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Thread: P/O VERBRAECK Desire (Belgian) of 11 Squadron RAF

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    Default P/O VERBRAECK Desire (Belgian) of 11 Squadron RAF

    Hello,

    According to my information P/O VERBRAECK Desire (RAF VR 60279) of 11 Squadron was killed during the air attack of the airfield of Derna (Lybia) on the 22 of November 1941.
    Can anybody help me to find out which type of aircraft he was flying as the serialnr? Also eventually the names of the other crewmembers?
    Thanks,

    Alexander

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    As far as I know was he killed on LG 104 during bombing of a Ju 88 of II./KG1.

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    Default Desire Celestin Guillaune VERBRAECKE

    Hi Alex

    I trust this answers your query.

    21 November 1941

    Blenheim Z6146 of 11 Squadron returning from a bombing sortie aganst a fort El-Erg in Libya but was attacked and shot down in error by a Hurricane of 33 Squadron as it approached LG125, and force-landed just short of the runway. The Hurricane pilot (Sgt Leslie William Stammers) in a panic having realised his mistake then forgot to lower his u/c and belly-landed V7561 on the runway. The pilot of the Blenheim was Plt Off Desire Celestin Guillaune VERBRAECKE (nom-de-plume 'J. Robinson') as Jack Dummet, his observer, later described:

    “As we approached LG125, and prepared to land, there came an alarming shout from the WOp/AG, and the Blenheim rattled from a burst of fire from a Hurricane on our tail. Hydraulics shot away, and with the Mercuries making terminal noises, Robbie managed to belly-flop our stricken Blenheim in the desert. Although the air around our spread-eagled Blenheim resounded with frustrated outcries against trigger-happy fighter types, we watched with horror as ‘our’ Hurricane approached to land. A stream of red Very lights flashed up at the pilot, but to no avail. Appalled by his action, he completely forgot to lower his undercarriage, and a much-crumpled Hurricane crunched belly down into the desert. Later that day, I was told that on being helped out of the cockpit, the pilot was heard to utter: ‘My God, I’ve just shot down a Blenheim.’ Then he fainted.

    A greater disaster, however, was to follow, as our gaze abruptly lifted from the wrecked fighter to the clear blue skies. Heading in our direction were ten Ju88s. ‘Eighty-eights.’ I shouted, looking wildly around at the flat scrubland bare of any cover from the menacing roar of the approaching bombers.‘They are our Blenheims’, Robbie called unperturbed. ‘Run, for God’s sake!’ I yelled, appalled that we were trapped in open desert beside the obvious target of a sitting Blenheim. A memory flashback of the last days in Greece and Crete triggered my legs into a sprint towards a distant Bofors gun pit. The scream of diving Ju88s finally convinced Bobbie and, as I glanced back, he had started to follow me. Then I tripped as the ground tilted with the first stick of bombs.

    My mind raced with chaotic thoughts ... to be caught in the open, hopeless predicament that was here, now, was not the way I had ever envisaged ending ... the rattle of the 88s’ gunners as they hose-piped the ground made me lift my face out of the gritty dust. There was a dense cloud of black dust from the explosions to my left … if I got in there, I would be concealed from the ground strafing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a second stick of bombs falling as I raced into the acrid-smelling black haze and flung myself prone. An explosion behind me made the earth heave into my chest as I hugged the ground. Blindly, with a mental sight on the Bofors gun pit, I ran on and dived into the sandbagged enclosure. For Robbie, it was journey’s end at LG125. He had been killed instantly by that second stick of bombs.”

    One of the many unfortunate and often tragic friendly fire accounts that will appear on my forthcoming trilogy relating to WWII aerial 'blue-on-blue' incidents.

    Cheers
    Brian

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    Brian,
    Thankyou very much for sight of that - much appreciated. Not only did the words make the event come to life but, having served two tours in Cyrenaica, I could mentally fill in the picture of the landscape in which it occurred.
    Derna is not the most vibrant town in the world (I think that many Libyans will agree) but it now has its place on the WW2 stage if - possibly - for the wrong reasons!!!
    Rgds
    Peter Davies

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    Thanks Brian for this excellent info; will amend my files.
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    Default Blenheim Z6146

    Hi Peter and Henk

    Thanks for the kind words but it is Jack Dummet who should be thanked for his reminiscences.

    Cheers
    Brian

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    Default P/O VERBRAECK Desire (Belgian) of 11 Squadron RAF

    Hello,

    Thank you very much for the information about Desire Verbraeck!!!!!!! I really had no idea about the circumstances and never thought that he died that way.
    Regards and greetings from Belgium,

    Alexander

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian View Post
    Hi Peter and Henk

    Thanks for the kind words but it is Jack Dummet who should be thanked for his reminiscences.

    Cheers
    Brian
    I agree Brian, all credits to Jack Dummet.
    BTW Z6146 and also V7561 both could be repaired. V7561 ended up with the RNFS (Royal Naval Fighter Squadron [in ME]) and Z6146 went to #60 Sqn (SOC 20.11.44).
    Regards,
    Henk.

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    Default F/Sgt Dummet

    Hi Brian,

    I am intrigued by the statement by F/Sgt Dunnet. Also there are a number of inconsistency's with official records in what has been stated.

    A few points.

    The Navigator of Z6146 on this operation was 580695, F/Sgt James Bruce Dunnet not Dummet. Who wrote the book “Blenheims over the Balkans“ and who was previously with 211, the sole survivor of the ill fated attack on German units in Greece on the 13th April 1941, as he had been by fate saved from the mission by Wing Commander P.B. Coote who had taken his place as an observer on this mission. 211 Squadron with 84 relinquished all of their surviving aircraft and some of their crews to XI squadron on return to Egypt from Greece F/Sgt Dunnet being one of them. 211 took up a training role and later became 72 OTU.
    James like me is a member of the Blenheim Society, although I have never personally met him.

    The entry in the ORB for the XI Sqn on the 21st November 1941 indicates that no operational flights took place on this day from LG116 or LG76 both LG’s being the location of XI at that time, LG76 being the airfield to which they were moving to on the 19th November. LG125 which is stated as where the incident took place was at that time in enemy hands. Operation Crusader which had started on the 18th November 1941 against Rommel had not yet retaken this LG as it is located in the Libyan Deserts 130 miles south west of Tobruk and about 70 miles from the Egyptian boarder and 40 miles north east of the Qatar Depression.

    An operation however took place on the on the previous day the 20th November 1941 (The same day as V7561 is recorded as being lost with the RNFS) from LG76 led by W/C R. Kellett, DFC, taking off at 1440 hrs on a bombing raid of MT & aircraft on the ground at Pin Point 470401 possibly the German airfield at El Eng (Not El Erg as stated). 44, 250lb bombs fitted with extension rods were dropped in the target area from 3000 ft.
    Bombs were observed to drop in the target area and direct hits were observed on aircraft and M.T totally destroying at least 10 aircraft and a number of M.T. vehicles. A.A. was encountered over the target area and was heavy and intense as well as accurate. Pilot Officer Loams aircraft (Z5866) was hit by A.A. and the undercarriage put U/S. The inner petrol tank and turret were also hit and on return to base P/O Loam was forced to belly land his aircraft on the Landing ground. All the crew were unhurt through landing but the Rear gunner had been slightly wounded in the foot by shrapnel. All aircraft returned safely. Weather: - 10/10th cloud at 3,000 feet. Visibility: - Moderate.
    Nothing is shown about the incident referred to in the ORB about James recollection.

    There is no further record in the ORB of Z6146 or any of its crew carrying out any other missions with XI Sqn after this date. Z6146 is recorded as SOC on the 20.11.1941 but this was cancelled on the 15.2.1942, so something possibly did happen to the aircraft and this Pilot on this day but not the 21st. It was subsequently repaired and sent to India and taken on charge on the 1.5.1942

    Sgt Leslie William Stammers, Pilot, 114 Sqn, 30 Sqn, 33 Sqn.

    It is surprising that Sgt Stammers mistook the Blenheim as an enemy aircraft as he had been a Blenheim pilot himself first with 114 squadron (Where he and his crew carried out a couple of attacks on French Harbours between 24/11/1940 and 27/11/1940. sent to the Middle east arriving with his crew on Malta on or about 30/11-1/12/1940) and then flying Blenheim fighters with 30 Sqn in Greece, being shoot up as follows on the 25th January 1941

    In Bristol Blenheim IF, L8443
    Crew were;

    748264. Sgt L.W. Stammers, RAF (VR). Pilot S
    P/O ?. Carter, ?. Obs inj
    972293. Sgt W.S. Akeroyd, DFM, RAF (VR). WOp/AG inj

    Took off 1044, Elevsis, Greece. To bomb an encampment and supplies base at Boutsar, Albania. Position 40º 50' N. 20º 15' E. While approaching the target and losing height to get under the clouds the formation of three Blenheims were attacked by three CR.42’s and six Italian G.50 fighters. This aircraft was holed in a large number of places but considered to be repairable on the unit.

    The combat report can be found in 30 Sqns ORB in Air 27/346 page 154.

    I Hope this will help you

    Pel Temple

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    Belgian source for P/O Désiré C.G. VERBRAECK - RAFVR 60279:
    22.11.41: Killed near Derna - bombing of LG104 by Ju 88s of II./KG1.
    Regards,
    Henk.

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