Halifax W7886 was one of three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on the night of the 17th / 18th January 1943.
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Ian Morgan Rutherford Brownlie (Pilot)
- Jack Kenneth Corke (Navigator)
- Frederick Donald McColl (Air Bomber)
- Frederick Arthur Braybrook (Wireless Operator)
- Lawrence Rockliffe Adcock (Air Gunner)
- William Austin McMullan (Air Gunner)
- Albert Mark Taylor (Flight Engineer)
The route was Mano, Haderslev, Humble, Darsser Ort, Neuwarp, Muggelsee, Berlin, Humble, Haderslev, Mano
W7886 failed to return and the squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “At 20.30 hours, when this aircraft was due to attack Berlin, an SOS was received with the message “Just maintaining height” and a fix was given at 5358N 0930E. A further fix was received at 5426N 0924E at 21.02 hours and the message “Three engines now working”. Nothing further was heard from this aircraft, which failed to return”
Note: W7886 was the only No 35 squadron aircraft to actually take-off on this raid
Wartime activities relating to the loss
On 18th January 1943 the squadron informed Bomber Command, the Air Ministry and the RAF Records Office that the aircraft and crew were missing.
A telegram, along with a follow up letter from the Commanding Officer, was sent to the next of kin of each crew member advising them that he was “missing as the result of air operations on 17th / 18th January 1943”.
The crew’s kit and personal belongings were removed from their lockers and catalogued; kit was returned to stores and personal belongings sent to the RAF Central Depository at RAF Colnbrook.
The Air Ministry Casualty Branch, which was responsible for investigating, monitoring and reporting on the status of missing aircraft and airmen, subsequently published the following information regarding the crew:
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 213 (Flight 25/03/1943) reported FD McColl, FA Braybrook, LR Adcock and WA McMullan as “missing believed killed in action”
- Air Ministry Casualty Communique No. 282 (Flight 23/09/1943) reported FD McColl, FA Braybrook, LR Adcock and WA McMullan “previously reported missing believed killed in action” as “now presumed killed in action”
Note: Presumption of death enabled a death certificate to be issued; personal belongings could then be sent to next of kin, along with any monies due.
No. 35 Squadron’s Operations Record Book shows the following information was received relating to the crew:
- 18/02/1943: Information received that IMR Brownlie, JK Corke and AM Taylor, missing on 17th January 1943, are prisoners of war. The remainder of the crew LR Adcock, J McMullan, FA Braybrook and FD McColl were killed
Crew members who survived the crash and were captured / imprisoned
IMR Brownlie, JK Corke and AM Taylor survived the crash and were captured, interrogated and imprisoned for the remainder of the war.
Their POW Liberation Questionnaires, which were completed as part of the repatriation process at 106 Personnel Reception Centre, RAF Cosford, in 1945, show the following details:
- AM Taylor
- Captured: North Jutland 17/01/1943 (Injured)
- Hospitalised: Viborg, Denmark Jan-43 to Mar-43
- Hospitalised: Lazarette, Lamsdorf Mar-43 to Dec-43
- Imprisoned: Stalag 344, Lamsdorf Dec-43 to Mar-45
- Imprisoned: Stalag VIII-B, Lamsdorf Mar-45 to Apr-45
- Imprisoned: Stalag 383, Hohenfels Apr-45
- Repatriated: May-45
- IMR Brownlie (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
- Imprisoned: Stalag XXI-B, Stalag Luft III
- JK Corke (POW Liberation Questionnaire yet to be obtained, so information is unconfirmed)
- Imprisoned: Stalag XXI-B, Stalag Luft III
Post War search for the missing crew members
After the war, an investigation officer from the Royal Air Force Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) was tasked with locating the remains of the missing crew member(s).
Original German documents, burial records and eye witness accounts were utilised to establish the location of the crash site, the cause of the loss and the initial fate of the crew; information was recorded in a MRES Investigation Report.
As part of the process, any remains that were located were exhumed, identified (wherever possible) and concentrated (reinterred) at one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Cemeteries in the country that they fell, in accordance with Government policy at the time.
Graves were marked with a simple wooden cross, which was replaced by the familiar CWGC headstone during the 1950’s.
Missing airmen who could not be found, or formally identified, had their names commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede, which was unveiled in 1953.
CWGC records do not show where the remains of FD McColl, FA Braybrook, LR Adcock and WA McMullan were located but show that they were concentrated (reinterred) at ESBJERG (FOURFELT) CEMETERY as follows:
- ADCOCK, LAWRENCE ROCKLIFFE Pilot Officer ‘131831’ Grave AIII. 8. 18.
- BRAYBROOK, FREDERICK ARTHUR Pilot Officer ‘137669’ Grave AIII. 8. 20.
- McCOLL, FREDERICK DONALD Flight Sergeant ‘1118712’ Grave AIII. 8. 19.
- McMULLAN, WILLIAM AUSTIN Pilot Officer ‘139489’ Grave AIII. 8. 21.
Theo Boiten (Nachtjagd Combat Archive)
Nightfighter Claim: Fw. Herbert Holz, 10./NJG3 Stenderup, 9km NE Kolding (Denmark) (Faun), 21.34. Note: Also claimed by 1.-4./schw. Flak Abt. 306 (o) (“Halifax nr. Stenderup ESE Kolding 21.32hrs”), Flak claim confirmed by OKL on 10.09.1944, no confirmation date of Fw. Holz’s claim known
The following link provides information on IMR Brownlie’s operational sorties as Captain of a No. 35 Squadron aircraft and the composition of his crew on these sorties
Memorial Stone at Mørkholtvej [Source: airmen-dk]
More detailed Information