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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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25 Squadron Mosquito FB.VI HX826 Sqn Ldr. Francis Noel Brinsden

Operation: Intruder

Date: 17th August 1943 (Tuesday)

Unit No: 25 Squadron (motto: Feriens tego - 'Striking I defend'

Type: Mosquito FB.VI

Serial: HX826

Code: ZK:?

Base: RAF Church Fenton, Yorkshire

Location: North Sea

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Francis Noel Brinsden 40338 RAF Age 23. PoW No: 2259 *

Nav: Fg Off. Peter Gordon Fane-Sewell 130522 RAFVR Age 22. PoW No: 2283 *

* Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland


Over Dunkirk on 26th May 1940 Francis Brinsden destroyed a Ju87 and shared another and on the 27th he shared in destroying a Hs126 over Ypres.

On 31st August Francis Brinsden was late taking off. Trying to catch up with the squadron he met a Me110 head-on at 22000 feet. The German pilot fired first and Brinsden's Spitfire, R6958, went into a dive. Brinsden baled out at 5000 feet and landed unhurt. On 9th September he shared in probably destroying a He111.

On 6th November 1940 he was promoted to Acting Flt Lt. and posted from 19 Squadron to RAF Leconfield. He joined 303 Squadron there the next day, as British Liaison Officer.

Above L-R: On wing; Brian Jon Edward Lane DFC. 37859 (KiA 13th December 1942), 'Flash' the Alsatian, 'Grumpy' George Cecil Unwin DSO. DFM. 46298 (died 28th June 2006), 'Rangy' the Spaniel, Francis Noel Brinsden 40338 (died 1993).

Standing; Bernard James Jennings DFM. 47706 (died in 2002), Colin Hamilton MacFie 90657 PoW No: 1629 Stalag Luft 1, Barth 616 squadron, Howard Frizelle Burton DSO. DFC and bar, 33227 (KiA 3rd June 1943) Philip Howard Leckrone 84653 (KiA 5th June 1941)

On 17th August 1943 Francis Brinsden was captain of Mosquito HX826, supporting bombers raiding Peenemunde. He decided to bomb Sylt airfield and successfully attacked the hangars at rooftop height. He was then picked up and blinded by searchlights. With his vision almost lost, he headed out to sea but struck the surface of the water and broke both airscrews.

He and the navigator got into their dinghy and attempted to sail out of the bay under an offshore breeze. Dawn brought a wind change and at mid-day on the 18th they were blown ashore into the arms of German troops, who had been watching them for six hours.

Above L-R: Plt Off. Wallace Cunningham, Sub Lt Arthur Giles Blake (Fleet Air Arm) Fg Off. Francis Noel 'Fanny' Brinsden, at RAF Fowlmere September 1940

Above Fg Off. Brinsden undertakes a cockpit check of Spitfire Mark IA, X4179 QV:B, of 19 Squadron RAF, prior to take-off from RAF Fowlmere on the 21st September 1940.

Burial details:

None - both survived the war.

Sqn Ldr. Francis Noel Brinsden - Born on the 27th March 1919 in Takapuna, Auckland. Educated at Takapuna Grammar School. Worked as a worked as a bank clerk prior to service. He applied for a short service commission with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1937, was provisionally accepted and sailed for England in the 'RMS Arawa' in mid-August.

In 1944 he was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and on the 27th June 1947 he was appointed to a Permanent Commission in the RAF.

Son of Claude Brinsden (died 24th April 1934, age 47) and Evelyn Minnie Brinsden (née Hooker - died 3rd December 1951, age 63). Husband of Cynthia Josephine Hawke Brinsden (née Copley - died in 1997, age 74) After his retirement as Wing Commander he moved to Western Australia and passed away in November 1993.

He was released on 9th May 1945, went on a pilot refresher course and then took command of No. 3 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit, tracing Allied aircrew.

Fg Off. Peter Gordon Fane-Sewell. Born on the 1st April 1921 in Chelsea, Greater London. His mother’s maiden name was Bacon. In September 1939 he was a student living at Wood Cottage in Hartismere, Suffolk. No further family information found.

It appears that he was awarded the Colonial Police Medal on the 1st January 1958 in the New Year Honours. He passed away on the 1st February 1997, age 82

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archives Kew, AIR27-0306-16 (Jun 2023). Thanks to Antonio McDonald for the correction to Sqn Ldr. Brinsden's service in the RAF and RNZAF (Jun 2024). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jun 2024).

Pages relating to New Zealand crews
Pages related to 1943

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 04.06.2024 - Correction to service for Sqn Ldr. Brinsden

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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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