Brennan, Cornelius Alfred

Personal Information

Rank WO2
Forename(s) Cornelius Alfred
Surname Brennan
Gender M
Date of Death 13-08-1943
Next of Kin

Aircraft Information

Aircraft Short Stirling III
Serial Number EF452
Markings HA-O

Memorial Information

Burial/Memorial Country Algeria
Burial/Memorial Place Bone War Cemetery, Algeria
Grave Reference I. C. 5.

IBCC Memorial Information

Phase 2
Panel Number 135

Enlistment Information

Service Number R/117605
Service Royal Canadian Air Force
Group 3
Squadron 218 (Gold Coast)
Trade Navigator
Country of Origin Canada

Other Memorials

Location St. Mary's Church, Bexwell, Norfolk
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type Inscribed Stone Tablet
Memorial Text In memory of the squadrons based at R.A.F. Downham Market and those who have their lives during the 1939 - 1945 war
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Location All Saints Church, Chedburgh, Suffolk
Country United Kingdom
Memorial Type RoH and Sqn Crest
Memorial Text Roll of Honour and scroll remembering the members of the Royal and Polish Air Forces who served at RAF Chedburgh 1942 - 1946
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Last Operation Information

Start Date 12-08-1943
End Date 13-08-1943
Takeoff Station Downham Market
Day/Night Raid Night (88% moon)
Operation Turin- Fiat factory. 152 aircraft, 2 losses. The crews described the raids as 'heavy and concentrated' although there was little detail from the local authorities except 18 dead.
Reason for Loss Raked by machine gun fire from another bomber in the main force, killing Sgt. Brennan instantly. F/S Aaron was mortally wounded and died the following day after making a crash landing at Bone airfield, Algeria. The instrument panel had been severely damaged and the front section of the windscreen shattered. Larden and Mitchem, the bomb aimer and flight engineer respectively, took turns at the second set of controls as Aaron was slumped at the main controls, unconscious. Between them, they were able to bring the aircraft back to the straight and level. By now, Aaron had come round and, unable to speak due to severe facial injuries, gave instructions to the crew by scribbling notes on the back of Brennan's logbook. It read that the crew should return to England, but with the aircraft now at only 4000ft in the Alps and severe damage to the trim cables and hydraulics, this did not seem like an appealing option. Instead, Larden headed for Austria but once clear of the Alps, turned west in the hope of reaching Sicily. They crossed into the Mediterranean at La Spezia (where they released their bomb load over the naval base) and on reaching Sicily, they issued a distress call, which was responded to by Bone airfield, North Africa, who took control of the situation and instructed them not to attempt a landing at Sicily but to proceed to Bone. As they approached Bone, Aaron had collected himself enough to insist that he return to the controls despite his grievous injuries and, helped by the other crew, he was able to do just that. After two abortive attempts to land, Larden once again took the controls and landed on the third attempt. Aaron was quickly conveyed to Bone hospital, where he was immediately operated on. Meanwhile Larden and Mitchem, who had scarcely had time to even realise that they had also been hit by gunfire, were also attended to. Although the surgeons were initially pleased with how Aaron had responded, he sadly died the following day. Aaron was a mild mannered individual, but commanded discipline amongst his crew and insisted that all were able to carry out at least some of each others' roles in case anybody should be incapacitated during an operation. This discipline, as it turned out, saved the crew but sadly not Aaron himself. Larden was awarded the CGM whilst Mitchem and Guy received the DFM.

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Casualty Pack

IBCC is delighted to introduce a unique facility to link the Losses Database to the relevant RAF Casualty Pack on the National Archives website. This project is the result of on-going collaboration between IBCC, the MOD Records Office and National Archives, Kew. This document describes what Casualty Packs are, when they were created, the process of making them available to the public and then goes on to describe the process by which you can view the contents of the packs. Casualty Packs (CPs) were created by the RAF whenever there was serious injury or loss of life associated with operational activity within the RAF. This includes operational flying losses, enemy action due to air raids, road accidents either on station or even off-station if they involved RAF vehicles. Deaths due to natural causes in service or accidents that did not involve RAF vehicles did not generally give rise to a CP.

CPs were originally given a unique reference number by the RAF. Each begins with the letter ‘P’ and is followed by six digits, then an oblique (forward slash) and the finally the year in which the incident took place- for example P396154/42.

The CPs are in the process of being made available to the general public as they are passed from the MOD Records Office, Portsmouth to National Archives, Kew. This process requires some rework to the files which is very time consuming, so the process of making them all available to National Archives will take several years. They are being made available in increasing date order.

Once CPs arrive at National Archives they are assigned a unique AIR81 number, so each CP has both a P-number and an AIR81 number. Both are searchable on the National Archives website under ‘Search the catalogue’ and both are included on the IBCC website.

The AIR81 reference on the IBCC website is a link to the file on the National Archives website. When you click on it, the relevant page will open in a new tab on your browser.

There is currently no plan to digitise AIR81 files, partly because they are fragile and partly because the information they contain can at times be sensitive, even harrowing, since they may contain exhumation reports and even photographs of corpses. Family members wishing to read the AIR81 files relating to their ancestors are advised to exercise caution and be guided by National Archives warnings where appropriate.

There are two means for accessing AIR81 files- to attend in person or to order a copy by post.

To attend in person, the attendee should first create a Reader’s Ticket. This can be done online by following this link: Then click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and click Order in Advance. Enter your Reader’s Ticket number and state the date on which you intend to visit. National Archives will have the file ready for you when you arrive, saving you time. When you visit Kew, you must quote the Reader’s Ticket number and take along two forms of ID- one bearing your signature and one bearing your address. When you view the files, you are permitted to take photographs of each page, should you wish.

Alternatively, if you wish to order a copy by post, please be aware that there is a charge for this service based on the number of pages in the file. Click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and then click Request a Copy. There is an £8.40 charge for National Archives staff to access the file and give you a quotation for the copying service. The process takes around 24 days to complete and can be expensive.

IBCC wishes to thank the staff at the MOD Records Office and National Archives for their engagement and assistance in making this facility available to our website users.