiate 1937-1941. He worked for The Hudson Bay Company as manager for the fruit department and was then transferred as a Stockman in the grocery department. He worked there from 1941 onwards. He enjoyed playing Rugby, Basketball, Tennis and Golf.
Merton enlisted 26 November 1941 and embarked from Canada on 27 October 1942 after completing his early training. He reached 3 PRC on 5 November 1942, 10 OTU on 8 April 1942, 1658 CU 13 April 1943 and 51 Squadron on 15 May 1943. He was killed barely a week later.
Just two months earlier on 23 March 1943, Merton’s brother F/O Willard Christian Zapfe was also lost when flying with 59 Squadron. He was navigator in a Flying Fortress on a routine anti-u-Boat patrol in the Bay of Biscay when attacked by enemy aircraft on their return journey. None of the crew were ever found. Willard’s name is therefore on the Runnymede memorial

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The National Archives

Fellow Servicemen

Last Operation Information

Start Date 23-05-1943
End Date 24-05-1943
Takeoff Station Snaith
Day/Night Raid Night (78% moon)
Operation Dortmund. 826 aircraft- the largest since the 1000 bomber raids. 38 aircraft Lost (4.6%). PFF met with clear conditions and marked the target accurately, leading to a good raid. Much devastation was wreaked across large parts of the city. In particular the Hoesch steelworks were put out of action. 624 were killed. This was the last sizeable raid on Dortmund for exactly one year.
Reason for Loss Shot down by a night-fighter and crashed near Oegstgeest, Holland

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Casualty Pack

IBCC is delighted to introduce a unique facility to link the Losses Database to the relevant RAF Casualty Pack on the National Archives website. This project is the result of on-going collaboration between IBCC, the MOD Records Office and National Archives, Kew. This document describes what Casualty Packs are, when they were created, the process of making them available to the public and then goes on to describe the process by which you can view the contents of the packs. Casualty Packs (CPs) were created by the RAF whenever there was serious injury or loss of life associated with operational activity within the RAF. This includes operational flying losses, enemy action due to air raids, road accidents either on station or even off-station if they involved RAF vehicles. Deaths due to natural causes in service or accidents that did not involve RAF vehicles did not generally give rise to a CP.

CPs were originally given a unique reference number by the RAF. Each begins with the letter ‘P’ and is followed by six digits, then an oblique (forward slash) and the finally the year in which the incident took place- for example P396154/42.

The CPs are in the process of being made available to the general public as they are passed from the MOD Records Office, Portsmouth to National Archives, Kew. This process requires some rework to the files which is very time consuming, so the process of making them all available to National Archives will take several years. They are being made available in increasing date order.

Once CPs arrive at National Archives they are assigned a unique AIR81 number, so each CP has both a P-number and an AIR81 number. Both are searchable on the National Archives website under ‘Search the catalogue’ and both are included on the IBCC website.

The AIR81 reference on the IBCC website is a link to the file on the National Archives website. When you click on it, the relevant page will open in a new tab on your browser.

There is currently no plan to digitise AIR81 files, partly because they are fragile and partly because the information they contain can at times be sensitive, even harrowing, since they may contain exhumation reports and even photographs of corpses. Family members wishing to read the AIR81 files relating to their ancestors are advised to exercise caution and be guided by National Archives warnings where appropriate.

There are two means for accessing AIR81 files- to attend in person or to order a copy by post.

To attend in person, the attendee should first create a Reader’s Ticket. This can be done online by following this link: Then click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and click Order in Advance. Enter your Reader’s Ticket number and state the date on which you intend to visit. National Archives will have the file ready for you when you arrive, saving you time. When you visit Kew, you must quote the Reader’s Ticket number and take along two forms of ID- one bearing your signature and one bearing your address. When you view the files, you are permitted to take photographs of each page, should you wish.

Alternatively, if you wish to order a copy by post, please be aware that there is a charge for this service based on the number of pages in the file. Click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and then click Request a Copy. There is an £8.40 charge for National Archives staff to access the file and give you a quotation for the copying service. The process takes around 24 days to complete and can be expensive.

IBCC wishes to thank the staff at the MOD Records Office and National Archives for their engagement and assistance in making this facility available to our website users.