John Haggan Jeffrey

Sergeant John Haggan Jeffrey of Malone Avenue, Belfast died on 11th August 1942 as Short Sterling W7568 came down after taking off from a Norfolk airfield.


John Haggan Jeffrey


Sergeant John Jeffrey Haggan served in R.A.F. 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron at the time of his death aged 20 years old on 11th August 1942.

Sergeant John Haggan Jeffrey (1062344) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. Born on 14th August 1921, he was the eldest son of John Jeffrey and Sarah Jane "Sadie" Jeffrey (née Haggan) of 55 Malone Avenue, Belfast.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War, John received his education at Inchmarlo and Royal Belfast Academical Institution. In early 1940, he passed Civil Service exams and joined the Accounts Division of the Northern Ireland Ministry of Finance. He was a member of Windsor Baptist Church.

Jeffrey enlisted in June 1940 and began training in January 1941. While in the Royal Air Force, he partook in many bombing raids over occupied Europe.

I always feel that no matter how much it hurts us to leave home, or how much it would hurt those we love were anything to happen, it is better than what would happen if everyone who loved anyone were to stay at home.

Letter home from John Jeffrey in 1940.

Short Sterling W7568

John died on 11th August 1942 aged 20 years old. He was an Observer on board Short Sterling W7568 HA-D of R.A.F. 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron. The crew took off from R.A.F. Downham Market, Norfolk at 2240hrs on 11th August 1942 on a night-time bombing raid over Mainz, Germany. The city suffered great damage in the raid as 154 planes destroyed historic and culturally significant buildings.

Jeffrey’s plane did not make it to Mainz. Soon after take-off, the starboard outer engine caught fire and the bomber came down at Brandon, Suffolk, England. Pilot Officer J. Abberton died as a result of the same incident. The remaining 5 crew members baled out uninjured.

Sergeant Jeffrey was held in very high regard both for his sterling qualities as a man and for his undoubted efficiency as a navigator. He will be greatly missed.

Commanding Officer of R.A.F. 218 Squadron.

John Haggan Jeffrey’s grave is in Section B1, Grave 813 of Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast.