20/21.01.1944 No 434 Squadron Halifax V LL135 WL-R F/O. Brest
Date: 20th/21st January 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 434 Squadron (RCAF - Bluenose)
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Croft, Yorkshire
Location: Kienberg, Berlin, Germany
Pilot: F/O. Clarence Samuel Brest J/21331 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Robert Morgan R/57681 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Nav: P/O. W.M. Kipp J/20400 RCAF PoW No: 3315 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3)
Air/Bmr: P/O. James Snowsell J/23636 RCAF PoW No: 3325 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Hubert Doe 1316836 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Mike Gnius J/26616 RCAF Age 25. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Henry Bolton Hill 171887 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Croft at 16:20 hrs joining some 769 aircraft in the largest operation against Berlin of the war so far.
The German radar ship ’Togo’ stationed off the Dutch coast correctly plotted the bomber stream course as early as 17:09 hrs when they were still 160 km out over the North Sea, despite a diversionary raid to Kiel by some Mosquitoes.
Weather conditions were poor to start with, many of the night fighters decided not to attack at the early stages.
Once over Berlin, it was a different matter, although no moon the night was very clear with clouds at approx 12,000 ft - the searchlights picked up the bombers silhouetted in these ideal conditions. 35 allied aircraft fell victim to some of the attacking 100 twin-engine and 70 single engine night fighters. These numbers match the number of claims by the Luftwaffe.
Hit by 2nd - 7th Battery - Flakabteilung 437 4/211 and the 4th battery Eisenbahnflakabteilung 525 and a Nachtjäger - possibly Lt Paul Zorner 8./NJG 3 at 1931 hours (local). The aircraft Crashed in the locality Kienberg, 10 km north Nauen, NW of Berlin (Brandenburg) (information provided by John Jones).
434 Squadron lost 4 aircraft alone this night, the others:
Halifax V LK656 WL-C Flown by Fl/Sgt. F. Johnson injured with one other crew member after crew baled out near Driffield after serious damage to the rudders - aircraft crashed at 2359 hrs 5 miles WSW of Filey.
Halifax V LL141 WL-H Flown by F/O. James Thomas Clinkskill J/23522 RCAF - all 7 crew killed.
Halifax V LL179 WL-K Flown by Fl/Sgt. Gordon Charles Mould R/143768 RCAF from Ontario, Canada - killed with 3 other crew, 3 others taken PoW.
F/O. Clarence Samuel Brest. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 2.N.14-19. Born in June 1923, the son of Samuel and Olga Brest and husband of Marjorie Brest, of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Sgt. John Robert Morgan. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 2.N.14-19. Son of William and Phyllis Kathleen Morgan, of White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.
Sgt. Leslie Hubert Doe. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Collective grave 2.N.14-19. Son of Arthur Doe, and of Louisa Maud Doe, of Hamworthy, Poole, Dorsetshire, England.
F/O. Mike Gnius. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 2.M.13. Born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, March 1918, the son of Samuel and Annie Gnius, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
P/O. Henry Bolton Hill. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery. Grave 2.M.11. Son of Henry and Frances Hill, of Ballycanew, County Wexford, Irish Republic.
Page placed for Teresa Kindrachuk (née Gnius), great niece of F/O. Gnius who has carried out further research on him and the loss (we hope to add further details soon). Thanks to John Jones for the information regarding the aircraft loss. Page dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown below.