The Toulbroc'h shooting

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default The Toulbroc'h shooting

Message par Invité le Jeu 5 Juin 2008 - 17:26

In response of information given by Philippe Gildas. In a new forum item, as we were drifting away from the original theme.

Summary of the information given by Philippe:

1. An eyewitness, Francis, using a stolen telescope, saw an Allied twin engine bomber being shot down by a 2cm Flakvierling, positioned on the coast at Toulbroc'h. Time: about 6.30 pm.

2. Francis saw the aircraft make an emergency landing on the water. The crew got out and into a dinghy. He counted seven men.

3. The Flakvierling fired again. We have to assume that the fire was aimed at the men in the dinghy.

4. A few days later, on that same coast, he saw a body trapped between rocks at the shore. Fifteen or more days later he saw a badly decomposed body on the pebble beach.

5. Francis did not take notes; he cannot recall the exact dates involved. But he is sure that the shooting took place on a Saturday, as his brother-in-law had returned from the St. Renan market, which was and is held on Saturdays. He believes that the month may have been September.

6. He had also seen an aircraft caught in searchlights, which can be dated as June 30th, 1941. The Toulbroc'k shooting must have taken place after 30-06-1941.

The aircraft that ditched near Poulbroc'k is unknown. Philippe believes that it may have been a Manchester, considering the two engines and a seven man crew.

On the basis of this information I did some research. I have looked at all Manchesters, lost at sea in the Brittany area, 1941 to 1945. Have tried to match this with a 7 men crew, all missing-in-action, and with a Saturday as the day of the loss.

This yielded a list with seven potential candidate aircraft. The basics of these losses are mentioned below, with the matching data in bold:

1. Manchester L7322, 207 sqn, lost Friday 9-1-1942 at sea near Crozon, 7 men crew, 4 MIA's, 3 buried Crozon Communal Cemetery. These 3 bodies may have washed ashore; that has not been investigated (by me).

2. Manchester L7396, 61 sqn, lost Saturday to Sunday 31/1-2-1942 at sea 50 miles south of Plymouth, 8 crew, 7 MIA's, one washed ashore in the Scilly Isles.

3. Manchester L7472, 61 Sqn, lost Saturday to Sunday 31/1-2-1942 at sea south of Brest, 8 crew, 2 MIA's, 6 POW's.

4. Manchester L7485, 106 Sqn, lost Thursday to Friday 16/17-4-1942 at sea in the Deodars area, 7 crew, 2 MIA's, 1 washed up in Weymouth Bay, GB, 4 washed ashore or were found in the water off brittany, 2 buried Escoublac-la-Baule, 2 buried Pornic War Cemetery.

5. Manchester R5785, 61 Sqn, lost Friday to Saturday 10/11-4-1942 at sea 20 miles south of the UK south coast, 7 crew, 1 KIA, 6 POW.

6. Manchester R5795, 97 Sqn, lost Thursday 18-12-1941 at sea 6 km off Brest, 6 crew, 3 MIA's, 3 POW's.

7. Manchester R5833, 50 Sqn, lost Friday to Saturday 5/6-6-1942 at sea. Mission was minelaying in the Gorsé area. Assumed lost near Presqu'ile de Quiberon. Airborne 22.27h, 5-6-1942, from RAF Skellingthorpe. Shot down by a Flakship. 7 crew, 6 MIA's, 1 POW:

P/O(P) GARLAND, Desmond W. - 115223 - RAF - RP69

Sgt(Fe) NIXON, John J. - 405135 - RAAF - RP113

Sgt(N) MOTH, Albert - 1268307 - RAF - RP90

Sgt(Ba) GRAY, William - 955478 - RAF - RP84

Sgt(WAG) OGILVIE, Robert W. - 402670 - RAAF - RP113

P/O(FG) GILL, R.T. - 107931 - RAF - POW - L3-286

Sgt(RG) WEST, Walter R. - 1337262 - RAF - RP96

RP = Runnymede Panel

P/O. Desmond Garland was one of three brothers, who were all killed in action as aviators. The 4th brother also died during the war, of natural causes.

Note that this aircraft is on the ABSA website, mentioned as crashed near Gorsé. The site claims that R.T. Gill AND W.R. West were taken POW. However, W.R. West is known to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and mentioned on Runnymede panel 96.

Manchester number 2 has two matches with the eyewitness data. But the eyewitness cannot have seen the aircraft go down 50 miles south of Plymouth. Much too far away.

Manchester number 7 seems a good candidate for the aircraft involved in the Toulbroc'h shooting. It also has two or almost 2 matches:

- Saturday as the loss day, later than 30-06-1941, matches.

- The crew counted 7. Six remained MIA. This could match if one of the seven in the dinghy survived the shooting, and was taken from the water by the Germans. Firing with 2cm cannons at a dinghy would indicate that the shooting range was no more than 2 km.

The assumed area of loss, near Presqu'ile de Quiberon, could easily be the usual confusion between the actual site of the loss, if not known exactly, and the target of the mission. I assume that the mention of "near Gorsé" on the ANSA website comes from literature, and is not confirmed by investigations.

What does not match is the time reported by Francis, 6.30 pm. The shooting must have taken place in the early morning of that Saturday, possibly at first light, when the German Flakvierling gunners could see their target without searchlights.

I did not search for other twin engined Allied bombers lost in this area, with a crew of seven, who are missing, or mostly missing. That search would be more complicated. Not done yet, as Manchester R5833 seems a very good candidate for this loss.

Best would be if we could find a report by the survivor, P/O. R.T. Gill.

Your thoughts, please.

Meanwhile, this demonstrates that bodies were not always salvaged, either by the Germans or by the Gendarmerie, let alone that these matters were duly noted down in reports. The Germans would have had little to report, as shooting at people in a dinghy is illegal, even in wartime, even under German wartime law. The matter is called murder, a crime even in times of war.



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Message par lanarbuis le Sam 7 Juin 2008 - 6:06

et le Manchester R5787 61 sqd abattu par la Flak à St Renan le 31 janvier 1942 ?
4 morts enterrés à Brest-Kerfautras
1 prisonnier
1 échappé



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Message par Invité le Sam 7 Juin 2008 - 10:07

Thanks, Alain. That would be a candidate: 7 crew, lost on a Saturday. Take-off 18.05 from RAF Woolfox Lodge, so the time could match too. But the period is winter, and that's not what the eyewitness remembers. Furthermore, burials in Brest would indicate a crash closer to Brest than to Toulbroc'k - unless the bodies were relocated to Brest at a later stage. We need more information, to solve this puzzle. For instance a claim from the Flak gunners at Toulbroc'k, or burial reports about these four graves in Kerfautras.



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Message par gildas le Dim 29 Juin 2008 - 21:11

Thanks to all,
Manchester R5787 61 sqd crashed on Brélès commune, some 15 to 20 km north west of Brest, so can't be the good one.
For Francis, there were seven to get on board the dinghy. But this happened long ago, and the precise number could be hard to remember. But with just an error of one, it can be another type of aircraft. When I showed him drawings and pictures of Manchester, Wellington, whitley, he just said it looked like more a Wellington than a Manchester. The top of it was light green.
But who knows, it could also be the case of a bomber with a passenger on board.

A hard nut !


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