142 Squadron Wellington III DF550 Sq/Ldr. Donald B. Barnard DFC
Date: 16-17th September 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 142 Squadron (motto: 'Determination')
Type: Wellington III
Base: RAF Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Location: La Neuville, France
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Donald Beausire Barnard DFC. 40352 RAF Evaded
Obs: P/O. Raymond Edwin Glensor NZ/403442 RNAF Evaded
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Albert Edward Buckell 759288 RAFVR PoW No. 27125 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ralph Forster 1053891 RAFVR Evaded
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Howard Matthew James 13817671 RAFVR PoW No. 27106 Camp: Stalag Lamsdorf
REASON FOR LOSS:
369 aircraft including many from training units taking part to bomb the Krupps works at Essen. Although it is reported at the majority of the bombing was scattered, this was described as the most successful on what was known to be a difficult target.
DF550 took off at 20:44 hrs. They dropped their bombs amidst particularly heavy flack concentration and turned to head for home. The route back took them near Cologne such that an allied plane in front was trapped in a cone of searchlights and shot out of the sky in a burning heap; a fate Barnard said would otherwise have been theirs were they ahead.
They were shot up by a night fighter, Lt. Heinz Struning of 8/NJG2 at 23:34 hrs. on a line between Maastricht and Brussels at a height of 9,000ft. Dived steeply to 7,000ft to escape. Flew on and was hit by flak over St. Omer Pas de Calais about 23:45. The pilot instructed the crew to abandon at 3,000ft. Sq/Ldr. Barnard decided to try to remain aloft. Miraculously, however, a huge field opened ahead and Sq/Ldr. Barnard managed to force-land near La Neuville.
Above: DF550 wreckage (courtesy Monsiew Lenglet - via Joss Leclercq)
Left: Lt. Heinz Strüning. (courtesy Kracker Archives). Further details on Strüning.
3 large fires with a further 80 medium-sized fires with 8 industrial and 6 transport premises being hit. The Krupps works were also damaged, hit by 15 high explosive bombs - further damage was caused when one of the allied aircraft crashed into the target full of incendiary bombs - 47 people reported killed on the ground with a further 92 suffering various degrees of injuries. The scattered bombing also hit Bochum causing 50 fires with a reported 13 killed. The towns of Herne and Cochem were also hit.
142 squadron lost 3 aircraft on this operation, the others:
Wellington IV Z1380 QT-A Flown by 20 year old, Fl/Sgt. Jack Hubert Edward Marriott 1186031 RAFVR - killed with all 4 other crew.
Wellington IV Z1480 Flown by P/O. Anthony Henry Gauvain Sandon 116089 RAFVR - killed with all 4 other crew.
The following information is courtesy of The Logbook Project, Tricia Glensor, daughter of P/O. Glensor (see credits below):
Barnard spent the night in a nearby wooded area receiving assistance from a nervous French farmer the next morning. He spent the second night in a barn belonging to another Frenchman but the next day found himself pursued by a German search party. Incredibly, Barnard avoided 25 soldiers, one of whom eventually got to within 4 feet of his hiding spot in a hedgerow.
Barnard spent the third night in the same barn and on day 4, was presented with the German poster announcing Barnard and crew as fugitives to the surrounding French countryside. With the assistance of more locals, Barnard moved on and by 20th September arrived at a renowned underground safe-house belonging to Norbert Fillerin.
As part of an escape route called Pat O’Leary line, Norbert, his wife Marguerite, and their three children Monique, Geneviève, and Gabriel provided safe passage to many downed airmen during the war. Although they would all survive the war, Norbert was subsequently arrested and horribly tortured by the Gestapo. Marguerite continued in her husband’s absence until she too was arrested and sentenced to death. With their parents captured, Geneviève and Monique continued to shelter fugitive airmen.
Three nights earlier, as their crippled plane fell to earth, navigator, Raymond Glensor had been the first to jump following Sq/Ldr. Barnard’s order to bail out. Glensor recalled his initial free fall as being 'a pleasant sensation'. He was jarred back to reality when his knee became wrapped in the parachute shrouds injuring his leg and back upon landing. Having been similarly assisted by French farmers, Glensor was already at the Fillerin house when Barnard arrived. Theirs was a happy reunion joined 3 days later by front gunner Sgt. Ralph Forster. The other two crew members, Sgt.'s Buckell and James, were picked up by the Germans and spent the war’s duration as PoW.
For Barnard, Glensor and Forster, the next 3 months would be a series of cat and mouse capers with forged identity papers, traveling by truck, car, bus, tram, bicycle, and tube as they journeyed south through France and then on foot into Spain and eventually by bus to Gibraltar. Barnard and Glensor finally arrived in the UK on 27th January 1943 aboard the slowest ship in a 14 vessel convoy under constant threat of German U Boat attack.
Typical of his generation, Glensor elected to retrain as a pilot in Canada and returned to active duty flying bombing missions over Germany, finishing the war as a squadron leader. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross with a citation noting 'exemplary determination and gallantry'.
Barnard was awarded the DFC whilst missing in action. Upon return he was posted to test Spitfires, flying in excess of 1,000 individual aircraft. Barnard then moved to the Far East dropping supplies in the treacherous skies of the Burma theatre. At war’s end, disapproving of the delay in recovering the emaciated allied POWs, he took an aircraft without authority. 25 prisoners were recovered from Bangkok to Rangoon. Ironically, the RAF’s PoW airlift commenced the day after Barnard’s humanitarian flight.
After a full Court Martial, he was dismissed from the RAF. He flew civilian aircraft after the war in Australia and in Britain, joining No. 2 Civil Anti Aircraft Cooperation Unit in Norfolk, 1953. His 18-year long flying career ended in 1955. Later, retiring to East Sussex, he sadly developed cancer and died in 1997 aged 79.
The crew of Barnard, Glensor, Buckell, Forster, and James as well as the Fillerin family, are remembered for their incredible sacrifice and stoic service. Donald Barnard, from the humble district of Choiseul in St. Lucia, leaves a phenomenal legacy of skilled piloting and selfless service. He is a true St. Lucian hero who remains completely anonymous locally. Thankfully his story has been captured in a fascinating book by Colin Pateman and Oliver Brock called Unwanted Hero (See details below).
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Kracker Archives, John Jones, Nick Devaux, Lars McKie, The Logbook Project, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:
Telling Lies. Tricia Glensor (Author) Published by ReadHowYouWant, 2012
ISBN 10: 1459636406ISBN 13: 9781459636408
Revaluation Books, Exeter, United Kingdom
Against the background of paranoia, fear, and betrayal that is German-occupied France in 1942, a defiant French family decide to help Paul, a downed New Zealand airman. If they are to hide him, smuggle him to safety, and survive, they must weave a web of lies. The final act of daring and deceit falls to fifteen-year-old Simone. If she accepts the ultimate challenge - to get the airman across Occupied France to safety - she must use her wits as never before. With spies at every corner, this is a race against time and there will be no second chances. The difference between success and failure is one of life or death.
Unwanted Hero. Colin A. Pateman (Author), Clutton-Brock Clutton-Brock by Colin A. Pateman (Author), Clutton-Brock Clutton-Brock
ISBN-13 : 978-1781550793
Publisher: Fonthill Media Ltd; First Edition (20 Sept. 2012)
Donald Barnard came to England from St Lucia to join the RAF as a bomber pilot. On his second tour of operations, he was shot down over northern France in September 1942. He was rewarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross whilst missing in action. Donald evaded capture; assisted to Spain by an escape network, and later compiled a detailed diary of his entire evasion exploits. Posted to test fly Spitfires, flying in excess of 1,000 individual aircraft. Barnard then moved to the Far East supply dropping in 1945. In Burma disapproving of the delay in recovering the emaciated allied POWs, he decided to take an aircraft without authority. 25 prisoners were recovered from Bangkok to Rangoon. After a full Court Martial, he was dismissed from the RAF. He flew civilian aircraft after the war in Australia and in Britain, joining No.2 Civil Anti Aircraft Co-operation Unit in Norfolk, 1953. Flying ended for him in 1955, and he died in 1997 at the age of 79. Rarely has the opportunity been available to reproduce from a diary such a personal account of evasion. A bomber and Spitfire pilot, Court Martialled for the rescue of Japanese-held emaciated allied prisoners of war, creates a unique career story supported by French resistance sources' original photographs.