10/11.04.1941 No. 40 Squadron Wellington Ic R1493 BL-P Fl/Lt. F.A. Bowler
Date: 10/11th April 1941 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 40 Squadron
Type: Wellington Ic
Base: RAF Alconbury
Location: English Channel
Pilot: Fl/Lt. F.A. Bowler 42482 RAFVR Pow No: 573 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Pilot 2: Fl/Lt. Anthony Barclay Trench 88213 RAFVR Pow No: 587 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria (1)
Obs: Fl/Lt. Leonard Stewart Dunley NZ/40934 RNZAF Pow No: 1348 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward A. Jewson 910061 RAFVR Pow No: 603 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. E. Spencer 945533 RAFVR Pow No: 614 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Air/Gnr: P/O. John Peter Leslie Branson 72436 RAFVR Age 27. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
The German naval base at Bacalan had been the main target in this area on previous occasions but the Air Ministry decided that the Luftwaffe base at Mérignac would be a far more important target. 11 Wellingtons from the squadron attacked the airbase causing much damage - with two hangars destroyed along with several aircraft parked on the ground. Others (25 x Wellingtons 12 x Blenheims and 5 x Manchesters) attacked other targets including the Gneisenau which was hit by 4 bombs. Some 50 Germans were killed during the operation with 90 others injured.
Mérignac Luftwaffe Airbase
The Gneisenau had already been attacked by Coastal Command 22 Squadron Blenheims 4 days previously on the 6th April, when F/O. Kenneth Campbell
was awarded a posthumous VC.
Wellington R1493 was the only casualty of the operation which ditched in the English Channel - all but the rear gunner survived.
(1) Pilot, Fl/Lt. Anthony Barclay Trench lost his brother, Fl/Lt. Pat Trench with 7 Squadron - flying a Stirling I R9270 MG-T in March 1943, the 7 crew also lost their lives.
P/O. John Peter Leslie Branson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 31. Son of Frank Young Branson, and of Dorothy Lilian Branson, of Hounslow, Middlesex, England.
For further details our thanks to the sources shown below. But we welcome contact from any relatives for any additional information.