Walter Leonard Sargent

Sergeant Walter Leonard Sargent of Rostrevor, Co. Down died on 2nd December 1943 while serving with R.A.F. 103 Squadron in Bomber Command on a raid over Berlin.


Walter Leonard Sargent


Sergeant Walter Leonard Sargent (1321977) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. He was the son of Leonard Sargent and Elizabeth Sargent of Bridge Street, Rostrevor, Co. Down.

In civilian life, Walter worked for the Post Office Engineering Department in Belfast. Sergeant Sargent died on 2nd December 1943 aged 23 years old while serving in R.A.F. 103 Squadron. He was an air bomber on Avro Lancaster BIII JB401 PM-P. The crew took off from R.A.F. Elsham Wolds, Lincolnshire, England at 1654hrs on 2nd December 1943.

Owing to heavy cloud over the North Sea, they climbed high to aid navigation. Approximately a tenth of the force returned to base with icing on the wings but Sargent’s crew made it over the target city of Berlin, Germany. The Luftwaffe had anticipated an attack and night fighters were out in force. At around 2300hrs, the Lancaster came under attack as they flew over the village of Philadelphia around 30km southeast of Berlin. Witnesses reported the plane on fire at a height of around 6,000 feet before it exploded, coming down in a wooded area north of the railway line, approximately 2km from the village.

A Lancaster exploded very fine on the port bow on the run-in to the target. It suddenly appeared – a huge ball of waves of fire rolling over each other and overtaking each other.

The O.R.B. of R.A.F. 103 Squadron incorrectly states that JB730 and JB730 were lost on the raid when it was in fact JB400 and JB401. Some records differ on whether Sargent’s plane was JB400 or JB401.

All members of the crew died as a result of the incident and were first buried in the Philadelphia Cemetery, Beeskow, Germany. Sergeant Sargent’s grave is in Section 5, Row D, Collective Grave 14-20 of Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Berlin, Germany. His headstone bears the inscription:

Of Rostrevor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.

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