John Douglas Edward How

by Geoff Robbins 11 March 2018

Thumbing through the photo album of a long-deceased aunt, I came across a newspaper cutting reporting the loss during the war of Pilot Officer J D E How. There was also a single photo of what I believe to be the same individual.

Having done some on-line research (CWGC, 1939 Register etc), I believe this to be John Douglas Edward How who was, I think, born in 1917, employed in the Post Office (London Gazette 8 Mar 1935), lived at 16 Dyke Road in Sept 1939 (1939 Register) and then commissioned from Sgt to Pilot Officer wef 2 Apr 1941 in the RAFVR (London Gazette 9 May 1941) and was killed (with no known grave) 13 Aug 1941 (CWGC records).

The CWGC records show that he was part of 42 Sqdn and that 42 Sqdn lost 7 other personnel the same night, only 1 of whom has a grave – in Norway. At the time, 42 Sqn was part of Coastal Command and was flying Beaufort light/torpedo bombers, each with a crew of 4, so the loss of 8 men equates to 2 aircraft lost, presumably in the vicinity of Norway.

Although I know all of that, what I don’t know is the connection to my aunt, Doris Robbins. Were they boyfriend/girlfriend, just friends or acquaintances or what? I know that she worked at the New Sussex Hospital as a nursing assistant at the time and lived in the nearby Nurses Home in York Avenue, so not a million miles from Dyke Road.

If anyone could satisfy my curiosity and fill in any of the gaps then I would be grateful – I am just puzzled why this 1 cutting and photo are in the album with no other explanation.

Many thanks

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