Sergeant Edgar Purton Jackson
On 13th October, 1941, Sgt. Edgar Purton Jackson of 452 squadron RAAF was shot down on his first operational sortie and lost in the Channel. He was 21 years old..
Sgt. Edward Brayley of 602 squadron also lost his life. He was just 20 years old.
Both men were lost during Circus 108A – six Blenheim bombers sent to target the St. Omer ship-lift on the Canal de Neuflosse accompanied by 15 fighter squadrons, with the Kenley Wing providing close escort. At the same time Circus 108B would take 12 Blenheims to Mazingarbe. Stiff opposition from the Luftwaffe was guaranteed.
Sure enough attacks began when the Circus was halfway between the French coast and the target and the close escort thinned out as they responded to the incoming enemy fighters. Al Deere’s radio had failed so he had to watch helplessly as his No.2, Sgt. Brayley, came under attack and went down streaming smoke and glycol. Sgt. Ed “Happy” Jackson was also lost without trace, presumed to have gone into the Channel.
In addition, Sgt. L. L. Ford, a New Zealander serving with 602 squadron (flying W3897), was shot down and taken Prisoner of War, while Jack Elphick of 452 squadron (flying AD310) was lucky enough to be hit very close to the English coast. His fellow Australians saw him go down and orbited overhead sending mayday signals. Luckily, they spotted Canadian “Buck” McNair, of 411 squadron, also in the water and the two pilots were picked up by the Dover lifeboat.
In return, the Kenley Wing claimed eight Me109’s destroyed, seven by 452 squadron and one by Crawford-Compton of 485 squadron. However, the Luftwaffe had actually only lost one – Adolf Galland’s wingman, reportedly brought down by the Blenheims’ rear gunners.
SGT. EDGAR PURTON JACKSON was born on the 19th October, 1919, at Hawthorn, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. He was the son of Walter Syril Jackson and Iris Flora Jackson. Before enlisting, “Ed” worked as a clerk at the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramway Board.
Ed “Happy” Jackson joined the Royal Australian Air Force on 21st July 1940 and did his training in Australia and Canada. He arrived in the UK on 26th March 1941, and eventually joined 457 squadron as a founding member. On 25th September he was posted to 452 squadron at Kenley. Four days later, he made a heavy landing on the aerodrome causing the starboard leg of his Spitfire’s undercarriage to collapse.
Jackson lost his life on 13th October flying his first operational sortie with them in Spitfire Vb (AB852). According to Ivan southall’s 1958 biography of “Bluey” Truscott, Jackson had been apprehensive before take-off and “Bluey” had attempted to reassure him, saying, “Don’t worry Happy. It’s the first that’s the worst. It gets us all the same way. Just take your time. Stick in the middle and leave the rough stuff to someone else. It’s a piece of cake.”
No trace of Sgt. Edgar “Happy” Jackson was ever found. He is remembered on panel 62 of the Runnymede memorial.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.