Personnel Index - Detail
John Wyatt (on the LHS) with an unknown airman.
Sgt Wyatt's story is both interesting and unfortunate. He was shot down whilst serving with 49Sqn.
The details are shown below:
4/5 September, 1940; STETTIN - OIL TARGET:
Five aircraft from 49 Squadron operated from Mildenhall this night. Four were successful in bombing the primary target, whilst the crew captained by F/O Hodges (P1347) failed to return.
In the cold grey light of dawn, F/O Bob Hodges and crew sighted the coastline of what they presumed to be Cornwall. Having been airborne for over 9 hours, shortage of fuel made landing imperative. As they entered the circuit of what they thought to be St.Eval, much to their consternation, they were greeted by light flak. Beating a hasty retreat the pilot gradually climbed to a safe height, and with his engines showing the first signs of fuel starvation, he ordered his crew to bale out.
After holding his aircraft steady whilst his crew escaped, the pilot then elected to crash land the aircraft (there being insufficient height for his own safe escape). A successful crash landing was made, and much to the surprise of the pilot, Sgt Wyatt was still aboard; intercom problems prevented him from receiving the order to jump. The broken wreck of Hampden D-Donald had come to rest in a field near St Brieuc... in Brittany!
German pictures of the crashed Hampden.
Thanks to Oliver Clutton-Brock we have four additional images of P1347 in the field near Pordic.
Following the 1940 crash, Sgt Fryatt was in reality a prisoner of the Vichy French Government, athough imprisonment at that time was a sort of benevolent confinement, nothing compared to what POWs had to endure in German-run camps later. While in a camp at Toulouse in southern France, F/O Hodges and Sgt Wyatt managed to escape and returned to England via Gibraltar.
A congratulatory telegram received following his evasion.
His escape back to the UK allowed him to serve again. Had an airman escaped from a German PoW camp he would not have been expected to return to duty in the same theatre of operation.
After his return to the UK he joined 78Sqn but was shot down again on the 11th August 1942 and made a PoW at Stalag 8b/ Stalag 344.
Extract from Bill Chorley's Bomber Command Losses.
Following being shot down in 1942 his wife received this letter from the CO of 78Sqn.