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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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Fighter Command
56 OTU Tempest V EJ924 F/O. Pierre Nicolas Bernhart

Operation: Training

Date: 04th March 1945 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 56 Operational Training Unit. 11 Group

Type: Tempest V

Serial: EJ924 (1)

Code: -

Base: RAF Milfield, Northumberland

Location: Łowicki

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.

Summary report:

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.

Burial details:

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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Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 24-06-2023

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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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