Sergeant Noel Spalding
Sergeant Noel 'Johnny' Spalding was an ever present member of Drummond Wilson's crew. The only raid he missed being the Essen one on the 10th/11th April 1942, when he was laid up in hospital with frostbite suffered on the previous Hamburg raid a few days before. A Norfolk man from Wells Next The Sea he had moved to London to work for J. Sainsburys prior to the war, being a very strong and athletic man he enjoyed taking part in the companies sporting events, and with some success. Here is his collection of medals starting with two School ones for Tug-Of-War and Football back in Wells, he was also Captain of the Schools Football team. The rest come from his time in London and show his considerable skill as a footballer.
Noel (arrowed) possibly taken at Wells Next The Sea, it could be the Spalding brothers, what we do know is that is front right is his brother John. John went onto become a Vicar and officiated at Noel and Olive's wedding in Paddington.
Olive meets Noel's family in 1936, probably taken on the beach at Wells Next the Sea. Brothers John and Bob with Noels sisters and probably Noels mother. Noel far right with Olive in front. And a beautiful picture of Olive
Noel met Olive when he moved to London, it's possible that he boarded at the Pub her parents ran in Somers Mews, Paddington. Here Noel and Olive (right) enjoy a rather risky cliff top photo opportunity, sitting with them is Olive's sister Violet. This photo was taken in 1938, possibly in the West Country. Another photograph taken on the same holiday.
Still 1938 and here Noel and Olive stand in front of Hey Tor, Dartmoor.
One year later and here Noel and Olive enjoy another holiday together.
Noel met Olive when he moved to London, her father owned a public house called The Mitre which was situated on Somers Mews, Paddington. The mews no longer exist, they were lost when the area was redeveloped (partly due to the damage caused during the Blitz) . The map shows where the Mews once stood, Radnor Mews (opposite Somers Mews) is still there today, also on the map you can clearly see St John Church on Hyde Park Crescent where Noel and Olive married.
Radnor Mews, which were opposite Somers Mews, are still there today and give a good idea of what it would have looked like. Where Somers Mews stood is now the entry to an underground car park beneath a block of flats.
THE WEDDING (7th January 1940)
A happy day and smiling faces all around as Noel and Olive tie the knot at St John's, Paddington.
Olive's sister Violet and Noel's brother Bob sneak in on the photo
The happy couple with the wedding car parked outside The Mitre on Somers Mews
With war raging Honeymoons tended to be brief, Noel and Olive spent their wedding night at The Strand Palace Hotel where Noel booked an apartment for £16.
A lovely photo of Olive and Noel taken on the 29th September 1940
Noel (middle) enjoying a break with fellow RAF crew men (left) and a more formal photograph, possibly of an intake with Noel centre front. These were taken in September 1940, at the time Noel was stationed at RAF Duxford and the photographs are inscribed 'Cambridge September 1940'
'Who goes there?', Noel and a fellow RAF crewman on duty, dated 1941
An intriguing picture as it carries the note 'after returning from a raid on Norway'. Working on an assumption that this was taken after he joined XV Squadron then the only record of him being injured was during the Hamburg raid, prior to Godmanchester. My belief is that this is taken at RAF Hospital Ely after the Hamburg raid when he was being treated for frostbite. The airman at the front is clearly suffering from the effects of frostbite in his fingers. Noel is third from the left. Drummond's crew made two raids on Norway, on neither occasion are any injuries to crew logged. The house belonged to Mr and Mrs Orange, on who's door Noel knocked having baled out prior to the Beck Row crash in late February 1942.
A wonderful photo of Noel with his son Peter, taken shortly before he was reported as missing. Possibly taken in Hyde Park which is a short walk from Somers Mews and The Mitre public house. And a family photograph taken at Peter's Christening.
The local paper carried the news of Noel as missing in action in September 1942 and his medals awarded posthumously.
Noel's entry on the Wells Next The Sea War Memorial on Theatre Road, and the Cross he wore
Peter and his Teddy Bear, taken in September 1942 and one taken in 1944 with Olive.
Peter remembers that there was a stables opposite The Mitre public house, and here's the evidence as Peter sits upon a mighty steed. In the other photo he is sitting with one of Olive's brothers in Somers Mews, the The Mitre is to the right as you look at it.
Olive and Peter moved to the USA in 1946, here he is as a dapper young man. The second photo was taken in the 1970's when he returned to Wells Next The Sea to pay his respects to the father he never knew. Peter sadly passed away in late 2017.
Following his death in September 1942 one of family members painted this in his honour.