Personnel Index - Detail
Image courtesy of Marc Harris
Additional details provided by Marc Harris:
John Rowland Hill was born in Bristol during 1915 the son of George William Hill and Ammelie Maria Rowland. John's father George was killed in action during the 1914-18 War leaving Ammelie to bring up John on her own.
Ammelie remarried Charles Fredrick Russett a self made Bristol businessman in 1931 when John was 15 years old. John or (Jack) as he was known by his family, did very well at school and went on to University were he obtained a science degree. On leaving University John began a teaching career at Chipping Campden Grammar School. At the beginning of the Second World War, although in a reserved occupation, John decided to leave teaching and joined the RAF.
He was sent to Canada for flying training on Lancaster Bombers and on completion he was posted to 49 Sqn Scampton in Lincolnshire. 49 Sqn moved to Fiskerton Airfield in 1944 as the Scampton runway was being upgraded. Whilst at Scampton John had met a WAAF called Eve and eventually decided to get married, two weeks before the wedding on 21 Jun 1944, John (Johnny) as he was known by his crew, took off at 2300hrs bound for Germany.
F/L Johnny Hill and his crew were shot down a few hours later over Holland by a German Night Fighter. F/L John Rowland Hill died with his crew and is buried with his navigator F/O K W Jones in Woensel Cemetery Eindhoven in Holland.
Image courtesy of Marc Harris & Jenny Wylde
21/22 June, 1944; WESSELING:
There was nothing unusual about Wednesday 21 June, 1944; the weather, as with previous days remained dull and the slight northerly wind kept temperatures a little chilly.
For aircrew the morning passed slowly, whilst activity on the airfield indicated that ops were on the menu for that evening. There had been no operations for the past five days so just after lunch a small crowd had gathered as an airman pinned up the Battle Order; twenty aircraft were detailed with the main briefing at 20.00hrs. For those crews listed, the usual pre-operational routine began, then later, after a noisy meal in the Sgts' Mess and with coffee flasks filled, crews walked or were ferried over to the main site for specialist briefings and then the main briefing. The tape on the wall map showed a route ending just below the Ruhr... Germany for a change.
Two tortuous hours now for aircrew, as they awaited the take-off time of 23.00hrs. With oleo legs compressed by their heavy bomb loads, each Lancaster rumbled around to the active runway threshold; a flash of green from the control caravan sent the first aircraft (piloted by F/Lt Johnny Hill) speeding down the concrete strip. On this, the longest day of the year, daylight still lingered during double British summertime, even at such a late hour. As F/Lt Hill's aircraft accelerated past the ever-present group of well wishers, waves and gestures were exchanged by the smiling Lancaster crew but this was to be this particular crew’s final take-off, for within just a few short hours, all seven members were to perish over Holland, victims of a deadly German night-fighter.
Lancaster ME675 (EA-R)
F/L J.R. Hill Pilot (Killed)
Sgt G.F. Witty F/E (Killed)
F/O K.W. Jones RNZAF NAV (Killed)
Sgt T.B. Whewell W/AG (Killed)
Sgt T.A. Hall A/G (Killed)
F/S D.M.F. Bell B/A (Killed)
F/S G.F. Wood A/G (Killed)
Crew on their 9th operation
Information via Colin Cripps (49Sqn Researcher)
Lancaster ME675 was claimed by Oblt. Fritz Lau of 4./NJG1 as his 9th Abschuss at 01.12hrs, south west of Eindhoven. ME675 was also claimed by Flak of 3. & 4./gem. Flak Abt. 155. OKL confirmed claim to Oblt. Lau on 6.9.1944.
Lau was promoted to Hptm and survived the war with 23 victories.
Jack's name has been added to the Roll of Honour of the Hugh Sexey Middle School in Blackford, Somerset