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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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263
263 Squadron Typhoon Ib MN769 F/O. Alexander Barr

Operation: Enemy positions at Turnhout, Belgium

Date: 14th October 1944 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 263 Squadron (motto: 'Ex ungue leonem - 'One knows the lion by his claws')

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: MN769

Code: HE-B

Base: B.70 Deurne Antwerp, Belgium

Location: Nieuwe Strumpt

Pilot: F/O. Alexander Barr J/26504 (R14497) RCAF Age 24. Originally listed as 'Missing'.

REASON FOR LOSS:

The Squadron had been reforming at 8000 feet after attacking enemy positions on close support target north west of Turnhout, Belgium. The impact was violent and both aircraft were badly damaged. Neither pilot was seen to bale out with both aircraft crashing in Allied territory. Initially, no trace of F/O. Barr's body was found.

The body of 24 year old, Fl/Lt. Evans 102145 RAFVR was retrieved from the wreckage by an Army Unit. Later, it was discovered that F/O. Barr's body had been visible in the aircraft wreck but had never been removed for burial, as it had been found in marshy lands which were completely flooded in rainy seasons, says a report by Fl/Lt. Smith many months after the crash.

The Missing Research and Enquiry Service (1) stated:

'Interviews with the Burgonaster and town officials of Alphen gave the story of a collision in mid-air in mid-October 1944. On this operation other inhabitants were questioned and I found out that both aircraft had crashed in the vicinity of Alphen/Baarle-Nassau. It will be noted that this is confirmed in Para. 2 of your letter the body of Fl/Lt, Evans was retrieved from the wreckage of Typhoon R8923 which had crashed just outside Alphen.

The second crash, that of Typhoon MN769 took place between Baarle-Nassau and Aphen. The wreckage was traced and found in marshy land which are completely flooded the rainy season.

To my regret I learned that the body of the Typhoon pilot, F/O. Barr, had been visible in the aircraft wreck but had never been removed for burial, this does not reflect very well upon the local population, on the allied troops strangely enough of the RAF who were in occupation of an airfield some 5 km.away.

A second visit was paid to the crash-site on the 17th December 1947 at which time the area was free of floods, and it was observed that the aircraft wreckage had sunk to some considerable depth in the ground. Owing to inclement weather salvage attemts were postponed.

On the following day, a further attempt was made to reach the wreckage. A party of six men, supplied by the Burgonaster, began digging. On reaching an approximate depth of ten feet human remains consisting of in all, the complete rib and leg sections of one body.

On reaching the aircraft cocipit a considerable amount of decomposed flesh was unearthed, and further digging revealed a battered scull.

Unfortunately, the aircraft could not be positively identified, as the engine had been removed for salvage sone eighteen month previously. During the search small pieces of clothing material was found, but again no positive identification could be made. The owners of a farm nearby stated that the crash took place on the 14th of October 1944 at 14.00 hrs.

Many other witnesses verified the date and tine of crash, and of the aircraft's collision in mid-air with its squadron comrade.

From the latter information, it seems quite certain that the aircraft wreckage is that of Typhoon, MN769

Signed by Flight Lieutenant Commanding Low Countries Detachment MRES Royal Air Force'.

(note: the original report had mixed up the serial numbers of the Typhoons and webmaster has changed them to read correctly)

(1) The Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was set up in 1944 to trace the 42,000 personnel who were listed as ‘missing, believed killed’. The demand was so great that the department was expanded in 1945. Flight Lieutenant Noel Archer of the MRES noting details of aircrew graves at a civilian burial ground in France.

Missing Research Enquiry Service (Courtesy Star Headway)

These men had no special training, and did not have the benefits that modern technology offers; only a strong desire to bring home those who had not returned. Despite the obstacles caused by the lack of tools, the MRES was able to account for over two thirds of the missing personnel by a thorough combing Flt Lt Ralph Laronde and Flt Lt Noel Archer and colleagues from the MRES bearing an exhumed coffin to a reburial ceremony at an official war grave somewhere in France. of the globe. Those found were identified and reinterred in Commonwealth War Graves Commission plots.

Without the commitment shown by the dedicated teams of the MRES, many families would go on not knowing what had happened to their loved one or of the location of their Final resting place. The MRES allowed families the dignity to finally grieve. The unit was sadly disbanded in 1952.

Burial details:

F/O. Barr's remains were buried on the afternoon of the 17th December 1947, with his coffin draped with the Dutch national flag.

F/O. Alexander Barr. Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. Grave 6.E.9. Born on the 10th April 1920 in Stoney Creek. Educated at Queen Mary School and Hamilton Technical Instute. An electrical apprentice at Bennie Electrical in Hamilton. Enlisted on the 31st July 1941. Pilot badge awarded on the 10th April 1942. Posted to 263 Squadron in September 1943

Son of Alexander (died 26th June 1965, age 80) and Jean Barr (née Keegan - died 05th March 1961, age 70), one sister, Bessie, of 96 Britain Avenue, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Fiancé of Audrey Richardson of 107 Lindsay Avenue, Toronto, Canada. Epitaph: 'Blessed Are The Dead Which Die In The Lord'.

Fl/Lt. David Frederick Evans. Baarle-Nassau Roman Catholic Churchyard. Row A. Grave 1. Son of David and Minnie May Evans, of Erith, Kent, England. Epitaph: 'In Memory Of A Loving Son And Brave Airman, In Memory's Garden We Meet Again'..

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the Paradie RCAF Archives, WW2 Service files of the Canadian government. National Archives Kew.

Other pages that may interest you:

Pages regarding accidents losses

Pages detailing RCAF losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 10-12-2023

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Acknowledgements
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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