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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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77 Squadron crest
22/23.10.1943 No. 77 Squadron Halifax II JD121 KN-D F/O. John S. Barber

Operation: Kassel

Date: 22/23rd October 1943 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 77 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JD121

Code: KN-D (1)

Base: RAF Elvington, Yorkshire.

Location: Tietelsen, 9 KM N.E. Brakel, Germany.

Pilot: F/O. John Stuart Barber 131081 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Derick Waters Stribley 1605487 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Roy Owen Hand 1446459 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Eric Raymond Price 134664 RAFVR Age 28. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ivor Melvyn Smith 1307049 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Pretsell 1567257 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: W/O II Harry Arthur Weber R/116719 RCAF Age 23. Killed


Took off at 18:02 hrs. from RAF Elvington to attack the city of Kassel. 569 aircraft took part from various squadrons in what has been described as the most devastating attack on any German city since Hamburg in July.

A total of 26,782 family units (flats/apartments) were destroyed and a further 26,462 were damaged resulting in 63 per cent of the living accommodation in the city unusable and up to 120,000 people had to leave their homes.

Nearly 10,000 people are known to have been killed on the ground during this raid with a further 3,000 unaccounted for! Over 11,000 people were also injured.

Other properties destroyed were 155 industrial buildings, 78 public buildings, 38 schools, 25 churches, 16 police and military buildings and 11 hospitals.

The most useful part of this raid was the damage to the three Heinkel factories as these were at the time making the V1 flitting bombs. Also the railway system and its installations were severely hit.

The allies lost a total of 43 aircraft with the majority of losses attributed to the Luftwaffe Night-Fighters.

77 Squadron lost another crew on this operation:

Halifax II JB856 KN-G Flown by Fl/Lt. W.J.C. Needham taken PoW with three other crew, sadly three others were killed. One of those taken PoW, F/O. Douglas Bower, continued with his service career, retiring on the 6th January 1975 as Air Vice Marsha, being honoured with the OBE, CBE and AFC. He died on the 3rd October 2003.

JD121 is thought to have been another victim of the Nachtjäger and it crashed on Tietelsen as shown on map. Although no claims have been established for this loss.

Above: Sgt. John Pretsell Air Gunner for JD121 (courtesy Michael Pretsell)

(1) Some publications state the code as KN-O, Andy contacted us in February 2018 and provided evidence that the ORB states KN-D. Andy, who has also been researching this loss has contributed further information regarding crew details - February 2018.

JD121 Crew graves at Hanover (courtesy Michael Pretsell)

Burial details:

F/O. John Stuart Barber. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of Philip Stanley Barber and Iris A. S. Barber, of Notting Hill, London, England. Grave inscription: "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This".

Sgt. Derick Waters Stribley. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of William and Mabel Stribley of Ashwater, Devon, England.

Sgt. Roy Owen Hand. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of Robert Benjamin and Violet Dorothy Hand, of Sutton, Surrey, England. Husband of Winifred Mabel Hand. Grave inscription: "We Gave Him And He Gave His Life For England. We Shall Never Forget A Fine Son".

F/O. Eric Raymond Price. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. From Stourbridge, West Midlands, England. NoK details withheld on request.

Sgt. Ivor Melvyn Smith. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of Ivor and May Smith, of Phillipstown, New Tredegar, Monmouthshire, Wales. Grave inscription: "He Sees The Light Of Light Whom Here He Loved Unseen".

Sgt. John Pretsell. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of John and Jane Pretsell, of Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. Grave inscription: ‘Your memory to us is a keepsake, with which we will never part’.

W/O II Harry Arthur Weber. Hanover War Cemetery Collective grave II. F.3-10. Son of George and Florence Weber, of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription: "Greater Love Hath No Man Than To Lay Down His Life For His Country".

Researched for Michael Pretsell relative of Sgt. John Pretsell and for all the crew surviving relatives. For further details our thanks to the sources as quoted. With thanks to Andy for further details submitted - February 2018.

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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