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Thread: W\O Robert Leslie Berry Air Gunner 108Sqn 931565

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    Default W\O Robert Leslie Berry Air Gunner 108Sqn 931565

    Hi All,

    Wonder if anyone would be kind enough to help trigger some research ideas for my late Great Uncle?

    Bob Berry was a A\G on Wellingtons. Joined 24.06.40 to 13.02.46.

    I've written to RAF Cranwell to try and get a proper Service History and they are currently processing it, so in the meantime any leads here to further research would be much appreciated!

    We know he shipped out to the Middle East and Joined 108Sqn. He took part in the Operation Agreement raid on Tobruk on 13.09.42. Then on 19/20 Sept 1942 he had to bale out after again Bombing Tobruk. He was captured and spent the rest of the war in Sagan. Bob gained a Caterpillar Club from that particular escapade. We have the 108Sqn ORB which nicely lists him on 20.09.42 as missing. We have tracked down the RAF Form 78 for the Wimpy DV872 which nicely ties up to the timeline.

    Incidentally, the Captain of his Wimpy was WingCo R.H. Maw DFC, which as many will know went on to be a leading light with the Wooden Horse escapes of Stalag Luft III! We are getting a copy of the Book his family published to learn more.

    However, we also have a note of him joining the Goldfish Club. I have been in touch with the Goldfish Club and unfortunately their records have no listings which they do explain is not uncommon. However, we do have the actual paperwork from 1945 of his membership being processed.

    We think Bob took part in the 1000 Bomber Raid on Bremen in 1942, and believe he may have ditched in the North Sea whilst at an OTU, not necessarily the Bremen raid but possible another sortie. At present we are trying to work out which OTU he was at in absence of the Service Record and from that trying to figure out the potential ditching, if the corresponding OTU had an ORB that might work?

    I'm not sure if RAF Air Sea rescue units also kept ORB's, so if anyone has any idea please do let us know.

    Just after ideas of where to hunt, not sure how good Group level records are, or if there are any other themes people exploit to try and find out any more fragments.

    Open to ideas, just don't know the entire landscape to point and shoot at what to look at.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas anyone has!

    best regards

    Neil

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    Default Re: W\O Robert Leslie Berry Air Gunner 108Sqn 931565

    Hello Neil,

    Welcome to the Forum.

    I cautiously offer the following:

    1-2 June 1942
    12 OTU
    Wellington Ic T2904
    Op: Essen.

    T/o 2300 Chipping Warden. Returned to base at around 0355 with the starboard engine stopped. Crashed while attempting to land. Sgt Marks was not seriously injured.

    F/L D P Fox
    W/O Paveley
    Sgt Berry
    F/S Whaley
    Sgt Marks - Inj.

    See:
    Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses Volume 7 - Operational Training Units 1940-1947
    Chorley,W.R.
    Hinckley:Midland Publishing,2002.
    p.122.

    Firstly, the pilot was 61479 F/Lt Douglas Park FOX RAFVR (later S/L, DFC, LG:09/09/1941 - + 11/12-06-1943, 115 Sqn - BCL4/177).

    W/O (Air Observer) "PAVELEY" - ID pending.

    The position of Sgt "BERRY", in the crew matrix, indicates he was a WOP/AG. Whether he is connected to your "BERRY", I have no idea!

    F/Sgt WHALEY, possibly, 967974 F/Sgt (Air Gunner) James Edward WHALEY RAFVR - POW - 23/24-10-1942 - 150 Sqn - Wellington III BK309 - BCL3/248.

    Furthermore, the Sgt "MARKS" mentioned, is actually, AUS403223 Sgt (Air Gunner) Henry Owen MARKS RAAF. Sgt Marks later went on to serve with No.458 Sqn RAAF, in the Middle East. He survived the war.

    The reason I mention Sgt Marks RAAF, is the fact that he has files at the National Archives of Australia. Marks has an A705 Casualty file (undigitised), and a digitised A9300 Officers Personnel file. Marks' undigitised A705 Casualty File* should contain Item Notes detailing the crew (name, service number etc.), involved in the incident - unfortunately, in this case, there is no crew mentioned.

    You have the option of purchasing Marks' A705 file, which will set you back about AUS$30.00, not sure on actual price, haven't done so for years. Quite an investment for maybes.

    * Go to Record Search: https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/Sear...sicSearch.aspx - enter 403223 in Keywords box.

    Best of luck.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 7th February 2022 at 05:39.

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    Default Re: W\O Robert Leslie Berry Air Gunner 108Sqn 931565

    Superb,

    Many thanks indeed Col,

    Ok this is one to take a look at, and indeed the RAF losses heads up is a great call. I didn't know of it's existence, so immediately thats great help thank you.

    I need to wait until the service record comes back, but if it is indeed 12 OTU then this one gets triggered nicely!

    I may leave the Australian connection until that time to save a rabbit hole, but I do like the fact you caveatted and gave a cautious offering so am glad either way for the help thanks Col!

    Tricky business this if one doesn't know where to look, but this has helped generate a few extra paths.

    Very grateful for your time on this one!

    Best Regards

    Neil

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    Default 15 OTU ORB May-Sep 1942 help with family research - R.L.Berry

    Hello all

    I'm currently helping a friend with a relatives family research into their activities during the war. Prior to an overseas posting to the Middle East on Wellingtons, as a rear gunner with 108 Squadron RAF, he was at 15 OTU. As the ORB isn't digitised can anyone assist with the time frame mentioned? We understand he was involved in some activity over the European mainland so would like to learn more and also to
    see if we can establish if during his tenure he earns the right to become a member of the Goldfish Club.

    Many thanks in anticipation of assistance.

    Kind regards
    Pierre

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    Default Re: 15 OTU ORB May-Sep 1942 help with family research - R.L.Berry

    Hi All,

    Thought I'd update you all on a piece of research which by logging it here I hope it could be useful for others in the future.

    After a trip to Kew and plodding through 15 OTU's Appendix and ORB, I have been able to trace all of Bob Berrys Wellington Crew who passed out from RAF Harwell (15 OTU):

    ORB = AIR 29/654
    Appen. = AIR 29/661

    Course No.60 14th July 1942

    615767 Sgt. Millson N.R.
    1033300 Sgt. Powell E.J.
    1311609 Sgt. Greenstein P.
    1063396 Sgt. Bennett G.
    931565 Sgt. Berry R. L.
    1351495 Sgt. Doublard B.

    In the ORB for 26th July 1942, this crew had moved to 1443 Ferry Flight at Harwell for a cross country training flight in preparation for taking the supposed "long route" out to the middle east (which was never needed). Flying in Z.8489 of "F Flight" they developed engine trouble over the North Sea and came down outside Whitby where they were picked up by a fishing vessel and taken to RAF Thornaby.

    Furthermore, evidence from Philip Green (Greenstein) has also surfaced on the old BBC peoples war website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peo...a3335726.shtml

    And further fragments also emerged from his diaries at the Imperial War Museum.

    I have been in touch with the Goldfish Club and been able to present this, plus Official Goldfish Club paperwork back to them as the did not have any records, this helps them improve their database and fill in blanks maybe for others.

    We have traced the AM Form 78 for Z.8489 and everything ties in perfectly. I did also search the ORB's of RAF Thornaby for the period concerned but no entries seem to be made, possibly because no Air Sea Rescue was launched due to the crew being picked up by a fishing "cobble" as 15 OTU's ORB makes reference to.

    I'll be moving on to work on 108 Sqn and 205 Groups escapades in North Africa where Bob and his friends after getting their "Goldfish" literally just over 80 years ago today will soon (later in August 1942) be on a ferry flight out to North Africa before Operation Agreements raid on Tobruk in September........... and then the Caterpillar Club incident shortly after that.

    If anyone with any connections to the people in this crew do ever stumble on this thread I hope it helps link some bits of this story together for you :-)

    Finally.............a HUGE................ thank you to Pierre Renier! On many internet forums people are by definition anonymous, but this time I can happily say this character is well known to me and dare I say it we have sunk the occasional pint together, he is an utter dude and gentlemen and his unstinting help in coaching me to uncover some of my family's history has been invaluable!

    Cheers Pierre mate!................ yeah............. I do owe you another pint(s)!

    Grappener

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    Default Re: 15 OTU ORB May-Sep 1942 help with family research - R.L.Berry

    Quote Originally Posted by Grappener View Post
    I'll be moving on to work on 108 Sqn and 205 Groups escapades in North Africa where Bob and his friends after getting their "Goldfish" literally just over 80 years ago today will soon (later in August 1942) be on a ferry flight out to North Africa before Operation Agreements raid on Tobruk in September........... and then the Caterpillar Club incident shortly after that.
    Hello,

    From David Gunby and Pelham Temple's "Royal Air Force Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean, Vol 1: 1939-1942" pg 183

    19-20 September 1942 108 Squadron Wellington IC DV872 "W" Op: Tobruk

    W/Cdr RH Maw DFC pow
    Sgt NR Milsom pow
    Sgt P Greenstein pow
    Sgt G Bennett pow
    Sgt RL Berry pow
    Sgt BE Doublard pow

    Took off 2010, LG 237, Detailed to attack Tobruk. FTR. An SOS was picked up by another aircraft. Sgt Bennett was captured on 23 September, but the date of capture of the others is not known.
    Maw was awarded the DFC for his time on No. 12 Squadron. He is remembered for building the "Wooden Horse" at Luft III.

    Regards,

    Dave
    Last edited by alieneyes; 5th August 2022 at 18:57.

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