Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Geoffrey Owen Sharpe & Geoffrey Brittlebank

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Geoffrey Owen Sharpe & Geoffrey Brittlebank

    Some years ago, a local ATC leader, Andrew Passfield, came across a flag that had been previously stored in the belfry of Great St. Mary's Church in Sawbridgeworth,Hertfordshire. The flag was dedicated and bears the inscription "To the Two Geoffreys". It relates to Geoffrey Owen Sharpe and Geoffrey Brittlebank who are both commemorated in the local churchyard. Geoffrey Brittlebank was a fighter pilot and instructor with Bomber Command. He died 29th September 1942 of wounds/injuries received on active service. He was aged 21. His parents were Colonel Joseph William Brittlebank and Maud Evelyn Brittlebank, both of whom lived in Sawbridgeworth.

    Geoffrey Sharpe was a pilot officer/navigator with 77 Squadron, flying a Handley Page Halifax. He joined the Squadron on 8th September 1943 from 1663 Conversion Unit at Rufforth. He was killed on active service on 9th December 1943 when a Halifax LL122 span into the ground at Leavening (13 miles NE of York) during a training flight. Members of the crew:-

    Pilot: P/O John Kenneth Forest (RCAF) (J/19350) from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
    Flight Engineer: Sgt. Leslie Reginald Mace (1803191) aged 21
    Navigator: P/O Geoffrey OwenSharpe (168970) aged 20
    Bomb Aimer: F/Sgt. R.R.J. Simpson (RNZAF)
    Wireless Operator:P Sgt. J.S. Clark
    Mid Upper Gunner: F/Sgt. Nicholas Charles Grob (RAAF) (Aus. 425154) aged 24
    Rear Gunner: F/Sgt. Edward Frank John Hemming RCAF (R/94132) from Montreal, Quebec

    All crew members died, except F/Sgt. Simpson & Sgt. Clark who were both injured and believed to have survived the war.

    At the time of their death, the crew had completed operations to Montlucon (15/16 September), Hanover (22/23 September), Mannheim (23/24 September), Hanover (27/28 September), Bochum (29/30 September), Kassel (3/4 October), Frankfurt (4/5 October), Kassel (22/23 November) and Leipzig (3/4 December).

    The pilot and mid upper gunner are buried in Stonefall Cemetery, Harrogate,Yorkshire. The Canadian rear gunner was buried at Cheltenham Cemetery. The flight engineer was buried at Camberwell New Cemetery, London.

    (This information was kindly provided by the Archive Department of the Yorkshire Air Museum)

    Fl.Lt. Andrew Passfield approached me as a trustee of the Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall which, in part, is dedicated to members of the RAF, hence my interest in tracing the connection between "The Two Geoffreys" named on the flag (Geoffrey Brittlebank and Geoffrey Sharpe).

    I came across your website via a "google" search of Geoffrey Brittlebank's name and have already made contact with Col.Bruggy via another thread (Oakham School) regarding Geoffrey Brittlebank. However, I thought this posting might reach a wider audience, in the hope that I might discover a little bit more about the flag and the story behind it. Regards, John Rider

    P.S.
    Incidentally, another pilot (Wing Commander James H. Marks) also has connections to Sawbridgeworth. He, too, is commemorated in the Memorial Hall. In September 2004 his sister attended a dedication service to his memory when he was honoured by a Lancaster flypast.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,949
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    John,

    Your RNZAF man did survive the war:

    NZ425628 Wt Off (final rank) Rae Robert Johnson Simpson
    Born Te Kopuru 17 Feb 21
    RNZAF 30 May 42 to 6 Apr 46
    Embarked 'Blomfontein' for Canada and aircrew training 14 Aug 42
    Then to UK
    Shot down/PoW (sole survivor) night of 21/22 Jan 44 during 77 Sqn raid on Magdeburg
    Safe UK 11 May 45

    Errol

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Thanks for the information Errol. RAF Elvington (home to 77 Squadron flying the Handley Page Halifax between October 1942 and May 1944) have sent me an extract from The Wartime Memories Project. It reads:-

    "I am writing to you on behalf of Mr. Rae R.J. Simpson ex RNZAF who was on the Halifax 5 LL122KNY that crashed on 9th December 1943. He is the only survivor and has written a dedication towards that event that has left him deeply scared (?scarred) today. The plane was called the Z-Zebra. Rae now lives in N.Z."

    The entry was submitted by Mrs. Jeanette Belle, his care giver.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    1,949
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post

    Default

    Thanks for this additional info John, much appreciated. I wonder what Mrs Belle meant by Simpson 'has written a dedication'.

    Errol

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    6,479
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 36 Times in 35 Posts

    Default

    Hi John,

    You name AUS425154 F/Sgt Nicholas Charles GROB RAAF, as a Mid Upper Gunner, and R/94132 F/Sgt Edward Frank John HEMMING RCAF as a Rear Gunner. Do you have some documentary evidence to verify this? Conventional wisdom, and several other sources suggest that the reverse was the case, ie Grob - Rear Gunner, and Hemming - Mid Upper Gunner.

    Col.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Col. Bruggy, the information regarding the crew was supplied by John Larder, Collections Department, Yorkshire Air Museum. However, according to the Wartime Memories contribution by Rae Simpson ex RNZAF crew member, I note that he also lists Hemming as the mid upper-gunner and Charlie (not Nicholas) Grob RAAF as the rear gunner.

    I will contact the museum to point this out and to ask for clarification.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default Reply from Yorkshire Air Museum

    I have received an email reply which I think is self-explanatory:-

    "With regards to Col Bruggy's query, I saw it on RAF Commands web site and checked what I had to hand which was Chorley's Bomber Command Losses and the 77 Squadron Roll of Honour both of which put Hemmings name before Grob's which according to Chorley's preface assumes Hemming was the M/U and Grob R/G but looking at the Operational Record Book on all their operations Hemming is after Grob which leads me to assume that Hemming was the R/G and Grob M/U. Their posting to the squadron is no help as both are described as A/Gs. Unless Col has other evidence such as a logbook there maybe no certain answer." John Larder

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    6,479
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 36 Times in 35 Posts

    Default

    John,

    Noted with interest your reply from YAM.

    Can only suggest you apply for the service records of Forest and Hemming here:

    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-909.007-e.html

    Be prepared for a wait of approx six months.

    And get Grob's files at the National Archives of Australia digitised.

    Wish you well with your project.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 19th January 2011 at 23:56.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •