08.11.1941 No. 107 Squadron Blenheim IV V5961 Sgt. William Arthur Hopkinson
Date: 8 November 1941 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 107 Squadron. Motto: "Nous y serons" ("We shall be there").
Badge: A double-headed eagle displayed, gorged with a collar of fleur-de-lys. The double-headed eagle is one of the supporters from the armorial bearings of Salisbury, in which district the squadron was formed. The collar of fleur-de-lys was introduced in reference to service in France in the First World War during a period when the unit was attached to the French Army. The motto is said to have been derived from the squadron magazine produced in the First World War and entitled "The Objective 107th (Squadron Always Gets There)". Authority: HM King George VI, April 1938.
Type: Bristol Blenheim IV
Code: Not know
Base: RAF Luqa, Malta
Location: In the Mediterranean Sea at position 35° 20'N 19° 45'E
Pilot: Sgt. William Arthur Hopkinson Aus/406032 RAAF Age 22 - Killed (1)
Obs: Sgt. Ian Hamilton 995713 RAFVR Age 28 - Killed (2)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Gibson 987889 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (3)
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REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Luqa, Malta detailed to attack a convoy consisting of a destroyer, a merchant vessel and a 3000 ton motor vessel sighted at 10:18 hours. Whilst attacking the motor vessel the Blenheim was hit by flak and after colliding with the mast of a ship, crashed into the sea.
The RAAF Casualty Notification of 11 November stated succinctly that Sgt. Hopkinson was "Missing believed killed - Enemy action whilst attacking convoy", and indeed subsequent correspondence from the RAAF merely confirmed that no further information had been forthcoming except notification that according to German Totenliste No. 70, the bodies of all three crew members had been recovered and had been buried at the English Cemetery in Kalamata in Greece on 10 November 1941. This ultimately proved incorrect: Commonwealth Graves Commission Records reveal that Sgt. Hamilton and Sgt. Gibson were in fact buried at Pylos Civil Cemetery, Greece.
The only further information regarding the crash came via Mr. Sidney Hopkinson the father of Sgt. William Arthur Hopkinson. In a letter received by the Department of Air in Melbourne on 14 April 1942 he wrote
"To-day a letter was received by us from a friend, a member of the RAAF attached to the RAF in Middle East. He had received a letter from a pal stationed where my son was in November. This letter stated that Sgt. Hopkinson and crew lost their lives, whilst dive bombing an enemy convoy and their plane crashed."
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) Sgt. William Arthur Hopkinson was born 19 August 1919 at Cottesloe, Perth, Western Australia the son of Sidney Darley Hopkinson and Vera Maud Hopkinson. Prior to enlisting at Perth William Hopkinson worked in the Audit Department of the Western Australia Government Railways. The family later lived at Richardson Street, Mundijong, Perth and William Arthur Hopkinson is commemorated on the Perth War Memorial and the Australian War Memorial, Canberra - Panel 124
(2) Sgt. Ian Hamilton was born in 1913 at Castle Ward, Northumberland the son of Andrew Hamilton and Jane Hamilton nee Crow. The family later lived at 11 Moor Place, Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was a Bachelor of Architecture and an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He is commemorated on the Gosforth Memorial Plaque now located in the library.
(3) Sgt. John Gibson was born 9 November 1919 at Riccarton, Kilmarnock, Scotland the son of Currie Gibson (a Metal Dealer) and Isabella Gibson nee Armour of Riccarton, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.
"John Gibson was Editor of The Gold Berry in 1936-7 [Kilmarnock Academy Magazine] A keen swimmer, he won several medals for life-saving. His great hobby was photography. As a student he played a prominent part in the local Charities Day; in 1941 he was capped M.A. at Glasgow University, and immediately joined the R.A.F." (Courtesy Kilmarnock Academy Roll of Honour)
John Gibson is also commemorated on the Glasgow University Roll of Honour
BURIAL DETAILS AND EPITAPHS
Sgt. William Arthur Hopkinson was initially buried at the English Cemetery in Kalamata, Greece on 10 November 1941. On 27 April 1945 he was re-interred at Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens, Greece - Grave 2.D.20
His epitaph reads:
Tranquil you lie
Your memory hallowed
In the land you loved
Sgt. Ian Hamilton was initially buried at Pylos Civil Cemetery, Greece. On 16 April 1945 his remains were re-interred at Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens, Greece - Grave 4.C.7
His epitaph reads:
"His life was gentle"
Sgt. John Gibson was initially buried at Pylos Civil Cemetery, Greece. On 16 April 1945 his remains were re-interred at Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens, Greece - Grave 4.C.8
His epitaph reads:
From mum and dad
To dear son
"One angel less on earth,
One angel more in heaven"
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - May 2016
With thanks to Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean by David Gunby and Pelham Temple and the sources quoted below.