06.08.1944 No. 51 Squadron Halifax III LW546 MH-R Fl/Lt. Brown
Date: 06th August 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 51 Squadron (4 Group)
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Snaith, Yorkshire
Location: Lost - no trace
Pilot: Fl/Lt. George Brown NZ/413374 RNZAF Age 25. Missing - believed killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. William Leonard Healey 1876797 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed
Nav: F/O. Sidney Harry Coleman 147097 RAFVR Age 30. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: P/O. Aubrey Francis Cowling 176488 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Edgar Frederick Jones AUS/423786 RAAF Age 32. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ernest William Donkin 542206 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Baptist 3040779 RAFVR Age 19. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Snaith at 19:10 hrs. 26 others from the squadron talking part in an operation totalling 62 aircraft to bomb the small rail yards at Hazebrouck.
Weather: Thick fog, cloud lifting 06:30 hrs breaking and becoming fine at midday. Visibility fog at first, lifting 08:00 hrs. and becoming very good. Deteriorating and becoming poor 21:00 hrs. Wind: ENE - NNE light, becoming ESE 3-10 mph.
Extract from the Squadron operation Book for this day:
'Small amount of cloud encountered en route out with considerable industrial haze in the target area, thinning out at about 8,000 ft. Most crews were able to identify the target visually and all but three heard the master bomber. His first instructions were to undershoot the red target indicators by 2 seconds., then to aim 200 yards to starboard of the yellow target indicators. Further yellow target indicators were dropped and these were reported both by the master bomber and by crews to be have been on the aiming point. Crews reported many bomb bursts in the area of the target indicators and some sticks were seen to be undershooting at one point in the attack. On the whole it was thought to have been a fairly good attack.
Flares were seen in the target area after leaving. Accurate predicted flak from possible 12 guns in the Saint-Omer area also some light flak from Dunkirk and Gravelines.
4 Aircraft sustained minot damage. 1 failed to return and reported as missing.'
Painting of Halifax LW546 Commissioned by Phil Brown and published here with his permission.
Some reports state that the crew were requesting for a route home and apparently transmitted after leaving the French coast over Calais. A crew member from another aircraft reported that he has seen red verey lights in the Channel but we are unable to confirm this or the source.
(1) The family also lost his younger brother, Sub/Lt. John Atkinson Brown RNZNR. Lost flying a Sea Hurricane Z4450 on the 10th August 1943 whilst with 759 Squadron during a deck landing training exercise. The other brother Robert Ramsay Brown returned to New Zealand at the request of his father, having lost two sons.
Fl/Lt. George Brown. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 262. Born on the 02nd May 1919 at Piopie, the son of George and Jane Brown (née Atkinson), of Carterton, Wellington, New Zealand. Worked in the Bank of New Zealand as a clerk prior to service. Enlisted on the 15th June 1941 at Levin. A total of 1225 flying hours logged.
Sgt. William Leonard Healey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 231. Son of Albert Edward and Annie Louisa Healey, of Tottenham, Middlesex, England.
F/O. Sidney Harry Coleman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 205. Son of Harry and Isabell Coleman and husband of Winifred Mary Coleman, of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England.
P/O. Aubrey Francis Cowling. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 210. Understood to be from St. Eval, Cornwall, England. No further details - are you able to contribute?
Fl/Sgt. Edgar Frederick Jones. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 260. Born on the 02nd October 1911 at Pantyffynnon, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the son of William and Mary Ann Jones and husband of Olga Isolene Jones, of 78 Rosemeath Avenue, Kingsgrove, New South Wales, Australia. Enlisted in Sydney, Australia. A commercial traveller prior to service.
Fl/Sgt. Ernest William Donkin. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 217. Born at 71 Blenheim Terrace, Hull, the son of Herbert and Emma Isabel Donkin, of Hull, England.
Sgt. Robert Baptist. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 217. Son of Robert and Grace Baptist, of Gateshead, Co. Durham, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, also to Phil Brown relative of Fl/Sgt. Ernest William Donkin. To Julie Macdonald and Phil Dunstan-Brown - relatives of the pilot, Fl/Lt. George Brown. Other sources as quoted below: