Pilot Officer Bryan Alphonsus McCONNELL DFM

Service No: 412021
Born: MacLean NSW, 22 February 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 June 1941
Unit: No. 107 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Blackbushe
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), 9 July 1943
Died: Air Operations: (No. 107 Squadron Boston aircraft BZ3897), Blackbushe, 6 January 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James and Mary Josephene McConnell, of Coolangatta, Queensland, Australia; grandson of Bridget Gallagher, of Tyndale, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Clarence River NSW
Remembered: Panel 126, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

DFM Citation (for service with No. 464 Squadron RAAF): “On 13 June 1943, Sgt McConnell was detailed to fly as turret gunner in No 4 position in the second box of six Venturas which were to carry out a “Ramrod” operation against the viaduct at St Brieuc. When flying at low level across the sea towards the target, Sergeant McConnell’s aircraft (pilot – FO W D Parsons RAAF) was attacked by an FW190 which dived through 5/10ths cloud at 1,500 feet almost astern. Sergaent McConnell at once opened fire but almost immediately a shell struck the turret rendering the guns unserviceable and wounding McConnell in both hands and blowing him completely out of the turret onto the floor of the aircraft. Undeterred, he at once climbed back into the turret and gave his pilot such concise and well-timed orders that four further determined attacks were completely evaded. This airman showed great courage and determination, and it is was greatly due to his efforts that the aircraft, although badly damaged, successfully made base. Strongly recommended.”

Remarks by AOC “I strongly endorse this recommendation. Sergeant McConnell showed great courage and determination in spite of the fact that he had been wounded. I consider he deserves the immediate award of the DFM.” The award was promulgated in London Gazette on 9 July 1943.

On 6 January 1944, BZ387 participated in a Squadron medium altitude attack on a target in Northern France. No. 107 Squadron was the lead squadron of the Wing, and BZ387 was leading Box No 2 of the Squadron. As the aircraft crossed the enemy coast inwards, heavy flak enemy fire concentrated on No 2 Box. The CO of 107 Sqn considered that BZ387 was hit at this stage. However ‘L for Love’ continued her position in Box No 2 all the way to the target and back to base. Following the break up L for Love was seen to circuit the aerodrome with the right propeller feathered and that was the first indication of trouble with the aircraft. It appeared likely that the controls were damaged as BZ387 commenced to turn slowly to starboard, the rate of bank increased, the live engine took charge, the aircraft winged over and nosed down going into a dive and hit the ground. All the crew members were killed.

The crew members of BZ387 were:

Pilot Officer Bryan Alphonsus McConnell DFM (412021) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Sergeant Albert John Naisbit (107013) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Pilot Officer Donald Horace Skipp (162984) (RAFVR) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
First Lieutenant A G Truxler (USAAF) (Pilot)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/26/151