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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.


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102 Squadron Crest
16/17.06.1944 No. 102 Squadron Halifax III LW192 DY-H Fl/Sgt. Eric F.M. Braddock

Operation: Sterkrade

Date: 16/17th June 1944

Unit: No. 102 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: LW192

Code: DY-H

Base: RAF Pocklington, Yorkshire.

Location: Buren, Netherlands.

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Eric Frederick Minshall Braddock 177675 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Enrico “Eric” William Zaccheo 177540 RAFVR Age 32. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Winston Alyerstone Reid 1800815 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Ronald Leslie Putt 1585983 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Owen Booker 1388994 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ernest Finch 1894312 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gerald Hadfield 1047949 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

At 23:00 hours on 16/17th June 1944 this crew took off from Pocklington on an operation to bomb the synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade. The weather was poor with thick cloud covering the target area and the markers from the Pathfinders. There was also the added hazard of a German beacon near Bocholt, only 30 miles from Sterkrade. 

Crew of LW192: Fl/Sgt. Eric Braddock front centre, Sgt. Ernest Finch back 3rd from left, Sgt. Enrico “Eric” Zaccheo 4th back from left.

The Halifax was picked up on German radar and intercepted by a night-fighter, possibly Fw. Hugo Fütscher (1) of NJG3 at 02:01 hours, and subsequently exploded at 02:03 hours - scattering debris from the Halifax between Bourmalsen(Gelderland) and Buren.

Interestingly a member of the Dutch underground movement buried the crew, with the people of Buren laying flowers at the funeral, to the displeasure of the occupying Germans.


Can you identify the others on these photo's? Fl/Sgt. Eric Braddock shown on right on first photo and on left of the other pilots photo.

A dreadful night for Bomber Command losing some 36 aircraft. 173 crew members being killed, 53 being made PoW and 9 evading capture. 102 Squadron was devastated by this operation, losing no less than 5 aircraft.

MZ292 DY-C Piloted by Fl/Sgt. James Kelso all seven crew killed
MZ301 DY-M Piloted by Sq/Ldr. David Fisher DFC. DFM. all seven crew killed
MZ642 DY-U Piloted by Sgt. Adam Barr. Himself and 4 other crew killed, 2 made PoW.
MZ652 DY-Z Piloted by F/O. Austin Maxwell all seven crew killed.
(1) This was the ninth kill for Fw. Hugo Fütscher (10 confirmed kills in total) before he was shot down on the 30/01st January 1945 by A/A fire near Huy during a ground attack sortie against road and rail targets in Belgium. He survived as a PoW. No further details available.

Burial details:

P/O. Eric Frederick Minshall Braddock. Bruren General Cemetery Collective grave 1-7. Son of Henry and Elsie Braddock (née Jones) of Norwood, London, England. Further information: Fl/Sgt. Eric Frederick Minshall Braddock RAFVR was the only son of Henry and Elsie Braddock. His parents had divorced and Eric’s father, a light bulb producer and electrician lived in Norwood, London while his mother, Elsie lived in Chadderton, Oldham, Lancashire, England..

Eric volunteered for the airforce, applying for his commission in early 1944, but his commission was “cut” while out on his last and final mission and he took off as Flight Sergeant and was killed as a Pilot Officer.

Eric Braddock with his fiancee 

NAAFI staff with Elsie Braddock in the middle.

Eric was remembered, as a young man who was full of life and energy and his mother, Elsie, a staff sergeant in the NAAFI, was devastated when he was killed. She always found his birthday each year particularly hard to bear and died in 1987 aged 85. Eric was engaged and after he was killed, his fiancée returned the ring to Elsie, but sadly it was to be stolen in a house burglary.

In 1956/7 the British Legion took Elsie, her niece and other relations over to visit the graves of the crew in Buren General Cemetery.

In the same cemetery the bodies of some German casualties were buried during the same period. When Elsie enquired as to the whereabouts of the German graves that were originally buried near the crews, she was told that she was mistaken and that they didn’t exist. However when she explained that she had a photo of their graves (shown above), she was told that they had been re-patriated to Germany.

Above L-R: Fl/Sgt. Eric Frederick Minshall Braddock, Sgt. Enrico William Zaccheo

Sgt. Enrico “Eric” William Zaccheo. Bruren General Cemetery Collective grave 1-7. Son of Enrico and May (née Wellard) of Standish, Gloucester, England. Further information: Sergeant Enrico “Eric” William Zaccheo's father Enrico originally came from Colmegna in Northern Italy, arriving in England in 1902. Enrico’s mother was from Gillingham in Kent and he was born in Nettley, South London in 1912, having two sisters born in 1905 and 1907 and then in 1921, a brother Francis was born, who also served in the RAF and survived the war. Enrico was known as Eric by his family and long-term girlfriend and worked with his brother as a printer prior to them both enlisting at the same time. Joined 102 Squadron serving as Flight Engineer.

Sgt. Winston Alyerstone Reid. Bruren General Cemetery Collective grave 1-7. Son of Mr and Mrs William Oscar Reid and husband of Helen Evelyn Reid of Peel, Isle of Man.

Sgt. Ronald Leslie Putt. Bruren General Cemetery Collective grave 1-7. Son of George H and Rosina F.Putt of Keyham, Devon, England.

Sgt. John Owen Booker. Bruren General Cemetery Collective grave 1-7. Son of Harriett Emma Wash of Sidcup, Kent, England.

Sgt. Ernest Finch. Bruren General Cemetery Collective grave 1-7. Son of William Henry and Maud Constance Finch of East Ham, Essex, England.

Sgt. Gerald Hadfield. Bruren General Cemetery Collective grave 1-7. Son of George and Jane Hadfield and husband of M.I. Hadfield of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England.

Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. With special thanks to Richard Van de Velde, Pam Zaccheo and the Zacchio family and Tracie Minshall-Jones.

Crew graves with insert, original grave marker

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.
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