Born: 1920, West Ham, Essex.
Died: 7th November 1941; age:21.
Rank: Sergeant/Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; Service Number: 1152206.
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 75 Squadron.
Collective Grave 8.H.3-7,
Relatives Notified & Address: Ernest Alfred & Edith Ellen Beatrice Thompson of Ipswich.
Father: Ernest Alfred Thompson, born 1881.
Mother: Edith Ellen Beatrice Thompson (nee Upson), born 1894, Ipswich.
Jack is also remembered on the war memorial at Dance East, Ipswich. Formerly Cranfield’s Flour Mill.
75 (New Zealand) Squadron’s Wellington X9976 AA- took off from RAF Feltwell, near Thetford, in Norfolk at around 1730/1800 hrs on 7th November 1941 target Berlin.
On their way back home, at around 1.20am, the Wellington was intercepted and shot down by Oberst Helmut “Bubi” Lent and crew of unit II./NJG.2 – “Fliegerhorst” Leeuwarden – his 27th ‘kill’. The bomber immediately fell out of control and crashed burning into a typical Frisian open and low grassland area, mainly used as summer meadows, near the Botmar (a small lake) close to the hamlet of Soarremoarre, between Akkrum and Oldeboorn, 15 miles south of the town of Leeuwarden. All the crew were killed.
The wreckage soon sank into the swampy peat bog, and by the next morning there was already not much to see (only some small parts of the wings and the rear section).
For that reason and because of the autumn weather, there had been a lot of rain, it was not possible to recover the wreckage or the bodies of the crew.
More than 10 years after the crash, in 1952, the human remains of the crew members were finally recovered and buried, but alas, not in the nearby local cemetery. As far as it is known, not a decision of their families!
They all, as part of this so called “Rainbow Crew”, found their common and final resting place in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bergen op Zoom (in the Province of Noord-Brabant in the South of the Netherlands), in a collective grave.
Wellington X9976 and its crew
In 2010, 69 years after the crash, the new and permanent stone was ready. It was unveiled, in an emotional but thankful service, by the daughter of Sergeant Trevor H. Gray, Lorraine Gray, together with other next of kin of the crew and with the help of her own daughter, schoolchildren, local people, local and military authorities, etc.
Lorraine was born only one day after her father sailed from New Zealand to go on his RNZAF service. He had never seen his beautiful girl.
Now, since that date, they have a brand new memorial where on the same day every year the children remember those brave airmen of Wellington X9976.
Thanks to Tom Bint and http://www.626-squadron.co.uk/willem3.htm