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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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40 Squadron Crest
15.05.1940 No. 40 Squadron Blenheim IV P4913 F/O. J.E. Edwards

Operation: Monthermé

Date: 15th May 1940 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 40 Squadron (2 Group)

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: P4913

Code: BL-?

Base: RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire, England

Location: Ecaussinnes d'Enghien, Belgium

Pilot: F/O. John Ernest Edwards 36151 RAF Age 26. Killed

Obs: Sgt. Charles Thomas White 580429 RAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC. Stanley Johnson 541085 RAF Age ? Killed


Taking off from RAF Wyton near St. Ives in Cambridgeshire at 09:30 hrs to bomb troops moving along the Dinant-Celles road. 12 aircraft taking part in the operation. It appears that the squadron was attacked after completing their bombing run by fighters and shot down - with the loss of all 3 crew members.

Above: area of loss with insert of F/O. John Ernest Edwards

Also lost from the Squadron their W/Cdr. Ernest Cecil Barlow 15181 RAF flying Blenheim IV N6217 killed with all his other two crew (20 year old, Sgt. Edward Clarke 580485 RAF from Chelsfield, Kent and LAC. Albert Ernest Millard 615087 RAF) and buried within the same cemetery at Ecaussinnes D'enghien - the only 6 aircrew CWGC graves within the cemetery.

On the 14th July 1939 prior to war on a training exercise the pilot, F/O. John Ernest Edwards and his other two crew members escaped death after a masterful ditching on a reservoir at Naseby, England. The Fairey Battle I K9306 had been taking part in a mock war exercise.

Further details on this and other information can be found in the publication by David Gunby’s illustrated history of 40 Squadron 'Sweeping The Skies' and of course Bill Chorley for his excellent work.

Sgt. Beattle was thrown out of the aircraft during the ditching but managed to join the other crew who were standing on the fuselage. Yet again this same Observer escaped with his life on the 10th May 1940 when Blenheim IV L8833 landed after suffering damage from a Ju88 attack also with 40 Squadron. Then again on the 23rd May 1940 he was the sole survivor from a 40 Squadron Blenheim IV P4909 after being hit by ground fire.

Burial details:

F/O. John Ernest Edwards. Ecaussinnes D'enghien Communal Cemetery. Grave 4. Son of Ernest James Edwards and of Margaret Eleanor Edwards (nee Galloway), of Auckland City, New Zealand. Grave inscription reads: “Auckland, New Zealand. Grammar School Old Boy. A Beloved Son And Brother”.

Sgt. Charles Thomas White. Ecaussinnes D'enghien Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 1. Son of George White, and of Clarissa Mary Ann White, of Hammersmith, London, England. Grave inscription reads: “God Grant Him Eternal Rest" Dearly Loved By His Mother, Brother And Sisters”.

LAC. Stanley Johnson. Ecaussinnes D'enghien Communal Cemetery. Joint grave 1. Son of Sophia Johnson, of Liverpool, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to New Zealand Cenotaph and sources indicated below

KTY - 19.10.2017

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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