Maynard Meyer Caplan DFM
Pilot, 1658 HCU
Service number 142555
Died 7 September 1943
Buried East Ham (Marlow Road) Jewish Cemetery, London
‘IN LIFE AND DEATH HE WAS HONOURABLE AND COURAGEOUS. FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS’
Maynard was born on 14 May 1916 in Bethnal Green, London to Bernard and Rachel née Goldstein. Maynard had two sisters, Beryl who married Peter Baum and Freda who married Marcus Freedman.
Before the war Maynard worked with his father Bernard at an electro chemist works. Bernard also volunteered as an ARP warden in Lewisham.
Maynard received his DFM with 158 Squadron. He was known as the ‘three engined expert.’ ‘F/Sgt Caplan has just completed a most successful tour of operations, during which he has taken part in bombing attacks against targets in Germany and Italy, often in the face of intense fighter opposition and heavy ground defences. On three occasions this airman has brought his aircraft safely back to base on three engines, and he has also obtained some excellent photographs.”
Maynard, (known as Rusty), was an instructor on a fighter affiliation training flight when he was killed, alongside seven trainees working up to becoming an operational crew and two other instructors. They were on board Halifax DT524 which took off from RAF Riccall at 10.05. The exercise involved a fighter aircraft, in this case a Hurricane, making simulated attacking passes towards the Halifax, with the crew of the Halifax keeping lookout for it and the instructor pilot of the Halifax would then demonstrate taking evasive action. The Hurricane pilot made several attacks and later stated that the evasive action taken was very effective during all but the final one. When the final attacking pass was made the Halifax initially went into a 90-degree bank and the starboard outer engine emitted a considerable amount of smoke, the aircraft then rolled over on to its back and lost height, witnesses stated that the aircraft lost its starboard outer propeller at this stage and having been out of control for a time was then partly recovered from being inverted. After almost levelling out again it then went into a spin, the starboard outer engine then broke away from the wing and it dived into the ground. The aircraft crashed at midday at the edge of what was then called Newsholme Plantation (and is now called Intake Plantation) near Wressle. A detailed examination of the wreckage followed, and the detached starboard outer engine landed in the main wreckage trail and was quickly proven to have broken away before the aircraft hit the ground.
Pilot (Instructor) – F/O Maynard Meyer Caplan DFM.
Pilot – F/O Lawrence Gay Dunlop RCAF (J/20568), aged 20, of Mayenod, Saskatchewan, Canada. Buried Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery, Yorkshire
Flight Engineer (Instructor) – P/O Arthur Wilfred Bailey RAFVR (143799), aged 22, of St.Albans. Buried St.Albans Cemetery, Hertfordshire.
Flight Engineer – Sgt Alan Basil Granville Williams RAFVR (1653142), aged 19, of Ystrad Mynach. Buried Ystrad Mynach Churchyard, Glamorgan.
Navigator – Sgt Frank Reynolds RAFVR (1497496), aged 23, of Eccleshill, Bradford. Buried Calverley Churchyard, Yorkshire.
Bomb Aimer – F/Sgt Samuel Rutherford Parker RCAF (R/132048), aged 23, of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Buried Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery, Yorkshire
Wireless Operator – Sgt Edward Leo McCartie RAFVR (1146785), aged 22, of Middlesbrough. Buried Middlesbrough (Thorntree) R.C. Cemetery, Yorkshire.
Air Gunner – Sgt Alfred John Gamble RAFVR (1391617), aged 22, of Eltham, London. Buried Selby Cemetery, Yorkshire.
Air Gunner – F/Sgt Gordon Gibson RAFVR (1349486), aged 21, of Ellon. Buried Ellon Cemetery, Aberdeen.
Air Gunner (Instructor) – F/O James Low RCAF (J/17294), aged 24, of Kenogami, Quebec, Canada. Buried Harrogate Stonefall Cemetery, Yorkshire
Before Maynard was killed, he flew on operations with Flight Engineer Arthur Alfred Frederick with 158 Squadron during 1942 and early 1943. Maynard and Arthur were close friends and were both stationed as instructors at RAF Riccall after they had completed their operations. Arthur returned to operations for his second tour early in 1944, this time with 640 Squadron. He was killed with five of the other six crew when their aircraft was hit on 13th September 1944, it was the 13th sortie of his second tour. Grateful thanks to Peter Paragreen for the information and photographs.