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Thread: 48 Sqn Dakota lost on 21 Aug 44 - W/C Sproule piloting

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    Default 48 Sqn Dakota lost on 21 Aug 44 - W/C Sproule piloting

    I've been searching for the serial number of the 48 Sqn C-47 lost on 21 August 1944. It was crewed by W/C JA Sproule, F/L B Cobcroft and F/L WG Owen. The op was a 6 x Dakota resupply mission to Chambois, ammunition for the Poles fighting near Falaise. The aircraft failed to return, it crashed inside allied lines with minor to serious injuries to the crew.

    Can anybody confirm serial KG421?
    Last edited by Frank Dutil; 28th December 2021 at 19:56.

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    Default Re: 48 Sqn Dakota lost on 21 Aug 44 - W/C Sproule piloting


    From Colin Cummings' "Though Without Anger - Losses of Transport and Special Duties Aircraft
    and Assault Gliders 1940 to 1945"

    21-Aug-44 KG421 Dakota III 48 Sqn Jurques 0
    The aircraft; flown by Wing Commander John Sproule the squadron commander, took off from its base at
    Down Ampney at 0530 hours to drop supplies to the advancing forces in France. En route bad weather
    with very low cloud, having a base of about 300 feet, was encountered and the aircraft was kept beneath
    this. Approaching the DZ, which was lit by fires, the aircraft was fired on by enemy guns and damaged in
    the wings and engines and the co-pilot and navigator were wounded. A course was set for the airstrip at
    Amblis (B14) but the aircraft became progressively more difficult to control and the rudder ceased to
    function. The aircraft then struck the tops of some trees and the pilot made a skilful forced landing. Being
    close to the front lines, the crew and air despatchers needed to find a safe haven and eventually they located
    friendly forces and were evacuated to UK.


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    Frank Dutil (30th December 2021)

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    Default Re: 48 Sqn Dakota lost on 21 Aug 44 - W/C Sproule piloting

    An interesting case here demonstrating the differences between a PUBLISHED citation and the original recommendation that started the award process:

    SPROULE, W/C John Alexander (39692) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.48 Squadron - awarded as per London Gazette dated 20 October 1944. Born Brandon, Manitoba, 23 November 1917. Appointed Acting Pilot Officer on Probation, RAF, 9 May 1937. To No.58 Squadron, Boscomb Down, November 1937 (Whitleys). Took part in the first raid on Germany at night on 3/4 September 1939. Took a Specialist Navigation Instructor course at St Athans (Wales) and Port Albert (Ontario). AFRO 142/42 dated 30 January 1942 reported his promotion to Squadron Leader, effective 1 December 1941, while with an RAF school in Canada. Ferried Boston BZ250 from Canada overseas via Brazil and Natal, December 1942; ferried PBY JX269 to Britain, September 1943. Flew in Middle East with No. 24 Squadron. Later transferred to RCAF (C89500), commanded No.437 Squadron and awarded Netherlands Bronze Lion. In postwar RCAF; awarded Queen's Coronation Medal, 23 October 1953 as a Wing Commander in London. Died in Ottawa, 1995. See on-line Brandon Sun article ( Photos PL-33876 and PL-33879 show him. AFRO 2684/44 dated 15 December 1944 (announcing his award) also confirmed him as a Canadian in the RAF. Air Ministry Bulletin 16017/AL.899 refers.

    One morning in August 1944, Wing Commander Sproule led his squadron on a vital supply mission to France. While over the target his aircraft was hit by light anti-aircraft fire in many places. Although the aircraft had sustained much damage and the rudder was useless, a course was set for a landing ground which was safely reached. Almost as the aircraft touched down it collided against a tree. Even so, a successful crash landing was effected. This officer displayed exceptional skill and great determination in the face of most adverse circumstances.

    NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9160 has recommendation drafted by the Officer Commanding, Station Down Ampney, 24 August 1944 when he had flown 13 sorties (four in Bomber Command, nine in No.46 Group) for a total of 37 hours five minutes on operations.

    In the early morning of 21st August, Wing Commander Sproule was leading his squadron on an emergency re-supply mission under very adverse weather conditions with a cloud base between G.L. [ground level] and 300 feet. Whilst making his run in to the DZ [Drop Zone] the aircraft was hit by a number of bursts of light flak, Wing Commander Sproule and his second pilot and navigator all receiving slight wounds. The navigator being laid on the floor and attended by the Wireless Operator, the captain set a course which he hoped would bring him out near B.14 where he could make a safe crash landing and probably save most of his aircraft. The rudder was useless and course had to be maintained by throttle manipulation. Both engines and the whole cockpit became very hot and the weather was deteriorating with heavy rain. The aircraft eventually struck a tree and Wing Commander Sproule and his second pilot, by both hauling on the control column, were able to make a crash landing.

    Wing Commander Sproule made the most gallant efforts under deplorable conditions to save his aircraft and crew; he has during the whole of his service in 46 Group and particularly since commanding 48 Squadron, shown great courage and fine leadership and I consider that this should be recognised by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    On 8 September 1944 the Air Officer Commanding, No.46 Group, added his remarks:

    This officer displayed great courage and leadership under conditions of great difficulty, when dropping ammunition on the Polish forces which were at that moment surrounded near Falaise. Strongly recommended for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    This was approved on 11 September 1944 by Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Air Commander-in-Chief, Allied Expeditionary Air Force.

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    Frank Dutil (30th December 2021)

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