16.08.1942 No. 149 Squadron Conversion Flight Stirling I R9299 Sgt. Johnson
Date: 16th July 1942 (Thursday (Thursday)
Unit: No. 149 Squadron Conversion Flight (3 Group)
Type: Stirling I
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Lakemheath, Suffolk
Location: Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridgeshire
Pilot: Sgt. Henry Peter Johnson NZ/41481 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Arthur Hawkins 635491 RAF Age 19. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Eric Moores 1053760 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Leslie Ernest Pole NZ/39882 RNZAF Age 26. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Jack Napier Nicol NZ/403625 RNZAF
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Malcolm Vernon Cato NZ/392015 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking part in a beam approach and local flying. At 16:35 hrs whilst flying at 1,500 ft south west of Newmarket a fire broke out in the starboard outer engine which then spread to the inner engine. At 300 ft part of the starboard wing detached causing the Stirling to spin, finally hitting the ground and explode - killing all the crew.
Subsequent investigations found that the front crank pin had fractured resulting in oil being thrown over the engine's exhaust ring.
Below, funerals for the New Zealand crew members at Beck Row. (courtesy Auckland War Memorial Museum)
Sgt. Henry Peter Johnson. Beck Row Churchyard (St. John). Row B. Grave 8. Born on the 19th January 1918, the son of Henry Peter Johnson and of Ellen Isabella Johnson (née Craig), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. A total of 297 flying hours logged with 160 hours solo and 23 on this aircraft type.
Sgt. Robert Arthur Hawkins. Tiverton Cemetery. Grave XB.8.37. Son of Albert Thomas Hawkins and Elsie Emily Hawkins, of Tiverton, Devon, England. Grave inscription reads: "Also His Mother Elsie Emily Hawkins Died 25th December 1936 Age 49".
Sgt. Eric Moores. Urmston Cemetery. Sec. B. Grave 116. Son of Frederick and Elizabeth Moores and husband of Margaret Moores, of Stretford, Manchester, England.
Sgt. Leslie Ernest Pole. Beck Row Churchyard (St. John). Row B. Grave 9. Son of Ernest and Margaret Pole, of Mount Eden, Auckland City, New Zealand. A total of 185 flying hours logged.
Fl/Sgt. Jack Napier Nicol. Beck Row Churchyard (St. John). Row B. Grave 10. Born on the 01st November 1913, the son of John and Annie Nicol, of Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A total of 200 flying hours logged.
Sgt. Malcolm Vernon Cato. Beck Row Churchyard (St. John). Row B. Grave 11. Son of Anson Hutchison Cato and Netty Frances Louisa Cato (née Hooper), of Te Kaha, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 132 flying hours logged.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: