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Tragic story of WW2 airman killed over Holland may finally be told

Written by on 27/10/2020

The story of a tragic Barnsley airman, killed on a bombing mission in Europe as the offensive against Nazi Germany was stepped up in 1944, could finally be told by a Dutch researcher.

Mark de Weerd lives in Dongen in the Netherlands, the location where a Lancaster heavy bomber was downed on the night of July 21 that year.

Seven RAF crewmen lost their lives, including Sergeant Jack Spencer, from Barnsley.

Details of Sgt Spencer and his background are largely unknown to Mark, but he has unearthed some family details and believes there may be relatives still surviving in the town, because he had at least two siblings.

Mark knows the Lancaster was in service with 622 Squadron, stationed at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk and that Jack, actually Christened Jackie, was among it’s crew on a bombing mission.

He said: “I don’t have much information about him, but he was born as Jackie Spencer on 26-10-1909 in Barnsley.

Memorial: Jack’s grave in Holland

“His parents were Herbert Spencer 1878 – 1919 and Eveline Annie Waddington 1889 – 1941. He had (at least) two brothers: Raynor Spencer and Thomas Arthur Spencer.

“Jack married Cynthia R Cowood in 1931, they had no children.

“Jack is buried at the cemetery in Dongen. I’m looking for relatives of Jack(ie) Spencer to complete my story about him. Perhaps they still live in Barnsley or its surrounding villages?”

Mark has recently published a book which investigates the story behind a Halifax bomber, which was lost in the same area.

During the latter stages of WW2 bombing Germany was a key tactic in trying to bring the war to a swift conclusion with frequent raids by the RAF, but losses were heavy as the Nazi military deployed both anti-aircraft guns and night fighters against the formations.

Anyone who can help Mark’s research can contact him via Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/mark.deweerd.5