22/23.10.1943 No. 77 Squadron Halifax II JD121 KN-O F/O. John S. Barber
Date: 22/23rd October 1943
Unit: No. 77 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Elvington, Yorkshire.
Location: Tietelsen, 9 KM N.E. Brakel, Germany.
Pilot: F/O. John Stuart Barber 131081 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Derick Waters Stribley 1605487 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Nav: Sgt. Roy Owen Hand 1446459 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Eric Raymond Price 134664 RAFVR Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ivor Melvyn Smith 1307049 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Pretsell 1567257 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: W/O II Harry Arthur Weber R/116719 RCAF Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 18.02 hrs. from RAF Elvington to attack the city of Kassel. 569 aircraft took part from various squadrons in what has been described as the most devastating attack on any German city since Hamburg in July.
Above: Sgt. John Pretsell Air Gunner for JD121 (courtesy Michael Pretsell)
A total of 26,782 family units (flats/apartments) were destroyed and a further 26,462 were damaged resulting in 63 per cent of the living accommodation in the city unusable and up to 120,000 people had to leave their homes.
Nearly 10,000 people are known to have been killed on the ground during this raid with a further 3,000 unaccounted for! Over 11,000 people were also injured.
Other properties destroyed were 155 industrial buildings, 78 public buildings, 38 schools, 25 churches, 16 police and military buildings and 11 hospitals.
The most useful part of this raid was the damage to the three Heinkel factories as these were at the time making the V1 flitting bombs. Also the railway system and its installations were severely hit.
The allies lost a total of 43 aircraft with the majority of losses attributed to the Luftwaffe Night-Fighters.
77 Squadron lost another crew on this operation:
Halifax II JB856 KN-G Flown by Fl/Lt. W.J.C. Needham taken PoW with three other crew, sadly three others were killed. One of those taken PoW, F/O. Douglas Bower, continued with his service career, retiring on the 6th January 1975 as Air Vice Marsha, being honoured with the OBE, CBE and AFC. He died on the 3rd October 2003.
JD121 is thought to have been another victim of the Nachtjäger and it crashed on Tietelsen as shown on map. Although no claims have been established for this loss.
JD121 Crew graves at Hanover (courtesy Michael Pretsell)
F/O. John Stuart Barber. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of Philip Stanley Barber and Iris A. S. Barber, of Notting Hill, London, England.
Sgt. Derick Waters Stribley. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Roy Owen Hand. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of Robert Benjamin and Violet Dorothy Hand, of Sutton, Surrey, England. Husband of Winifred Mabel Hand.
F/O. Eric Raymond Price. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?
Sgt. Ivor Melvyn Smith. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of Ivor and May Smith, of Phillipstown, New Tredegar, Monmouthshire, Wales.
Sgt. John Pretsell. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of John and Jane Pretsell, of Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. The grave inscription: ‘Your memory to us is a keepsake, with which we will never part’.
W/O II Harry Arthur Weber. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of George and Florence Weber, of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
Researched for Michael Pretsell relative of Sgt. John Pretsell and for all the crew surviving relatives. For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission.