24/25.06.1943 7 Squadron Stirling III EF392 MG-N Sqn.Ldr. Savage
Date: 24/25th June 1943 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: 7 Squadron
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire
Location: North Sea - 80 km. west of Katwijk
Pilot: Sqn.Ldr. John Ronald Savage 402882 RAAF Age 26. Missing
Pilot 2: Plt.Off. Frederick John Haines 149607 RAFVR Age ? Missing
Flt.Eng: Flt.Sgt. Godfrey Hippesley Cox 569405 RAF Age 23. Missing
Nav: Flt.Sgt. Sidney James Barnes 656215 RAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Sydney Arthur Errington 1507631 RAFVR Age 28. Missing
WOp: Sgt. Arthur Ashton Caley 1377873 RAFVR Age 27. Missing
Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Norman Robert Morrison R/140004 RCAF Age 19. Missing
Air Gnr: Sgt. Derek Richard Spanton 1323191 RAFVR Age 21. Missing (1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 23.28 hrs. from RAF Oakington to attack the Elberfeld half of Wuppertal, the Barmen half of the town having been devastated at the end of May. The Pathfinder marking was accurate and the Main Force bombing started well but the creep-back became more pronounced than usual. 30 aircraft bombed targets in more western parts of the Ruhr (Wuppertal was at the eastern end of the area).
A total of 171 factories and businesses were destroyed and another 53 seriously affected. It is recorded that an estimated 18.000 people lost their lives.
Believed to be shot down by Hptm Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (2) Stab IV/NJG5 detached to 1/NJG1 at 02:50 with the Stirling crashing into the North sea 80 km. west of Katwijk. The body of Flt.Sgt. Barnes was eventually washed ashore and is buried in Bergen General Cemetery, the others have no known graves.
One of three 7 Squadron Stirlings lost on this operation:
Stirling R9281 MG-V flown by 25 year old, Fg.Off. Arthur Joseph Davis 120803 RAFVR (of Fiji) missing believed killed along with his 6 other crew members (3 of which bodies were recovered).
Lancaster ED595 MG-Q flown by 23 year old, Wg.Cdr. Robert George Barrell DSO. DFC. and bar, 78524 RAFVR killed with 2 other crew members with a further 3 made PoW, another escaping capture. 3 DFM's and 2 DFC's held by members of this crew. Note: the squadron in the process of converting to Lancasters at this time. With thanks to Jack Brook for this additional information - September 2015.
Above: as described (courtesy Australian War Memorial and John Tanner)
7 Squadron Stirling - 'bombing up' (archives)
(1) Sgt. Derek Richard Spanton had survived a previous incident when, on the night of 08/09th March 1943 on an operation to Nuremberg. During the return trip, Stirling I BK610 MG-V the pilot, 23 year old P/O. Lionel L.V. Toupin J/17295 RCAF from Quebec, Canada, ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. All the crew did just that, except Sgt. Spanton who never heard the order. By the time he realised what was happening, all the crew had jumped over the sea off Dungeness and were lost - he then jumped, but lucky as the aircraft was over land, he survived only to lose his life on this operation just 5 months later!
(2) From German records it was originally reported that Maj. Sayn-Wittgenstein’s Ju-88 was shot down by Plt.Off. Snape and Fg.Off. Fowler on the 21st/22nd January 1944. However, modern day research has established that Maj. Sayn-Wittgenstein was in fact shot down by his fifth aircraft claim that night and was attributed to Flt.Lt. T.R. Thompson, the rear gunner, aboard 156 Sqn Lancaster JA912. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (1 January - 15 March 1944) Part 1 - Theo Boiten). (83 kills to his credit - one of the highest scoring nightfighter aces - see Kracker Archive on this site)
Bergen General Cemetery (courtesy Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
Left: Runnymede Memorial
Sqn.Ldr. John Ronald Savage. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 187. Son of William and Daisy Louise Savage, of Balgowlah, New South Wales, Australia, husband of Wilhelmina Eugenie Savage, of Tullibegerri, New South Wales, Australia.
Plt.Off. John Frederick Haines. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 131. Son of the late Mr. Fred Haines and Mrs. Haines of 70 Apple Grove, Enfield, Middlesex, England. Educated at Tottenham Grammar School. His father was a former Police Constable.
Flt.Sgt. Godfrey Hippesley Cox. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 135. Son of Austin Bernard and Kathleen Cox, of Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales.
Flt.Sgt. Sidney James Barnes. Bergen General Cemetery. Plot 2. Row C. Grave 9. Son of Henry James Barnes and Louisa Elizabeth Barnes, of Greenford, Middlesex, England.
Sgt. Sydney Arthur Errington. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 148. Born in 1915, the son of Robert and Ada Errington, of Dalton-le-Dale, Durham. His brother George was on active RAF duties and was killed in 1943 also. Sydney was a policeman prior to the war.
Sgt. Arthur Ashton Caley. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 144. Son of Arthur Henry and Gladys Violet Caley, husband of Mary Maxima Caley, of Shilton, Oxfordshire, England.
Flt.Sgt. Norman Robert Morrison. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 185. Son of Norman Morrison, and of Gladys E. Morrison, of Vulcan, Alberta, Canada.
Sgt. Derek Richard Spanton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 165. Son of Richard and Dorothy Ellen Spanton, of Copnor, Hampshire, England.
Researched by Mike Harrison and dedicated to relatives / friends of the crew. For further details our thanks to the following, Clive Smith, researcher and author of ‘Lancaster Bale Out” (See below
). Also to Jack Brook for additional information. With many thanks to John Tanner who contacted us in June 2017 with further information and press cutting of P/O. Haines. Also to John Jones for new information on the night fighter claim and to our Ralph Snape for his continued research. Thanks to Caroline Cook for the NoK details for Sgt. Errington. Other sources as quoted.
Right: “Lancaster Bale Out”.
“Lancaster Bale Out” written by Clive Smith ISBN No: 978-1-907516-26-9 Published by Tucann Ltd 2013. The story about the Uncle of Clive Smith and his RAF service during WW2 with 106 Squadron. Lancaster III ED720 ZN-R.