Q-Queenie exploded in mid-air over the target, almost certainly due to flak or fighter. Four of the crew were never found and thus are commemorated on the Runnymede memorial.
The pilot, David James Brill, was 22, and came from Corsham in Wiltshire. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Flight Engineer John Stone is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Tommy Handley, the 2nd pilot, had only recently joined the Squadron on 1st December 1943, from No 12 Operational Training Unit. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Further biographical details of Tommy Handley can be found below.
Bomb Aimer Robert Butler was 20, he came from Stafford.
W/OP Harry Chappell was 23, he came from Southey in Yorkshire. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Norman McIntyre, the navigator, RAAF, was 24 years old. He came from Cairns, Queensland, Australia. He was married to an English girl and they were expecting their first child; she lived in Wandsworth in London. It is thought that his original crew had completed a tour on Wellingtons. Norm transferred from 35 Squadron just before Black Thursday, on 5th December 1943, and replaced the usual navigator on Brill's crew. He was flying his first operation with 97 Squadron.
The crew's usual navigator was Flying Officer Arthur Weston but he had been placed on the sick register on 1st December 1943. Though he survived this night because he was not flying with the crew, he would be killed on operations with 97 Squadron in May 1944.
Mid-upper gunner Gordon James Little, RCAF, came from Lorain in Ohio. He was 21.
Rear Gunner F/Sgt Ernest John Battle, RAAF, was 22 years old, and came from Rose Bay, NSW.
Tommy Handley was so nicknamed after the famous star of a popular wartime radio program, "It's That Man Again" (affectionately known as ITMA). His real name was Roland Ernest Handley and he was born in East Ham, a poor district of London, on 13th December 1911. He was therefore 32 years old at the time of his death over Berlin, which was ancient for the wartime RAF.
In civil life he was a salesman. He married Hilda Cecilia Godley on 23rd November 1930 at Westcliffe-on-Sea. They had one daughter named Brenda born on 12th December 1933. He would have a second, posthumous, daughter - Veronica - 11 years later.
At the outbreak of war, Tommy joined the RAF and became a pilot. His family home was now in Southend-on-Sea, and it was from one of the people working on the pleasure boats there that Tommy had adopted his famous catchphrase, always delivered in a superb Southend accent, "All aboard The Nemo, last trip before the water goes" - this he invariably uttered as the crew climbed the ladder into the aircraft before a bombing raid.
Tommy was very short, only five foot 4, but always smiling and cracking jokes. The photograph is the only one known of him in the RAF, and was taken in May 1941 at RAF Shallufa in Egypt where he was a pilot on 37 Squadron. He sent the photo to Benny Goodman in England.
Benny Goodman, then only 20 years of age, had been his skipper (Tommy was then flying as a second pilot) with 99 Squadron at Newmarket Heath. As Benny says, "The photograph is typical of him. He was always full of fun, but cool and collected under operational conditions. I liked him very much and I miss him still. It is a great pity that he did not survive the war."
Tommy spent some months abroad, flying Wellington operations, and was allocated his own crew in June 1941. In October 1941, the overseas part of his RAF career was over and he was posted to the Middle East Pool for repatriation to the UK. For his services to date, he was awarded the DFM which was gazetted on 4th November 1941, and he received it in person from the King at Buckingham Palace on 29th September 1942.
He now spent some time as a training instructor. He was at No 12 Operational Training Unit when he was posted to 97 Squadron for his second tour, and arrived at Bourn on 26th November 1943.
As they were now both in the Pathfinders and stationed not far from one another, Tommy made a quick visit to Benny Goodman who was then flying Mosquitoes with 627 Squadron at Oakington. Benny was due to go on an op when Tommy arrived, so Tommy went to the briefing with him. Afterwards, he waited for him to return, Benny returned safely, and they enjoyed a traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs together.
Very shortly afterwards, Tommy made his first trip out for 97 Squadron as Brill's second pilot, and was killed over Berlin. His body was never found.
BRILL's CREW - OPERATIONS FLOWN
The text is taken from the crew's comments at debriefing, as recorded in the ORB.
1. 3/4 November 1943 - Cologne - JA963Q F/L D.J.Brill, Sgt J.Stone, P/O W.G.Wishart, P/O R.Butler, Sgt H.Chappell, P/O G.J.Little, F/Sgt E.J.Battle. Up 1725 Down 2143. 1 x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb, 5 x 500lb. Target Cologne attacked. 20,000. Bright moonlight, no cloud, ground haze. Two red TI markers in bomb sight at time of bombing. Own bombs seen to explode, the last just overshooting red TI. No results observed.
2. 10/11 November 1943 - Modane JA963Q F/L D.J.Brill, Sgt J.Stone, F/O A.W.Weston, P/O R.Butler, Sgt H.Chappell, P/O G.J.Little, F/Sgt E.J.Battle. Up 2120 Down 0444. 8 x 1000lb. Modane bombed. 19,500. Full moon, clear sky, vis good. Target identified visually. Bombed on single red TI marker. Own results not seen. One very good fire seen with much rising smoke.
3. 25/26 November 1943 - Frankfurt JA963Q F/L D.J.Brill, Sgt J.Stone, F/O A.W.Weston, P/O R.Butler, Sgt H.Chappell, P/O G.J.Little, F/Sgt E.J.Battle. Up 0030 Down 0630. 1 x 4000lb, 4 x 1000lb. Frankfurt attacked from 19,500. Target marked by 8 TI red. A red glow was in bomb sight as bombs were released.
4. 26/27 November 1943 - Berlin JA963Q F/L D.J.Brill, Sgt J.Stone, P/O A.P.Rand, P/O R.Butler, Sgt H.Chappell, P/O G.J.Little, F/Sgt E.J.Battle. Up 1730 Down 0020. 1 x 4000lb, 3 x 1000lb, 4 x 500lb. Berlin bombed from 20,000. Vis good, clear sky. Coned by searchlights over target and encountered some inaccurate heavy flak. Could not evade searchlights so jettisoned bombs on outskirts of town.
5. 3/4 December 1943 - Leipzig JA963Q F/L D.J.Brill, Sgts D.Coates (2nd Pilot), J.Stone, P/O T.Campbell, P/O R.Butler, Sgt G.H.Townend, P/O G.J.Little, F/Sgt E.J.Battle. Up 1730 Down 0020. 4 x TI, 1 x 4000lb, 3 x 1000lb, 1 x 500lb. Bombs dropped on Leipzig. Routemarkers well placed on route in and out. The effect of the attack could not be judged owing to 10/10ths cloud over target area.
Note: The second pilot on this trip was Bill Coates, who won an immediate DFM for his heroic flight on 16/17 December 1943. Gordon Townend would be flying with Smith's crew on the 16/17 December 1943 and would bale out with the rest of the crew.
6. 16/17 December 1943 - Berlin JB963Q F/L D.J.Brill, F/L R.E.Handley (2nd Pilot), Sgt J.Stone, P/O N.G.McIntyre, P/O R.Butler, Sgt H.Chappell, P/O G.J.Little, F/Sgt E.J.Battle. Up 1655 - missing