Geissmann, Bernard Malcolm

Bernard was born on the 14th December 1921 in Brisbane Queenland, and he enlisted on the 16th August 1940, also in Brisbane.

He served with 457 Squadron RAF at Jurby on the Isle of Man between June and September 1941. 457 Squadron had just been formed at Baginton, near Coventry, in England on the 16th June 1941 so Bernard was probaly with the Squadron right from the start. The Squadron was equipped with Supermarine Spitfires and became part of 9 Group of Fighter Command. It was declared operational on the 7th August 1941. Initially it escorted convoys and patrolled over the seas to Britain’s west, but much of its time was devoted to training. The Squadron effectively became an Operational Training Unit, preparing Spitfire pilots for other squadrons, particularly 452 Squadron RAAF, that were more actively engaged, and that is probably how Bernard ended up at 452 Squadron in September 1941. He would have been based at RAF Kenley and then RAF Redhill.

452 Squadron was involved in convoy patrols, bomber escort missions and fighter sweeps over occupied France. The Squadron found itself in regular action against German aircraft and by the end of the year, just after Bernard had died, it was acknowledged as the leading fighter squadron in RAF Fighter Command. In one month alone, the Squadron had destroyed 22 Bf109s. 

Bernard was killed in action on the 6th November 1941. At the time he was flying over the sea near France. He was only 19. The day he was killed, 642 Squadron had to work with Kenley Wing (602 and 485 Squadrons) acting as Tomahawk cover. The CO, Squadron Leader Robert Bungey, was leading 642 Squadron. They took off at 13:45 hrs and were engaged by six enemy aircraft over Cap Gris Nez. Sergeant Geissmann was posted as missing.

With thanks, and according to forumon12oclockhigh.net, Bernard was the 41st and last pilot to be killed by the German fighter Ace, Oberleutnant Johann Schmid. The report is as follows:  

On the 6th November 1941, Schmid was leading III./JG 26. Over the Channel, Schmid led an attack on a dozen RAF Spitfire fighters. His attack downed one of the Spitfires. While Schmid was circling the crash site, the wing of his Bf 109 F-4 (W.Nr. 7211) “Black 1” struck the water and broke off. The plane hit the water and sank immediately. Schmid was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major. 

Sergeant Bernard Geissmann is remembered at Runymead Memorial in England. 

Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association