Tait, John McCalla (No. 1063628)

Tait, John McCalla (Jack)

Flight Sergeant (Pilot)

No. 1063628, 78 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed on active service on Friday 26 March 1943 (aged 21)

Buried:

Doetinchem (Loolaan) General Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands (Row 1. Grave 10)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Holywood and District War Memorial

First Holywood Presbyterian Church

Sullivan Upper School Holywood

Son of Chief Engineer (Marine) John James Tait

BIOGRAPHY

John McCalla (Jack) Tait was born on 4 August 1921 and he was the only son of John James Tait and Jane Cowan McCalla Tait (nee Brown) of Bellevue, Holywood.  John James Tait was a marine engineer and he and Jane Cowan McCalla Brown were married on 5 January 1921 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  John James Tait from Bellevue, Holywood was a son of James Fowler Tait, a commercial traveller.  Jane Cowan McCalla Brown from Bellevue, Holywood was a daughter of Nathaniel McCalla Brown, an iron merchant.

John McCalla Tait was educated privately before attending Sullivan Upper School, Holywood from 1930 until 1939.  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1940 and during the Second World War he served in Bomber Command.  He took part in 33 operational flights before he died on 26 March 1943.  He was one of an eight-man crew aboard a Handley Page Halifax Mark II aircraft (W7931) that took off at 7.02 pm on 26 March 1943 from RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire on a mission to bomb Duisburg.  On the outward flight their aircraft was crippled by flak and crashed at Gaanderen-Pinnedijk in Holland.  Five crew members survived the crash and were taken Prisoner-of-War – Sergeant F.E. Lemon, Warrant Officer S. Hauxwell, Sergeant G.R. Johnston, Pilot Officer R.W. Keen and Sergeant R.R.H. Huleatt.

In addition to Flight Sergeant John McCalla Tait, the other two crew members who died that night were:

  • Sergeant James Archibald Wilson (aged 21), Royal New Zealand Air Force
  • Sergeant Andrew Wilson

Flight Sergeant (Pilot) John McCalla Tait (No. 1063628) was 21 when he died on 26 March 1943 and he was buried in Doetinchem (Loolaan) General Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

UNTIL THE DAY BREAK

AND THE SHADOWS FLEE.

SONG OF SOLOMON II. 17

Flight Sergeant (Pilot) John McCalla Tait (No. 1063628) is commemorated on Holywood and District War Memorial; in First Holywood Presbyterian Church and in Sullivan Upper School.

Less than eight months later his father died.