Malvern College Second World War Casualty

Sgt. John Nicholas Bailey Tate

House and time at Malvern: 6, 1932 - 1937.

Regiment: R.A.F..
Died: 25 July 1941 aged 22 in . Killed during forced landing off Holland.
Battle: Bomber Command. Cemetery: Schiermonnikoog (Vredenhof) Cemetery Grave 55.

Son of Thomas Bailey Tate, C.S.I. (5.01), and Decima Tate, of Alnmouth, Northumberland, and Eglingham Lea, Eglingham, Northumberland.
Sci. V.
Jesus College, Cambridge.

83 Sqdn. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
The squadron flew Handley Page Hampden bombers with raids against German naval and coastal targets, including against concentrations of Invasion shipping in the Channel Ports in the late summer/autumn of 1940, with a raid on Antwerp on the night of 15 September 1940.

'"Nicky" was captain and navigator of a bomber, which made a forced landing off Holland on the return journey from Germany, and is presumed to have been killed then. His death will be keenly felt by all his contemporaries and many friends.' (Malvernian, Dec 1941).

The following is an extract from the report on the fate of the crash:
Hampden AD.835 with crew of four took off from Scampton at 22.05 on 25.7.1941 for an attack on Hanover, but failed to return. A telegram from the International Red Cross states that the pilot Sgt Draper was taken prisoner and Sgts Tate, Marsden and Ireson were killed.
Sgt Tate was acting as the Navigator. The aircraft was attacked by a German Night Fighter just off the coast of Schiermonnikoog.

The pilot states: 'There was first one burst of cannon fire fired at us from a fighter. The gunners never saw him and I presume both of them to have been killed in the attack. The starboard inner fuel tank was hit and in due course exploded. It contained 160 gallons of petrol which burnt very rapidly owing to the wind fanning it. Myself and Nicky (Tate) were unhurt so I gave orders to abandon the machine before the other fuel tanks blew up. I then presume Nicky baled out through his emergency exit and I proceeded to leave. At this stage my feet were trapped inside the machine whilst I was outside. I could do nothing until another fuel tank exploded and blew me clear. I then came down by parachute and was very fortunate in first landing on the beach. Owing to the fact that I was very near the ground when my parachute opened the wind did not make me drift very far. I presume what happened to Nicky was that he came out much before I did and much higher, and the wind took him out to sea.'

The aircraft crashed at 23.55 on the foreshore of Schiermonnikoog on the north coast of the Netherlands near KM Pole 8 N. It seems that Sgt Tate's body was washed up from the sea and that Marsden and Draper were still in the aircraft.

Report at National Archives: AIR 81/7885