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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. E R Jessop


Ernest Robert Jessop was born on 22nd December 1918 in Southend, the son of Robert Jessop and Rose Selina Jessop (nee Clark). His father was shown in the 1939 register as a carpenter.

Jessop joined the RAFVR in February 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot and commenced training at 34 E&RFTS Rochford.

On 23rd June 1939 he had taken off in a Hawker Audax when ground control informed him that his undercarriage had become detached. After circling to use up fuel he made a forced landing in a field but the aircraft turned turtle and was destroyed, Jessop escaped with slight injuries.

Called up on 1st September, he completed his training and arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 17th August 1940.

He was posted to 257 Squadron at Debden from 5 OTU on 1st September 1940, moved to 43 Squadron at Usworth on the 10th and then to 253 Squadron on the 28th.

Jessop joined 242 Squadron at Martlesham Heath in February 1941. He was posted away on 11th March and on 3rd April took off in a Hurricane from HMS Ark Royal, as part of a batch of reinforcements for Malta.


There follows some confusion triggered by this report:

On 7th March 1941 in Malta several Hurricanes of 261 Squadron were sent to cover the return of Maryland AR706 of 69 Squadron, returning from a reconnaissance sortie over Taormina.

Six Me109s were in pursuit and succeeded in setting the Maryland on fire as it approached Luqa. Sgt. J Levy had been killed by a cannon shell but the pilot, F/O JB Boys-Stones, held the aircraft under control for the navigator Sgt. JM Alexander to bale out.

When F/O Boys-Stones left the aircraft it was at 250 feet and his parachute was unable to deploy fully, he was fatally injured.

One of the Hurricanes, P2645 flown by Sgt. Jessop on his first local flight, was shot down by Obfw. K Kuhdorf of 7/JG26, the wounded pilot baling out into the sea, from where he was later rescued.

The Maryland crashed a mile north of Dingli.

On 7th March 1941 Ernest Jessop was still in England. It now seems certain that the Hurricane pilot was Ernest's younger brother, 135258 F/O Frank James Jessop.

(FJ Jessop went with 261 Squadron to India but was killed on 25th May 1943. He had taken up Hurricane II AP912 for an air test when the engine cut. Attempting a forced landing at Kalna, 35m north of Calcutta, the aircraft spun in.

He lies in Calcutta (Bhowanipore) Cemetery, Calcutta (now Kolkata)).


ER Jessop joined 261 Squadron at Ta Kali. On 12th May 1941 the squadron disbanded. 'C' Flight became part of a new squadron, 185, at Hal Far. The remainder of 261's pilots went to the Middle East, Jessop among them, and became part of a new 261 Squadron when it was reformed at Habbaniya on 12th July 1941.

On 1st November 1941 he was forced to bale out of Hurricane I Z4359 but the circumstances are unrecorded.

Jessop was killed in a flying accident on 15th November 1941, as a Flight Sergeant. His Hurricane Z4167 crashed into the sea while taking off to participate in an army co-operation exercise.

He is buried in Khayat Beach War Cemetery, Israel.





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