Hamilton, John Herbert (No. 1796564)

Hamilton, John Herbert (John)

Flight Sergeant (Flight Engineer)

No. 1796564, 570 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed on active service on Monday 23 April 1945 (aged 24)

Buried:

Aarhus West Cemetery, Denmark (Row G. Collective Grave 311)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Rebild Hills, Denmark

Anglican Church of St. Clement Danes, London

Bangor and District War Memorial

Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)

First Bangor Presbyterian Church

BIOGRAPHY

John Herbert Hamilton was born on 18 February 1921 in Kansas Avenue, Belfast and he was the only son of Thompson Hamilton, who was born in 1883, and Edith Carlisle Hamilton (nee Boal, who was born on 4 September 1884.

The Hamilton family also lived at 77 Kansas Avenue, Belfast and later at 76 Southwell Road, Bangor.

Thompson Hamilton and Edith Boal were married on 15 September 1915 in Fortwilliam Park Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  Thompson Hamilton, an engineering secretary from Carrickfergus was a son of Robert James Hamilton, a clerk.  Edith Carlisle Boal from Belfast was a daughter of John Boal, a manager.  They had at least three children:

Eileen Mary (born 4 September 1916 at 40 Kansas Avenue, Belfast)

John Herbert (born 18 February 1921 at 52 Kansas Avenue, Belfast)

Edith (sometimes Edythe)

John Herbert Hamilton was educated at Skegoneill Public Elementary School, Belfast and then at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution from 1933 until 1936.  Prior to joining the Royal Air Force, he served an apprenticeship with Short and Harland Ltd., and he was a member of the Ards Motor Cycle Club.  He served as a despatch rider attached to the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Report Centre in Bangor.

Initially, Flight Sergeant (Flight Engineer) John Herbert Hamilton (aged 24) was reported as missing in action and then his parents placed a Died in Action notice in the 25 August 1945 edition of the County Down Spectator when he was officially confirmed to have lost his life on air operations over Denmark.  It was reported in the press that he was dropping supplies over Denmark when his plane was shot down.  Of the six crew members on board only two survived.  They were aboard a Short Stirling Mark IV aircraft (LJ 645) which took off from RAF Rivenhall in Essex on an air-drop operation to the Danish Resistance.  Their plane crashed at Skaering, Aarhus after being hit by German flak (Flugzeugabwehrkanone) and soon afterwards exploded in flames.  Three men escaped from the burning plane, but John Herbert Hamilton was one of the three who were locked in their seat belts and perished in the flames.  The pilot, Flying Officer Geoff Adrian Mombrun (aged 21) from London, was one of the three who escaped but he was so badly burned that he died in a German field hospital three days later.  The other two crew members who died were:

  • Flying Officer William G.H. Hunt (Bill, aged 26) from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire
  • Flight Sergeant Kenneth Ernest Johnson (Ken, aged 22) from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

All four men were buried in Aarhus West Cemetery and there is an inscription on John Herbert Hamilton’s CWGC headstone:

PASS NOT THIS STONE IN SORROW, BUT IN PRIDE;

AND MAY YOU LIVE AS NOBLY AS THEY DIED

The two men who survived the crash were Flight Sergeant (Wireless Operator) Frank Rawlings and Flight Sergeant (Air Bomber) C. Flannigan.  Both men were captured and held as prisoners until the end of the war.

In air-drop operations to the Danish Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, 69 Allied airmen lost their lives and they are all commemorated in Rebild Hills, Denmark and in the Anglican Church of St. Clement Danes, London:

They defied the perils of darkness and evil in the fight for freedom and peace

Flight Sergeant (Flight Engineer) John Herbert Hamilton (No. 1796564) is also commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; in RBAI and in First Bangor Presbyterian Church.

His mother Edith was 81 when she died on 26 September 1965 in Southport, Lancashire.