G.A. Brunton crew 5.8.44 †

05/08/1944 – Attack Against Bassens
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack the Oil Storage at Bordeaux, Bassens. All aircraft successfully identified and bombed the target visually and a very concentrated raid was reported. Several good explosions and much smoke was seen on leaving the target. A.A. opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.I HK593 AA-H “Hells Angel”

F/O Godfree Arnold Brunton, RAFVR 1396875/ 150278 – Pilot.
F/O James Stewart Wilkinson, RNZAF NZ4211042 – Navigator.
F/O Bernard Charles Baker, RNZAF NZ425447 – Air Bomber.
P/O Jack MacGregor Elliotte, RNZAF NZ427969 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Kenneth Birt Board, RAFVR 3030159 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Thomas John Hall, RAFVR 1895157 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Edwin John Hayler, RAFVR 1892380 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 14:25 – Landed 22:25
Flight Time 08:00

07/08/1944 – Attack Against Mare De Magne
The target was enemy troops and armour concentrations at Mare De Magne, being made in direct support of the Allied Armies advance in the Caen area. Seventeen aircraft were detailed, all of which took off and dropped their bombs with the aid of markers, and a concentrated raid developed. Opposition from A.A. fire was very slight, but a few enemy fighters were active. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat and another (Captain 150278 .F/O. G. Brunton) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I HK567 AA-C

F/O Godfree Arnold Brunton, RAFVR 1396875/ 150278 – Pilot.
F/O James Stewart Wilkinson, RNZAF NZ4211042 – Navigator.
F/O Bernard Charles Baker, RNZAF NZ425447 – Air Bomber.
F/O Jack MacGregor Elliotte, RNZAF NZ427969 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Kenneth Birt Board, RAFVR 3030159 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Thomas John Hall, RAFVR 1895157 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Edwin John Hayler, RAFVR 1892380 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed missing
Flight Time Missing

Lancaster Mk.I HK567 AA-C was forced to crash land in the target area, reasons unknown. The two RAF air gunners did not survive the crash and were buried in the St-Valery-en-Caux Cemetery.

All the remaining five crew survived and successfully evaded capture.

F/O Godfree Arnold Brunton, RAFVR 1396875/ 150278 – Pilot.
Evader.
Date of return to United Kingdom: 28th of August 1944

F/O James Stewart Wilkinson, RNZAF NZ4211042 – Navigator.
Evader
Prison Camps:
Date of return to United Kingdom: 17th of August 1944
From F/O Wilkinson’s MI.9 debief:
“After baling out well behind enemy lines F/O Wilkinson went into hiding for the best part of a day to avoid the search parties combing the vicinity of the crash. Then, estimating his position from his own navigation in flight, he began to move westwards, walking across country by night and sleeping in hedgerows by day. Travel was difficult as German troops were everywhere. Near St. Aubin he almost walked into a stationery truck full of German soldiers and shortly after he was forced to ‘go to ground’ in a drain pipe. On another occasion he found himself in a German camp and had to worm himself out on his stomach. Eventually gun flashes indicated the direction to the front line but the way was barred by a river and sentries patrolling the bridges. Undaunted he swam across, picked his way through the swamps on the other side and reached the shelter of some woods. This was on his sixth night night and he was soaked, cold and very hungry. As he moved he nearly stumbled on some Germans lying in a forward observation post. Fortunately one of the Germans coughed when he was only a few yards away and on hearing a rifle bolt being pushed home he hit the earth quickly and crawled slowly away making for the far side of the field. Later, feeling badly in need of a drink he crept into a bomb crater to find some water. On lifting his hear he saw two rifles pointing at him and he put up his hands and crawled out. To his great relief the men behind the rifles were members of the Durham Light Infantry.”

F/O Bernard Charles Baker, RNZAF NZ425447 – Air Bomber.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 86437
Prison Camps: Stalags XIIA and Luft I
Date of return to United Kingdom: 14th of May 1945

F/L Jack MacGregor Elliotte, RNZAF NZ427969 – Wireless Operator.
Evader
Date of return to United Kingdom: 25th of August 1944

Sgt. Kenneth Birt Board, RAFVR 3030159 – Flight Engineer.
Evader
Date of return to United Kingdom: 28th of August 1944
From Sgt. Board’s MI.9 debief:
“My flight and experiences are the same as F/O Brunton up to the time that I baled out. I landed north-east of St.Sxlyestae Le Co  about 03:00 hrs on the 8th of Aug 1944. I hid my harness, mae west and parachute, and then lay up in some thick brambles on the hillside nearby. A few hours later I came down from the hillside and sat on a fence near a farmhouse. Shortly afterwards a young girl came up to me and told me that F/O Brunton was sheltering in the farmhouse. She took me to meet F/O Brunton and from this point my story is the same as his.”

Sgt. Thomas John Hall, RAFVR 1895157 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 19.
Son of Thomas Patrick and Ada Alice Hall, of Ilford, Essex.
Buried St.Valery-En-Caux Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Joint grave B, 23-24.
‘You live with us
In memory still,
Not just today
But always will’

Sgt. Edwin John Hayler, RAFVR 1892380 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 19.
Son of Frank and Alice Rose Hayler, of Burpham, Sussex.
Buried St.Valery-En-Caux Cemetery, France..
Grave location – Joint grave B, 23-24.
‘Our beloved son.
He gave his life
For his Country.
Father, mother and family’