Flight Sergeant John Desmond O'Connor
Flight Sergeant John Desmond O’Connor was born 21st September 1919, in Rotherham, Yorkshire. He was the son of John and Elizabeth O’Connor and lived at 57 Wickersley Road, Rotherham. He enlisted on 15th May, 1940.
9th March 1942, was bright and sunny. Wing Commander Victor Beamish led the Kenley Wing with 602 squadron for Circus 113, flying close escort at 10,000ft to six Boston bombers targeting the power station at Mazingarbe, Northern France. The other squadrons of the Kenley Wing were also flying escort: 452 (Australian) squadron at 11,000ft led by ‘Bluey’ Truscott and 485 (New Zealand) at 13,000ft led by ‘Hawkeye’ Wells. They rendezvoused with the bombers over Rye at 3pm and the formation carried out the raid unopposed. However, they weren’t so lucky on the return journey – 602 were attacked by a section of FW190s who approached them in a shallow dive as they were about to cross the French coast.
Beamish destroyed one of them but his No.2, Wing Commander Findlay reported seeing two aircraft crash into the sea just off the French coast. Perhaps one of them was Spitfire VB W3382, flown by O’Connor, who was shot down on this sortie.
His body was never found and, having no known grave, he is remembered on the Runnymede memorial.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.
Simon Tory has contacted this website:
“My mother was engaged to be married to John Desmond O’Connor (602 Squadron – KIA 9/3/42) at the time of his death. They had met in Rotherham where my mother was an industrial nurse at a steelworks. She moved to London when Desmond was posted to the South of England.
Distraught at the loss of her fiance, Mother joined the QA’s and was posted to India as part of 14th Army, nursing the casualties from Kohima and later PoW’s released from the Japanese camps. She met my father in Assam in 1945.
Before Mother’s death in 2008 (aged 92) she did tell me that Desmond was an only child and that he was only flying on the day he was killed as the pilot originally assigned for duty was ill.”
Wings Aflame by Doug Stokes