22.11.1941 401 Squadron Spitfire Vb AD516 YO-X Fg.Off. Sprague
Date: 22nd November 1941 (Saturday)
Unit: 401 Squadron (RCAF), 11 Group
Type: Spitfire Vb
Serial: AD516 (Sir Robert)
Base: RAF Biggin Hill, Kent
Location: Near Boulogne, France
Pilot: Fg.Off. 'Hank' Henry Arnold Sprague C1365 RCAF Age 26. PoW No: 711*
* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
REASON FOR LOSS:
During a sweep the squadron was attacked by Bf109's and Fw190's from JG26.
Fg.Off. Sprague's Spitfire was shot down near Boulogne in France. He safely baled out but was captured and taken as PoW. He remained at Stalag Luft 3 and suffered the 'Long March' when the camp was evacuated as the Soviet forces advanced into Germany. Finally freed by the allies in May 1945. He returned home shortly after liberation. Fg.Off. Sprague took part in the Battle of Britain.
A lineup of Spitfires. These bear the squadron code of "ON" which was assigned to 124 squadron during WW2.
Left: Fg.Off Sprague. Right: AD516 was a presentation Spitfire purchased by Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons, a British Civil Engineering company. The Ministry of Aircraft Production presented them with the plaque in recognition for their donation of this Spitfire.
None. 'Hank' Henry Arnold Sprague born on the 12th September 1915 at Port Nelson, Manitoba, Canada. The son of Willis Eaton and Victoria May Sprague, husband of Harriet (née Hilton). Father to Hugh, Stephen and Harry. Passed away on the 30th April 2015, age 99. Cremated then buried at Woodland Cemetery, Burlington.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the family of the pilot for the photo in his later years. Also to Chris Balm - Vintage Aviation and Motoring Item sales for photo of plaque. We are extremely grateful to Francois Dutil (438 Squadron Archivist) for supplying photographs and information to Aircrew Remembered in September 2017. Thanks to John Cranmer for point out the errors in the narrative. Other sources as quoted below: