Airman from Kingsbury Episcopi Post Office shot down on bombing raid in Germany
Jack Parris : Sergeant (Wireless Op/Air Gunner) 149 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Jack Parris was born in Bridgwater in 1920 and came to Kingsbury Episcopi when his father and mother, Frank and Cissy Parris, moved here to run the Village Stores and Post Office – in the building today called “Yew Trees” at the top of Church Street. In old photographs of this house you can see the name “F.Parris” over the door. In the photograph here Frank, left, is standing outside the shop with Jack.
Frank Parris had served in the First World War, in Belgium and the Middle East. His eldest son Jack entered the air force in 1940 aged 20. He became a trainee observer and gunner, was promoted to Sergeant, and went on to become a trainee pilot in 149 Squadron, Bomber Command based at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk.
Squadron 149 flew night bombing raids over Europe. Most of those who flew were very young and showed astonishing courage to endure night flying over occupied Europe – through anti-aircraft fire, and trying to avoid the German night fighters and mid-air collisions.
Jack was a Navigator/Air Gunner on the flight which left RAF Lakenheath at 23.22 hours on 5 June 1942. His aircraft was a Stirling 0J-R R9321, one of the 180 planes flying out to bomb Essen in Germany. His plane was shot down by a German night fighter, and it crashed at Weinheimerot on the east bank of the Rhine, 6km south of Duisberg.
Jack and the other 6 members of the crew were all killed.
Jack’s log book, which recorded all his operations and flying times, is open at its final page.
Jack’s family have given to the archive the series of letters that were sent to his parents, which reported initially that Jack was missing. And then in December 1942 the letter came that reported him “killed in action on the 6th June 1942”
Similar letters were received by thousands of families during the war.