Flying Officer (Pilot): Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve: 466 (R.A.A.F.) Squadron
Date of Death: 20 December 1943
Service No: 120525
John was the son of Edward Herbert Athol Scales and Victoria Maud Scales, of Peldon, Essex. He was born in 1920. He had a half sister Mary and 2 brothers ; George, Joe & a sister Maud, known as "Charlie". The family farmed Harvey's Farm at Peldon and post war his brother George took over the running of the farm.. John attended the Royal Grammar school at Colchester with his brother, George. Both John & George excelled at sports.
Handley Page Halifax
466 Squadron RAAF was formed on October 10th, 1942 at Driffield, England. The squadron was equipped with Vickers Wellington Mk III bombers and was under the command of Wing Commander R.E. Bailey. The squadron had 'HD' as its code. In November 1942 the squadron moved to Leconfield where they flew their first operation; a mine laying mission, on January 13th, 1943. This operation was the first in a long series of mine laying operations which paralleled an increasing night bombing commitment.
On the 14th January during another mine laying operation, 466 squadron sustained its first combat loss when Sergeant R.V. Babbington and his crew failed to return. The following day four crews joined a force which attacked the Lorrient docks in the squadron's first bombing attack. On the 30th January 466 squadron made the first of many attacks against a German target. This was made when 8 Wellington's attacked Emden. This attack was made during daylight with the bombers being protected by thick cloud. The crews were not used to this natural protection and two aircraft were lost.
466 squadron's first aerial victory won on the night of February 19/20th when Sergeant R. Rosser's tail gunner, Sergeant H. Wilcock downed a Bf 110. Return fire from the German aircraft wounded two crew members and set the bomber alight. Presuming the worst the bomb aimer bailed out, however the fire was brought under control and the aircraft safely returned to England.
Unfortunately aerial victories were not a common event and with increasing night- fighter attacks and an improving anti-aircraft defence system, more and more Wellington's were failing to return. Other hazards included bad weather, the risk of mid-air collisions and stray bombs from other aircraft caused many aircraft to go down. One such incident occurred on April 14th when a Wellington captained by Sergeant G.F. Hicks was attacked by a night-fighter and severely damaged. During the battle the tail-gunner, R. F. Field, was killed and three others wounded. Despite suffering serious wounds and having a seriously damaged aircraft the crew elected to press on and bomb the target, Stuttgart. After the drop they made the long return flight to England, making a safe landing at one of the emergency fields.
The tenacity of this crew was rewarded with Sergeant Hicks was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his determination and three of the four surviving crew being all awarded the DSO, DFC and DFM. This event was unusual considering the numbers of one crew being all decorated. Their rewards represented the first to members of 466 squadron.
The Wellington operations continued at a hectic pace until when in late August 1943 the unit converted to the Handley Page Halifax Mk II. Once the squadron had been re- equipped and retrained, it was fully operational by the November and flew its first Halifax mission on December 1st when twelve aircraft laid mines off Terschelling Island. The new Halifaxs were fitted with H2S which helped in location and the attack of targets. 466 squadron was the first non-Pathfinder Force squadron to receive H2S.
The real test came on the night of December 20th/21st when the squadron's Halifaxs made their first attack on a German target. Sixteen Halifaxs joined 634 other bombers in an attack on Frankfurt. The attack was unsuccessful with two of 466 squadron's aircraft being lost and another returning to England badly damaged.
One of the two aircraft lost was that of John. His plane was HX236 Halifax III HD-J took off at 17:03 on a mission to Frankfurt. HX236 is believed to have crashed in the vicinity of Wiesbaden. All the crew are buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery. The crew on that fateful night were :- F/O J Scales ; Sgt T G Townson; F/S W Ferris; Sgt R T H Headford; F/S J R G Matthews; F/S A M Le Grand RAAF; P/O R H H Lunniss.
1939-45 War Star; Air Crew Europe; 1939-45 War Medal; Defence Medal
Commonwealth War Dead Grave Reference: Coll. grave 18. E. 19-25.
Cemetery: RHEINBERG WAR CEMETERY
George Scales - Farmer
John Scales Bomber Pilot by Geoff Gonella