15.05.1940 No. 40 Squadron Blenheim IV P4913 F/O. J.E. Edwards
Date: 15th May 1940 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 40 Squadron (2 Group)
Type: Blenheim IV
Base: RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire, England
Location: Ecaussinnes d'Enghien, Belgium
Pilot: F/O. John Ernest Edwards 36151 RAF Age 26. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Charles Thomas White 580429 RAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. Stanley Johnson 541085 RAF Age ? Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Wyton near St. Ives in Cambridgeshire at 09:30 hrs to bomb troops moving along the Dinant-Celles road. 12 aircraft taking part in the operation. It appears that the squadron was attacked after completing their bombing run by fighters and shot down - with the loss of all 3 crew members.
Above: area of loss with insert of F/O. John Ernest Edwards
Also lost from the Squadron their W/Cdr. Ernest Cecil Barlow 15181 RAF flying Blenheim IV N6217 killed with all his other two crew (20 year old, Sgt. Edward Clarke 580485 RAF from Chelsfield, Kent and LAC. Albert Ernest Millard 615087 RAF) and buried within the same cemetery at Ecaussinnes D'enghien - the only 6 aircrew CWGC graves within the cemetery.
On the 14th July 1939 prior to war on a training exercise the pilot, F/O. John Ernest Edwards and his other two crew members escaped death after a masterful ditching on a reservoir at Naseby, England. The Fairey Battle I K9306 had been taking part in a mock war exercise.
Further details on this and other information can be found in the publication by David Gunby’s illustrated history of 40 Squadron 'Sweeping The Skies' and of course Bill Chorley for his excellent work.
Sgt. Beattle was thrown out of the aircraft during the ditching but managed to join the other crew who were standing on the fuselage. Yet again this same Observer escaped with his life on the 10th May 1940 when Blenheim IV L8833 landed after suffering damage from a Ju88 attack also with 40 Squadron. Then again on the 23rd May 1940 he was the sole survivor from a 40 Squadron Blenheim IV P4909 after being hit by ground fire.
F/O. John Ernest Edwards. Ecaussinnes D'enghien Communal Cemetery. Grave 4. Son of Ernest James Edwards and of Margaret Eleanor Edwards (nee Galloway), of Auckland City, New Zealand. Grave inscription reads: “Auckland, New Zealand. Grammar School Old Boy. A Beloved Son And Brother”.
Sgt. Charles Thomas White. Ecaussinnes D'enghien Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 1. Son of George White, and of Clarissa Mary Ann White, of Hammersmith, London, England. Grave inscription reads: “God Grant Him Eternal Rest" Dearly Loved By His Mother, Brother And Sisters”.
LAC. Stanley Johnson. Ecaussinnes D'enghien Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 1. Son of Sophia Johnson, of Liverpool, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to New Zealand Cenotaph and sources indicated below