Joseph Roy Eaton
Date of birth: 1923
Date of death: 7.7.1944
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Family information: Husband of Barbara Eaton nee Wise
Service number: 1670569
Joseph (Joe) joined the RAFVR (Voluntary Reserve) and was given the service number 1670569.
When war broke out in 1939 the Air Ministry employed the RAFVR as the principal means for aircrew entry to serve with the RAF. A civilian volunteer on being accepted for aircrew training took an oath of allegiance ('attestation') and was then inducted into the RAFVR. Normally he returned to his civilian job for several months until he was called up for aircrew training. During this waiting period he could wear a silver RAFVR lapel badge to indicate his status.
By the end of 1941 more than half of Bomber Command aircrew were members of the RAFVR. Most of the pre-war pilot and observer NCO aircrew had been commissioned and the surviving regular officers and members of the RAFO filled the posts of flight and squadron commanders. Eventually of the "RAF" aircrew in the Command probably more than 95% were serving members of the RAFVR.
The date that Joe ‘attested’ is not yet known but he became a member of 166 Squadron.
The squadron was re-formed in November 1936, as a heavy-bomber squadron equipped with Handley Page Heyford aircraft. It became part of an air observers' school in June 1938, then a Group pool squadron about May 1939 and by the outbreak of the Second World War was flying Whitleys. Soon after the outbreak of war it became a No. 6 Group training squadron. It remained as such until April 1940 and then merged with No. 97 Squadron and SHQ Abingdon to form No. 10 Operational Training Unit.
No 166 was reformed in January 1943 at Kirmington, Lincolnshire - again as a bomber squadron. It remained based at Kirmington throughout the remainder of the war and, flying Wellingtons and Lancasters, participated in many major raids, and also played an active part in Gardening (minelaying).
On the 7th July 1944 whilst engaged in an operation over Normandy, France, the Lancaster bomber in which Joe was a crew member was shot down and all the crew were killed.
The following is from ' RAF Bomber Command losses’ Vol 5 – W R Chorley.
7 July 1944
Lancaster lll ND678 AS/Q
Took off from Kirmington at 1910 hours to bomb strong points. Believed to have crashed in the sea. Six are buried in Banneville War Cemetery. Sgt Markland rests in Bayeux War Cemetery.
S/L R H Weston
Sgt J R Markland
F/O E W MacIntosh RCAF
F/O H J McEachern RCAF
Sgt J R Eaton
Sgt N D Little
Sgt R W Boss
The following from “The Bomber Command War Diaries” – Middlebrook/Everitt.
7 July 1944
Normandy Battle Area
467 aircraft - 283 Lancasters, 164 Halifaxes, 20 Mosquitos of 1,4,6, and 8 Groups in a major effort to assist in the Normandy land battle.
The Canadian 1st and British 2nd Armies were held up by a series of fortified village strong points north of Caen. The first plan was for Bomber Command to bomb these villages but, because of the proximity of friendly troops and the possibility of bombing error, the bombing area was moved back nearer to Caen, covering a stretch of open ground and the northern edge of the city. The weather was clear for the raid which took place in the evening and two aiming points were well marked by Oboe Mosquitos and other Pathfinder aircraft. The Master Bomber, Wing Commander S P (Pat) Daniels of 35 Squadron, then controlled a very accurate raid. Dust and smoke soon obscured the markers but the bombing always remained concentrated. 2,276 tons of bombs were dropped.
It was afterwards judged that the bombing should have been aimed at the original targets. Few Germans were killed in the area actually bombed, although units nearby were considerably shaken. The northern suburbs of Caen were ruined. No German fighters appeared and only 1 Lancaster of 166 Squadron was shot down by flak. 2 further Lancasters and 1 Mosquito crashed behind the Allied lines in France (For statistical purposes, Bomber Command aircraft which were recorded as having crashed in France and later in other reoccupied countries in Europe would be considered as lost as it was unlikely that the aircraft would be salvaged for later use, although the crews often returned safely to England).
The following is a quote concerning the above operation from the book “On the Wings of War - a History of 166 Squadron” by Jim Wright.
“In spite of flak the attack was made from low level between 4,000 and 8,000 feet. It was a very successful attack and all the crews gave high praise to the Master Bomber for his excellent instructions and control of the raid. It was reported that the bombing was very concentrated and the most devastating attack in which the Squadron had taken part.
AS/Q (ND 678) flown by Sqdn Ldr Weston failed to return. The aircraft was last seen going in on his bombing run and was later reported to have been shot down by flak. All the crew were killed. The Pilot Sqdn Ldr Ralph Weston, Flg Off Joe McEachern RCAF (Bombaimer), Flg Off Ernie McIntosh RCAF (Navigator), Sgt Joe Eaton (Wireless Op), Sgt Norman Little (Mid Upper Gunner), and Sgt Ron Boss (Rear Gunner) are buried in the Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery Calvados, France. The Flight Engineer Sgt Jim Markland is buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery, Calvados.
John Eaton was apparently born in Huddersfield about 1834. In 1851, however, as an eighteen year old he was living in Preston with older brother James. John was working in a cotton mill but his brother was a ‘School Teacher’.
Five years on, in 1856, he was to be found in the Dewsbury area where he married Mary Darby who came from Ireland. By 1861 and living in Up Lane, Heckmondwike, they had 2 children - Jane aged 4 and William aged 1 and John was working as a ‘Cloth Finisher’. Living in the same house was his sister-in-law Catherine Darby from Ireland and a Mary Akeroyd said to have been born ‘upon the seas’. Both were mill workers.
Other children were Joseph Eaton born in Batley in 1863, Susan (1865) and Mary E (1869).
Mary died in 1873 and later that year John married Margaret Alice Dunn.
In 1881 John and Margaret were resident in Crescent Street, Batley along with children Joseph, Susan and Mary. At the time they were living in Central Street and John was still a ‘Cloth Finisher’.
A further change of address meant the family were in Back Crescent Street, Batley in 1891. All the children had flown the nest but a granddaughter Margaret A Lister was living with them. By 1901 John was widowed again and living with his daughter Jane and family at No. 3 James Street, Batley. Interestingly, the census information states that he was born in Preston. This would be in accord with his whereabouts in 1851 but at odds with other declarations that he was born in Huddersfield. Other than this anomaly the rest of the details seem to corroborate each other.
Meanwhile, Joseph Eaton (1863) had married Elizabeth Ann Thewlis in Batley during the year of 1883.
In 1891 he was living at 5 Caledonia Road, Batley and, like his father, was employed as a Cloth Finisher. The couple had 2 children - Joseph W (b. 1885) and Edith A (1899). His sister Mary E Eaton was also living with them.
By 1901, a further move had seen the family living in 5, Caledonia Road, Batley. Additions to the family included John Percival (1895) and Ethel (1898). They had a boarder named Kate Wingfield who was described as an ‘Actress’ along with a visitor named George Hurst a ‘Theatrical Manager’.
1911 saw yet another change of address to Harrison’s Buildings, Commercial Street, Batley. By then, however, Joseph had changed occupations and become a ‘Shopkeeper - confectionary and tobacco’.
18 year old John Percy also seems to have developed commercial interests as he was ‘on his own account’ a ‘Mill Waste Dealer’.
In 1917 John Percy married Mary Aylward (b 1893) in Dewsbury. In 1923 Joseph Roy Eaton was born. His birth was registered in Pontefract. He was born in the Anchor Inn situated just below the church, his father being the Landlord there. In fact, John Percy was the last landlord of the Anchor before it closed and then moved to The Punch Bowl. Joseph went to school in Brotherton.
In 1941 Joseph Roy married Barbara Wise. They had two daughters - Helen and Dianne.
After the War Joseph’s widow and daughters continued to live in Brotherton.
John, or Percy as he was better known, and Mary Eaton lived in Low Street a short distance from the Punch Bowl. Percy was a local councillor and contributed much to village life. Both died in 1983.