19.08.1942 3 Squadron Hurricane IIB AM286 Sqn.Ldr. Berry
Date: 19th August 1942 (Wednesday)
Unit: 3 Squadron, 11 Group (motto: Tertius primus erit - 'The third shall be the first')
Type: Hurricane IIB
Base: RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire
Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. Alex Edward Berry DFC. 43023 RAF Age 25. Killed
Acting Flt.Lt. Berry was awarded the DFC on the 27th March 1942 whilst with 3 Sqn, Gazetted on the 24th March 1942, the citation reads:
This officer has taken part in operational flying over a long period during which he has participated in sorties over enemy territory, attacks on shipping and in night fighting operations. As a flight commander he has shown great skill and leadership, combined with excellent organising abilities. During January, 1941, Flight Lieutenant Berry shot down a Heinkel 111, probably destroyed a Junkers 88 and assisted in the destruction of a Dornier 215.
REASON FOR LOSS:
3 Sqn took off from a forward operating base at RAF Shoreham* on their fourth sortie of the day at 1345 hrs. The task allocated to the Sqn was to attack the east headland off Dieppe. As the Sqn, lead by Sqn.Ldr. Berry, went into a diving attack from 1500 to 500 ft, they were attacked by approximately 15 Fw-190s, which appeared from 100 ft above from the starboard beam going to astern.
* 3 Sqn moved from RAF Hunsdon to RAF Shoreham from 14th August to 21st August 1942 to take part in the Dieppe landings.
inconclusive combats took place during which Sqn.Ldr. Berry was seen to be attacked by a Fw-190. His aircraft burst into flames and he crashed on the cliffs off Dieppe. The Sqn returned to base at 1455 hrs. The body of the pilot was recovered at Boulogne and taken for burial.
No German Abschüsse claim has been found for the loss of Sqn.Ldr. Berry's aircraft.
The squadron lost or damaged 3 other aircraft during the raid, the others:
Hurricane IIc BD867 Flown by 19 year old, Sgt. Stirling David Banks from Prince Edward Island, Canada. - killed when attacked by Fw 190 whilst attacking gun positions at Dieppe harbour.
Hurricane IIc BE371 Flown by Flt.Lt. H.E. Tappin, hit by ground fire, returned and aircraft repaired.
Hurricane IIb AG665 Flown by Fg.Off. E.J. Pullen, hit by flak, returned and aircraft repaired.
Operation Dieppe (courtesy Wikipedia):
"The Allied air operations supporting Operation Jubilee resulted in some of the fiercest air battles since 1940. The RAF's main objectives were to throw a protective umbrella over the amphibious force and beach heads and also to force the Luftwaffe forces into a battle of attrition on the Allies' own terms. Some 48 fighter squadrons of Spitfires were committed, with eight squadrons of Hurricane fighter-bombers, four squadrons of reconnaissance Mustang Mk Is and seven squadrons of No. 2 Group light bombers involved. Opposing these forces were some 120 operational fighters of Jagdgeschwader 2 and 26 (JG 2 and JG 26), the Dornier Do 217s of Kampfgeschwader 2 and various anti-shipping bomber elements of III./KG 53, II./Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG40) and I./KG 77.
Although initially slow to respond to the raid, the German fighters soon made their presence felt over the port as the day wore on. While the Allied fighters were moderately successful in protecting the ground and sea forces from aerial bombing, they were hampered by operating far from their home bases. The Spitfires in particular were at the edge of their ranges, with some only being able to spend five minutes over the combat area. The raid on Dieppe saw the baptism of fire for the new Spitfire Mark IX, the only British fighter that was equal to the Fw 190 fighter. Six squadrons, four British and two Canadian were flying the new Spitfire Mark IX at Dieppe.
During the battle, the RAF flew 2,500 sorties over Dieppe, and achieved a narrow victory over the Luftwaffe. The intense air fighting prevented the Luftwaffe from making major attacks on either the landing or the evacuation of the Allied forces, who consequently did not suffer very much from attacks from the air. However, in achieving the goal of the "greatest air battle" that would cripple the Luftwaffe over France, Operation Jubilee was less successful. During the air battles over Dieppe, the Royal Air Force lost 91 aircraft shot down and 64 pilots (17 taken prisoner, the rest all killed) while the Royal Canadian Air Force lost 14 aircraft and nine pilots. Additionally, the British lost six bombers over Dieppe. The Luftwaffe lost 48 aircraft, another 24 seriously damaged with 13 pilots killed and seven wounded. However, RAF intelligence at the time claimed that the Allies had shot down 96 German aircraft, thus winning a major victory. In reality, the Luftwaffe in France was back to full strength within days of the raid."
Sqn.Ldr. Alex Edward Berry DFC. Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery. Grave J.45. Son of William James Berry and of Clara Berry (née Senior), of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. Known to have completed some 110 operational sorties with 660 flying hours logged by the end of the previous year.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, Howard Buxton for portrait photograph, other sources as quoted below: