23.02.1941 No. 151 Squadron Defiant N3388 Sgt. James Hopewell
Operation: Scramble Patrol
Date: 23rd February 1941 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 151 Squadron
Type: Defiant I
Base: RAF Wittering, Northamptonshire
Location: Near Watton, Norfolk
Pilot: Sgt. James Hopewell 516702 RAF Age 26. Safe - survived
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Jack Fisher Wallace NZ/401735 RNZAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Scrambled and taking off from RAF Wittering in Northamptonshire at 18:35 hrs. During the return flight ran low on fuel - the flare path at RAF Feltwell was lit ready for an emergency landing but the aircraft was too far away to see them.
Above: Area of loss showing inserts of left: Pilot Sgt. Hopewell and right, air gunner Sgt. Wallace.
As they eventually ran out of fuel, the pilot, Sgt. Hopewell gave the order to abandon the aircraft. The pilot landed safely but the air gunner, Sgt. Wallace’s parachute is thought to have become entangled with the tail and he went down with the aircraft which crashed near Watton at 20:50 hrs.
W/O. Hopewell DFM Citation - 24th June 1941:
“This airman has been employed on day and night fighting operations, often under difficult weather conditions. During day operations he has destroyed at least five enemy aircraft. Sergeant Hopewell has shown courage and determination and has set an excellent example.”
The pilot was killed on the 21st January the following year in a Havoc I BD116 from 1452 Flight. At the time he had reached ‘Ace’ status with 5 known claims whilst with 616 Squadron during the Battle of Britain.
Sgt. Jack Fisher Wallace. Honington Churchyard, Suffolk (All Saints). Born on the 09th January 1921, the son of William George Lambert and Hilda Row Wallace (née Bridgman), of Mount Albert, Auckland, New Zealand. 29 flying hours logged.
At a later date:
W/O. James Hopewell DFM. Bingley Cemetery. Sec. K. Row 4. Grave 46. Row C. Grave 12. Son of Allen James Hopewell and Jessie Hopewell, of Bingley and husband of Irene Hopewell, of Bingley.
Researched for Mason King, relative of Sgt. Wallace and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Emily Topley for grave photograph, other sources as quoted below: