RAF Memoirs - Anyone know my old friend?

Share this article

In 1941 I was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and learned to fly Wellington aircraft, then joining 221 Squadron initially operating from Iceland and later transferred to the Middle East to search for and attack axis shipping.

During the later stages of my training and for most of 1942 a close friend was James Douglas Hancock (Jimmie).

We were both captains of Wellington aircraft, often flew together on operations over the Mediterranean and finished our first operational tours (50 ops) at the same time.

Jimmie and I shared a tent in the Egyptian desert for many months. On tour expiry we both returned to the UK on a trooper from Suez, in charge of Italian and German prisoners of war.

Back home in 1943 our ways parted. Jimmie had wanted to marry a girl he had met earlier, Joyce Rita May from Sheffield, which Jimmie considered his home town, although his address before the war was Willingham Road, Market Rasen, possibly because he had worked there as an accountant.

To get married he had to remain in the UK and after a conversion course joined 206 Squadron, initially flying Flying Fortresses and later Liberators in support of the Arctic convoys.

I myself wanted to return to my Squadron in Italy after a tour as an instructor in Palestine, which I achieved.

We never met again. Jimmie married Joyce but was killed a year later when his aircraft exploded on take-off from Leuchars in Scotland. He and his crew were killed except for two in the tail of the aircraft who were killed in a later accident.

I found out details about his fate only quite recently and discovered that his body was buried in Christ Church cemetery in Fulwood at the request of his widow, Joyce.

As Jimmie features in my memoirs I would like to have been able to inform any related Hancocks or Mays of Jimmie’s qualities and 
provide photos such as the one I attach.

It is just possible that Jimmie and Joyce had time to have a child of their own, or Joyce may have remarried.

In any case I would not like to think that Jimmie has been forgotten and my memoirs will be dedicated to anyone mentioned therein including him.

My postal address is 52 Kings Road, Alton, Hants, GU34 1PY. Tel: 01420 83146. If you have points to raise please phone or e-mail.”

John Deverill

Wing Commander RAF