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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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78 Squadron Crest
13/14.05.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II DT777 EY-T Sgt. G.E. Clay

Operation: Borchum

Date: 13/14th May 1943

Unit: No. 78 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: DT777

Code: EY-T

Base: RAF Linton-On-Ouse, North Yorkshire

Location: Koln, Germany

Pilot: Sgt. (Later W/O) G.E. Clay RAFVR PoW No: 1173 Camp: L1-Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Leslie Jakes 930627 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: Sgt. (Later W/O) John Francis O’Reilly 1269442 RAFVR PoW No: 1263 Camp: L4-Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria

Air/Bmr: Sgt. (Later Fl/Sgt) L.D.E. Marriot RAFVR PoW No: 1256 Camp: 357-Stalag Kopernikus

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. (Later Fl/Sgt) E.A. Coates RAFVR PoW No: 1237 Camp: L1-Stalag Luft Barth Vogelsang

Air/Gnr: Sgt. (Later Fl/Sgt) C. Leverett RAFVR PoW No: 3569 Camp: 357-Stalag Kopernikus

Air/Gnr: Sgt. (Later W/O2) W.J.H. Perry RCAF PoW No: 1195 Camp: L4-Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria


Taking off from RAF Linton-On-Ouse, North Yorkshire at 23.15hrs to join 441 aircraft made up from 135 Halifaxes, 104 Wellingtons, 95 Stirlings and 10 Mosquitoes.

The raid did start well but the bombers were drawn away by decoy markers made by the Germans. It is reported that 394 buildings were destroyed a further 716 seriously damaged with 302 people killed on the ground.

29 allied aircraft were lost on this raid with total crew killed of 102 with a further 54 taken PoW. Just a single crew member evading capture.

78 Squadron lost two other crews on this operation:
Halifax II JB873 EY-J Flown by 20 year old P/O. Gerald Herbert Dane (1) MiD 146425 RAFVR from Belvedere, Kent. Killed with his flight engineer, 5 other crew also lost their lives, 1 managing to evade capture and return to England.
Halifax II JB924 EY-M Flown by 26 year old P/O. Richard Edward Bragg 145473 RAFVR from Nuthall, Birmingham. Killed with 6 other crew, 1 taken PoW.

It is thought that the Halifax was hit by flak over Köln and the crew were forced to abandon the aircraft. It seems that the flight engineers also jumped from the aircraft but his parachute failed to open successfully.

(1) His brother 23 year old F/O. Eric John Dane 144340 a navigator with 103 Squadron was also to lose his life almost 1 year later on the 4th May 1944. A double blow for his parents.

Reunion of 4 of the crew - John Francis O’Reilly at the head of the table - are you able to recognise nd place names to the others. We do know that one had the nickname of 'The Bishop'. (courtesy Julia Robinson)

Burial details: Sgt. Leslie Jakes. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 1.D.25. Son of Alfred and Annie Jakes, of Enfield Wash, Middlesex, England.

Researched for Julia Robinson - relative of W/O. O’Reilly. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.

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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Last Modified: 02 March 2016, 21:11

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