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Thread: Loss area of Wellington HF610 of 466 Sqn

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    Default Loss area of Wellington HF601 of 466 Sqn

    Lost 6-7-1943 whilst minelaying off the shore of France. Lost in the target area.
    Who can help with a more precize location of this loss?
    Last edited by Rob Philips; 15th May 2008 at 14:27. Reason: Title edited. Serial Nr. should read HF601 not HF610

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    Hi Rob
    Chorley BCL Vol 4 has 466 Sqn Wellington HF601 (note Serial) as lost whilst Gardening in French Coastal Waters on the night of 5-6 Jul '43 and no such losses on the 6-7 Jul. 4 of the crew are buried in Conquet Communal Cemetery which may give some indication of where they came down if the Germans buried them in the nearest cemetery to where they were found and CWGC did not move them post war.One crew man F/O F Darbyshire has no known grave and is on the Runnymede Memorial. 3 of the 4 were F/O'S and the pilot was a W/Cdr
    Regards
    Dick

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    Thanks, Dick, that helps. It is Le Conquet, 21 km west of Brest. If the bodies of four of the crew washed ashore in that area, it is fair to assume that the aircraft came down close to that village.

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    Hi Rob
    The 4 names in the Cemetery are those of the Wellington Crew with Darbyshire being missing. There is no record of a "5th" Unknown Airman
    Regards
    Dick

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dick View Post
    3 of the 4 were F/O'S and the pilot was a W/Cdr
    Infact there were only two F/O's - Darbyshire and Swain. Long and Ray were P/O, with Owen being the W/C.



    A

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    Thanks Dick & Amrit.

    Are you saying that there is a 4th headstone in this cemetery that is in fact a memorial, not a grave?

    Rob

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    There should actually be two graves. One belongs to W/C Owen (designated Grave 4). The other three - Long, Ray and Swain - are actually in a collective grave (designated Coll 1-3 on the CWGC), and as pointed out Darbyshire is missing

    There is also a memorial to the crew: http://www.halifaxlv827.co.uk/hf601.htm

    A

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    Good job Amrit! A collective grave is unusual for bodies that washed ashore. The French know their area best. This aircraft crashed on land.

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    Gentlemen,

    The friends in France have helped to shed light on this loss.

    Philippe Jegousse of ABSA 39-45 pointed to

    http://gerald.perchoc.free.fr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemi d=2

    where Gérald Perchoc desribes this loss, article dated 18/8/2006. Translation:

    The ORB of 466 Sqn of the RAAF reports that on 5/7/1943 between 22.05 and 22.11h eight aircraft took off from Leconfield, to drop mines off Brest, in the Pointe du Toulinguet area.

    That night, visibility was good, about 25 km, and the French coast was clearly visible. The mines were dropped in the target area on July 6th between 01.17 and 01.27h, from an altitude of 200 to 250 meters. Three crew reported having seen parachutes, but none saw one of their aircraft go down. Nevertheless, only seven of the eight aircraft returned to base.

    Wellington HF601, which took off at 22.11h, is officially recorded as missing with its entire crew of five: W/Cdr. J.J. Owen, pilot; F/O. F. Darbyshire, E.H. Swain, navigator; A.M. Long, Wop/Ag; and J.F. Ray, Ag.

    The memories of several citizens of Le Conquet (1) allow us to reconstruct the tragedy to a fair degree:

    On July 6th, 1943, at about 01.30h, the citizens of the hamlet of Lochrist were wakened by the noise of Flak fire, and of an aircraft flying so low that some of the houses were trembling. Flak was plentyful at Keringar and at Rospects, quite the same as in the entire entrance area of the Rade de Brest. One of the citizens looked to the sky, and saw an aircraft caught in the beams of searchlights. The aircraft received a direct hit and crashed at sea.

    The next morning the body of an airman was found under a rock at the entrance of a cave in the small bay close to Porzliogan in the direction of Bilou. Three other bodies had washed up on the sandy beach nearby.

    The next day, to the request of the Mayor, Mr. Louis Simon, some of the eyewitnesses went to salvage the four bodies that the Germans had buried in an improvised way in the sand of the higher part of Porzliogan beach. The bodies, still dressed in their flying gear, did not present any evident wounds (2).

    The entrance to the beach was mined and fenced off with barbed wire. The Germans that were present at the site indicated where to walk. The bodies were transported to the cemetery of Lochrist, using the van of Mrs. Magueur. At the cemetery, the bodies were placed in very basic coffins, made as a matter of urgency by Mr. Cleach, the local carpenter.

    Burial took place on July 8th in the early afternoon, after the priest had done the honours. Military honours were given by a party of German soldiers, who fired a volley. Many citizens attended, they assembled in honour of the Allied aviators who had given their lives for the return of liberty.

    The exact crash site was not known until a section of the fuselage and the landing gear washed ashore.

    The body of F/O. Darbyshire was never found. Therefore, his name is not included with the names of his comrades in the burial register of the city of Le Conquet.
    Nevertheless, his memory deserves to be honoured in the same way as his brothers in arms who are still buried in the cemetery of Lochrist.

    At the edge of Porzliogan beach a monument was erected on the 50th anniversary of this loss. It is visible along the scenic route from Le Conquet to Pointe Saint Mathieu.

    (1) In particular Hervé Saliou, René Floc'h, Marcel Rivoallon, Michel Leon and Jeanne Magueur.

    (2) The testimony of Mr. Floc'h mentions that the three bodies found on the beach were dressed only in their blue underwear. This would indicate that the Germans had taken the warm flying gear of the aviators.

    At the time there as a rumour, that the aircraft had made an emergency landing at sea, and that the crew was killed by machine gun fire.

    Sources: document by J. Bazire, 1993; 466 Sqn ORB.

    End of translation.

    The testimony of Mr. Floc'h, if true, would shed light on the unusual burial situation: four graves with four headstones and four bodies that were found relatively intact, coming from one known aircraft, and still three graves that are called a joint grave by the CWGC. This joint grave may have come about, not because the casualties were disfigured beyond recognition, but because some party, possibly German troops, had robbed these three casualties of their clothing, and with that of the easy means for identification. The MR&ES may have exhumed the bodies after the liberation, to try and identify the men, and may have taken the short route of declaring the graves to be a mutual one, when no ID disks or papers were found. The friends in France have been asked if the Lochrist burial register can shed some more light upon this matter.

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    Hello Rob

    You've done some excellent work on researching this crew. Well done.

    One issue is your interpretation of why the three crew were in a collective grave. If, as you described, the men's clothing had been removed, the chances of the ID discs being missing, though possible, is highly unlikely. And if they could identify the fact that one was a W/C,, and bury him seperately, then I think there has to be another reason. If the men had ben NCOs then I could understand why there are two graves - officers were often given seperate graves, if possible.

    As the bodies were re-interred by the locals then one couldn't even argue that they were buried at different times.

    An interesting quandry.

    A

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