Pilot Officer Joseph Aloysius Spencer
1921 - 1943
149541 PILOT OFFICER JOSEPH (JOE) ALOYSIUS SPENCER
- 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.
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
From 1661 conversion unit Joe was posted to No.61 Squadron at RAF Syerston on 10th August 1943.
His first operation was on the night of 12/13th August 1943 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.
His first operation as captain was on the night of 14/15th August on a raid to Milan. This was in Lancaster W5002. Taking off at 21.23 hrs and returning at 06.09 hrs.
His next operation was on the night of 22/23rd August 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.