LAYTON, John William

No.1202313, Sergeant (W/Op-Air Gnr), John William LAYTON
Aged 21

104 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in Action on Sunday, 19th November 1942

John William Layton was born on 19th November 1911 (Ely Q4-1911 3B:875), son of Thomas and Anne LAYTON (née CHAPMAN). They were living at River Bank, Barway in 1911, when his father was a horse keeper on farm.

John was at Soham Grammar School from 1923 to 1929.

From the 1939 register it appears that his father had died (in 1929) and the family seems to be at West End. Barway in the 1939 register, John himself, a clerk in beet factory; his widowed mother Ann [17-3-1866]; sister Anne R [22-12-1901] factory hand; half brother John (Percy) CHAPMAN [13-8-1893] and a lodger ? Herbert B ENGLAND [20-4-1899] civil servant. There are no closed records

From 6 November 1942 to 21 January 1943 104 Squadron were on detachment to Luqa, Malta. On the 19th November 1942, 5 Wellingtons from 104 Squadron and 2 from 40 Squadron were sent to bomb Catania aerodrome in Sicily. They hit their target, explosions were seen across the runway, buildings and dispersal areas. There was intense light and heavy flak.

One aircraft did not return, 104 Squadron's Vickers Wellington MkII ser .no. W5583 c/s EP-E, the crew were:-
42626 Flt/Lt (Pilot) John Henry Dennis MERCER RAF; R87380 WO2 (2nd Pilot) James FEARNSIDE RCAF; 1001414 F/Sgt (Obs.) Clifford Ernest GRAY RAFVR; NZ41585 Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) William Eric HAMMOND RNZAF; 1202313 Sgt (Air Gnr.) John William LAYTON RAFVR; 1316546 Sgt (Air Gnr.) Benjamin Colin David HOLMES RAFVR.

Where they were originally buried is only known by the GRU records which are not on public view as some accounts are considered harrowing. They were eventually re-interred in Catania in November 1944, except for the 2nd pilot James FERSRNSIDE who was taken to the Canadian cemetery in Agira.

A Wellington of 104 Squadron

© Commonwealth War Graves Commission

John Layton is buried in Catania War Cemetery, Sicily, joint grave 1:F:26-27

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details