90278 Squadron Leader John Sample DFC – 607 Squadron
John Sample of Morpeth, Northumberland, born in 1913, was educated at Aysgarth School in North Yorkshire and then attended Lancing College in Sussex. He was an estate agent in civilian life and joined 607 (County of Durham) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in 1934. He was appointed ‘B’ Flight Commander on 7 January 1939 and was called to full-
Leading a section of three Gladiators on 16 October, Sample sighted and attacked a Dornier Do18 flying boat twenty-
In March 1941 Sample was posted away from 504 Sqn. On 20 September 1941, 137 Squadron was formed at RAF Charmy Down, near Bath in Somerset and he was given command. They were equipped with the new Westland Whirlwind, a twin-
The squadron became operational on 20 October and undertook their first operation on the 24th when they attacked several trains carrying fuel containers in railway sidings at Landernau, near Brest. Sample, in Whirlwind P7053, attacked several wagons. On the afternoon of 28 October, Sample, again in P7053, and Sgt. MJ Peskett in P7058, took off to do a formation practice to the south of Bath. Sgt. JF Luing took off ten minutes later to carry out practice attacks. The three aircraft carried out formation turns at about 1000 feet for some minutes until Sample ordered Luing to break away for a practice attack.
Shortly afterwards Luing saw Sample’s aircraft spinning down out of control. Sample bailed out but was killed as the parachute had not fully deployed and he landed on the roof of a farm building at Manor Farm near Englishcombe. The aircraft crashed on to the same buildings and burst into flames. An investigation decided that Peskett’s propeller had hit the tail section of Sample’s aircraft although Peskett was unaware of what had occurred.
Sqn Ldr Sample was 28. He is buried in St. Andrews churchyard, Bothal, Ashington, Northumberland and his name is on a memorial plaque unveiled at Lancing College in 2014.