Letter to Cecil O'Brien's Father



Letter to Cecil O'Brien's Father


The letter advises that his son died in a crash near Berlin although his body has not been identified.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage



Two typewritten sheets


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[crest of the Commonwealth of Australia]


Casualty Section,
Albert Park Barracks,
MELBOURNE [deleted] C.1 [/deleted] S.C.3

MXY [deleted] 550 [/deleted] 130


IN REPLY QUOTE RAAF.166/31/143(38A)


MAY 6 1948

Dear Sir,

I refer to previous communications concerning your late son, Pilot Officer Cecil O’Brien, and now advise that a report has been received from the Missing, Research and Enquiry Service operating in Germany.

The report is based on interrogation of local residents, investigations carried out at the scene of the crash and at the Doeberitz and Elsgrund Cemeteries. It states that your son’s aircraft crashed on a house in Wendenschloss Strasse, Kopenick. On impact the aircraft exploded and caught fire. Kopenick is a suburb of Berlin and is situated approximately 8 miles south east of the city.

The report adds that the bodies of two members of the crew were recovered from the wreckage by the Germans, and that of a third member, who had apparently been thrown from the aircraft, was found in a garden nearby. It is thought that the remains of the other four crew members may have been recovered by the Germans later, when they removed the wreckage. An alternative possibility is that the severity of the explosion and ensuing fire was such, as to render impossible, the recovery of their remains.

A large number of Royal Air Force and Dominion airmen, recovered from aircraft which crashed in the Berlin area, were buried in the Doeberitz and Elsgrund Cemeteries, but the Germans neglected to keep a proper record of the majority of such burials. However, following exhumations at the Elsgrund cemetery, it was possible to establish the individual identification of two members of your son’s crew, namely, Flying Officer Sudds and Sergeant Coombe both of the Royal Air Force and their remains have now been interred in the British Military Cemetery, Heerstrasse, Berlin. The Elsgrund Cemetery is adjacent to the Doeberitz Cemetery which is located about 14 miles west of Berlin.

Eventually all graves in both the Doeberitz and Elsgrund Cemeteries, will be exhumed in an endeavour to establish the individual identification of many airmen still buried as unknown in those cemeteries. After these investigations have been completed, the remains of all identified and unidentified airmen will be transferred to the nearest British Military Cemetery, in accordance with the policy of the British and Dominion Governments. The unidentified members will, unfortunately, have to be reinterred as unknown airmen.

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However, you may be assured that if any advice is received at a later date, to the effect that your son’s remains have been identified you will be informed without delay. If his place of burial cannot be established, he will be commemorated by including his name on a memorial which will be erected at a later date by the Imperial War Graves Commission, to the memory of those deceased members who have no known grave. Details concerning the location and form of this memorial have yet to be decided by the Commission.

Permit me to assure you once again of the sincere sympathy of this Department in your great loss.

Yours faithfully,


(M.C. Langslow)
[underlined] SECRETARY. [/underlined]

Mr. J.F. O’Brien,
4 Wills Crescent,
[underlined] DACEYVILLE. N.S.W. [/underlined]


Department of Air, Australia, “Letter to Cecil O'Brien's Father,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/35835.

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