Squdron Leader John Sample, D.F.C.

Squadron Leader John Sample, D.F.C., Royal Air Force. He died at Home on 28th October 1941, aged 28. He was the son of Thomas and Kate Sample of Morpeth, M.L.A.S., F.S.I. and is buried in Bothal ( St.Andrew ) Churchyard, Morpeth. He had just taken over command of 137 Squadron, R.A.F. which had reformed on 20th September 1941 when he was killed in a mid air collision with a new pilot. The Squadron flew the Westland Whirlwind fighter-bomber from R.A.F. Charmy Down in Somerset and was used in offensive sweeps known as ” Rhubarbs” over occupied Europe. He had been educated at Lancing College and worked as a land agent. At that time he joined the Auxiliary Air Force and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in 1934.In 1939 he was called up into Regular Service and took part in the Battle of France where he was shot down and injured. For his Service in France he was awarded the D.F.C. The citation reads ” This Officer was for most of the time in command of a Squadron which he led exceptionally well. He shot down two enemy aircraft and was a great inspiration to his Squadron “. He was promoted to Squadron Leader in September 1940 and given command of 504 Squadron which then took part in the Battle of Britain. During this time he recorded more victories and then taken off operations for a rest before taking over 137 Squadron. On 28th October 1941 he and his pilot were practicing attacks when his tail was struck by a fellow pilot. He managed to bale out but his parachute did not open and he fell into some farm buildings dying immediately.

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