Personnel Index - Detail
Mentioned in Despatches
6/7 December, 1940; NIGHT PATROL/AERODROMES:
After four nights of waiting, 5 of the squadron's night patrol aircraft took off to 'destroy enemy aircraft', (those attacking Bristol) in conjunction with 15 Hampdens from other squadrons.
A 49 Squadron aircraft which failed to return was piloted by Sgt John Shaw (P4404). Whilst attacking a German airfield (in France) the Hampden received extensive flak damage, which resulted in the aircraft crash landing in trees and heavy snow some 50 miles south of Paris. All four crew members survived but with some needing hospital treatment, so the crew asked a helpful French family to inform the Germans.
It was from Stalag Luft that John Shaw attempted to escape by using the 'invisible man' act, which involved crawling across the snow to the wire covered in a white sheet. Spotted by one of the guards, John stood up and raised his hands in surrender and turned to face the German guard who then shot and killed the 23 year old pilot. The Germans did hold an inquiry into the incident, but its conclusions are not recorded. John Shaw was buried with full military honours.
Hampden P4404 (EA-R)
Sgt J.C. Shaw Pilot (Murdered)
F/L B.H. Evans P/Nav (Murdered)
Sgt D. Young W/AG (P.o.W.)
Sgt W.K. O'Leary W/AG (P.o.W.)
Four photographs of the burial, with full military honours of John Shaw of 49 Squadron who became a POW when he crash-landed P4404 in northern France on 6/7 December 1940. John attempted to escape from Stalag Luft a few weeks later and was shot by one of the guards as he stood with his hands held up to show he knew he had been seen trying to get through the barbed wire. This infamous deed aroused great anger among his fellow -prisoners and in an attempt to placate their ire, the Germans accorded John Shaw's body a burial with full military honours.
Clockwise, the photos show:
(1) fellow - prisoners falling in on parade.
(2) At the graveside, PO B.H.Evans, John's navigator (extreme left) with Wing Commander 'Wings" Day on his left, salute. Sergeants David Young and W.K.O'Leary, also from John's crew, wait to lay wreaths. It was a tragic irony that PO Evans was later himself to die by a German bullet. He was one of the fifty officers murdered by the Germans when recaptured after "The Great Escape".
(3) The coffin is lowered into the grave.
(4) The German Guard of Honour fire a volley of shots in final tribute.
(Photos from David Young)