Both from Windsor; Sherry and Bernyk
James Sherry pilot of RAF ME647
In December 2019 Mr Jack van Dalen mailed me om behalf of Mr Gordon Sherry. James Anthony Sherry / Jim Sherry was his fathers brother. He sent me additional information and photos of his Uncle Jim and his father.
He also added info on Michael Bernyk and his brother Victor.
Sherry Family of 1940s Windsor Ontario Canada
Top Row: Uncle Jim, Gramma Rose Sherry, Grampa Jim Sherry
Bottom Row: Dad - Gordon, Aunt Patricia
Windsor enlistees ready to board train for Basic Training
Jim is first left bottom row.
1944: Jim 3rd from left middle row leaning on training mate.
In Camp Borden - about 90 km north of Toronto - Jim Sherry got his 'wings' pinned on and at the end of September 1944 he was in England where he was assigned to the 166th RAF Bomber Squadron.
Sherry Brother’s Reunion in Windsor
Before Jim’s Deployment to England.
Left: Gordon J. Sherry - Right: James A. Sherry.
Gordon J. Sherry was a RCAF Lancaster tail gunner who’s crew patrolled the St Lawrence Sea way and Atlantic Coast to search for and destroy U-boats.
From Gordon Sherry
‘My Dad (Gord) was the younger brother. Seems they were both eager to join older brothers in flight and in the fight. Back then, Canadian Schools had 13 grades to complete for graduation. During WWII, with parents’ permission, you could leave school after completing 12th grade to join the war efforts. That is what my Dad did by enlisting with the RCAF trying to catch up with his older brother Jim to possibly serve together in same squadron if not the same crew.
While based in England, my Uncle Jim sent a letter or two home to his Dad (my Grandfather) asking him to “slow Gord down from wanting to get over here so fast.” Like your Dad (John), my Uncle Jim had mixed feelings on his younger brother following him into the dangerous business.
My Dad completed training as a Lancaster tail gunner and was based at Prince Edward Island, Canada patrolling the Atlantic Coast and the St. Lawrence Sea Way searching to destroy U-Boats. They were also improving skills waiting for their turn overseas. With the war in Europe winding down, attention was being directed towards the Japanese with talk that crews were to be deployed to the South Pacific. Fortunately the two atomic bombs persuaded the Japanese to surrender before Dad was deployed.’
Missing on 1 January 1945
X-68 at Military Cemetery of Margraten - letter from May 1945 (from Jan Niewenhuis)
Memorial service on 19 April 1945
Two Bernyk brothers - Michael and Victor
Mr Gordon Sherry: ‘Michael Bernyk was the Navigator for RAF ME647. The Bernyk’s and Sherry’s homes were very close to each other within a block or so. Perhaps being of familiar faces if not friends factored into when they were crewing up in final training.
The Bernyk brothers’ story is the most heart wrenching. For Mr. & Mrs. Bernyk to receive death in action notices for both sons in the same week must had broken their hearts. Further below is the wording from a newspaper posting informing of the three deaths in action.’
Mr Todd Johnston sent me these photo’s
Left: Victor in uniform and Michael with their sister - Todd’s grandmother - Stella.
Right: Michael and his parents; William and Mary Bernyk-Popoyskey.
Far right the photo of Michael Bernyk as shown in Ron Putz’ book.
From the letter of Ron Putz in December 1986
The letter was addressed to Mr John Bernyk in Tecumseh/Ontario, with details om the cause of the crash (but no origin mentioned), the option that Ken Surman initially survived the crash (not confirmed) and at the bottom the nicknames of 6 of the 7 crew members.
Mr. Gordon Sherry send me this letter in a document in December 2019.
Article in The Windsor Star 31-12-2019
Windsor pair killed on NYE bomber mission to be honored in the Netherlands
by Mr Doug Schmidt
A pair of young flyboys who grew up just blocks apart in Windsor, and who died together on a dangerous New Year’s Eve bombing mission over Nazi Germany in 1944, will be honored in the spring by a grateful village in the Netherlands.
From Gordon Sherry: ‘Below are pictures from Windsor Ontario Jackson Park. Up until 12+ years ago, there was an actual Lancaster on pedestal monument as the center of the flower garden. A very nice destination.
It was decided since there are so few Lancasters in working condition, to take down the Lancaster for restoration in hopes it might fly again. I heard it was going to be a few years to restore though the task seems to be more of a challenge then originally thought. It’s been more than ten years and still no “flight readily” status news that I can find. The Lancaster’s monument was replaced with a ground level silhouette garden Lancaster with two Spitfires overhead on pedastals. It’s very nice, though I miss being able to vist the Lancaster and pointing out the stations of my Dad & Uncle.
Victor Hector Bernyk;
he is buried at the Durnbach War Cemetery in Bavaria - Germany.