John Mervyn Dennis

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: Royal Air Force

Medals: Distinguish Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order

Rank and number: Squadron Leader (Pilot)

Parents: John Edward and Sarah Dennis

Home address: Craghead Vicarage, Stanley, County Durham

Date of birth: 1913

Date of death: 20/05/1944

Buried/Commemorated at: Buried at Le Mans West Cemetery, Sarthe, France and commemorated on Thornbury Grammar School Memorial

Age: 30

Further information:

John’s father was the minister of the Thornbury Baptist Church from 1922 to 1927 and John had a brother Peter who also went into the Church. John left Thornbury Grammar School in 1929, and joined the clerical staff of a Bristol firm but left to join the RAF.

John was commissioned into the RAF in 1939 and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1941. He spent four and a half years in the Middle East and was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order after he ‘had taken part in a very large number of sorties, and set a rare example of skill, courage and devotion to duty’.
John was stationed at RAF Oakington Cambridgeshire and on the day of his death he was flying in Lancaster Bomber JB653 as deputy Master Bomber. The aircraft was one of 116 aircraft that took off for a night bombing raid of Le Mans. The raid itself was a success with much damage being done to key railway targets with only light ground casualties. However, 3 aircraft of the 116 were lost and one of these was Lancaster JB653 which crashed into the ground at Le Mans killing all of the 7 crew members on board, including John. It is not known whether the plane was brought down by flak or whether it crashed into one of the other downed aircraft, but as a very experienced airman, John’s loss was sorely felt.

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

This information has been provided by Sarah Hands, Volunteer Researcher for the South Gloucestershire War Memorials Web Site.
By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):
Thornbury Roots -