Seargeant Francis Compton, 20 and from Paulsgrove, was killed on the night of 29 June 1943.
Not only does Compton’s story show just how young some of Bomber Command’s aircrew were, it also highlights just how many young men from Portsmouth were lost in the skies over Europe in the Second World War.
His Halifax Bomber, serial number HR812, Squadron number TL-F, took off at 11.27pm from Graveley on a mission to attack Cologne in Germany. Part of 35 Squadron, RAF, their role was to act as pathfinders, identifying and illuminating the target for the main force who would follow on behind.
Compton, an Air Gunner, was onboard HR812 when she was shot down by a German night fighter, piloted by Lieutenant Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, at 01.55am. The Halifax crashed near Wandre, 8 kilometres North East of Liege in Belgium.
During the Battle of the Ruhr in May 1943, Sgt Compton (then serving with No.10 Sqdn), shot down one night-fighter, damaged a second and drove off at least two others. His immediate DFM was Gazetted on 4 June 1943.
Sergeant Compton is buried in Heverlee Cemetery, Belgium.