56 OTU Tempest V EJ924 F/O. Pierre Nicolas Bernhart
Date: 04th March 1945 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 56 Operational Training Unit. 11 Group
Type: Tempest V
Serial: EJ924 (1)
Base: RAF Milfield, Northumberland
Pilot: F/O. Pierre Nicolas Bernhart J/25260 (R/162644) RCAF Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Weather: Cloud base 250ft., visibility good, Surface wind W-WNW 5-25 mph.
Red Leader (F/O. Bernhart) took-off with Red 2 in formation at 09:44 hrs. Red 3 and 4. took off immediately afterwards but did not join up with Red 1 and 2 before they entered cloud, all 4. aircraft were in radio contact with Flying Control, Red 1 and 2 entered cloud but after 30 seconds or so Red 2 lost his leader in the cloud and broke away, breaking cloud in the circuit.
Red 1 apparently stayed in the cloud and his radio must have gone u/s as nobody could contact him the weather was by this time deteriorating quite rapidly, Red 1 broke cloud 8 miles N.E. of base and flew into the ground at approximately 09:55 hours.
The aircraft was strewn over an area of ground about 3/4 mile long from the point of impact to where the engine came to rest, it had completely disintegrated, the only large piece being the engine.
The sudden weather clamp is a feature of this area at this time of year. Less than half an hour later the weather was as good as it had been bad when Bernhart crashed. I consider the loss of VT contact was due to the pilot flying low to remain below aloud. The primary cause of the accident was bad weather.
From the evidence shown this accident was caused by rapid deterioration of the weather combined with the fact that the aerodrome is surrounded by hills on 2/3 of its sides and this particular pilot had no contact with the ground.
(1) His service records detail it as NV924.
F/O. Pierre Nicolas Bernhart. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. H. Row G. Grave 11. Born on the 01st June 1921 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Educated at Vancouver College. Worked for four years as a front office clerk for the Vancouver Hotel prior to enlisting. Enlisted on the 16th of April 1943. Trained in Canada with No, 7 Initial Training School then to No. 6 Elementary Flying Training School until the 27th December 1942.
Further training with No. 10 Service Flying Training School on the 28th of December 1942. Awarded his wings on the 16th of April 1943. He proved to be an Exceptional pilot and was then moved to No. 2 Flying Training School from April until July 1943. Joined 121 squadron until the end of October. Then to 123 squadron in Derbert, Nova Scotia. After this he was sent to England and joined 439 squadron. After his tour had expired he went as an instructor for 56 Operational Training Unit.
His parents immigrated to Canada from France sometime after 1920. Son of Antoine (died 06th June 1941, age 51) and Marie Bernhart (Née Weckel - died 16th November 1988, age 93), of 423 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Brother of Gerard and Marie. Epitaph: 'May His Soul Rest In Peace 1921-1945'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the National Archive Kew. The Paradie RCAF Archives.
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