102 (Ceylon) Squadron

Tentate et perficite (Attempt and Achieve)

Flight Officer Laurie Underwood

This page will be linked to many others as this crew is now some what famous thanks the navigator Reg Wilson.

20th Jan 1944 - LW337 DY-F

F/O George Griffiths - Pilot - POW
P/O Reg Wilson - Nav - POW
F/S Eric Arthur Church - WOp - KIA - Aged 24 - (C.W.G.C.)
Sgt. John Bremner - F/E - Aged 20 - (C.W.G.C.)
Sgt. John Bushell - A/G - POW
Sgt. Kenneth Frederick Stanbridge - 2nd pilot - Aged 22 - Ked 21 - KIA - (C.W.G.C.)
F/O Laurie Underwood - B/A - POW
F/S Charles Gordon Dupueis - RCAF - A/G - AgIA - (C.W.G.C.)

Reg's story can be seen on many different sites all over the internet but below are two that tell thee story of what Reg did for Sergeant John Bremner.

BBC and Mail Online . PLEASE NOTE, the Mail online header says; 'The RAF bomber pilot who single-handedly recovered the body of the co-pilot and comrade he lost on Berlin raid 60 years ago'.
Reg would like it noted tha,t A) he was a navigator, and not a pilot, and B) he did not 'single handedly' find Sgt Bremner's body, he had lot of help along the way.

 

Here is a shortened version of what happened to them all on night of 20 January 1944, told by Reg Wilson himself.

 

Halifax Heavy Bomber No. LW 337 F, known to us at 102 Squadron, Pocklington, Yorkshire as ‘Old Flo’, was similar to the Halifax Mk 2 Series 1a, shown above. She ended her ‘days’ on the night of 20 January 1944*, after we had dropped our bombs (using H2S radar techniques) from 18000 ft. over the centre of Berlin. It was the most heavily defended German city, with huge ack-ack flak towers, and was surrounded by ack-ack batteries and nightfighter stations.         

We were shot down by ace German nightfighter pilot Hptm L. Fellerer in a Messerschmitt Bf 110 G4. Using radar aids, he flew beneath ‘Old Flo’, out of sight, and with upward firing cannon, fired into our starboard wing fuel tanks. (Fellerer shot down five aircraft that night and had clocked up 41 victories by the end of the war. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross).

‘Old Flo’ caught fire from wing to wing, with over 1000 gallons of fuel still in her tanks. At 17000ft, she went into a spiral dive over Oberspree. Then there was an explosion of fuel. The crash site was not found until May 2006. The wreck had ‘flattened out’ and finally ploughed into woodland some 4000 metres away near Hirschgarten Railway Station (S.E.Berlin).

Of our crew of eight, four survived, all of us having had remarkable escapes, sustaining just a few cuts and sprains. Seconds before the spiral dive, navigator Reg Wilson and bomb-aimer Laurie Underwood, having kicked out the jammed escape hatch, baled out at 17 - 18000 ft. into the upcoming flak and tracer of Berlin. A minute or so later, the pilot George Griffiths and rear gunner John Bushell were blown out with the explosion of fuel. Both were unconscious and in free fall. But they regained consciousness enough to be able to open their parachutes fully, only a few hundred feet before they hit the ground.

 Laurie Underwood and John Bushell were caught by the military, George Griffiths and Reg Wilson were caught by the civil police. Thus we were lucky enough not to be exposed to the potential wrath of the local civilian population!  We all spent the rest of the war as POWs.

Of those killed, 2nd pilot K.. Stanbridge and wireless operator E. Church, (who had helped to kick out the escape hatch, but who had had no time to bale out himself!) are buried in the Berlin 1939-45 War Cemetery. Mid-upper gunner C. Dupueis, (missing despite always carrying a rabbit’s foot as a good luck charm), is remembered on the RAF War Memorial at Runnymede. Flight engineer J. Bremner,  now identified from ‘remains’ found recently on the crash site, was buried with full military honours in the Berlin War Cemetery in October 2008.                                          

*102 Squadron had 15 aircraft involved in the Berlin raid that night, of which 7 were lost. It was the Squadron’s greatest single loss, of all the bombing raids it carried out in both World Wars.


 

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