neville gene p
Photo Source 1936 Oklahoma City University Yearbook
AGE- yo

Second Lieutenant

(American Volunteer)

SQUADRON133 Squadron "Eagle"neville gene p tombe
GROUPRoyal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
DATE OF DEATH26 october 1942
PLACE OF DEATHSector Guingamp

Originally buried in the cemetery of Brest-Kerfautras

Story of Cemetery Temporary


Map St James American Cemetery


Spitfire - Mk.IX - s/n BS140

Mission: B-17 Flying Fortress Escort

When the escort returns, the formation already run out of fuel (strong headwinds, difficulties finding the bombers) is lost above the cloud layer 

Believer flying over Britain, is actually above Brest. Taken by the flak and the enemy fighter Focke Wulf 190 of the 8./JG2

Takeoff of Great Sampford, ESSEX

In the operation, the squadron loses 11 of its 12 spitfires - only 1 manages to return to England while crashing in Cornwall

Squadron transferred 3 days later to the USAAF:336th Fighter Squadron (4th Fighter Group /8th Air Force)


usaf 8air force 4fg 4fgroup 336fs
4th Fighter Group



Purple HeartPhoto FDLM


raf Royal Airforce Badge 133sq



The Morlaix Mission
26 September 1942 was the date of the ill-fated Morlaix Mission. 133 Squadron was tasked with providing a fighter escort to Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the USAAF in their brand new Spitfire IXs. As McColpin was on leave, Gordon Brettell led the squadron on this disastrous mission, flying Spitfire Mark IX, BS313. The 18 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 97th Bomb Group were tasked with attacking a Focke Wulf aircraft maintenance plant and its neighbouring railway yards at Morlaix, with the Brest u-boat pens as their secondary target. Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons 401 and 402 were also flying escort with 133 Squadron.
133 Squadron was scheduled to meet the B17's over the Channel at 25,000ft at 16:00 hours and escort them to the target (a short range mission of less than 150 miles). Although, thanks to the apparent lax discipline only one other pilot accompanied Gordon Brettell to the briefing ("Cider we had for lunch had more authority than we realised", was how one pilot explained later). Not that it is certain that any more would have changed the outcome of the mission.
The forecast was for a 35 knot headwind but thanks to the jetstream (which flips around like an untended pressure hose) what they had was a 100 knot tailwind – in effect, a 135 knot error.
Not seeing the bombers at the rendezvous point they flew on, thinking that they may have gone ahead to the secondary target, and intending to link up with them on their return journey. After failing to make contact they turned for home, unaware that what were then unknown winds that form the jetstream had carried the squadron much further south than they realised. Flying at their mission height of 28,000ft above the clouds, with their fuel situation beginning to deteriorate but expecting to be within sight of the English coast, Gordon Brettell decided to dive through the cloud cover to try to get an idea of exactly where they were. Without an explicit order to stay where they were the others followed him down. Breaking through the cloud base they saw a medium size town on the coast ahead. Believing it to be Southampton, they decided to put on a show in their new Spitfires and tightened up into a close formation. Except it wasn't Southampton – it was Brest. Home to the German u-boat pens and one of the heaviest attacked places on the Atlantic coast – and home to some of the toughest air defences in Europe.
What happened next would have been comedy if not for the tragic outcome of a close formation flypast over those lethal defences. No doubt surprised, the Germans didn't waste any time wondering about the apparently insane behaviour of their foes – they let fly with everything they had.
Gordon Brettell's Spitfire took a direct hit from flak near the point where the right wing joined the fuselage – it blew the wing off and he spun in out of control. He crashed into an apple orchard and was seriously injured – he had broken both legs, an arm, and a number of ribs. In no state to escape he was captured and due to the severity of his injuries was sent to a hospital in Paris (he later recounted the kindness of his French nurses to the man who became his regular 'escape partner', Kingsley Brown, a Canadian bomber pilot). One of his flight leaders, Captain M E 'Jack' Jackson (Blue Flight) who had also been shot down was also on the ward. Later, they both were transferred to Stalag Luft III (Jackson was still there when Brettell's ashes were brought back by the Gestapo).
The rest of the squadron didn't fare much better. Those that survived the wall of anti-aircraft fire or flak were soon set upon by the skilled fliers of the crack JG54 Luftwaffe fighter squadron based nearby to defend the port. Only one aircraft from 133 Squadron made it back to the English coast – only to be destroyed in the crash-landing and its pilot seriously wounded.

PROGRAMMERFrédéric & Renaud
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