03/04.07.1943 432 Squadron Wellington X HE630 QO-B Sgt. Johial W. Baker
Date: 3/4th July 1943 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 432 Squadron
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire
Location: Henhurst area, Gravesend, Kent
Pilot: Sgt. Johial William Baker R125250 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Obs: Plt.Off. E.W. Bovard RAFVR Survived - injured.
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Glen Edwin Lewis R133341 RCAF Age 25. Killed
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Jack Holmes 1091687 RAFVR. Age 21. Killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. D.K. Ryan RAFVR Survived - injured.
We welcome any contact from relatives to expand this page of remembrance.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire at 22:44 hrs on an operation to Köln, Germany. Joining 652 aircraft to bomb the part of the city based on the east bank of the Rhine as a great deal of industry was situated there.
Left to right: Sgt. Baker (from his service record); Sgt. Lewis (Courtesy Brenda Lewis Mills); Sgt. Holmes (Courtesy Jack Frosse)
The raid was considered a success with 20 industrial premises and 2,200 houses were completely destroyed with a loss of life on the ground placed at nearly 600 people killed, a further 1,000 injured and a massive 72,000 people bombed out of their homes.
The allies suffered the loss of 30 aircraft - the majority being claimed by the night fighters from the jagdgeschwader 300 using the "wild boar" technique and consequently all the claims were shared with the flak units based in the city.
This technique (New to the allies) were attacks made by (in this raid) single engine fighters and the German pilots used searchlights, target indicators and the glow of fires from the ground and the idea being that the local flak units limited the firing at a certain height allowing the Luftwaffe to attack the bombers over this height.
Having hit the target the crew returned to bad weather over England and were diverted to West Malling. On a second attempt in the heavy fog and low fuel the aircraft crashed onto a house in the Henhurst area of Gravesend in Kent. An elderly lady was reported to have perished in the house but no further details have been found.
Image of the wreckage of Wellington X HE630 (Courtesy of Brenda Lewis Mills)
432 Squadron lost 3 other aircraft on this operation:
Wellington X HF493 QO-C flown by Sgt. B.C. Burgess. Hit by flak, they managed to make the Kent coast with the pilot also trying to land at RAF West Malling. Again fog hampered their landing, resulting in the aircraft being abandoned, crashing at 04.30 hrs. one Crew member killed with the other four surviving.
Wellington X HZ481 QO-W flown by Sgt. Patrick K. Chambers RCAF. All five crew killed over St. Truiden.
Wellington X LN285 QO-K flown by Plt.Off. William H. Taylor RCAF. All five crew killed over Maubeuge, France.
Sgt. Lewis is remembered on the Bomber Command Memorial Wall, Nanton, Alberta (Courtesy Brenda Lewis Mills)
Plt.Off. Johial William Baker. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 40.1.7. Born on the 31st March 1921 in Phillipsville, Ontario. Son of William Howard and Fern Beryl (née Halladay) Baker. Brother of Glenn Norman. Johial Baker completed elementary school in Phillipsville from 1926 to 1933, which gave him high school entrance. He also was a Cadet member. Johial attended Athens High School, which he left in 1939 after graduating and getting a diploma. After finishing high school, Johial worked as a farmer with his father. He was also employed in the Petawawa Army Camp as a labourer in 1940, which he left in order to return to his father's farm. He worked with his father until the time he enlisted. Posthumously promoted to Plt.Off with Service No. J17766.
In Johial Baker's Certificate of Medical Examination, he was described as being 5 feet 11 inches and weighed 150 pounds. His eyesight and hearing were perfect. Johial's complexion was fair and his development was good. His hair was fair in colour with blue eyes. He was a Catholic Protestant.
Sgt. Glen Edwin Lewis. Cambridge American Cemetery. Plot G, Row 3. Grave 6.Born 25th February 1918, Knoxwille, Tennessee. Son of Sterling Alexander and Alice Evon (née Petty) Lewis. From St. Louis, Missouri USA. Initially buried at Brookwood with the other crew members but later exhumed and reburied at Cambridge.
Sgt. Jack Holmes. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 25.C.3. Son of John and Florence Anne Holmes of Bradford Moor, Bradford, Yorkshire, England. He had three sisters, Violet, Jean and Connie and prior to enlisting worked as a gardener for Bradford City Council at Manningham Park.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo of Jack Holmes to Jack Fosse (nephew). Further information from the Grade 10 History students at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute as part of the Lest We Forget program. With thanks to David Champion for providing is with this contact and further information on Sgt. Glen Lewis. Also Dianne Lee for the correct name of Sgt. Johial William Baker's mother - many thanks for this. Thanks to Brenda Lewis Mills, the niece of Sgt. Lewis, for the additional images