In Memory of Alan Walter Camp (RAFVR): 1920-1941

Inside the Old House is a historic attraction in its own right. Above the stairwell is a small plaque that is a memorial to Pilot Officer Alan Walter Camp who was killed during the Second World War and is believed to be the only member of staff of Rochford Rural District Council that gave his life for his country during that conflict.

The memorial is discreet and largely unknown but such a sacrifice should not be forgotten, so we are including it on Memory Lane. The information has been compiled by Jim Kevany and we thank him for allowing us to use the information and photo. Jim has compiled much more information than we are able to display here.

Alan was aged just 20 when his aircraft was shot down over the North Sea and he and his crew were killed. 

Alan was mobilised, as a reservist, on 2nd September 1939, before the declaration of war. Despite the 49 hours basic training, the RAF put him through Elementary Flight Training again. He started based in a hotel in Bexhill and then RAF Hanworth, in Surrey, where he did his 50 hours in Miles Magister aircraft. His full service record is not available so it is not known where he received operational training but he was finally posted in January 1941 to No. 22 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command. 

No 22 Squadron

No 22 Squadron was formed during the First World War in September 1915. In 1934 it became a torpedo bomber squadron, converting to Bristol Beaufort aircraft in 1939. 

The Squadron was part of Coastal Command which was responsible for offensive action at sea. Coastal Command is not so well known as Fighter Command or Bomber Command but played a major role in the defence of Britain and lost 9,145 personnel during the conflict. 

The primary role of the Squadron was to seek and destroy enemy shipping using torpedoes or bombs. Another of the key roles was to lay mines in areas where enemy shipping might pass through. RAF terminology for mines was Cucumbers and the process of laying mines was known as Gardening. 

The Squadron was based at RAF North Coates in Lincolnshire but also had periodic detachments at RAF Thorney Island in Hampshire and RAF St Eval in North Cornwall in order to cover more sea on operations. 

Alan joined the Squadron as a Sergeant Pilot. It was not long before he was on his first mission, the first of many. 

One mission was a very hazardous attack on the Battlecruisers in Brest. An extract from a personal record by the Commanding Officer in the Squadron says of Alan Camp:

“The pilot distinguished himself by attempting to attack the battle cruisers in Brest in broad daylight on the 6th of April. He penetrated right into the harbour but the heavy flak and ground haze prevented him from seeing his target, and he did not drop his torpedoes”

Another mission was to attack an E-Boat base, flying a Beaufort OA-F carrying general purpose and incendiary bombs. The records showed:

“On the 9th of May 1941 P/O Camp was flying one of two aircraft detailed to attack the E-boat base at Ijmuiden. Despite intense flak he pressed home his attack and he delivered all of his bombs into the middle of the target area. The fires, which he and the other machine which attacked from 6,000 feet, could be seen forty miles out to sea during the return journey”. 

The Last Mission

Alan's last mission was on 15th June 1941. He took off at 10:40 in a Beaufort OA-V carrying 6 x 250 pound bombs on bombing patrol but did not return. 

Alan took off from North Coates in conjunction with other aircraft from the Squadron for a routine patrol off the coast of the Netherlands. They encountered a large convoy of 12 merchant vessels and 8 flak ships about 30 kilometres northwest of Texel. They attacked and one ship was sunk by the patrol leader and one flak ship was severely damaged. Alan was believed to be shot down by another flak ship about 10 kilometres west of Texel. 

The aircraft crashed into the sea and all crew were lost. With Alan were Sgt. W Myles, Sgt. B Conlon and Sgt. D Briers. Their remains were not recovered and they have no known grave but the sea. They are all remembered on the Runnymede Memorial which lists the 20,280 names of Royal Air Force and Commonwealth Air Forces personnel that died in the Western Europe theatre of conflict in the Second World War and have no known grave.

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