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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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Bomber Command Crest
20.01.1944 No 1653 HCU Stirling III LJ455 H4-C P/O. Johnson

Operation: Training

Date: 20th January 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1653 Heavy Conversion Unit

Type: Stirling III

Serial: LJ455

Code: H4-C

Base: RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk

Location: Hargrave Hall near Chedburgh

Pilot: P/O. Samuel Graham Johnson NZ/416502 DFC RNZAF Age 22. Killed

Pilot 2: Fl/Sgt. John Percival Bartington 1386260 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Reginald Hallam 545834 RAF Age 26. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Richard Joseph Teague 1523709 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Nav: W/O.2. Robert David Poe R/133538 RCAF Age 25. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Herbert Spibey 1579969 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Karlo Callow AUS/414197 RAAF Age 32. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alfred John Wood 1158339 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Tempan 1263973 RAFVR Age 34. Killed


Taking off from RAF Chedburgh in Suffolk for a night cross country training exercise.

They left Chedburgh on a route via Lands End, Dulverton, Reading and Goole before planning to return to base.

Reaching Chedburgh the crew acknowledged their landing instructions.They lost height in a diving turn and after hitting trees, crashed and caught fire at Hargrave Hall, a few miles NW of Chedburgh at 23:26 hrs.

It is believed that the pupil pilot had inadvertently entered the diving turn, momentarily permitting himself to be distracted from his instruments by the airfield lighting.

Fl/Sgt. Bartington and Sgt. Spibey survived the crash, badly injured. Sadly however, they succumbed to their injuries the following day.

Burial details:

P/O. Samuel Graham Johnson. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13953A. Son of Noel Storrier and Margaret Asennath Danvers (née Woolridge, later Hill). Johnson of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand. Samuel was born in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England, on the 24th June 1921. His family emigrated to Hamilton when he was young. He worked as a clerk to Dalgety and Co of Hamilton. Prior to his death with 1653 HCU, he had flown 22 Operations with 218 Squadron. His DFC was Gazetted on 19th October 1943. In his private life, he was thought to be the fiancée of Frances Day (1), the actress, who when co-starring in the revue “Black Vanities” introduced the song “A pair of Silver Wings” as a tribute to the Royal Air Force and also to her fiancée, Sam Johnson DFC. He was to lose his life as she starred in the wartime West End Musical “Du Barry was a Lady” and was never to get over his loss.

“A pair of Silver Wings” - rewritten within our Poetry Section.

Service History:

NZ Army/TF (7 Med.Bty. NZA) for 3 years RNZAF Levin/ITW as airman/pilot until 30.11.19414 EFTS - 10.1.1942 Embarked for Canada on 8.3.1942 Attended RCAF - 2.4.1942 5 M Depot - 3.4.1942 7 SFTS - 13.4.1942 Pilot Badge and Sgt - on 31.7.1942 1Y depot at end of August 1942 Att. RAF and embarked for UK. on 21.8.1942 3 PRC - 2.9.1942 26 OTU (Wellingtons) - 22.12.1942 1651 HCU (Stirlings -1 Op) - 2.5.1943 218 squadron(Stirlings - 22 Ops) - 2.6.1943 Commissioned on 13.10.1943 31 Base for 1653 HCU (Stirlings) as instructor by 5.12.1943

His brother, P/O. Theo Faire Storrier Johnson 43643 RAF Age 21 was shot down and taken PoW earlier in the war. Flying Whitley P4968 whilst with 51 Squadron - Ditched in the Ijsselmeer, Holland

(1) Frances Day (real name Frances Victoria Schenck) December 16, 1908 - April 29, 1984. was an American actress and singer who achieved great popularity in the UK in the 1930s. Day's career began as a nightclub cabaret singer in New York City and London. She toured the provinces in 1930 and made her London stage debut at the Hippodrome in 1932. In the 1950s she was a regular panellist on What's My Line?, the British version of the popular TV series. (courtesy Wikipedia)

Fl/Sgt. John Percival Bartington. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13955A. Son of Alfred William and Emily Bartington of Stroud Green, Middlesex, England. Grave inscription reads: “God Takes Our Loved Ones From Our Homes, But Never From Our Hearts”.

Sgt. Reginald Hallam. Louth Cemetery. Compt.171. Grave 156. Son of William George and Gertrude Hallam of Louth, Lincolnshire, England. Grave inscription reads: “He Died That Others May Live”.

Sgt. Richard Joseph Teague. Erdington Churchyard, (St.Barnaby) Warwickshire. Grave D.193. Son of Hubert and Frances Mary Teague of Erdington, Birmingham, England. Grave inscription reads: “At The Setting Of The Sun, And In The Morning, We Will Remember You, Son. RIP”.

W/O.2. Robert David Poe. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13954. Son of David and Lettie Beatrice Poe of Prestatyn, Flintshire, Wales. Grave inscription reads: “For All Of Us He Did His Best. God Grant His Eternal Rest, Dad And Mum”.

Fl/Sgt. John Karlo Callow. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13954A. Born on the 03rd November 1911 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, the son of John Hugh and Lena Callow of Teneriffe, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription reads: “Duty Nobly Done”.

Sgt. William Herbert Spibey. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13955. Son of May Spibey of Radford, Nottingham, England. Grave inscription reads: “Splendid You Passed. The Great Surrender Made. Into The Light”.

Above: 442 Wing RAF Locking 1941-42. Rear L-R: Cpl. F.J. Brown from Lancashire, Sgt. G. Wilson from Yorkshire, LAC A.J. Wood from Somerset, Sgt. D. Symes from Somerset. Front: Fl/Sgt. W.L. Allen from Australia, P/O. H.R. Meyer from Devon, Sgt. D.M. Cobain from Canada.

Sgt. Alfred John Wood. Binegar Church, (Holy Trinity), Somerset. The son of Harold and Mabel Wood of Gurney Slade and husband of Vera Wood of Shepton Mallett, Somerset, England. Father to Graham who was two years old when his father was killed. Sgt. Wood and his wife rented premises at Weston Super Mare when he was training at RAF Locking and when on leave, stayed with relations at Wells and Shepton Mallett. Worked at the Mendip Golf Club prior to enlisting.

Grave inscription reads: “In Loving Memory Of “Jack”, Killed On Active Service. He Died That We May Live”.

Sgt. Frank Tempan. Halstead Cemetery, Essex. Grave 6266. Born on the 5th of March 1909, the son of Charles and Kate (née Brown) Tempan and husband of Juliana Mary (née Riddlestone) whom he married in 1935. He had brothers Harry, Percy Lewis, Cyril and Charles and one sister, Edith. Grave inscription reads: “Only Those Who Have Lost Can Tell, The Pain Of Parting Without Farewell”.

Researched for Aircrew Remembered June 2017 Linda Ibrom. With thanks to Graham Wood (son) of Sgt. Wood, The Auckland Cenotaph, and to Errol Martyn for the information on this crash. Page originally placed with Matt Lacroix running the great Bomber crew website - now updated with further information and operation details.

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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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