Pilot Officer Joseph Aloysius Spencer

1921 - 1943


  • Born on 21st June 1921 the son of Mary E Spencer and stepson of Malcolmn Spencer.
  • Brought up as a Roman Catholic and educated at Ratcliffe College in Oxford, a Roman Catholic Boarding School.​
  • His natural father (Archer) was killed in an accident on board a ship (a merchant vessel?) on the way to Canada (date unknown)
  • Joe took his step fathers surname (Spencer) shortly after his mother married Malcolm in November 1928, hence the references on Joe’s records as:
  • Son of Mary Emily Spencer (nee Rance) and stepson of Malcolm Spencer of Letchworth, Hertfordshire

Joined the RAFVR in 1939 some months before WW2 started, aged 17 years

Having been selected for pilot training as a Leading Aircraftman he trained at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA in 1941.




LAC Joe Spencer during pilot training at Tuscaloosa USA




Joe as an LAC at Turner Field barracks in USA





In KD uniform USA 1942.

He finished his pilot training as 1331578 Sergeant J A Spencer and on return to the UK he continued his training at an operational Training Unit and having crewed up eventually went on to 1661 Conversion unit at RAF Winthorpe, where he would have increased his crew from five to seven with the addition of a flight engineer and second air gunner. That crew were;

1331578 Sergeant J A Spencer   Pilot.

1261508 Sergeant T E Watkin  Flight Engineer

1398388 Sergeant J Punter  Navigator

Sergeant S Williamson   Bomb Aimer.

1321638 Sergeant S J Bunting   Wireless Operator.

1337229 Sergeant R W Horwood  Air Gunner

R/178385 Sergeant E Johnson RCAF   Air Gunner


10 August 1943 Joe was posted to No.61 Squadron at RAF Syerston From 1661 conversion unit 

12/13 August 1943 was his first operation, when he flew as second pilot to Squadron Leader D C Wellburn on a raid to Milan, which was shown to be a successful attack.

14/15 August was his first operation as captain, on a raid to Milan. This was in Lancaster W5002. Taking off at 21.23 hrs and returning at 06.09 hrs.

22/23 August was his next operation was on a raid to Leverkausen, taking off from Syerston at 21.11 hrs in Lancaster DV228. The operational Record Book simply states "Sgt Spencer in 3rd wave, failed to return."

Chorleys Bomber Command Losses state he was "Shot down by a night fighter, (Lt Heinz Bock, III./NJG1) nd crashed 01.49hrs at Helicop (Zuid Holland) in the commune of Hei-en-Boeicop, 15Km E of Schoonhoven. Those who died lie in Hei-en-Boeicop (Heicop) General Cemetery. Their average age was 23."

Sgt S Williamson was the only survivor and was taken Prisoner of War.

CWGC Documents for Joe.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [2.3 MB]