Jack Wilk

Air Gunner, 149 (East India) Squadron
Service number 76932
Died 17 August 1940
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany
Age 36

Jack was born on 24 December 1903 in South Africa to French born Abraham Lichtheim and Fairie (Rose) née Mindelsohn. Jack and his brother Lionel were both born in South Africa and received their early education there before they moved to England. Jack attended Cambridge University and was called to the Bar at Middle Temple. He took private flying lessons whilst a member of the Civil Air Guard, obtaining his pilots licence in August 1938. When he enlisted he was considered too old to be a pilot and trained as an air gunner.

Jack was an air gunner on Wellington R3174 which departed RAF Mildenhall on a night operation to Kolleda, Germany. The aircraft flew into a hillside near Coburg trying to avoid flak.

A/G, Pilot Officer Jack Wilk, killed
Pilot, Acting Sqn Ldr Evelyn Harry Toller Thwaites, 37134, killed
Pilot, P/O Derek Elliot Stafford Charles, 74349, killed

Sgt Norman James Valentine Cownie, POW Stalag 357 Kopernikus.
P/O, M J Fisher, POW Stalag Luft L3.
W/Op, Sergeant Frederick James Pennicott, POW.

Frederick was treated for his several injuries at a hospital staffed by nuns before being transferred to the Dulag Luft camp at Oberursel near Frankfurt. He was later moved to Stalag Luft 1 at Barth in Pomerania where he remained until the Camp was liberated by the Russians in May 1945. He was repatriated to the UK by the United States Air Force in a Flying Fortress piloted by Col Hubert Zemke. He had one unsuccessful escape attempt. He received a disability pension from the government on repatriation in view of the leg injuries sustained in the crash. His left foot was crushed in the crash which left him with a pronounced limp once re-formed. He had to wear a metal plate in his shoe for support. I never once heard him complain’. Grateful thanks to Frederick’s son Phillip for the information and photos.