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29 January 1943

Handley Page Halifax Mk II (HR662 - code EQ-H)
Cléguer, "Restanscouezec"

(contributors : Roland Bohn, Jonathan Ives, Daniel Dahiot, Philippe Dufrasne, René-Luc Aubry, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Memorial Gen Web 56)


Handley Page Halifax Mk II
Photo : © Imperial War Museum IWM CH 11328

Crew (No. 408 Squadron RCAF)
The seven members of the crew are buried in the communal cemetery of Guidel
Badge no 408 squadron rcaf

 

- Pilot Officer (pilot) Theunis Christoffel ROUX, 29 years old, service number 80412.
Son of Jacobus Francois and Elisabeth Maria Roux, from Fort Victoria, Southern Rhodesia.  Grave 1, row 3


Photo source unknown - To be confirmed that photo shows Pilot Officer Roux. 

- Pilot Officer (gunner) Rowland George BRINKWORTH, 28 years old, service number 132736.
Son of Thomas Collier Brinkworth and Grace Mary Brinkworth. Grave 10, row 3

Photo source unknown

- Flying Officer (navigator) Edwin PAYLING, 33 years old, service number 126015.
Son of William and Hetty Payling, husband of Phyllis Emily Payling, Surbiton, Surrey, UK. Grave 6, row 3

Photo source unknown


- Sergeant (navigator - bombardier) Joseph ROSTRON, 30 years old, service number 1029458.
Son of Joseph et Violet Rostron, Salford, Lancashire county, UK, husband of Bessie Rostron, Seedley, suburb of Salford.
Grave 11, row 3

- Sergeant (gunner) James Dick ADAM, 26 years old, service number 655432, born May 12, 1916 in Lanarkshire , Scotland.
Son of Robert Dick and Agnes N. Adam, husband of Isabella Morton Adam, Edinburgh, UK. Grave 5, row 3
Photo © Colin Frodsham


Photo © Margaret Silvester/Stuart Adam

- Sergeant (radio operator - gunner) William Kenneth BARTON, service number 1177728. Grave 9, row 3


Photos © Mike Barton

- Sergeant (engineer) Francis Anthony CAVADINO, 19 years old, service number 573801. 
Son of Alexander Joseph and Mary Anne Cavadino, Kettering, Northamptonshire county, UK. Grave 7, row 3

Photo © Nicolas Hoshino

Photo © Martin Carrack - Findagrave.com

THE STORY

On the night of January 29-30, 1943, twenty-two Halifaxes of Nos. 408 and 419 Squadrons were joined by 40 Vickers Wellingtons of Nos. 420, 424, 425, 426, and 427 Squadrons to lead an attack on the harbor infrastructure of Lorient. It was planned to drop explosive bombs and incendiary bombs on the target from an altitude of between 11,000 and 19,000 feet. The "Flak" was important and according to reports, the weather was really bad. Many aircraft had mechanical problems, particularly due to heavy icing. Thirteen of these aircraft dropped 17 tons of bombs (11,670 of 4lb incendiary and 240 of 4lb type X). The Halifax HR662, code "EQ-H", did not return from this mission ; it was the first Halifax of No. 408 Squadron lost during an operation. After the crash, part of the flight log was found behind Joseph Hémono's house.

We can read in the German Naval Operations Command War Diary 1939-1945 (Part A, Volume 41) dated January 1943 :
" 28.1.43
Despite bad weather conditions, a new enemy air attack took place on Lorient from 8:10 p.m. to 9:37 p.m. On the submarine base several hundred incendiary bombs and only one cluster bomb fell, a bomb on the Kéroman bunker; a hit on the anti-aircraft position of 2./807 (note : 2th  Battery of Marine-Flak-Abteilung 807 - positioned in the Riantec sector). Personnel losses are limited.
"

 



Operational Record Book mentioning the Halifax HR662 mission.

VISITE TO THE CRASH SITE
by René-Luc Aubry

At the end of February 2021, Mrs. Chantal Guignen, living in Cleguer, Morbihan, north of Lorient, contacted our association ABSA 39-45. On the night of January 29, 1943, a Handley Page Halifax was shot down near from the village of his childhood, at Cosquerquelen in the town of Cleguer. Chantal Guignen wanted to know if we had more information on the airmen who perished that day. She also specified that one of her brothers, Bernard Le Scouarnec, knew precisely the location of the crash. The subject was known to ABSA 39-45; all men aboard the Halifax HR662 (code EQ-H) died in the crash. They are buried in the cemetery of Guidel.
Pilot Officer ROUX (a Rhodesian from Fort Victoria) had 23 missions to his credit, Sergeant CAVADINO 1 mission and all the others 2 missions. They belonged to No. 408 "Goose" Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), based in Great Britain and under the operational command of the RAF. This squadron operated as part of the main force of Bomber Command from 24 June 1941 until the end of the war. He started his operations equipped with the Handley Page Hampden, before changing to the Handley Page Halifax, powered by Merlin engines, in September 1942. After just over a year, these were replaced by Lancaster IIs in October 1943, then by Halifax III and VII powered by Hercules engines. At the end of the war in Europe, the squadron converted to the Canadian-built Lancaster B Mk.X, and in June 1945 brought its aircraft back to Canada in preparation for the planned invasion of Japan. The unit was finally disbanded due to the Japanese surrender.


Chantal Guignen, René-Luc Aubry and Christine Le Meur at the crash site - Photo © ABSA 39-45

Some time after Ms. Guignen's message, a trip to the site was organized and on July 2, 2021, we went to the crash site, Benoît Paquet, Daniel Dahiot and myself. It was my first experience of this type. I admit to having felt a certain excitement, borrowing at the same time from a great emotion. Arrived on the spot, we were received very cordially by Mrs. Chantal Guignen, her brother Mr. Bernard Le Scouarnec and Mrs. Christine Le Meur. Very sensitive to the interest shown in the history of the airmen, in the research carried out and in the duty of memory, their great consideration with regard to ABSA 39-45 was manifest. Quickly, we came to the facts and were taken to the precise place of the crash. On the evening of January 29, 1943, the aircraft in distress passed just above the houses, fortunately without hitting them, before landing on the belly in the field located just behind the building. The aircraft touched down quickly after flying low over the houses and slid to the edge of a small wood about 300 meters away. At the time, an engine, which had probably come off, was found closer, 100 meters from the houses.


The place where the plane crashed at the edge of a small wood (red arrow) and where an engine fell (green arrow) - Photo © ABSA 39-45

At the crash site, Daniel Dahiot, equipped with a detector, undertook a reconnaissance of the area. If the device indicated in some places the presence of small pieces of metal, the ground was too hard and stony for it to be possible to dig in depth. Nothing was therefore discovered that day ; there is no doubt that the ground had been quickly cleared at that time. According to Mrs. Le Meur, an aerial photo taken later showed the footprint of the plane crash in the field. The photo showed that the Halifax had probably skidded before coming to a complete stop, its right wing then pointing towards the woods. It is in this wood that Bernard Le Scouarnec tells us that he discovered in 2002, undoubtedly coming from the bomber, and almost intact, a fire extinguisher. He gave it to the resistance museum in Saint-Marcel en Malestroit (56).


Daniel Dahiot detects and René - Luc Aubry digs ; a real teamwork ! - Photo © ABSA 39-45

Collided with a German fighter, shot down in flight, hit by anti-aircraft defense (FlaK), the real circumstances of the disaster still remain very unclear today. What we do know, however, is that the device did not fall vertically. It was not totally destroyed in flight and the pilot probably tried until the last moment to land the plane in distress. Did he do everything to avoid the house ?


Daniel Dahiot, René - Luc Aubry and Bernard Le Scouarnec in front of the house which was flown just over the roof by the Halifax
which then crashed in the field behind the house - Photo © ABSA 39-45

Combien parmi l’équipage étaient encore vivants avant de périr carbonisés dans la carlingue en feu ? Il n’en fallait pas moins pour lancer l’équipe de l’ABSA 39-45 dans des recherches approfondies ; nous vous tiendrons bien entendu informés des résultats de nos investigations. Sur le chemin du retour, mes pensées allèrent vers ces combattants, mais aussi vers les habitants car beaucoup périrent à l’occasion de ces raids. Le risque était grand d’habiter à côté de sites sensibles. Si l’enquête de l’ABSA 39-45 doit se poursuivre, ce déplacement a cependant permis d’apporter un premier éclairage sur le crash. Cela a été rendu possible grâce à l’indéniable intérêt porté à nos recherches par Mme Chantal Guignen, son frère M. Bernard Le Scouarnec et Mme Le Meur, qui nous ont si gentiment accueillis et que nous ne manquerons pas de tenir au courant de la moindre avancée sur le sujet.

How many of the crew were still alive before perishing charred in the burning aircraft ? Nothing less was needed to launch the ABSA 39-45 team into in-depth research; We will of course keep you informed of the results of our investigations. On the way back, my thoughts went to these airmen, but also to the inhabitants because many perished during these raids. There was a great risk of living next to sensitive sites. Although the ABSA 39-45 investigation is to continue, this trip did however shed some light on the crash. This was made possible thanks to the undeniable interest shown in our research by Mrs. Chantal Guignen, her brother Mr. Bernard Le Scouarnec and Mrs. Le Meur, who welcomed us so kindly and whom we will not fail to keep informed of any progress on the subject.

IN MEMORIAM

At Guidel Cemetery, in the Commonwealth War Graves Square


Extract from a summary handwritten register of the Guidel cemetery established by the Germans.
It contains the names of some crew members of the Halifax that fell at Cléguer


Photo ABSA 39-45


P/O Theunis Christoffel ROUX, Grave 1, row 3 - Photo ABSA 39-45



P/O
 Rowland George BRINKWORTH, Grave 10, row 3 - 
Photo ABSA 39-45


F/O
 Edwin PAYLING, Grave 6, row 3 - 
Photo ABSA 39-45


Sgt Joseph ROSTRON
, Grave 11, row 3 - Photo ABSA 39-45


Sgt James Dick ADAM
, Grave 5, row 3 - 
Photo ABSA 39-45


Sgt
 William Kenneth BARTON, Grave 9, row 3 - 
Photo ABSA 39-45


Sgt Francis Anthony CAVADINO
, Grave 7, row 3
 - 
Photo ABSA 39-45

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