11/12.11.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II LW321 EY-T Fl/Sgt. Berry
Date: 11/12th November 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Location: La Brosse, Droue, France.
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Alan Berry 658784 RAF Age 24. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Hubert Charles Horne 641601 RAF Age ? Killed
Nav: Sgt. Leslie Austin 1516660 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. John Robert Cowen 1555819 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gerald Norman Cox 1230240 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (1)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Edward Taylor 1606590 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Herbert Barkwell R/163850 RCAF Age 19. Killed (3)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 18.02 hrs from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire to bomb the marshalling yards and railway installations on the main coastal line to Italy. 134 aircraft took part in what was a very disappointing raid.
The night was clear and the targets marked accurately by the pathfinders but most of the bombing completely missed the target and hit the middle class suburbs killing 39 local people in the village of La Bocca.
The French at first were thrilled to see the RAF overhead but local newspapers reported them afterwards as pure savages and the raid was nothing but murder for British Glory - too much like a sport!
A total of 5 aircraft were lost on this raid with the loss of 17 aircrew killed and a further 6 being made p.o.w's.
Halifax LW321 was shot down by Hptm. Helmut Bergmann (2) of 8./NJG4 2 km. South west of Droue west of Chateaudun with combat taking place at 4,000 mtrs at 01.00 hrs. on the homeward bound trip.
(1) Sgt. Gerald Norman Cox was a former pupil of Moseley Grammar school
(Now secondary/grammar school). We are working very closely with the school's historians to remember all the ex pupils who died whilst serving with the RAF and recorded on the school memorial.
(2) This was the 16th kill for Hptm. Bergmann - he went on to claim a total of 34 kills before he was killed on the 6/7th August 1944 when he was shot down by Fl/Lt. John Surman in a Mosquito MM449 from 604 squadron.
(3) Barkwell Bay in Saskatchewan is named after Sgt. Barkwell
Fl/Sgt. Alan Berry. St. Desir War Cemetery. Joint Grave VII.A. 8-9. Son of John and Jane Berry, of Whitefield, Lancashire, England. Husband of Rita Elizabeth Berry, of Whitefield, England.
Sgt. George Hubert Charles Horne. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 8. No further details as yet.
Sgt. Leslie Austin. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 4. Son of Thomas James Austin and Florence Elsie Austin, of Durham, England.
Sgt. John Robert Cowen. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 7. Son of Nicholas Moore Cowen and Louisa Cowen. Husband of Sarah Elizabeth Cowen, of Whalley Range, Manchester, England.
Sgt. Gerald Norman Cox. St. Desir War Cemetery. Joint Grave VII.A. 8-9. Son of Arthur and Mary Elizabeth Cox, of King's Heath, Birmingham, England.
Sgt. John Edward Taylor. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 13. Son of Howard and Kathleen Taylor, of Holcombe, Somerset, England.
Sgt. John Herbert Barkwell. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 6. Son of Roy L. and Helen L. Barkwell, of Isham, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Keith Townsend historian of Moseley Secondary/Grammar school memorial records, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 4, 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", Commonwealth War Graves Commission.