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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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401 Squadron Crest
22.11.1941 401 Squadron Spitfire Vb AD516 YO-X Fg.Off. Sprague

Operation: Sweep

Date: 22nd November 1941 (Saturday)

Unit: 401 Squadron (RCAF), 11 Group

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: AD516 (Sir Robert)

Code: YO:X

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)


During a sweep the squadron was attacked by Bf109s and Fw190s 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.

Burial details:

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:

RS 22.08.2020 - Corrections to the narrative and identification of images

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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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