Laid to rest at the Field of Honour.
Born: 1921, New Zealand.
Died: 24th October 1942; age:21; Killed as a result of a flying accident.
Residence: 10, Corson Avenue, Beckenham, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Rank: Flight Sergeant/Pilot; Service Number: 41329.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of Clarence William Frederick & Anita Pearl Helen Higgott, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Father: Clarence William Frederick Higgott, born 1894, Auckland, new Zealand, a Commercial Traveller.
Mother: Anita Pearl Helen Hinemoa Mararoa Higgott (nee Parkin), born 1897, Belfast, Christchurch, New Zealand, a Milliner.
24th October 1942
Aircraft: Short Stirling type 1; serial number: R9241; code: HA-L. Mission to Milan, Italy. R9241 took off from R.A.F. Downham Market, Norfolk at 18:50hrs. 35 minutes into the flight a fire broke out in the port engine and rapidly spread. Control was lost of the aircraft and it’s bomb load was jettisoned, before it broke up and crashed at 19:27 hrs into marshland at Cattawade, 1 mile north of Manningtree, Essex. 7 crew members were killed. Sergeant George Hinshelwood baled out very low and was injured when he landed on a bridge over the River Stour.
Walter McNaught Thompson; Flying Officer/Pilot; age 23; R.C.A.F.
Bertram Scott Watt Grieve; Sergeant; age 35; R.A.F.V.R.
Alan Mahoney; Sergeant/Observer; age 21; R.A.F.V.R.
Norman Holland Simms; Sergeant/Bomb Aimer/Observer.
Leslie Nockels; Sergeant/ Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; age 29; R.A.F.V.R.
George Allan Hinshelwood; Sergeant; R.A.F. Survived. Killed a year later – 4th May 1943, Netherlands; age 23.
Wilfred John Ferris ‘Tink’; Sergeant/ Air Gunner; age 19; R.A.F.V.R.
Sgt. John Hinshelwood
“Dear Miss Ferris”
Many thanks for your letter dated Dec. 6th. It was very kind of you to write to me, I agree with you, it is rather awkward writing to someone whom you have never met.
Yes I was in your brother’s crew on that fateful night & it was more then good luck that I am alive today.
I can understand what is worrying both you & your mother but you see there is very little to tell you what you already know as regards your brother baling out & his parachute not opening. I do not know who told you, preharps you might let me know who it was.
I shall give you a brief explanation of what happened & you can take what you will from that.
We were roughly 8,000 feet & suddenly we developed into engine trouble, we lost height so we dropped our bombs. Still we lost height & losing control of the machine.
The pilot then gave the orders for all members of crew to stand-by, ready to jump. Few seconds later the order came to jump & myself being in the tail, I am first to jump. I got caught in the act of baling out & the machine was dragging me behind. But I managed to free myself – that is all Miss Ferris. I learned afterwards that shortly after I left the machine, it blew-up. So the poor fellows would not have a chance at all.
It was only when I came out of hospital that I learned the truth & fate of my crew. Believe me Miss Ferris I was badly shaken with that news, we were all like brothers.
I do not know how to express myself, but I will trust you will understand. Please accept my deepest sympathy. I trust this will help to clear things up for you.
I hope finds your mother & yourself in good health. Cheerio just now & thanks for writing it is a weight of my mind.
A. Hinshelwood Sgt.
Photograph of ‘Tink’ Ferris and letter sent to his mother from the Wing Commander and letter sent to Tink’s sister – courtesy of Gay.