12/13.06.1944 No. 408 Squadron Lancaster II DS688 EQ-R Fl/Lt. Francis T.S. Brice
Date: 12/13th June 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 408 RCAF (Goose) Squadron
Type: Lancaster II
Base: RAF Linton on Ouse, North Yorkshire
Location: Tilloy-lez-Cambrai, France
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Francis Thomas Sargent Brice J/23221 RCAF Age 25. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: P/O. Adam Mabon 176721 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Nav: F/O. Albert Glendenning J/22136 RCAF Age 30. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Martin John McDonald J/25587 RCAF Age 23. Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Harry William Wilson J/95261 RCAF Age 30. Killed
Air/Gnr: F/O. Elvin George Todd J/87145 RCAF Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. Jack Gillard Gray 155069 RAFVR Age 35. Killed
Air/Gnr: P/O. John Albert Bergeron J/87384 RCAF Age 19 Killed (3)
REASON FOR LOSS:
671 aircraft were scheduled for this raid on the railway networks at Amiens, Arras, Caen, Cambrai and Poitiers in northern France to support the recently landed D-Day invasion forces.
The following report, made by Captain Werquin, Police Commander at Cambrai, after the raid, gives details of the damage inflicted by the bombing mostly after the daylight attack by the USAAF.
Gendarmerie Nationale. Legion of Flanders. Compagnie du Nord. Section of Cambrai.
No. 455 / 2
Cambrai June 13, 1944.
Report of Captain WERQUIN, Commander of the Mounted Section of Cambrai.
On facts about the state of war.
Reference: Article 52 Decree of 20 May 1903.
On June 12, 1944, between 9:00 and 9:45, Anglo-American planes dropped explosive bombs in the following locations:
Left: Original copy of the untranslated report
1) At Saulzoir. About 100 bombs fell on the tracks (Le Cateau-Valenciennes), and a weaving mill and factories in the centre of the town. 26 killed, 10 wounded - significant damage to buildings. Rail traffic is off.
2) At Neuvilly: 15 bombs in the fields - no victim - crop damage.
3) At Tilloy: 25 bombs in the fields - no victim - damage to crops.
4) At Cuvillers: 10 bombs in the fields - no victim - damage to crops.
5) At Proville: 30 bombs in the fields - an injury - damage to crops.
6) At Cambria: Hundreds of bombs in the fields, east of the city.
6 killed - three injured - damage to crops and houses nearby.
7) At Raillencourt: about 130 bombs in the field - eight cows killed - damage to crops.
8 ) At Sailly: about 100 bombs in the fields - no injuries - damage to crops.
9) At Seranvillers - Wambaix - Forenville: 120 bombs in the fields on the borders of the territories of the communes. No injuries - damage to crops.
10 ) At Walincourt: 32 bombs in the fields - no injuries - damage to crops.
11 ) At Iwuy: anti-aircraft shells fell on a house - no civilian casualties - serious damage in the building.
12) At Eswars: a plane crashed in flames in the fields - Eight crew members were killed. No civilian casualties - damage to crops.
On June 13 at 0 hours 30-0 hour 45, the city of Cambrai was again bombed. The bombs fell all over town, but particularly on the railway junctions (station, town and station annex).
6 people were killed - significant damage to the tracks and buildings.
On June 13, 0 hours 45, a British aircraft fell in flames in a meadow at Tilloy (North). The crew appeared to be burned. No civilian casualties - damage to crops.
The occupation authorities have been notified.
Note: military targets are near the places bombed.
The aircraft that fell in the meadow at Tilloy was that of Fl/Lt. Brice and crew who were detailed to target Cambrai. On reaching the target area they were intercepted by a Bf110 night fighter flown by the Luftwaffe ace Hptm. Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer. One of three victories that night for Schnaufer, DS688 crashed 3km to the northwest at Tilloy-lez-Cambrai.
Schnaufer survived the war as the highest scoring night fighter pilot with 121 victories mostly British four engined bombers. After he was released from captivity in 1945, he joined his families wine business but tragically in 1950 he was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 28.
In 2009 P/O. Elvin Todd’s sister, Dorothy Noseworthy who was 84 years at that time, travelled to Tilloy-lez-Cambrai from her home in Canada to dedicate the memorial erected by the citizens of the commune.
In 1936 Tom Brice served with the British Merchant Marine. In the Chilliwack Progress September 30, 1936 a story of his initial journey appears in which he shares his initial experiences. He sailed aboard the Wentworth, from Chemainus on May 15th. He journeyed from Panama to Antwerp and joined the Oakworth which set out for the Black Sea. As they approached Gibraltar he saw the shelling of the Moroccan coast by Spanish warships during that nation’s civil war. The Oakworth carried on to the Dardenelles where Tom Brice visited the war memorials and graves of soldiers lost at Gallipoli. Afterwards the vessel made its way to Nicolaieff, a Russian port where they loaded pig iron. Brice commented “Nicolaieff is 74 miles up the Bug River from the Black Sea, and yet the river is possibly twice the width of the Fraser at New Westminster.” The ship was then to sail for Japan, Vladivostok, the East Indies and Rotterdam.
Tom Brice subsequently turned to the technical phase of aviation and joined Vickers Aviation Limited in England as an apprentice. However, early in the war he returned to Canada and worked at aircraft production in various eastern Canadian plants. Tom was trained as an inspector of aircraft and worked as a civilian with the RCAF at De-Havilland Aircraft Works, No. 1 Manning Pool and No. 12 Technical Detachment in Toronto, Ontario. Upon the death of his only brother, Pilot Officer Vincent Brice, January 15, 1942, Tom joined the RCAF, although he was colour blind, and was trained as a pilot. When serving with 408 Bomber Squadron Tom Brice was lost on a mission, June 13, 1944, against Cambrai, France. The aircraft was shot down by a German night fighter and crashed at Tilloy-les-Cambrai. RCAF members of the crew who were killed were Flying Officer A. Glendenning, Pilot Officer M.J. MacDonald, Warrant Officer II H.W. Wilson and Sergeants E.G. Todd and J.A. Bergeron. RAF crew members killed were Pilot Officer J.G. Gray and Flight Sergeant A. Mabon.
His father Leslie Brice donated the Brice Memorial Trophy, in memory of his two sons, and awarded to the Chilliwack-Hope District Boy Scout for the highest number of achievement points earned in a given year by a local pack.
(1) Mount Brice on the eastern boundary of Skagit Valley Provincial Park, British Columbia, is named after Fl/Lt. Brice and his brother P/O. Vincent Leslie Brice
who was killed in 1942. (See Halifax L9622)
(2) McDonald Lake east of Cree Lake in Saskatchewan is named after F/O McDonald.
(3) Mount Bergeron in the Peace River District of British Columbia is named after P/O Bergeron.
Fl/Lt. Francis Thomas Sargent Brice, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Collective Grave Plot 2, Row G, Grave 5-7. Son of Stephen Leslie and Frances Haywood Brice of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.
P/O. Adam Mabon, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Collective Grave Plot 2, Row G, Grave 5-7. Son of William and Elizabeth Mabon of Chirnside, Berwickshire, Scotland. His brother, Sub. Lt. John William Pollock Mabon RNVR was killed at the age of 19 on the 19th October 1944 during a training exercise with Fleet Air Arm 711 Squadron, while stationed at HMS Jackdaw, Royal Naval Air Station, Crail, Fife, Scotland.
F/O. Albert Glendenning, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Collective Grave Plot 2, Row G, Grave 5-7. Son of James Thomas and Olive (nee Pearson) Glendenning of Islington, Ontario, Canada.
F/O. Martin John McDonald, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Plot 2, Row G, Grave 1. Son of John James and Pearl Anne McDonald of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.
P/O. Harry William Wilson, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Collective Grave Plot 2, Row G, Grave 5-7. Son of Richard and Esther Louisa (nee Daper) Wilson of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
P/O. Elvin George Todd, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Plot 2, Row G, Grave 3. Son of James Alrid and Eudora Maud (nee Crittenden) Todd of Noelville, Ontario, Canada.
F/O. Jack Gillard Gray, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Plot 2, Row G, Grave 2. Son of Sydney and Alice Jessy Gray of Winchmore Hill, London, England.
P/O. John Albert Bergeron, Canada Cemetery Tilloy-les-Cambrai, France. Plot 2, Row G, Grave 4. Son of Adelard Joseph and Aimiee Margaret (nee Labranche) Bergeron of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Compiled and written by Colin Bamford on behalf of Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to all the relatives and friends of the crew. Biographical information and photograph of Fl/Lt. Brice researched and supplied by Paul Ferguson, Heritage Collections Manager, Chilliwack Museum and Archives and reproduced courtesy of The Chilliwack Museum and Archives, British Columbia, Canada. With many thanks to Michel Coste for researching and translating the police report. Also to John Jones for crew photographs - March 2021.