F/L Leslie Barr and Crew

This crew were amongst the first casualties of the new Path Finder Force, being shot down less than a month after its formation.

The shooting-down occurred on 10 September 1942, near Echt in Holland, west of Dusseldorf, the target of that night’s operation.

The crew were:

F/Lt L R Barr, DFC*

P/O I D Fountain, RCAF

Sgt M S Pepper DFM

P/O P G Freberg, RCAF

P/O E R M Runnacles

P/O E H Cook

Sgt J Greenwood

Sgt P B P Price

Only two men out of the crew of eight survived. Freberg became an evader and Cook became a PoW.

Barr and another crew member are buried at Jonkerbos War Cemetery, but the bodies of the four remaining crew members sunk deep into the marshy ground, and they are remembered at Runnymede. On 30 August 2019 a very interesting article appeared in The Telegraph, concerning these last four crew members and one Dutch family’s long crusade to have the bodies recovered from the mud and honourably buried.

Barr had featured on Illustrated magazine, together with a wonderful bulldog (see our post in January 2019). He is also in the photograph above, third from the left.

Barr with PO Prune

Barr and two other members of the crew had been at 15 Squadron prior to joining the Pathfinders. Chorley (Bomber Command Losses, 1942) gives the following details: The crew crash-landed at Wyton on the night of 22 January 1942, at 22.14, after returning from a nightmare operation in which they had been attacked fifteen times by night-fighters. Prior to that they had been coned, and forced down to 3,000 feet before escaping from the trap.

Three crew members were injured in the crash-landing, which may partly account for the change of personnel by the time of the Dusseldorf operation. The crew in January 1942 were:

F/O L R Barr

Sgt Hayes

Sgt Pepper

P/O A H H Young

Sgt Briggs

Sgt Collins

Sgt Greenwood

Sgt Houghton