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Thread: Blenheim - Nairobi - 14-4-1942

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    Default Blenheim - Nairobi - 14-4-1942

    Hello,

    Seeking information on an incident involving a unidentified Blenheim at Nairobi, Kenya on 14-4-1942. There is no mention of such an incident in Warner's, Bristol Blenheim 1st edition. I would appreciate it if someone could check Warner's 2nd edition and tell me if it rates a mention there. It would be a non-operational loss, in all probability a No.70 OTU aircraft.

    Thanks,

    Col.

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    Hi Col

    Nothing in 2nd Edition either

    Malcolm

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    Malcolm,

    Thanks for the look-up.

    Probably no aircraft loss, though injuries were sustained.

    The crew were:

    40921 F/Lt (Pilot) Alfred Francis Herbert JOYCE RAF - Injured
    580476 W/O (Nav.) Clement John BARREY RAF (later DFC,AFC,DFM)
    759167 Sgt ( - ? - ) William James KING DFM RAFVR (DFM 23-9-41, No.139 Sqn.)

    Joyce and Barrey were Australians serving in the RAF.

    Would welcome any news on this incident.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 3rd December 2010 at 08:39.

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    Hi Col,

    I just discovered this post via a Google search - better late than never for a reply! Can confirm the a/c was a 70 OTU Blenheim Mk.IV with serial V5630. However, there is much more to this story.

    It was a Cross Country flight from Base (Nakura) to Wajir to Base that departed at 11:00. The following is a transcript of a letter written by 70 OTU’s commanding officer G/Capt R.R. Nash on 18 Sept 42

    “Exemplary Behaviour in the Execution of Duty when in a Flying Accident.
    On 14th April, 1942, W/O Barrey was detailed to fly as Air/Observer with F/Lt Joyce as pilot, in a Blenheim aircraft. When flying in thick cloud at 15,000 feet, the aircraft got out of control, and the pilot apparently gave orders to abandon it by parachute. He himself soon afterwards evacuated the aircraft or was thrown out. W/O Barrey was unable to reach the forward escape hatch owing to the attitude of the machine which was then in a steep spiral die. He therefore moved to the pilot’s seat and eventually succeeded in gaining control of the aircraft which he subsequently flew back to base and landed successfully.”

    Barrey was ultimately awarded the AFC on 1 Jan 43. I do not have any of his citations for the DFM, AFC or DFC, however, I had the great fortune of speaking with the late John Barrey several years ago. His version of events included the following detail.

    Firstly the logbook entry -
    “Normal exercise until lost pilot in cloud west of Isiolo – gained control of a/c & landed safely at base”

    During the flight a large thunder cloud (approx 80 km wide) was encountered and Joyce inexplicably decided to fly straight through. Barrey, having witnessed the approaching weather had strapped himself into the standard take-off position next to the pilot. Joyce, realising his error, decided to turn about, however, as a result he became disorientated and lost control of the Blenheim. He briefly attempted to wrestle control of the aircraft before ordering a bail out to Barrey and King. Joyce then immediately exited the aircraft as it went into a spiral spin. Unfortunately for Barrey his parachute was in the navigator’s station at the nose of the Blenheim! Fighting against the centrifugal forces he managed to get into the pilot’s seat and then attempted to pull the Blenheim out of the dive. As a navigator he only had basic link training experience. By lodging his feet on the dashboard he managed to gain enough force to pull back on the control column, level out and leave the thunder cloud. With control of the aircraft, the gunner (King) moved forward to see what had happened and was surprised to see Barrey in the pilot’s station! They decided to attempt a landing back at base and on approach fired a red flare to indicate there was trouble with the aircraft. Barrey completed his first ever landing without incident. It was apparently so unremarkable the command staff were fuming to know why an emergency had been called. Barrey attended a court of inquiry on 21 Apr 42 at No.2 General Hospital, Nairobi. From this incident John was given permission to become a pilot, am not sure what happened to Joyce.

    ‘Bush’ Barrey, as he was known, was a remarkable man. He was rejected by the RAAF prewar and sailed to England on one of the last tall ship voyages to join the RAF. With too many pilots in the service he became an observer. Flew two tours during the early Desert fighting and was one of the last RAF crew out of Greece (a small group had to refuel an abandoned aircraft by hand pumps and took off just as the airfield was being overrun by enemy troops). After the OTU incident he was sent for pilot training and joined 450 (RAAF) Sqn late in 1944 where he completed a third tour of ops as a flight commander. Remained in the RAF postwar with postings to 250 and 213 Sqns, then converted to Meteors jets with 245 Sqn. Seconded to the USAF and was involved in a transatlantic jet flight in F-84s of the 55th FS during 1950. Later flew Sabres with 66 Sqn RAF and Hunters with 98 and 4 Sqns RAF in Germany. He got into trouble for his ‘unofficial’ skywriting efforts on two occasions – the first occurred during the disbandment of 98 Sqn in 1957 and the second was at RNAS Yeovilton. Both incidents ‘allegedly’ involved drawing phallic like shapes with jet contrails! One of Barrey’s last tasks was converting Saudi Arabian Air Force jet pilots onto the English Electric Lightning. On retirement he returned to Australia.

    regards, Drew

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    Hello Drew,

    Firstly, Apologies for the tardiness in my reply. Having technical problems.

    Thanks for the serial number and details on Joyce's Blenheim. I also appreciate you taking the trouble of recounting Barrey's career details. I had some of the material, but your data has padded out what I had.

    Barrey, and his family, is a work in progress. I might have more to say later on the subject.

    Thanks once again,

    Col.

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    No worries Col. Glad to help. You might also be interested in the following link for a transcript of an interview (not by me) with the late Barrey.

    http://www.australiansatwarfilmarchive.gov.au/aawfa/interviews/1168.aspx

    Drew

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