Pilot Officer Barry Morgan-Dean RAF. 103 Sqdn
Barry Morgan Dean was born 28 Jan. 1917 in Seaford, Sussex. At the time, his father, George Edward Morgan Dean, was a lieutenant with the Canadian Field Artillery attached to the Royal Flying Corps as a balloon officer. Before the war ended, he was made a balloon commander and given temporary rank of captain. For his service, George received an MBE. No doubt, as a boy in Canada Morgan Dean heard adventure-filled stories about his father’s service because he had a lifelong desire to join the Royal Air Force.
Morgan Dean’s father died in 1928 and around 1930, his U.S.-born mother took him and his brother, Robert, to live with her family in the states. As soon as Barry finished his education, graduating from Central High School in Kansas City, Kan., in 1934, he returned to British Columbia. First he lived in the small village of Kaleden, where he ran a gas station. Later he moved to Vancouver, where he was a clerk for the Hudson Bay Co., and took flying lessons. When he arrived in England in 1937, he had 16 hours dual, 16 hours solo and a Civil Air Pilot’s license.
Morgan Dean started his military training at the Civil Flying School at Yatesbury (12 July through 6 September) then was assigned to 11 Flying Training School on 18 September. For the next 10 months he trained on the Hawker Hart, Audax and Hind aircraft.
After receiving his wings on 19 July 1938, Morgan Dean was assigned to fly bombers with 103 Squadron based at Usworth in NE England. In August of that year, the squadron started flying the Fairey Battle Mk 1 and was based at the RAF Bomber Command training station in Abingdon for the next eight months.
Bomber Command moved 103 Squadron from Abingdon to RAF Benson in April 1939 as war appeared increasingly likely. Commanding officers started to prepare the pilots and their crews psychologically, telling them that they should expect a loss of 25 percent of the squadron if they flew into combat.
103 Squadron left for France on 2 September 1939 as part of the Advance Air Striking Force. AASF’s presence in the eastern part of France and its ability to fly over Germany was intended to deter Germany from invading France.
The AASF saw most of its action in the first weeks of the war and again when German forces moved toward France in early May 1940. Morgan Dean’s flight records reflect the AASF’s activity. Squadron records are incomplete, but Morgan Dean is credited with these missions:
27 September 1939: Pilot Officer Morgan Dean flew with two other Fairey Battles to take oblique (angled) photographs at 2,000 feet along the German border. As they neared the target, three French fighters approached them. Flight Lieut. H.C. Wells fired recognition signals and the fighters left. The Battles took their photographs before three German Bf109 fighters attacked. Flight Officer Vipon’s plane received serious damage and his navigator, Sgt. J.H. Vickers, was wounded mortally. Vipon crash landed behind the French lines. Wells and Morgan Dean made it back to base.
16 April 1940: Daylight aerial mosaic photograph operation to the Maizeray, France, airfield. A mosaic is many small images pieced together to form a large view of a specific area. Cloud cover prevented Morgan Dean from completing the task.
20 April 1940: Flight Officer Morgan Dean, Sgt. Mallard and Aircraftsman First Class Horace Basil Sewell took off at 23.35 from Bétheniville for Frankfurt via Thionville and Rheinbollen on a nickelling (dropping propaganda leaflets) and reconnaissance flight. They returned via Darmstadt and Hanau.
The German offensive through the Low Countries toward France began on 10 May. Morgan Dean flew his last mission on 12 May.
Morgan Dean piloted Fairey Battle L5512, one of three planes that took off from Bétheniville at 1630 on a low-level bombing run against a German tank division near Bouillon, Belgium. With him again was his gunner H.B. Sewell, a 21-year-old from Wolverhampton. The group spotted the enemy tanks 1.5 miles south of Bouillon and attacked by dive-bombing them, dropping from 3,000 to 1,000 feet. At the same time, the German force let loose a barrage of small arms and machine gun fire.
Fairey Battle L5512 encountered heavy flak and Morgan Dean tried to return to base. He attempted a crash landing in the Bulson area, about two miles west of Haraucourt, Ardennes, and about 15 miles from Bouillon, but neither he nor Sewell survived.
The Vancouver Sun carried a front-page story the next day. Morgan Dean was “missing in action, presumed to have lost his life.” He was reported to have been one of the first British Columbia casualties in the war. The Air Ministry confirmed his family’s worst fears in early 1944: A search crew had found wreckage from his plane with an unmarked grave beside it.
When the British Liberation Army entered the area in early 1945, it sent word to his mother that it appeared that Morgan Dean and Sewell initially had been interred near the plane but later had been moved to the Haraucourt churchyard.
Item written by Janene Zaccone