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Thread: Loss June 7, 1944 - No53 Squadron

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    Default Loss June 7, 1944 - No53 Squadron

    Hello,

    I am looking for details about the Liberator MkV BZ778 of No53 Sqdn missing from a patrol on June 7, 1944 (10 KIA) One of these airmen is buried in the cemetery of Poullan-sur-Mer in Brittany, France.

    Best regards,
    Frederic

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    Missing over the western channel

    S/L G Crawford DFC AFC
    F/O D G Biggs RCAF
    P/O R J Martin
    F/O J G Smith
    F/O H Richardson DFM
    Sgt R Stoten
    W/O B G Barton RNZAF
    Sgt K V Jones
    W/O H A Corns
    W/O R A O'Kane RNZAF

    possibly shot down by either U-629, U-441 or U-740.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Frederic,
    What details to you require, i have the 53sqdn ORB for May, June and July 44 if it's of any use.

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    Frederic,

    From my 'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume Two: Fates 1943-1998)' (with slight amendment to the footnote):

    Tue 6/Wed 7 June 1944
    COASTAL COMMAND

    Cork - anti U-boat patrol in the West Channel area
    53 Squadron, RAF (St Eval, Cornwall - 19 Group)
    Liberator GR.V BZ778/M - took off at 2357 captained by Sqn Ldr G Crawford, DFC AFC, RAF, and shot down by a U-boat. The body of Wt Off O’Kane was recovered near Poullan-sur-Mer in the Bay of Douarnenez, Brittany. He was buried at Poullan-sur-Mer, while his nine comrades are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. BZ778, one of three Liberators shot down during the night by U-boats, was possibly the victim of U-256, which claimed to have downed at least one while on patrol.
    WOpAG: NZ415985 Wt Off Bruce George BARTON, RNZAF - Age 21. 653hrs.
    WOpAG: NZ411577 Wt Off Robert Alexander O’KANE, RNZAF - Age 23. 617hrs. 33rd op.
    Barton’s number of ops is unknown, but it is likely to have been similar to that for O’Kane. The two airmen entered Levin on the same date and shared the same postings from then throughout their service.

    And from my Vol Three (Biographies & Appendices):

    O'KANE, Warrant Officer Robert Alexander.
    NZ411577; b Benhar 7 Jun 21; Te Kuiti DHS; motor mechanic - Pomeroys Ltd, Hamilton. NZ Army/TF (1Bn Waikato Regt) 18 mths; RNZAF Hobsonville as Aircrafthand (GD) 3 Mar 41, ITW 2 Nov 41, remust as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner u/t 3 Nov 41, emb for Canada 28 Dec 41, att RCAF 20 Jan 42, 5 M Depôt 22 Jan 42, 2WS 1 Feb 42, 5BGS 18 Jul 42, Air Gunners Badge & remust as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner & Sgt 17 Aug 42, 34OTU RAF (Ventura) 11 Sep 42 [cancelled?], 1 M Depôt 14 Sep 42, 31OTU RAF (Hudson - 1 anti-sub op) 9 Oct 42, 1 Y Depôt 7 Jan 43, att RAF & emb for UK 26 Jan 43, 11PD&RC 5 Feb 43, 11RS (Anson) 23 Mar 43, 1(C)OTU (Hudson, Liberator - 1 ASR op) 5 May 43, 53 Sqn (Liberator - 31 ops) 30 Jul 43, kao 7 Jun 44. Poullan-sur-Mer Communal Cemetery, Finistere, France. Son of Francis & Esther O'Kane (née Fair), Te Kuiti. [phot. TWN 20.6.45].

    BARTON, Warrant Officer Bruce George.
    NZ415985; b Wanganui 23 Sep 22; Terrace End Sch, Palm Nth, Taradale Sch, Napier, & Kakepuku Sch, Auckland; hatter - Star Hat Co, Auckland. NZ Army/TF 1yr (1Bn Auckland Regt); RNZAF Levin/ITW as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner u/t 2 Nov 41, emb for Canada 28 Dec 41, att RCAF 20 Jan 42, 5 M Depôt 22 Jan 42, 2WS 1 Feb 42, 5BGS 18 Jul 42, Air Gunners Badge & remust as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner & Sgt 17 Aug 42, 1 M Depôt 15 Sep 42, 31OTU RAF (Hudson - 1 op) 12 Oct 42, 1 Y Depôt 6 Jan 43, att RAF & emb for UK 26 Jan 43, 11PD&RC 5 Feb 43, 11RS 25 Mar 43, 1(C)OTU (Hudson, Liberator - 1 ASR op) 5 May 43, 53 Sqn (Liberator - c.30 ops?) 27 Jul 43, kao 7 Jun 44. Runnymede Memorial - Panel 263. Son of Herbert Victor & Margaret Kennedy Barton (née Melville), Mt Eden, Auckland. [phot. TWN 30.8.44].

    Errol

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    O'Kane is buried at Poullan sur Mer

    Name: O'KANE, ROBERT ALEXANDER
    Initials: R A
    Nationality: New Zealand
    Rank: Warrant Officer (W. Op./Air Gnr.)
    Regiment/Service: Royal New Zealand Air Force
    Unit Text: 53 (R.A.F.) Sqdn.
    Age: 23
    Date of Death: 07/06/1944
    Service No: 411577
    Additional information: Son of Francis and Esther O'Kane, of Te Kuiti, Auckland, New Zealand.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Cemetery: POULLAN-SUR-MER COMMUNAL CEMETERY

    so it may be of interest to families of the other crew to know that "somewhere" in the vicinity their aircraft went down.... rather than just the Runnymede Memorial.

    I see Errol had the fastest finger first....

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    Bonjour,

    Why this thread? I have a sister-in-law at Poullan-sur-Mer. As I walked in the village, close to the cemetery, I saw a “Commonwealth War Graves” plate at the main gate. I entered and I saw only one grave, the W/O O'Kane’s grave. I have firstly thought about a fighter pilot but the position of Wireless Operator did not match. Where was its aircrew? What had occurred? Also, by your messages you gave answers to all my questions, thanks a lot.

    I will contact the mayor because perhaps he doesn’t know all these details. So AlanW, an excerpt of the 53sqdn ORB would be great.

    Next time I would bring some flowers.

    Best regards,
    Frederic

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henofred View Post
    Bonjour,

    Next time I would bring some flowers.

    Best regards,
    Frederic
    Frederic,

    That would be a lovely gesture to remember an airman who, like so many others, came from so far away and lost his life in Freedom's name.

    Errol

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    “Some flowers…” It's the least I can do Errol. I have a great respect for all these brave Allied airmen and we need remember all days what sacrifices this generation gave so we can live in relative safety and freedom. A last question: Where can I find a picture this airman?

    Warmest regards from France
    Fred

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    Hello Fred,

    You can get a portrait of this airman from the RNZAF museum, by quoting the reference indicated by Errol in his post : TWN stands for "The Weekly News", and the date after it is the issue where a portrait of missing personnel were published.

    Not the best of pictures, because they are scanned from the newspaper, but it's a start.

    The RNZAF Museum may have other pictures, only them can answer this question.

    The other option is to get in touch with the family.

    Joss

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    Merci beaucoup Joss.

    All the best,
    Fred

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