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Thread: Balkan Halifax

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    Default Balkan Halifax

    On 28 June 1944 a Halifax bomber engaged on dropping supplies to Yugoslav partisans was shot down by flak, either over Yugoslavia itself or Albania. The captain was Pilot Officer Byard Boyes, RCAF, who baled out successfully, as did at least three others of his crew. All reached the Adriatic coast about a month later, reportedly at the same time as a Commando raid was in progress, and they returned to Italy with the withdrawing troops.

    My question - can the squadron be identified ? If so, could further details be supplied (other crew ? casualties ? serial number ?)

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    Default Balkan Halifax

    Hugh. Halifax II of 148 Squadron, serial JP284 Y shot down near Berat, Yugoslavia, during an SOE drop in Albania.

    Crew: P/O B W Boyes RCAF
    W/O1 A A McCraig RCAF
    F/Sgt V S H Hoy
    W/O2 W H Gray RCAF
    F/O W A Pullar
    Sgt W H Griffiths
    F/Sgt L Green

    McCraig and Hoy were killed and are commemorated on the Malta Memorial. The others evaded.

    There was a member of the Yugoslav National Army on board also. His fate is unknown.

    David

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    Excellent and thanks very much. McCraig being a wartime fatality, his file will be readily accessible and it may throw more light on the downing of the aircraft, although Boyes is the central character in my query.

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    Default Balkan Halifax

    If you get more on this loss, could you please post it? It would fill out the entry in the forthcoming Volume Two of Middle East and Mediterranean Bomber Losses, Thanks.

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    Default Balkan Halifax

    Sorry Hugh, the surname is McCaig, not McCraig.

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    David
    Please can you put word out when Vol. 2 is published & from whom it can be bought in the UK ?

    KA Merrick in "Flights of the Forgotten- Special Duties Operations in World War Two " has a sentence on P/O Boyes' aircraft being shot down by flak north of Berat .P 196 to follow --"but by 5th July news reached the squadron [148] that Boyes and three of the crew were safe in Partisan hands " Merrick doesn't list crew names nor what happened to the fourth crew member ?
    He has substantial chapters on The Balkans .

    Anne
    Last edited by aestorm; 2nd December 2010 at 22:02.

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    I shall indeed post more details as I find them. For the moment I offer the following:

    RCAF Press Release 4189 dated 10 October 1944

    WITH THE RCAF IN ITALY: Pilot Officer Byard “Barney” Boyes of Fenwick, Ontario was a little late in returning from the last operation of his second tour. It took him exactly a month. In that period he had baled out of his shattered aircraft, walked across half of Albania, participated in a Commando raid and returned home on a destroyer.

    Pilot in a Halifax squadron which specializes in dropping arms to partisan forces in Jugoslavia, Boyes was making his 83rd trip when a burst of flak destroyed his tail assembly and started a fire in the bomb bay. He ordered the crew to abandon.

    “Then the trouble really started”, he said. Whovere opened the escape hatch pulled it inside instead of jettisoning it. When it came the navigator’s turn to leave, the hatch slipped back and jammed him. He was half in and half out, and the bomb aimer was working frantically to get him clear.

    “The aircraft was in a screaming dive and I expected we’d hit the deck at any moment. I tried to climb back for a look at the altimeter, but couldn’t reach it. When I turned around, the other two had gone. I started for the hatch, and something caught my rip cord and the chute started to spill out. I grabbed the folds in my arms, crawled to the hatch, and went out, praying that the chute wouldn’t catch in the tail.

    “I wasn’t in the air more than 15 seconds; the chute opened and I made a perfect landing in a wheat field. The trouble was, I was just a few yards from the kite. The wheat field started to burn, and the Jerries were right at hand. I scooted away from there and hit till morning.”

    The next day Boyes found three others of his crew. They approached a settlement, found the people friendly, and were given guides ro take them to the coast. “We walked 12 hours a day”, he related, “and in those mountains it was cruel going.”

    Arrived at the Adriatic coast, the foursome found a Commando raid in progress. They joined forces with a detachment which was directing the fire of naval guns from a post on a hill-top, and returned to Italy when the Commandos withdrew.

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    Hugh

    Is your interest just in this particular RCAF airman or the Balkan supply /agent drops in general ?

    Have you read Fitzroy Maclean's "Eastern Approaches" ?
    He doesn't mention airmens' names specifically but was with the partisans in Yugoslavia & met Tito & Randolph Churchill there ,among others, esp. "daring do-ing" men. Merrick's book has some detail of the Balkan supply /agent drops .Steve Stevens' "Beaufighter over the Balkans" is another.

    Anne

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    Default Balkan Halifax

    Thanks Hugh, for the piece on the circumstances of the loss from Boyes' account. I can now put a little more in my entry for this loss.

    Anne, Have my absolute assurance that I will let RAF Commands know when Volume Two is published. Its completion has been slowed by difficulties getting information from AHB, but Pel Temple and i are within a couple of months of completion.

    David

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    David
    Thank you .I know I ask you every 6 months or so as I don't want to miss it !
    I have Volume 1 but 1943 onwards is more pertinent to me.

    Anne

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