AR banner
search tips advanced search

Info LogoAdd to or correct this story with a few clicks.
Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via the AddInfo button, or send us email from the Helpdesk.
40 Squadron Crest
10/11.04.1941 No. 40 Squadron Wellington Ic R1493 BL-P Fl/Lt. F.A. Bowler

Operation: Mérignac

Date: 10/11th April 1941 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: R1493

Code: BL-P

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.


Burial details:

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.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
Click any image to enlarge it
Links in this story were correct at the time of writing, but can change.
Please tell us via Helpdesk of any that no longer work.

Do you have more information or corrections to this story? Use our AddInfo facility

Readers Interested In Further Reading:
More personal histories and associated material
Show Research Material

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon
All site material (except as noted elsewhere) is owned or managed by Aircrew Remembered and should not be used without prior permission.
© Aircrew Remembered 2012 - 2017
Last Modified: 29 November 2015, 19:09

Monitor Additions/Changes?Click to be informed of changes to this page. Create account for first monitor only, thereafter very fast. Click to close without creating monitor