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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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438 Squadron Typhoon Ib MN426 F/O. William Harold Morrison

Operation: Armed Reconnaissance

Date: 15th August 1944 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 438 Squadron. (motto: 'Going down') 83 Group, Second Tactical Air Force

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: MN426

Code: F3-H

Base: B.9 Lantheuil,France

Location: Trun, France

Pilot: F/O. William Harold Morrison J/27387 RCAF Age 23. Killed


On this day the allied forces began Operation Dragoon (1), the invasion of southern France.

Sq/Ldr. Jack Rife Beirnes (2) DFC C/13458 RCAF wrote to his family on the 19th August 1944:

'It is with regret that I write to you this date to convey to William's family the feelings of my entire Squadron. Late in the afternoon of August 15, a flight from this Squadron, led by myself and with your son as the pilot on one of the aircraft took off from our Base in France on an armed reconnaissance over enemy territory.

Our mission was very successful but shortly before we turned home, while strafing some enemy installations and vehicles at low altitude, your son's aircraft collided with some trees, plunged to the earth and exploded.

William, who was an excellent pilot and particularly suited to this type of work had 49 operational trips and total of 56 operational hours to his credit. He was considered a 'main stay' in the Squadron and it will be hard to fill his place. Your son was one of the 'old timers' of this Squadron, was exceedingly popular with everyone. He is greatly missed by his comrades and his loss is regretted by all'.

(1) Operation Dragoon (initially Operation Anvil) was the code name for the landing operation of the Allied invasion of Provence on the 15th August 1944. Although initially designed to be executed in conjunction with Operation Overlord, the Allied landing in Normandy, a lack of available resources led to a cancellation of the second landing. By July 1944 the landing was reconsidered, as the clogged-up ports in Normandy did not have the capacity to adequately supply the Allied forces. Concurrently, the High Command of the French Liberation Army pushed for a revival of the operation that would include large numbers of French troops. As a result, the operation was finally approved in July to be executed in August.

(2) Sq/Ldr. Jack Rife Beirnes DFC and bar - born on the 24th November 1914 in Birtle, Manitoba, Canada. Killed on the 01st June 1945 during a forced landing, flying Typhoon Ib SW393 5 miles south west of Soriderberg, Denmark.

Burial details:

Originally buried in Mardilly Communal Cemetery but reinterred on the 15th October 1945.

F/O. William Harold Morrison. Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery. Grave XXIV.G.6. Born on the 13th November 1920 in Montreal, Canada. Educated at Town of Mount high school. Worked for Canadian Association of Aircraft as a clerk prior to service. Enlisted on the 29th April 1941 in Montreal. Trained with No. 13 Elementary Flying Training School. Son of John Stewart Morrison (died 1950, age 68) and Alma Mary Morrison (née Christie - died 1954, age 68), of 102 Cornwall Avenue, Montreal, Province of Quebec. Epitaph: 'We Shall Remember Him As He Was, A Dear Son And A Good, Brave Lad'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the National Archives, Kew, Government of Canada, Paradie RCAF Archives, The Typhoon Project.

Pages regarding 1944 Losses
Pages detailing RCAF Losses

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 05-07-2023

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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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