Sergeant Edward Brayley
Sergeant Edward Brayley was the son of Alfred (a motor engineer) and Sarah Brayley, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire. He had an older brother, Clifford and a younger sister Margaret.
Edward was flying Spitfire V (AB861) when he was shot down over the Forest of Clairmarais, east of St.Omer, on 13th October, 1941. Sgt. Edgar Purton Jackson, of 452 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force also lost his life on this sortie.
Both men were lost during Circus 108A – six Blenheim bombers sent to target the St. Omer ship-lift on the Canal de Neuflosse accompanied by 15 fighter squadrons, with the Kenley Wing providing close escort. At the same time Circus 108B would take 12 Blenheims to Mazingarbe. Stiff opposition from the Luftwaffe was guaranteed.
Sure enough attacks began when the Circus was halfway between the French coast and the target and the close escort thinned out as they responded to the incoming enemy fighters. Al Deere’s radio had failed so he had to watch helplessly as his No.2, Sgt. Brayley, came under attack and went down streaming smoke and glycol. Sgt. Ed “Happy” Jackson was also lost without trace, presumed to have gone into the Channel.
In addition, Sgt. L. L. Ford, a New Zealander serving with 602 squadron (flying W3897), was shot down and taken Prisoner of War, while Jack Elphick of 452 squadron (flying AD310) was lucky enough to be hit very close to the English coast. His fellow Australians saw him go down and orbited overhead sending mayday signals. Luckily, they spotted Canadian “Buck” McNair, of 411 squadron, also in the water and the two pilots were picked up by the Dover lifeboat.
In return, the Kenley Wing claimed eight Me109’s destroyed, seven by 452 squadron and one by Crawford-Compton of 485 squadron. However, the Luftwaffe had actually only lost one – Adolf Galland’s wingman, reportedly brought down by the Blenheims’ rear gunners.
Sgt. Edward Brayley was laid to rest at Longuenesse (St.Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, Plot 9. Row A. Grave 10. He was 20 years old when he died.
The inscription on his gravestone reads:
To a beautiful life came a sudden end
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.