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BERNIER, Joseph Wilfred Laurier Fernand Flying Officer, No.425 Squadron (deceased), J29412 Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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BERNIER, F/O Joseph Wilfred Laurier Fernando (J29412) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.425 Squadron (deceased) - Award effective 5 February 1945 as per London Gazette dated 16 February 1945 and AFRO 563/45 dated 29 March 1945. Born in Montreal, 18 November 1915. Educated at Hautes Etudes Commercials. Home in Montreal where he was by turns a clerk, purchasing agent and material inspector (the last for Canadian Car and Foundry); COTC Cadet in Montreal, 1940-41; enlisted there 10 June 1942 in wireless ground trade. To No.5 Manning Depot, 11 August 1942. To No.4 Manning Depot, 25 September 1942. To No.6 BGS, 25 September 1942. Remustered to aircrew and posted to No.3 ITS on 9 January 1943. Graduated 19 March 1943 and promoted LAC. Posted on 3 April 1943 to No.9 AOS; commissioned 20 August 1943 and note posted until 3 September 1943 when sent to \"Y\" Depot, Halifax. Embarked from Boston, 9 October 1943; arrived in United Kingdom, 17 October 1943 and sent to No.3 PRC, Bournemouth. To No.1 (O) AFU, 1 February 1944 where course lasted 2 February to 6 March 1944 (Ansons; flew 24 hours five minutes day day, 25 houtrs ten minutes by night; described as \"inclined to overconfidence and slapdash in his execution of navigation.\"); apparently returned to Bournemouth at uncertain date, for posted from there again on 4 April 1944, this time to No.22 OTU. To No.61 Base, 26 June 1944; to No.425 Squadron, 26 July 1944. Killed in action 18 December 1944 (Halifax MZ538). The aircraft took off with a full bomb load for a mission and was seen to climb 300 to 500 feet. It crashed 1.5 miles from the runway and exploded. Award presented at Government House to his sister, 7 November 1949. No citation other than \"completed...numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.\" DHist file 181.009 D.1730 (PAC RG.24 Vol.20607) has recommendation dated 14 November 1944 when he had flown 112 hours 30 minutes on operations (21 sorties). It was for an immediate DFC with following statement: Flying Officer Bernier was the navigator of a crew detailed to attack Bochum, Germany, on the night of November 4th, 1944. Despite heavy flak and persistent coning by search lights, the run up to the target was made without incident. As the target was approached, the mid-upper gunner reported an aircraft above. The pilot weaved to starboard and as he did so, the aircraft was showered with some 33 incendiaries; one of these ripped the nose of the aircraft, at the same time smashing the bomb aiming instruments. The starboard inner engine was set afire by one of these bombs. A thousand-pound bomb greased the rudder, tearing away part of the tail assembly. Other incendiaries buried themselves in the wings. Three of them burst through the fuselage and remained in the aircraft. In a very calm, comforting and convincing manner, as though nothing had happened, this officer did much to help the morale of the crew. Very cooly he gave the pilot new courage and directions. Under these adverse conditions, he materially helped in the aircraft\'s safe return. Flying Officer Bernier displayed great presence of mind and has set a splendid example of fearlessness and outstanding leadership. His exceptional cool courage and efficiency are worthy of high praise. The sortie list was as follows: 18 August 1944 - Connantre (6.40) 27 August 1944 - Marquis Mimeyecques (3.55) 3 September 1944 - Volkel (3.40) 10 September 1944 - Le Havre (4.35) 11 September 1944 - Castrop Rauxel (5.00) 12 September 1944 - Wanne Eickel (5.15) 25 September 1944 - Calais (3.55) 26 September 1944 - Calais (4.15) 27 September 1944 - Bottrop (5.45) 28 September 1944 - Cap Gris Nez (4.00) 30 September 1944 - Sterkrade (5.05) 4 October 1944 - Bergen (7.05) 6 October 1944 - Dortmund (5.15) 9 October 1944 - Bochum (6.35) 23 October 1944 - Essen (6.05) 25 October 1944 - Hamburg (5.15) 28 October 1944 - Cologne (6.00) 30 October 1944 - Cologne (5.50) 1 November 1944 - Oberhausen (5.55) 2 November 1944 - Dusseldorf (6.05) 4 November 1944 - Bochum (6.20) The website \"Lost Bombers\" gives the following on his final sortie. Halifax MZ538, No.425 Squadron (KW-V), target Duisburg, 17/18 December 1944. Airborne at 0222 hours, 18 December 1944 from Tholthorpe and crashed minutes later near the village of Alne, west of the York to Darlington railway, some 11 miles NW of York. Crew (all killed) were F/O J.R.J.M.Desmarais, RCAF; P/O D.Blackburn (killed); P/O J.W.L.F.Bernier, DFC, RCAF; P/O J.R.J.C.Labrecque, RCAF; P/O J.E.L.Dubois, RCAF; Flight Sergeant J.M.Paradis, RCAF; Flight Sergeant J.R.Lariviere, RCAF; P/O R.C.Gauthier, RCAF.