Corporal William Edward Brennen

RAF Squadrons did not always have offensive roles in support of the Battle of Normandy.

One important task was the repatriation of the wounded back to Britain for urgent medical treatment.

Hundreds, if not thousands of lives were saved as a result of daily flights between UK airfields and the newly established Normandy beachhead in France.

575 Squadron was one of the units involved in this vital role.

Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada


At the beginning of the Battle of Normandy, 21 Dakota aircraft from 575 Squadron dropped around one thousand airborne troops from 1st Canadian and 9th Parachute Battalions, part of 3rd Parachute Brigade.

575 Squadron also took part in glider sorties, towing Horsas.

But as the offensive continued, Anson aircraft joined the Squadron and it was given the additional crucial task of delivering supplies and personnel in support of frontline units on a daily basis, bringing the wounded back home on the return journey.

Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada


On one flight on 17th June, just 11 days after D-Day, 15 Dakotas landed at an airstrip at Bazenville on the Normandy beachhead. On board were ground crew of the 2nd Tactical Air Force fighter squadron.

When the aircraft took off for Britain, they were carrying more than two hundred wounded men.

Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada


Allied fighters did have supremacy over the Luftwaffe by this stage in the battle, but flights over the Channel were not without risk.

On 5th August 1944, Dakota transport aircraft FZ674 crashed shortly after take-off in foggy weather at Amblie, 15km north of Caen, killing the crew.

One of those on board was Corporal William Edward Brennen, who was serving with the Squadron and possibly helping to care for the wounded on board.

He is buried in Ryes Cemetery, in Bazenville, France. Soon he will be commemorated on the British Normandy Memorial.

Courtesy of Commonwealth War Graves Commission


With thanks to for additional information.

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