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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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151 Squadron Crest
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

Serial: N3388

Code: DZ-?

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


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.

Burial details:

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:

KTY - 31.08.2017

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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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