Memorial to be unveiled for heroic RAF Flight Sergeant

An airman who died when his Handley Page Hampden crashed in February 1941 is to be remembered in a memorial.

Flight Sergeant Robert Alfred Gapp was 22 years old when he set off from RAF Hemswell on a mission to Wilhelmshaven, with three other crewmen.

The crew, from 61 Squadron, crashed near Cawston, Norfolk on their return while attempting an emergency landing.

The unveiling of the memorial will follow a service in St Agnes’ Church, Cawston at 10.30am on Sunday, September 2, 2018.

Flight Sergeant Gapp’s aircraft crashed at Bluestone Plantation, near Cawston, on February 10, 1941.

The four crew members were all killed: * Gapp – Cawston Historical Society (CHS) think Flight Sergeant Gapp was born at home in Fawnbrake Avenue, Herne Hill, on June 22, 1918.

He was the son of Ernest Arthur Gapp, a newspaper advertisement manager, and his wife Harriett Louisa (nee Goodison).

He was buried at West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium. He was a wireless operator and air gunner. * Flight Lieutenant Walter Eric Frutiger (known as John) – His father, Hans, was a Swiss citizen who owned a firm of clock and watch importers and lived in New Barnet.

John died aged 23. He had made aeronautical engineering his career, and was employed in the Experimental Department of Armstrong-Siddeley Aircraft, Ltd. While at Imperial College (City Guilds) he had joined, in 1936, the London University Air Guard.

He was called up at the outbreak of war, and after further training was posted to Bomber Command, with which he had considerable operational experience.

He was once forced to land on the sea, but was rescued by coastguards. Promotion to Flying Officer came in August 1940. * Sergeant Robert Arthur Chanin – Sergeant Chanin came from Reading.

He was educated in Reading and at Felsted Grammar School, Essex. He was articled to a firm of accountants in Reading and was a member of Bulmershe Tennis Club.

* Sergeant John Edward Hill – Sergeant Hill was the eldest son of John and Alice Hill, who kept the White Hart Hotel in Crowle, Lincolnshire.

The Handley Page Hampden was a twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force (RAF). It served in the early stages of the Second World War.

Do you remember Flight Sergeant Robert Gapp or know anyone who did? Do you have memories of him or his family you would like to share – for example, which newspaper did his father work for? And did he have any other family aside from his parents?

Please contact toby@slpmedia.co.uk.

The CHS would like to contact any friends or family of Flight Sergeant Robert Gapp.

Anyone interested in attending the memorial service can contact Cawston Historical Society at www.cawstonheritage.co.uk/contact.


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