21.08.1942 248 Squadron Beaufighter VIc T5164 Plt.Off. G.P. Stanton
Operation: Escort mission
Date: 21st August 1942 (Friday)
Unit: 248 Squadron, Coastal Command
Type: Beaufighter VIc
Base: RAF Ta Kali (Ta’ Qali), Malta
Location: 12 miles west of Corfu
Pilot: Plt.Off. G.P. Stanton 121344 RAFVR Age? PoW No. 2645 *
W/Op/Obs: Flt.Lt. Charles Kenneth Lesbirel Bryson 112710 RAFVR Age 28. PoW No. 228376 * (1)
* Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
REASON FOR LOSS:
T5164 took off from RAF Ta Kali (Ta’ Qali) at 16:15 hrs on the 21st August 1942 to escort six Bristol Beauforts of 86 Squadron tasked with a shipping strike on a convoy that had left Messina in Italy bound for Benghazi, Libya. The convoy was located 12 miles off Paxos Island, but during the attack T5164 was hit by flak and was forced to ditch 12 miles west of Corfu. The crew survived and were safely picked up by an Axis surface vessel and taken prisoners.
(1) An affidavit submitted by Flt.Lt. Henry R. Train, 402913 RAAF, after his liberation on the 2nd May 1945 records the circumstances of Flt.Lt. Bryson’s death as described to him by Flt.Lt. J.E.T. Asselin, J/4882 RCAF, who was an eye witness to the events.
On a leg of the forced march from Stalag Luft 3 the PoWs stopped at the Marlag und Milag Nord PoW Camp.
Marlag und Milag Nord was a camp for British Merchant Navy and Royal Navy PoWs, which was located near Westertimke, NE of Bremen. Some sources give the camp’s location as Tarmstedt, a larger village about 2½ miles to the west.
The camp had a thriving black market which was conducted by the Kriegsmarine guards. Eggs and other items of food were purchased by PoWs for cigarettes and coffee. The PoWs arrived at the camp some time early in March 1945. One night at about 21:00 hrs Flt.Lt. Bryson was trading with a Kriegsmarine guard and after he had completed the deal he stepped across the warning wire to exchange goods. A nearby Luftwaffe Unteroffizier (Cpl), whose name was believed to be Krause, shot him in the stomach without any warning. Flt.Lt. Bryson died on 9th April 1945. He was initially interred at the Westertimke Temporary Burial Ground.
The guard’s name has not been confirmed and it is not known what, if any, action was taken against him for the shooting.
The same Luftwaffe Unteroffizier was also implicated in the shooting and wounding of Flt.Lt. D.R. Matheson, J/15847 RCAF (Pilot from 411 Sqn RCAF) and Flt.Lt. F.A. Bowler* 42482, RAFVR (Pilot from 40 Sqn) on or about the 10th April 1945.
* Publications report this airman’s name as Bowker, however, no records exist for an airman with this name. Research has determined that in all probability that this airman’s name was Bowler.
(Left Grave marker - Courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project: Right Bryson family headstone at the Hong Kong Cemetery, Happy Vally, Hong Kong Island - Courtesy Chris Nelson at Find A Grave)
Flt.Lt. Charles Kenneth Lesbirel Bryson. Becklingen War Cemetery 12.G.12. Inscription reads: “FATHER, IN THY GRACIOUS KEEPING LEAVE WE NOW THY SERVANT SLEEPING”. Born on the 16th September 1916 in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Son of Andrew Birrell and Alice (née Lesbirel) Bryson, of Little Brickhill, Buckinghamshire. Husband of Ruth Penelope (née Pickles) Bryson. Married in January-March 1942 at Flyde, Lancashire, England.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the VitzArchive database.