HARRISON-BROADLEY, John, S/L (41695) – No. 82 Squadron – Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 29 August 1941. Now missing.

In June, 1941, this officer participated in a successful formation attack on an enemy convoy, Strongly protected by destroyers south of Pantelleria. Despite heavy opposition from the destroyers, which opened fire when the formation was four or five miles from the convoy, Squadron Leader Harrison-Broadley persisted in his mission. When two or three miles from the convoy, the port engine of his aircraft was hit and caught fire. In spite of this, Squadron Leader Harrison-Broadley flew on but, when closing in to the attack, his starboard engine also caught fire. His flying speed, however, carried him the short distance necessary to enable him to drop his bombs, one of which struck a ship. With both engines on fire, Squadron Leader Harrison-Broadley was compelled to descend on the sea after passing over the ship. By his splendid leadership and fcpurage, this officer contributed largely to the success of the operation.

Recommended 15 July 1941 for a DSO, Air 2/8858, as follows:

On the 22nd of June, 1941, S/L Harrison-Broadley was detailed to lead a flight of six aircraft against an enemy convoy south of Pantelleria. The weather was good and the visibility extremely good, and S/L Harrison-Broadley sighted the convoy some considerable distance off. He led his flight in to attack, and while approximately four to five miles away the enemy opened fire. This convoy was very well protected by destroyers, and the barrage was extremely heavy. S/L Harrison-Broadley carried on in and while still two or three miles from the convoy, his port engine was hit and caught fire. Despite this, he carried on leading his flight in. As he was closing in to attack, his starboard engine caught fire but his speed enabled him to carry on the short distance necessary to drop his bombs. After passing over the ship, he made a good landing in the sea.

I consider S/L Harrison-Broadley’s courage in carrying on and pressing home his attack, with first one engine and then two engines on fire, of the highest order. The fact that he carried on leading the flight after his port engine caught fire undoubtedly enabled the formation to press home their attack and turn what might have been a debacle into a most successful operation. One of S/L Harrison-Broadley’s bombs was seen, by another crew, to strike the ship.

(Signed by Commanding Officer, G/C, on 15.7.41)

This was an act of desperate courage in action with the enemy, with such fine example of determination and leadership on the part of one of the Flight Commander. There is no wonder why No. 82 Squadron, despite heavy casualties, maintains its reputation in the Group of “hard hitting”. This officer is now a prisoner of war in Italy and I do not hesitate to recommend him for the DSO.

(Signed by A/V/M D.F. Stevenson, Air Officer Commanding, No. 2 Group, R.A.F., Huntingdon, on 2.8.41)

S/L HARRISON-BROADLEY’S OPERATIONAL SORTIES:

With 21 Squadron:

24.5.41 – Completed shipping beat but found no target to attack – 3 hours and 45 minutes.
21.5.41 – Attacked Power Station and Oil Refinery at Gosnay. Bursts observed in target area – 4 hours and 16 minutes.

With 82 Squadron:

19.6.41 – Attack on two ships. No report available. One a/c missing – 2 hours and 40 minutes.
22.6.41 – Attack on convoy of 6 M/V’s and 6 destroyers off Lampedusa. One 6000-ton M/V hit and severely damaged. C.R. 42 fighter damaged. S/L Harrison-Broadley missing. A/C lost due to enemy action – other a/c time - 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Total hours flown on operations: (with 21 Sqn – 7 hours 30 minutes; with 82 Sqn – not known)
Number of sorties carried out: (with 21 Sqn – 2; with 82 Sqn – not known).