16.08.1941 No. 609 Squadron Spitfire Vb P8745 P/O. Cropper
Date: 16th August 1941 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 609 Squadron
Type: Spitfire Vb
Base: RAF Biggin Hill.
Location: North western France.
Pilot: P/O. Douglas Lindsay Cropper 60762 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
During a sweep Spitfire P8745 was intercepted and shot down by Me 109's from Stab/JG26 at 18:45 hrs.
Promoted to P/O. on 25th December 1940 (748085)
During 2013 a visitor to the website (Peter Mayhew) sent us this information, taken from a newspaper at the time:
'Recently my son’s squadron has been stationed much nearer to me and has come within my 'vision'. When on duty I knew when they took off on their journeys over the North of France; watched them going over, knew when they met the enemy. Whilst I have carried on I have been saying: There goes my son. Keep your chin up, Duggie. God guard and bring you back safely to a happy landing.
As they have wandered back and landed there was the counting up and the final tally. Then the waiting to know if my boy was safe.
So it has been day after day. And day after day I have been silently holding on to him, willing his safe return.
When he visited me a few weeks ago we were having a drink in the mess, the padre and his son, my son and I. A very cheerful wing commander came in. I saw the sudden light of hero worship in the eyes of my 22 year old son when I said, This is Wing Commander Bader.
I knew that that same light was in my eyes whenever I looked at my son, there for all to see.
A few weeks later I had thirty six hours leave. I wanted my boy to meet me somewhere in the country. So at ten that night, when I believed he would have been off duty and returned from a couple of hours with his pals, I tried to get through.
The delay in connecting was irritating, and when eventually I got through the line was bad and I could not understand why various people answered but not my son.
I could usually visualise his grin and the way he would rush to the ‘phone before he yelled - hello Dad.
It was different this time, frighteningly different.
When at last a voice replied that I thought would be his, I shouted, Duggie! Is that Duggie?
A voice faintly said, Mr Cropper is missing.
Those dreadful words…. After a time I asked when it happened.
Earlier this evening, came the reply.
These Are His Wings.
I saw his Squadron Leader and Adjutant. Of that interview in which they were so kind I remember little.
They showed me a copy of the letter they had already posted to me. An official sort of affair: Pilot Officer Cropper, Missing, believed killed.
They also told me:- It was his third trip over France that day. He had been shot up on the first trip and was, as all pilots are, given the chance of standing down. Douglas would not hear of it. He was a grand pilot and had all the ‘guts’ in the world.
These are your sons wings, said his Squadron Leader.
My son’s wings.
Wings which he carried gloriously. Wings which are sewn inside my tunic and which will go with me until that day when we say again, Hello, Duggie, and Hello, Dad.
And the verses which I wrote for another man are now for myself as well.
I am still praying for those words to come which overjoyed me when I overheard them of Bader. Safe, but a prisoner.
Those to whom these boys are beloved, those for whom they brave the great Unknown and lay down their lives, what can we do for them?
Show them that we, too, have, All the guts in the world. Help them to finish this ghastly thing and to make it certain that there shall be no more wars. So that the boys of 22 shall live for the world, not die for it.
God bless, boys. Happy landings.
Bernard D. Cropper, 2nd Lt. Royal Artillery.'
(Father of Douglas L. Cropper)
The poem, shown left, his father wrote can be read in our Poetry section.
P/O. Douglas Lindsay Cropper. Pihen-Les-Guines Communal Cemetery Row B. Grave 5. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Cropper, nephew of Mr. and Mrs. T. Cropper of Mary Street, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England.
Dedicated to the family of P/O. Douglas Cropper. With thanks to Peter Mahew for newspaper extract. Also to John Hayhow for sending in letters, photograph and newspaper article.