01/02.06.1942 No. 114 Squadron Blenheim IV R3620 RT-A Fl/Sgt. Patrick B. L’Hirondelle
Date: 01/2nd June 1942 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 114 Squadron
Type: Blenheim IV
Base: RAF West Raynham, Norfolk
Location: Not known - target area?
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. ‘Bernie’ Patrick Bernard L’Hirondelle R/61124 RCAF Age 20. Killed
Obs: P/O. Ronald George Inglis 104574 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Henry Meakin 1359228 RAFVR Age 26. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22.39 hrs from RAF West Raynham, Norfolk, on an ‘Intruder’ (1) operation to the Venlo airfield.
Fliegerhorst Venlo had been a major airbase for the Luftwaffe Night-fighters to protect the Ruhr. Situated on the borders of Netherlands and Germany.
Above left: Fl/Sgt. ‘Bernie’ Patrick Bernard L’Hirondelle standing at the rear. On the back of the photograph is written “ Pop, Bruce and me". On the back is stamped "Jerome 20 March 1942", likely taken in Norwich. The two airmen in front were originally thought to have been his crew, now this is known to be incorrect.
One of the mysteries of this photograph is that all Commonwealth Air Force uniforms had brass buttons, whereas the Sgt. on the right has black buttons on his uniform. Only the US Air Force is known to have used black buttons, but it is not known how Bernie would have met a US Air Force Sgt. at such an early date. (courtesy Gwen L’Hirondelle) Above centre: Sgt. Henry Meakin (courtesy Sandy and Mike Boyles) Above right: P/O. Ronald George Inglis (courtesy of his family via George Warson College, Edinburgh - see acknowledgements)
Perhaps you can make a positive identification if you are a relative of the other two?
It is thought that Blenheim R3620 was shot down by night fighters, although no claim can be found for this loss. Another 114 Squadron was also lost on the same operation. Blenheim IV V6337 RT-D flown by 21 year old Sgt John L. Mitchell from Tottenham, Middlesex. He was killed with his two crew members after being shot down by flak units, crashing into the English channel off Dunkirk, France.
114 Squadron were one of the first squadrons to receive delivery of the Blenheim in March 1937 (shown above)
(1) Intruder: An offensive operation by day or night over enemy territory with the primary object of destroying enemy aircraft in the vicinity of their bases.
Initially buried at the Military Cemetery, Cologne, reburied at Rheinberg after war end.
Fl/Sgt. Patrick Bernard L’Hirondelle. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Grave 1.F. 7. Son of Mr. August L’Hirondelle and Mrs. Julia L’Hirondelle (née Borie) of Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada. (Mr August L’Hirondelle died in 1926 - Julia remarried in 1930 to a Mr. Frank Nash) Patrick was born on the 7th March 1922.
Left: Original grave marker for Fl/Sgt. Patrick Bernard L’Hirondelle
P/O. Ronald George Inglis. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 1.F. 8-15. Son of George and Janet Smail Inglis, of Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey, England. Note: He played for Scotland v England in the Boys' Golf International Match at Southport in 1936 and captained the Scottish team at Bruntsfield in 1937, in which year he won the Scottish Boys' Championship at North Berwick, a performance which he repeated in 1938. In 1939 he led the qualifiers in the Scottish Golf Championship (Service) at Prestwick. Joining the RAF in 1940 as an aircraftman, he was commissioned in 1941.
Sgt. Henry Meakin. Rheinberg War Cemetery. Coll. Grave 1.F. 8-15. Son of William Henry and Margaret Beatrice Meakin, of Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England.
Researched for relatives of these crews with thanks for additional information to Gwen L’Hirondelle (niece of the pilot), Sandy and Mike Boyles (Sgt. Meakin relatives) George Watson College, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'.
Below: very touching photograph showing Julia, the mother of Bernie L’Hirondelle, visiting her son and crew graves at Rheinberg War Cemetery - 1970's. (courtesy Gwen L’Hirondelle)
The photograph shown left was found in Bernie's possessions and he had written on the back: "Hugh Denorean and Neville Malet-Veale. Manning Depot. They were inspecting a camera and I snapped them rather unawares” .
We have included this in the hope that they or relatives may like to contact us. Gwen wrote: 'I can find no record of a Hugh Denorean, but I did find out something about Neville Malet-Veale. He served as a rear gunner and returned as a Warrant Officer in the summer of 1944 to an RCAF base in Dafoe, Saskatechewan (BCATP No. 5 Bombing and Gunnery School). Understood to have survived the war, and may still be alive.'