21.07.1944 No. 144 Squadron Beaufighter LZ134 PL-L Fl/Lt. Peter Le Brocq
Operation: Recce in Force
Date: 21st July 1944 (Friday)
Unit: No. 144 Squadron (Coastal Command)
Type: Braufighter T.FX
Base: RAF Strubby
Location: At airfield RAF Strubby
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Peter Le Brocq 130141 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. R.E. Davis RAFVR Age ? Survived - injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 19:36 hrs with a further 10 Beaufighters from the squadron (All taking off between 19:32-19:36 hrs). The Recce of Force operation accompanied by aircraft from 404, 455 and 489 Squadrons. Each aircraft from the squadron carried 1 Torpedo MkXV. Two aircraft were forced to return with technical problems.
Beaufighter LZ134 suffered an engine failure shortly after take off. The pilot decided to find an area safe to release the Torpedo prior to returning to land. Having completed this he returned to the airfield during his approach the other engine also failed - the aircraft crashed onto the runway.
Many at the airfield rushed to release the crew from the wreckage before it caught fire. The Navigator was pulled out and survived, but despite some very brave efforts to release the pilot who was trapped by his legs he was killed when the tanks erupted. Many of the helpers suffered severe burns in their attempts. The court of enquiry concluded that the pilot had lowered the undercarriage rather than flaps in error.
Earlier in the month on Sunday the 9th July the same crew took off at 17:21 hrs on Recce No.9, they sighted an empty dingy or raft, then another small round dingy with was appeared to be a body motionless inside, then a sea mine was also observed, returned to base at 19:52 hrs.
A very young but also an extremely experienced (1) pilot who had escaped a previous incident.
On Sunday the 14th June 1942 whilst serving with 38 Squadron based at Luqa, Malta the Wellington IC DV418 on a mine laying operation off Benghazi, failed to get airborne - The then Sgt. Le Brocq (1197414) deliberately swung the aircraft off the runway. All the crew escaped injury, but the Wellington was destroyed by fire.
(1) At just 18 years of age Peter Le Brocq had already completed some 39 operations with 38 and 40 Squadron as a Wellington pilot - 3 days before he was 18! Spent a year as an instructor at No. 1 Torpedo Training Unit at Turnberry, Ayrshire in Scotland before joining 144 Squadron in May 1944. 1000 recorded flying hours in his log book.
During the 1990’s Phil Le Brocq instigated the placing of the plaque just inside the main gates at RAF Strubby.
Fl/Lt. Peter Le Brocq. Alford Cemetery, Lincolnshire. Row V. Grave 48. Son of Edward and Hazel Maud Le Brocq, of Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton, England. Originally from Guernsey but escaped to England prior to the German occupation. His epitaph reads “God Knows How Young He Was To Have To Die. Tell Him How He Is Missed. May His Peace Be Deep.”
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of the crew with thanks to Phil Le Brocq for photographs used. Other sources as quoted below: