12.06.1940 No. 107 Squadron Blenheim IV R3688 P/O. Esson
Operation: Soest, Holland
Date: 23rd June 1940 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 107 Squadron (2 Group)
Type: Blenheim MkIV
Base: RAF Wattisham, Suffolk
Location: “Ronde BIesse” near Willemsoord, 6 km nw of Steenwijk
Pilot: P/O. Stephen George Esson 40376 RAF Age 20. Killed
Obs: P/O. James Johnstone Tozer 77983 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Ross Murchison 67455 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 13:35 hrs from RAF Wattisham in Suffolk to attack airfield at Soest together with several others. They decided to turn back and attack the alternative target at Schipol.
Three aircraft were lost during this operation, the others:
107 Squadron Blenheim IV N3593 Flown by Fl/Lt. John William Stephens (1) DFC bar 40028 RAF taken PoW, sole survivor. The other two crew members 23 year old, Sgt. William John Barrett DFM 580566 buried at Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery and 23 year old, Sgt. Peter Edward Frederick Adams 515865 RAF (initially listed as missing believed killed) but in 1951 his body was recovered and buried at Jonkerbos War Cemetery.
110 Squadron Blenheim IV L8754 Flown by 27 year old P/O. Thomas Clare Prescott 740264 RAFVR killed and buried at Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery. Also lost from this aircraft - 22 year old, Sgt. Harold Kenyon 581396 RAF and 23 year old, Sgt. Vincent Joseph Swallow 540806 RAF.
It is understood that they were attacked and shot down by Lt. Michael Sonner (2) flying a Bf109E from 3./JG-51. The Blenheim is understood to have come down in the fields belonging to Jan Groen at Ronde Biesse at around 16:00 hrs. The aircraft exploded and destroyed nearly a ton of hay with the windows of four farms being shattered.
(1) Later Sq/Ldr. John William Stephens DFC bar MiD was killed serving with 8 Squadron in Aden. The Buckmaster T1 RP209 crashed near RAF Khormaksar when the aircraft struck the ground during an asymmetric overshoot on the 21st April 1952. He is understood to have been the only casualty. (Information from Colin Cummings 'Last Take Off')
(2) Lt. Michael Sonner - An ace by the time he was killed on the 04th April 1943 with 6 claims. (Information from the Kracker Archives on this website)
P/O. Stephen George Esson. Steenwijkerwold General Cemetery (Willemsoord) . Row O. Collective grave 1. Son of George Forbes Esson and of Margaret Esson (née Stephen), of Banchory, Kincardineshire. Lightweight Boxing Champion, RAF 1938. Grave inscription reads: "He Fought Oppression And Died For Freedom".
P/O. James Johnstone Tozer. Steenwijkerwold General Cemetery (Willemsoord) . Row O. Collective grave 1. Son of William J. and Mary Tozer, of Finaghy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Grave inscription reads: "In The Evening And In The Morning We Will Remember Him".
Sgt. George Ross Murchison. Steenwijkerwold General Cemetery (Willemsoord) . Row O. Collective grave 1. Son of Kenneth and Margaret H. Murchison, of Leith, Edinburgh. Grave inscription reads: "Gods Greatest Gift, Remembrance".
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered September 2018. Grave photographs today courtesy of Anneke Moerenhout, others from the collection of Michel Beckers.