15/16.07.1943 No. 10 Squadron Halifax II JD211 ZA-Y Fl/Sgt. Pyle
Date: 15/16th July 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 10 Squadron
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire
Location: Besancon, France
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. William Frank Pyle 1312130 RAFVR Age 31 Missing - believed killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Eric Thomas Cooke 572721 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Nav: Sgt. Harold Handle Stockley 1386848 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Reginald Arthur Burrell 1392530 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Joseph Richardson 1366787 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dillwyn Enoch 635420 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Henry Robert Clark 1356741 RAFVR Age 29. Missing - believed killed
Update: Andy Clark, the nephew of Sgt. William Clark has spent years researching this loss. Together with a local military historian, Michel Marlin they have finally convinced the RAF and the Commonwealth Graves Commission that the evidence they provided was conclusive that the crew had been buried as unknown airman in the cemetery at Besancon. (June 2015) The CWGC will be changing the headstone to read the names of the crew. (With thanks to 'anon' for bringing this to our attention - January 2018)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 21:42 hrs. to bomb the Peugeot factory at Montbéliard - 165 Halifaxes takes part in the operation. Weather during the night over the target area was described as good with small patches of thin cloud en route, a full moon with moderate visibility.
Bombing took place between 01:46 and 02:10 hrs - the Allies lost 5 aircraft during the raid.
10 Squadron Halifaxes (courtesy IWM)
According to a Gendarmerie report and to local witnesses on the ground at around 01:00 hrs a Halifax collided with a night fighter over Besancon. Dr. Theo Boiten (Co-author of the Nightfighter War Diaries) identified the Luftwaffe pilot to be Uffz. Heinrich Prinz of 5./NJG4 flying a Dornier 217-N1 and although the reports state that this Halifax is missing without trace it is quite likely that Halifax JD211 was the aircraft involved - it crashed onto the Besancon railway station causing severe damage. The Do217 crashed 500 metres further near a WW1 Monument, killing all the crew.
The squadron were to lose another crew during this operation:
Halifax IIJB961 ZA-R Flown by 21 year old, Sgt. Harry Briggs Mellor 658718 RAFVR - killed with all his 6 other crew. Shot down at 02:00 hrs. by Fw. Helmut Spate also from 5./NJG4 over Recey-sur-Ource, France.
Originally classified as Missing - believed killed - The burial site of the crew of this aircraft was confirmed by the RAF Air Historical Branch to their colleagues of the MOD Joint Care and Compassionate Centre in 2014. The unknown Airman graves at Besancon Cemetery are those of the crew.
Fl/Sgt. William Frank Pyle. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 138. Son of Frederick and Emily Pyle and husband of Olive Pyle, of Wick, Glamorgan, Wales.
Sgt. Eric Thomas Cooke. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 146. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cooke and husband of Freda Eluira Elizabeth Cooke, of Tonyrefail, Glamorgan, Wales.
Sgt. Harold Handle Stockley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 166. Son of Clement Ings Stockley and Marthe Cecile Stockley, of Croydon, Surrey, England.
Sgt. Reginald Arthur Burrell. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 144. Son of Alfred Barker Burrell and Evelyn Florence Burrell, of Yorkletts, Kent, England.
Sgt. Frank Joseph Richardson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 163. Nephew of Mrs. B. M. Perkins, of Whitstable, Kent, England.
Sgt. Dillwyn Enoch. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 148. Son of Isaac and Mary Enoch, of Ton-yr-efail, Glamorgan, Wales.
Sgt. William Henry Robert Clark. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 145. Son of Henry George and Grace Clark, of East Ham, Essex, England.
Researched for Clive Boon and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Dr. Theo Boiten (Co-author of the Nightfighter War Diaries) With thanks also to 'anon' for bringing to our attention that crew graves have now been identified - January 2018 and to other sources as quoted below.