An Old Coathamian – Not Forgotten


No. 142055 Pilot Officer (Air Gunner),
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve;
No. 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Died 26 July 1943, aged 23 years.

Buried in Vlieland General Cemetery, Wadden Islands,
Friesland, Netherlands, Grave 66.

No. 51 Squadron was part of RAF Bomber Command and was stationed at RAF Snaith near Goole in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It flew Handley Page Halifax Mark II bombers. On the late evening of 25 July 1943 the Halifax in which Pilot Officer Sarginson was an air gunner, code sign MH-(?), took off on a bombing raid over Essen in Germany but crashed off the northern coast of Holland and all seven members of the crew were killed. They are buried in various Dutch coastal cemeteries. The cemetery in which Pilot Officer Sarginson is buried lies on Vlieland, one of the Wadden Islands, now a bird sanctuary.

John Sarginson was the son of Horace William Sarginson and Helena Lucy Sarginson, of Marske-by-the-Sea. John entered Coatham School in September 1932, aged eleven, and joined School House in Form IIIB as a fee-paying day boy. Having won the form prize in July 1934, he was promoted in September 1934 to Form IVA, and by July 1936 had passed his School Certificate examinations. In the senior school he took part in numerous activities, playing cricket and rugby for the school, as well as being a member of the athletics team. He was a school monitor and lance-corporal in the Officer Training Corps. He was a member of the debating and literary societies, was a school librarian and editor of the school magazine, and in his final year took the leading part in the school play. John’s younger brother William followed him to Coatham in 1934 and also served in the war, and another brother, Peter, was born in 1934. The school magazine of December 1943 commented, “We regret to learn that (he) was posted missing shortly after his (recent) visit to the school” and deepest sympathy was extended to his parents. He was first listed on the School’s Roll of Honour in December 1944.