24/25.04.1942 No. 101 Squadron Wellington X3753 SR-C Sgt. Brinley Llewelyn
Date: 24/25th April 1942 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 101 Squadron
Type: Wellington III
Base: RAF Bourn, Cambridgeshire
Location: Base - returned
Pilot: Sgt. Brinley Llewelyn 1280296 RAFVR survived
Pilot 2: P/O. C.H.R. Read 104557 RAFVR survived
Obs: No details - survived
W/Op/Air/Gnr: No details - survived
W/Op/Air/Gnr: No details - survived
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Wyatt RAFVR Survived
Researched by Lyndon Pugh - author of ’The Lost Gunner” for Aircrew Remembered - see details below.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Sgt. Brinley Llewelyn’s Wellington crew found themselves in serious trouble as they headed for Rostock on the 25th April 1942. Two days earlier they had visited the same target with X3669 SR–H. This visit gave them no hint of what was to face them on their second trip.
Outbound, they were still in the North Sea when attacked by a nightfighter. In excellent visibility, with no moon, Sgt. Llewelyn began weaving as soon as the Luftwaffe aircraft was spotted, at a distance of about 2000ft. It then disappeared. P/O. Read, flying as the second pilot, then warned Sgt. Llewelyn that the fighter was back, about 500 yards astern, 500 yards below and slightly to the port side of the Wellington. Sgt. Llewelyn responded with a turn to port. At that moment, the Me110 opened fire. Although the attacker overshot, the firepower of the cannon and machine guns was accurate, and the Wellington was badly damaged.
With the aircraft filling with smoke, accompanied by a strong smell of burning, the immediate reaction of the crew was that the incendiaries in the bomb bay had taken much of the hit and were on fire. Other damage rendered the wireless aerial unusable for transmitting, there was a petrol leak which seemed serious, and the rear gunner was wounded.
As the smoke began to clear, P/O Read managed to remove Sgt. Wyatt from the rear turret, with the aid of an axe. The gunner, although wounded, had bravely replied to the Me110 with a ‘good burst of fire’. This was after sustaining quite serious leg and hand wounds, and losing blood. His presence of mind in difficult circumstances is evidenced by the fact that he made an effective, if crude, tourniquet out of his intercom lead. Although this stopped the bleeding, his predicament was clear when his comrades finally freed him from the turret. He was too badly wounded to be moved to the rest bed, and was laid on the floor of the Wellington near the remains of the rear turret.
By now, Brinley Llewelyn had jettisoned the bomb load, but the continued violent evasive action had caused the Wellington to lose so much height that it was at 2000ft when it was attacked once more. Skilfully, the pilot brought the bomber down to sea level, and the Me110 was finally shaken off and lost to sight. Only then could the crew set course for home. (1)
101 Squadron 1942
Any feeling of relief that the worse was behind them disappeared when they entered the circuit for landing. Sgt. Llewelyn faced the problem of putting the Wellington down without hydraulics. In spite of this, the absence of flaps, a burst tyre and a continuous petrol leak from one engine, the pilot executed the landing to perfection.
The seriousness of the situation they coped with so well became doubly clear when the aircraft was examined on the ground. Only the vestiges of the starboard ailerons remained, and there were holes in the starboard engine propeller. The damage to the bomb doors confirmed the danger of fire, with 60 4lb incendiaries still inside the bomb bay. 101 Squadron’s ORB for the night of the 25th April 1942 ended with the highest praise for the pilot and the crew:
The crew are unanimous in their praise of the Captain’s coolness, skill and efficiency during the whole period, but it is also quite evident that a very high standard of co-operation and team work was displayed throughout by the entire crew under very difficult conditions. (2)
For his efforts on this raid, Sgt. Llewelyn was awarded the DFM. In due course, he completed his tour of duty with 101 Squadron and, after his final trip to Essen on the 8th June 1942 he went to 29 OTU at North Luffenham, eventually moving to No3 Flying Instructors School, Hullavington.
A graduate in English and Theology, Brinley Llewelyn had been on the point of beginning training as a priest when, instead, he volunteered for the RAF. After the war, with interests in quarrying and the hospitality business, he became a fine example of the Welsh entrepreneur, and combined this with no small degree of skill on the rugby field. He played rugby union for Lanelli and Northampton, and rugby league with Belle Vue Rangers in Manchester.
Brinley Llewelyn’s family, who have been generous in the amount of information they have added to this account, confirmed that Sgt. Llewelyn and the badly-injured rear gunner remained in contact after their RAF service. Sgt. Wyatt was on crutches for a considerable time after the war.
Pilot Officer Read, who had extracted the rear gunner from his turret, became a prisoner of war when, as captain of 101 Squadron’s Wellington Z1612 SR–Z, his engagement with a nightfighter ended after blocked fuel lines caused engine failure. The incident took place on the 1000 bomber raid to Cologne over the 30th/31st May 1942. Both engines cut out, but all the crew were able to abandon the aircraft safely and served out the war in a German prison camp - PoW No. 383 Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria. W.Op./A.Gnr. Sgt. R. G. Killwyn RCAF suffered a broken leg.
(1) 101 Squadron Operations Record Book 25th April 1942. (National Archives of Great Britain AIR/27/802)
(2) Combat report filed by Sgt. Llewelyn and Sgt. Wyatt 28th April 1942 AIR/50/204 28th April 1942.
The Lost Gunner - Author Lyndon Pugh. Available from the publisher or via Lyndon - contact us in the first instance. Limited copies available from the Hours Bookshop in Powys, Wales.
Sgt Ronnie Pugh, my father’s younger brother, was killed during WWII while serving in 101 Squadron of RAF Bomber Command. He was the rear gunner in the crew of F/Sgt. Billy Banks RAAF. This crew had been in action throughout the Battle of the Ruhr in the Spring and Summer of 1943. Their aircraft crashed off Zaandvoort in Holland, after an encounter with a Luftwaffe nightfighter, and six men died in the early hours of the 26th June 1943. One member of the crew, bomb aimer Geoff Brook, survived and served out the rest of the war in a German prison camp. The author was fortunate enough to talk to him in detail before his death
None - all crew survived.
Researched by Lyndon Pugh for Aircrew Remembered, February 2016. For further details our thanks to the sources shown below.