The Juno Beach Centre has published a seven-part series that tells the story of the Last Flight of the Whitley AD-701, researched and written by Shirley Stone. This is part four. Click here to read The Last Flight (part one), F/O David Goodwin (part two), Sgt. Wilfred Gordon Harris (part three), W/O Joseph Gaston Jacques (part five), F/O Joseph Hong (part six) and F/O Charles Beverly Wyckoff (part seven).
JOHN (JACK) GORDON HOPPER
SERGEANT – AIR GUNNER
R.C.A.F. – R/80789
John Gordon Hopper, known as Jack, was the son of Harry Usher Hopper and his wife, Caroline (née: Hare). He was born in Toronto on February 21, 1921. Jack had an older brother, Harold, and two sisters. His father served in WWI.
Jack attended Humber Bay Public School from 1927-1934, Mimico High School from 1934-1937, and Runnymede Collegiate from 1939-1940. He played baseball, hockey and rugby, and at Runnymede he was on the school’s basketball team.
On November 7, 1940, at the R.C.A.F. recruitment centre in Toronto, Jack signed his oath and the next day he reported to #1 Manning Depot. His training took him to Dauphin and Winnipeg in Manitoba; Regina, Saskatchewan; Trenton, Ontario; Mont Joli, Lachine and Valleyfield in Quebec; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Jack received his Air Gunner’s Badge on November 26, 1943, at # 9 Course, Mont Joli, Quebec. He scored 77.9%. The course leader remarked that Jack was a good student and a capable lad who displayed initiative; was dependable, cooperative and a good leader.
Jack’s service records indicate that he was scheduled for embarkation leave from November 27 to December 11, 1943. During this leave, he married Marjorie Whitlock on December 7 at Mount Dennis, Ontario.
On March 5, 1944, three months after his marriage, Jack embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia and arrived in Liverpool on March 14. He reported to the 3 PRC on March 15 and arrived at the 24 O.T.U. at R.A.F. Honeybourne on March 21.
On May 22, 1944, John was aboard Whitley AD701, on a mission to drop leaflets over the LeMans, France area when shot down by flak and crashed at La Potence, near Sées, Normandy. All aboard were killed. John is buried at Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, Cintheaux, Coll. grave XXVII. G. 4-7. The Town of Sées, erected a memorial to the crew that was dedicated on May 8, 2005.
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.