Date: 7/8th June 1944 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Location: Plessis-Pate, near Bretigny-sur-Orge, France
Pilot: Flt Lt George Arthur Marrows 47708 RAF Age 29. Killed
Flt Eng: Sgt. Sidney Thomas Tanser 578649 RAF Age 19. Killed
Nav: Fg Off Donald John Bryant 152776 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air Bmr: Flt Sgt Ronald Scott 1451202 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: WO. John Patrick Whelan 403883 RAAF Age 23. Killed (1)
Air Gnr: Sgt. John Harold Sheehan 1863241 RAFVR Age ? Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Frederick William Holroyd 1131680 RAFVR Age 35. Killed
A relative of the crew is keen to find further information/photographs. Please contact us in the first instance.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:59 hrs to bomb the rail communications at Juvisy near Paris, France. First hit by flak over the target area - eye witness reports state that the aircraft appeared to be in difficulty and was flying very low when again hit by anti-aircraft fire whilst over Plessis-Pate. Hit by 1/lei Flak Abt 911. Crashed at Plessis-Pate near Bretigny at 01:11. (Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 3 -Theo Boiten) .
No. 1 section of the Missing Research and Enquiry Unit who investigated the location of the crews bodies on the 12th June 1945 established that they were all killed instantly at time of crash. The bodies lay within the aircraft for four days when they were collected on the 11th June and buried in the cemetery at Bretigny-Sur-Orge.
The Squadron lost 3 crews and 4 aircraft during this operation:
Halifax III LV868 Flown by Flt Lt D. Davies survived with all but one of his crew when it crashed at West Malling airfield on return.
Halifax III MZ568 Flown by Fg Off John Arthur Cole J25897 RCAF killed with all his 6 crew.
Halifax III MZ577 Flown by 31 year old, Plt Off Maurice McLear J86361 RCAF killed with 4 other crew, 2 taken PoW.
(1) On the 29th March 1943, WO John Patrick Whelan was seriously injured on Halifax II W7939 EY:B when all the crew baled out of the crippled Halifax which eventually crashed near North Grimston in Yorkshire. All the crew survived.
Crew graves (insert original grave marker) at Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery - they are the 4 headstones grouped together.
Above: The family grave of Flt Lt. George Marrows - The Friends of Gainsborough Cemeteries and Chapel renovated the family stone in 2014 with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund award they had won. The beautiful stonework was carried out by Barningham's of Scunthorpe. The headstone was broken in two but they luckily found the missing piece on a grave a few yards away.
Above: locals paying their respects to the three crews buried at Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery (submitted to us by Patrick Le Jeanne - Président de l'Association Brétigny Historique in January 2021)
Flt Lt George Arthur Marrows. Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 2. Son of Albert William and Gertrude Marrows, husband of Greta Marrows, of Beverley, Yorkshire.
Sgt. Sidney Thomas Tanser. Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 2. Son of Frederick Sidney and Bertha Tanser, of Swinford, Leicestershire.
Fg Off Donald John Bryant. Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 2. Son of John and Ada E. Bryant, of Fulham, London.
Flt Sgt Ronald Scott. Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 2. Son of Fred and Nellie Hannah Scott, of Wyke, Bradford, Yorkshire.
WO John Patrick Whelan. Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 2. Born on the 2nd April 1921, son of Roger Bede Whelan and Grace Mary Whelan, of Denman, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. John Harold Sheehan. Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 2. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Frederick William Holroyd. Bretigny-Sur-Orge Communal Cemetery. Collective grave 2. Son of William Dean Holroyd and Hannah Holroyd, of Burnley, Lancashire, husband of Doris May Holroyd, of Burnley, England.
Researched for Richard Davis, (his mother being the aunt of the pilot) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as quoted below. Also to the Friends of Gainsborough Cemeteries and Chapel for their assistance. Thanks to John Jones for the flak claim details (Mar 2021)