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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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78 squadron
11/12.11.1943 No. 78 Squadron Halifax II LW321 EY-T Fl/Sgt. Berry

Operation: Cannes

Date: 11/12th November 1943 (Thursday/Friday)

Unit: No. 78 Squadron

Type: Halifax II

Serial: LW321

Code: EY-T

Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire

Location: La Brosse, Droue, France.

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Alan Berry 658784 RAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Hubert Charles Horne 641601 RAF Age ? Killed

Nav: Sgt. Leslie Austin 1516660 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. John Robert Cowen 1555819 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Gerald Norman Cox 1230240 RAFVR Age 22. Killed (1)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Edward Taylor 1606590 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Herbert Barkwell R/163850 RCAF Age 19. Killed (3)


Took off at 18.02 hrs from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire to bomb the marshalling yards and railway installations on the main coastal line to Italy. 134 aircraft took part in what was a very disappointing raid. 

The night was clear and the targets marked accurately by the pathfinders but most of the bombing completely missed the target and hit the middle class suburbs killing 39 local people in the village of La Bocca. 

The French at first were thrilled to see the RAF overhead but local newspapers reported them afterwards as pure savages and the raid was nothing but murder for British Glory - too much like a sport!


A total of 5 aircraft were lost on this raid with the loss of 17 aircrew killed and a further 6 being made p.o.w's. 

Halifax LW321 was shot down by Hptm. Helmut Bergmann (2) of 8./NJG4 2 km. South west of Droue west of Chateaudun with combat taking place at 4,000 mtrs at 01.00 hrs. on the homeward bound trip.


(1) Sgt. Gerald Norman Cox was a former pupil of Moseley Grammar school (Now secondary/grammar school). We are working very closely with the school's historians to remember all the ex pupils who died whilst serving with the RAF and recorded on the school memorial.

(2) This was the 16th kill for Hptm. Bergmann - he went on to claim a total of 34 kills before he was killed on the 6/7th August 1944 when he was shot down by Fl/Lt. John Surman in a Mosquito MM449 from 604 squadron.

(3) Barkwell Bay in Saskatchewan is named after Sgt. Barkwell 


Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Alan Berry. St. Desir War Cemetery. Joint Grave VII.A. 8-9. Son of John and Jane Berry, of Whitefield, Lancashire, England. Husband of Rita Elizabeth Berry, of Whitefield, England.

Sgt. George Hubert Charles Horne. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 8. No further details as yet.

Sgt. Leslie Austin. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 4. Son of Thomas James Austin and Florence Elsie Austin, of Durham, England.

Sgt. John Robert Cowen. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 7. Son of Nicholas Moore Cowen and Louisa Cowen. Husband of Sarah Elizabeth Cowen, of Whalley Range, Manchester, England.

Sgt. Gerald Norman Cox. St. Desir War Cemetery. Joint Grave VII.A. 8-9. Son of Arthur and Mary Elizabeth Cox, of King's Heath, Birmingham, England.

Sgt. John Edward Taylor. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 13. Son of Howard and Kathleen Taylor, of Holcombe, Somerset, England.

Sgt. John Herbert Barkwell. St. Desir War Cemetery. Grave VII.B. 6. Son of Roy L. and Helen L. Barkwell, of Isham, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Researched for relatives of the crew. With thanks to the following: Keith Townsend historian of Moseley Secondary/Grammar school memorial records, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 4, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and  2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt "Bomber Command War Diaries", Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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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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