Sergeant John Murphy - 433 Squadron  
   

Sergeant John Murphy - RAFVR

 

  On February 19/20 1944, Sergeant John Murphy was serving as Flight Engineer on  Halifax Mk. BIII HX230 coded BM-P when it took off from Skipton on Swale at 0007 hours for an operation to Leipzig. The aircraft crashed near Jute Borg and witness reports state that one airman baled out near Werder but was fatally hurt due to the low altitude. The aircraft flew on for a few minutes before crashing near Juteborg. Another report states that the aircraft crashed and exploded two km northwest of Markendorf  27 miles NW of Wittenberg and 56 miles from Leipzig, at approximately 0400 hours after a possible night fighter attack. The entire crew was lost.

The crew consisted of:

Name

Service

Trade

Hometown

Age

Sgt Robert McKay

RCAF

Pilot

Hamilton, Ontario

23

Sgt John Murphy

RAFVR

Flight Engineer

Derby

20

Sgt John Ewart Davidson

RCAF

Navigator

New Westminster, British Columbia

21

Sgt John Oliver

RCAF

Bomb Aimer

Hamilton, Ontario

23

Sgt Frederick Daplyn

RAFVR

W/Op/AG

Cockthorpe, Norfolk

21

Sgt John Hein

RCAF

Air Gunner

Artland, Saskatchewan

22

Sgt James Fraser

RCAF

Air Gunner

Toronto, Ontario

2

 Sergeant John "Jack" Murphy RAFVR was born on the 24th of January 1924, the son of John Joseph and Katherine and brother of Cornelius of Derby. He had a stepsister, Kathleen whose own stepsister, Norah was to become Jacks much loved "big sister". Jack and Norah were so close that he named her as his next-of-kin. He attended St.Josephís Roman Catholic School in Derby where his father was a teacher, before being awarded a scholarship to Bemrose Grammar School in 1935.

 In a letter to Norah Bancroft dated the 25th of February 1944 from the Royal Canadian Air Force Chaplain attached to 433 Squadron wrote:

Dear Miss Bancroft,

By the time you receive this, you will have been officially notified that your brother 1890850 Sgt.John Joseph Murphy is missing from Air Operations on the night of February the 19th 1944.

As Squadron Chaplain may I extend to you my deepest sympathy in the trying and anxious days through which you are passing.

I have been with the Squadron since its formation and got to know the boys fairly well.

This was the fifth major operation that your brother undertook with this squadron. I was down to see them off and had a chat with each crew. They were all quite happy and cheerful and said they would see me later.

I trust and pray that we shall, and that you will soon have good news concerning him.

May god give you grace and strength to bear up bravely through the long and dreary days of waiting until definite word is received.

If I can be of any help to you in any way, please do not hesitate to write.

Yours sincerely,

W.J.Province, S/L, Chaplain

 On October 19th 1944, Norah received a letter from the pilotís mother, Mrs Charles McKay thanking her for her letter saying that she hadnít given up hope and even though it was now eight months, "no news is good news".

 Mrs McKay mentions that Bob McKay really thought highly of "Murph" and that he spoke with affection of the fun they and the rest of the crew had.

 As with all the other relations of the crew, they all clung on to the hope that they would be alive. Ten months later, on the 9th of December 1944 Norah finally received a letter from the Air Ministry Casualty Branch stating that she must conclude that he has lost his life and death has now been presumed for official purposes.

 No trace was ever found of the Halifax and the crew rest in The Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery

 On the 16th of July 1949, Jackís name was included on a war memorial, which was unveiled at Bemrose School honouring the former pupils.

Photos courtesy of Peter Galley, special thanks to Richard Koval, research by Linda Ibrom.