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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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217 squadron crest
01.02.1941 No. 217 Squadron Beaufort I L9866 MW-J Sgt. Rutherford

Operation: Brest

Date: 01st February 1941

Unit: No. 217 Squadron (Coastal Command) (motto: 'Woe to the unwary')

Type: Beaufort I

Serial: L9866

Code: MW-J

Base: RAF St. Eval

Location: English Channel off Morlaix, France

Pilot: Sgt. John Bell Rutherford 519262 RAF Age 24. Missing believed killed

Obs: Sgt. Thomas Patrick O'Byrne 743014 RAFVR Age 30. Missing believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Samuel Ralph Browning 755933 RAFVR Age ? Missing believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Anthony Duckworth Wood 623845 RAF Age ? Missing believed killed


Took off at 14:57 hrs to attack the Admiral Hipper that was moored in Brest Harbour that was about to sail on her Atlantic attacks after repairs.

L9866 was thought to have been shot down by Uffz. Bochmann (1) of II./JG77 flying a Me 109 E-4 and crashed into the sea 35 km. north west of Marlaix at 17:00 hrs. Another 217 Squadron Beaufort was also lost on this raid. L9835 MW-W piloted by Fl/Lt. Richard Oakley RAAF which lost an engine and also crashed into the sea. All his crew was missing or killed.

(1) Uffz. Bochmann was later shot down and killed by a Russian squadron near Grigoriupol on the 1st August 1941. He was an ace at this time with 13 kills to his name.

Admiral Hipper (archive)

Burial details:

Sgt. John Bell Rutherford. Runnymede Memorial Panel 51. Son of Andrew and Elizabeth W. Rutherford, husband of Margaret Jane Rutherford, of Addington, Surrey, England.

Sgt. Thomas Patrick O'Byrne. Runnymede Memorial Panel 49. Son of Thomas O'Byrne and of Kathleen O'Byrne, husband of Elsie Dorothy Margaret O'Byrne, of Coventry, England. His brothers also served. Peter a Sgt. with 73 Squadron as a pilot. Paddy a aircraft mechanic and Larry as a flight engineer - all survived the war but have since sadly passed away. No one talked about the loss of Thomas, even after the war as none knew what happened to him.

Sgt. William Samuel Ralph Browning. Runnymede Memorial Panel 40. Next of kin details not currently available

Sgt. John Anthony Duckworth Wood. Runnymede Memorial Panel 55. Son of James Henry Duckworth Wood and Mary Veronica Wood, of Kensington, London, England.

Researched for David O'Byrne, nephew of Sgt. O'Byrne and for all relatives of the crew. With thanks to Ross McNeill for his superb publication "Coastal Command Losses Vol. 1".

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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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