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  • Snapper
    "The goatboy done good."
    • Jan 2000
    • 5621

    The high regard in which the fallen are held.

    Last week on holiday in France I made a few detours to pay my respects to some of the pilots of 609 Squadron who 'grew not old'. One of these was 'Joe' Stellin, a contemporary of surviving pilots Georges Jaspis and Allen Billam, and one who served in 609 when Cheval Lallemand was CO. In the middle of nowhere is a small village of around 400 people. These villagers have shown so much regard and respect for an unknown pilot who died amongst them that I was incredibly moved. I knew little about 'Joe' beforehand, but have gone through what I have and written up his record today. I wish I had known this of him a few months back when my friend Tom Annear was still with us as I'm sure he would have been pleased to know how his fellow Kiwi was remembered, and I'm sure he would have some memories of him, being in the same flight.

    So, here is a biography of Joe, and some photographs of his resting place.

    The wartime pic is of Colin Cables, Allen Billam and James Stellin digging trenches at B10 - 2 miles from German lines and under regular heavy shelling. As we were frequently shelled by Germans, the squadron had retreated back to England for about a fortnight, leaving the spare pilots behind. Hence the slit trenches over which we erected our tents.

    421785 Pilot Officer James Kingston Joe Stellin, CdeG avec Palme

    Born in New Zealand to James and Beatrice Stellin of Lyall Bay, Wellington, James Stellin had two sisters. He joined 609 Squadron at Thorney Island as a Flight Sergeant under S/Ldr Wells on 3rd June 1944, three days before D-Day, along with two other New Zealanders, W/O Harkness and F/Sgt Price, and English Pilot F/Sgt Billam. Stellin was put in Yellow Section. At 17:05hrs on the 15th he flew on Ramrod Target 123/1 to attack the ferry across the Seine at Maillery and Duclaire, direct hits on the jetty at Duclaire were claimed by F/Lt Geerts and his section while other pilots hit the landing stage and an R-Type boat. There was some Flak but all returned at 18:20. On the 24th at 09:30hrs he flew on 84 GP/18, an armed reconnaissance in the Domfront - Alencon area. No movements were seen so attacks were made on railway tracks at La Lacelle and railway sidings at Evron. Strikes were seen on the track and trucks. The flight was without incident, not much was seen and no Flak or fighters were encountered. On the 30th orders came through that the Airfield was to move overseas. Stellins first month with 609 had seen a continuation of the destruction of the Radar system in France, the slowing up of the German transport system and armed reconnaissance, along with the attacking of special targets in close support of the Army. July began with the squadron arriving at B.10 Plumetot, under shellfire and in mud and rain. At 11:15 on the 9th Stellin flew on Task HCX1, an attack on 6 tanks southwest of Caen. Tank pits were seen but appeared unoccupied, nevertheless the position was attacked. No movement was seen on the secondary target either, motor transport at Tilly-Campagne. The following day soon after breakfast, the pilots took off from 121 Airfield with Wing Commander Brooker leading Pagnam, Stellin, Watelet, Cables, Hue and Jaspis and some pilots from 198 Squadron on Task GC7, an attack on a strongpoint at Amay-sur-Orne (969577). There was 10/10 cloud but the aircraft dived through a gap to the northeast and achieved Moderate success was achieved but results were not fully observed, except that rockets fell in the target area. On the 11th Stellin flew on Task JMJ6, attacking a tank concentration southeast of Hottot-Les-Bagues. The target was located by red smoke at 827656, 836652 and 841650 and also 12 tanks in wood and orchard at 830652. Flak was intense and accurate and after the attack F/Sgt Bliss was seen pouring smoke. He turned left and right and then over on his back and crashed into a wood just south of the village of Onchy. He had just turned 21. The following day at 20:15hrs James flew on Task GC25, an armed reconnaissance in the area of Cabourg - St Pierre-sur-Dives (V2749) Falaise - Truan (U3129) Q6573 and back to base. Nothing was seen but an attack was made on a wooded area around Lisieux. Smoke was seen and 1 vehicle was set alight by cannon-fire in the area Q4547. On the 16th at 19:45hrs Stellin was involved on GC11, an armed reconnaissance in the Evrecy - Avnet - Villers Bocage - Anaye - Thury-Harcourt - Avenay - St Honorie area, but he lost formation and returned. On the 18th after dinner he flew on armed reconnaissance GC23 in the area Bretteville-sur-Laize - Falaise - Mezidon. 1 vehicle was damaged and 1 staff car set alight. Two days later at 15:30 he flew on GC7, attacking gun positions at Fontenay-le-Marmion. The operation was aborted owing to thunderstorms in the target area and all returned home without firing a shot. On the 24th he didnt fly until 20:35hrs when he went on GC18, an attack on an Army Headquarters at La Moriniere. Stellin had trouble and had to return after 15 minutes. The following day he took off at 06:05hrs on GC6, attacking gun positions and a strongpoint near Fresnay at U008562. The attack was aborted as river mist obscured the target and no markers were seen. At 12:10 he flew again on GC30 TBC5, a mortar position at T971582 near Amaye-sur-Orne. Intense heavy Flak was experienced in the whole area south of line T900580 to the target and everyone was hit by Flak. On the 26th at 18:05 hrs he flew on GC42, attacking a troop concentration near Rocquancourt (055584). The attack was aborted as no red smoke was seen but a marker was seen about one mile north of the target, thus Control ordered no attack. 2 aircraft subsequently attacked the original target firing 12 rockets. At 21:35 he went out again on GC59 RXX7 to attack a tank harbour in wood at U070568. The target was hit and rockets were also fired into village U050550 on Flak positions, which were silenced. All pilots returned after 20:00. The day after at 12:40 Yellow Section are Scrambled on VCP6 and James flew on an attack on dug in tanks at 103612 near Frenouville. 32 rockets were fired by the section on either side of the road and on the road itself and 1 tank was set alight. Late on the 28th Yellow Section were sent on VCP3 to attack tanks at 048502 northeast of Rocquancourt. Three tanks were seen and destroyed by rocket and cannon-fire. Within half an hour the Army had signalled a message of congratulations to the Squadron for their good work. On the 29th at 08:00hrs Stellin flew on GC11, an armed reconnaissance around Pont LEveque - Lisieux - Barnay - Laigle - Argentan - Falaise. Weather made the reconnaissance abortive on the southern part of the area but an attack was made at a road junction bridge in area Q57 where some heavy accurate Flak was met, although no hits were seen. A railway station was hit some 5 or 6 miles southeast of Lisieux when hits on the track were also scored. Pilots were rather disgusted with the operation and the attack on a mangy bridge which could be restored in a few hours. The following day during the late afternoon Stellin flew on GC29/ACC2 attacking a gun position in the American sector at 657457. The gun was not located but a clearing in the wood with one hut was attacked. Motor transport on the road south of the target and 6 tanks painted yellow moving northwest on the road from Sourdeval to Campeaux were also attacked but no claims were made. During this flight Stellins Typhoon was hit by Flak and had to go in for repair. On 3rd August during the last operation of the day at 20:10hrs James flew on VCP22. The Section orbited for around 20 minutes before being told they had no target, so rockets and cannons were fired into an orchard at 803511 near the village of La Lande. Clouds of smoke were seen after the attack and it is considered that they hit something. At 18:55 on the 5th he went on GC13, detailed to attack dug in tanks. The target was sighted but after orbiting an alternative target was given at T892361 and several vehicles by a hedgerow were attacked, but no results were seen. The next day at 15:05 he went on GC3, an armed reconnaissance around Bretteville - Falaise - St Pierre-sur-Dives. No movement was seen in the target area or on the road from Falaise to Trun. Scattered vehicles moving in both directions on road southeast from Falaise were seen and four stationary vehicles were attacked at 194273. 1 was damaged but other results were not seen. 3 or 4 large vehicles moving northeast on the road west. of Falaise were attacked at 120362 but again no results seen and some heavy Flak was encountered from the woods at U1047 -U1244. On the 7th at 14:30hrs 8 aircraft were detailed on GC16 with 8 aircraft of 198 Squadron. The CO, van Daele, Hue and Stellin took off but Blanco following had a burst tyre and shot off the runway. He looped and completely smashed up his machine but not himself. The remaining three were grounded. The route was Vire Flers Domfront - Mortain. No movement was seen north of Mortain. At St Barthelemy mixed transport and tanks were observed and attacked with rockets and cannon. 1 tank transporter and 1 armoured fighting vehicle were claimed. The aircraft had to land at B.6 Coulombes. While the aircraft were at B.6 GC38 was ordered but of the four Typhoons only the CO and van Daele took off. Hue had wireless trouble and Stellin could not start. It was an armed reconnaissance Falaise - Conde. An attack on some transport was made at T000357 and rockets fell in the target area but no claims were made. On the 9th at 16:40hrs Stellin went off on GC48 - another armed reconnaissance. Scattered vehicles were attacked with 1 set alight and 1 damaged. A wood at 165315 thought to conceal transport was also attacked and left burning fiercely with flames and black smoke rising to a great height. Two days after at 14:00hrs an operation was ordered and W/Cdr Drake DFC thought he would like a flip and went with the CO, Pagnam, Billam, Blanco, van Daele, Jaspis and Stellin on an Army support target which was a chateau at 126449 near St Quentin de la Roche. They found the building already burnt out but attacked targets to the south, which were left on fire. The Flight ran into some intense light Flak at 105445 near Potigny. On the 15th at 16:25hrs he went on D24, attacking a concentration of tanks in wood at 195405 south of le Morts dErames. All rockets were fired in the southeast area of the target but no results were seen. The following morning after an early breakfast Stellin took off at 08:20 on DD36 to attack transport at U2733 near Mandeville. A white car going east was seen on the road at U3149. No other movement was seen and visibility was very bad. Rockets were fired into a wood at U172339 and into an orchard at U186332. No results were seen. On the 18th at 15:35hrs he went on DD108, the target was any movement in the Falaise pocket. The entire target area was covered with transport and tanks and 7 tanks were claimed destroyed and 3 probably destroyed, with 12 vehicles destroyed, 2 probably destroyed and 3 damaged. A gun position at 287264 was also attacked with rockets and cannon-fire. Intense light accurate and moderate heavy inaccurate Flak came up from a wood to the south of the target area and a bit for area U3325. F/Lt Carrick was seen to crash in flames south of Trun. He was seen on fire at about 1,000 to 1,500 feet and went into a 15-degree dive. He was not seen to bale out. He flew again at 19:40hrs when he went out on DD120 after movement in the Falaise pocket. 50 stationary vehicles on the Vimoutiers to Orbec road at 5667 were attacked with 5 set alight. Scattered vehicles north and south of this were also attacked with 3 destroyed and 1 AMC probably destroyed. All rockets on the attack on the Vimoutiers to Orbec road either hit vehicles or landed on the road surface. On the 19th August 1944, 609 were still attacking German transport trying to escape in the Falaise pocket. Soon after breakfast at 08:30hrs Flight Lieutenant Gibson led Harkness, Bavington, Stellin, Inches, Cables, Roy and Lough out from B.7 Martragny on DD127 to the Orbec - Bernay area. Warrant Officer James Kingston Joe Stellin was flying Typhoon JP975. The Operations Records Book records: 3 stationary tanks facing NE at 750716. A concentration of MET in wood at Q7370. Another MET at Q738738. The road between 9058 and 9555 is also attacked. W. claim 2 tanks Smokers and 1 MET Smoker. As the Flight were heading for base Joe Stellin called up and asked permission to go down to attack a large lorry. He went down and was told to make formation immediately. He did not do so and later asked for a homing. Gibby gave him a course but when the rest of the boys were landing Joe was still asking for a homing. Later he was heard to say he was putting the aircraft down as he was short of fuel. From the fix he was still in hostile country. So with regret we must post another fellow missing. It was hoped that he would be taken prisoner, however it was later confirmed that he was shot down by flak near Bernay. The squadrons main task for August had been attacking German movement and transport caught in the Falaise pocket. They claimed at least 42 tanks destroyed and many more probably destroyed and damaged. 88 motorised enemy vehicles were also destroyed. August 1944 also saw the loss of Grant, Taylor, Carrick, Stellin and Roelandt, of whom Grant, Carrick and Roelandt had only joined us during the month, although Roelandt had previously flown with 609. The Squadron flew 461 sorties for 410.40 hours and 74 non-operational sorties for 40 hours. James Stellin was killed in action on 19th August 1944 and is buried in the churchyard at St. Maclou-la-Briere. While Squadron records list him as a Warrant Officer at the time, his grave and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list him as being a Pilot Officer so it is possible that he was posthumously promoted. He was 22 years old. The people of St Maclou-la-Briere continue to place flowers on his grave, have erected a memorial stone to his memory outside the gates to the village church, have engraved his name onto the war memorial for the dead of their own village, and named the area in front of the church Place Stellin in his honour. James Stellin was 22 years old.
    Last edited by Snapper; 30th December 2006, 23:33.
    Some of my best friends are imaginary
  • Tim Mills
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Apr 2004
    • 33

    #2
    Earlier this year my wife and I visited the Military cemetery at Carnoy, near Amiens, where her uncle, William Fairbairn, also a New Zealander, who had survived Gallipoli, was buried after being killed on the Somme, aged 21. We also visited the town cemetery in Bousebeque, near Lille, where my uncle, William Mills, is buried. He was shot down flying a BE2C, aged 19. Very sad and moving, but something we had wanted to do for a long time. We were both struck by the marvellous way these cemeteries are maintained. Many thanks to all concerned with their care, particularly the French people on whose soil they are.

    Comment

    • Merlin3945
      Aviation Archaeologist
      • Jan 2000
      • 1439

      #3
      to add my tuppence on how well foreign cemeteries are kept here is a photo of the CWGC cemetery in Rhodes town.

      really well kept site.
      Last edited by Merlin3945; 18th July 2011, 09:27.
      Regards Merlin

      www.acia.co.uk

      Comment

      • Entropy
        Beer lover extraordinaire
        • Aug 2004
        • 532

        #4
        I can attest to the Rhodes Cemetery as well, very well kept up, in stark contrast to other parts of Rhodes City.

        Comment

        • STORMBIRD262
          Wanabee 262 pilot
          • Jul 2004
          • 2171

          #5
          Gripping stuff, Thanks Snapper(Mark), for bring it to us mate!!

          Lest we forget !
          Cheer's all far and WIDE!! , Tally Ho from Phil in Oz!

          WHAT GOE'S UP MUST COME DOWN

          Comment

          • Pete Truman
            Senior Member
            • Nov 2004
            • 2316

            #6
            I had a quiet moment today, went to cast my eye over a possible barn conversion near Cambridge.
            On the way back, I found myself outside the American Cemetery at Madingley. I had to go in to pay my respects, apart from an interesting system of sychronised lawn mowing by the staff and 2 old ladies who mysteriously disappeared, I was all alone.
            I do find this an awesome and atmospheric place and noted that 2 of the graves were as recent as 1990, anyone have any info on this.
            Just as I found John H Kennedys name on the wall a Harvard flew overhead, I thought how apt considering a lot of the brave souls buried here probably learned to fly in them.
            What more can I say.

            Comment

            • STORMBIRD262
              Wanabee 262 pilot
              • Jul 2004
              • 2171

              #7
              Very fitting Pete, well thought.

              "' Nacht ", must crash
              Cheer's all far and WIDE!! , Tally Ho from Phil in Oz!

              WHAT GOE'S UP MUST COME DOWN

              Comment

              • Snapper
                "The goatboy done good."
                • Jan 2000
                • 5621

                #8
                Great choice of words there Nanki.
                Some of my best friends are imaginary

                Comment

                • Macfire
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • May 2005
                  • 112

                  #9
                  Thanks for the post, Snapper.

                  Always in their debt and our right to say so is testimony to their sacrifice.
                  Remember: Oops is a bad word!

                  Comment

                  • kiwi
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Jun 2006
                    • 1

                    #10
                    Joe Stellin

                    Hi

                    I have just started researching Pilot James Stellin's history and so I am most appreciative of your article especially the photos.

                    Not knowing enough about aviation or war, I would much appreciate being able to e-dialogue with someone who knows more than me.

                    So this email is to ask "are you still there?" and "what should I read to learn more about 609 Squadron?". Can you point me in the right direction?

                    FYI I have just got approval from the mayor for the erection of a commemorative plaque in the park as the story of Joe's heroism seems to have been forgotten.

                    I look forward to conversing more

                    cheers
                    john bickerton, Wellington, NZ





                    [cf http://www.wellingtonnz.com/AboutWel...kPanorama.htm]

                    Comment

                    • Moggy C
                      Moderator
                      • Jan 2000
                      • 20534

                      #11
                      Originally posted by kiwi

                      So this email is to ask "are you still there?" and "what should I read to learn more about 609 Squadron?". Can you point me in the right direction?
                      Snapper is indeed still around from time to time. If he doesn't pop-up in a couple of days I'll dig out an e-mail address for him.

                      Coincidentally (I hope ) he's publishing a book based on a 609 squadron logbook in just a few weeks. But he's only printing 609 copies so you'd better get your order in fast.

                      End of free promo for Snappers book.

                      Moggy
                      "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

                      Comment

                      • Snapper
                        "The goatboy done good."
                        • Jan 2000
                        • 5621

                        #12
                        Haha, cheers for the plug Moggy - Bee Beamonts actually.

                        Hi John, my email is snapper35 atsymbol hotmail.com

                        There are loads of books with info on the squadron, or written by ex-members. I have a list of them (I have them all as it happens). Drop me a line and I'll see what I can do,

                        Mark
                        Last edited by Snapper; 21st July 2006, 14:45.
                        Some of my best friends are imaginary

                        Comment

                        • kev35
                          Terminally Bewildered
                          • Jan 2000
                          • 7375

                          #13
                          Do a search for 609 Squadron on this site. You will find that Mark's knowledge is extensive, his research thorough, his relationship with the veterans is thought provoking, as evidenced when he reduced me to tears with a story (again) on Saturday night. His efforts to see that the men (and goat) of 609 are remembered are among the finest I have ever seen. A nd through it all he retains his humility. I was priveleged, along with many others, to witness first hand Mark's efforts at memorialising Alan Haddon and Johnny Wiseman. I stood in rapt attention alongside a now departed friend of ours. At the end, Steve just turned to me and wiping away a tear, said.... "The goatboy done good."

                          The Veterans consider him their friend, there can be no finer tribute.

                          Regards,

                          kev35
                          The Forums only '"blithering anorak" as endorsed by ZRX61

                          Comment

                          • Old Git
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Jul 2003
                            • 956

                            #14
                            I appreciate this is an aviation forum but I was wondering if anyone can point me in the right direction to try and find out about someone who died at Beaumont Hamel in WW1 and to see if they have a grave? I think Beaumont Hamel was part of the Battle of the Somme. I only have a name not a regiment. Any help much appreciated.
                            Many Thanks
                            OG

                            Comment

                            • Moggy C
                              Moderator
                              • Jan 2000
                              • 20534

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Old Git
                              I appreciate this is an aviation forum but I was wondering if anyone can point me in the right direction to try and find out about someone who died at Beaumont Hamel in WW1 and to see if they have a grave? I think Beaumont Hamel was part of the Battle of the Somme. I only have a name not a regiment. Any help much appreciated.
                              Many Thanks
                              OG
                              You start at www.cwgc.org. 'Search our records'

                              PM me once you have reached that stage. My Uncle died close to there and we are undertaking a pilgrimage next month on the 90th anniversary of his death.

                              Moggy
                              "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

                              Comment

                              • Snapper
                                "The goatboy done good."
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 5621

                                #16
                                after that, go on here:

                                http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/fo...ex.php?act=idx

                                and in the Soldiers part ask for an SDGW look-up. Ask further questions on there too - helpful and knowledgeable guys.
                                Some of my best friends are imaginary

                                Comment

                                • Old Git
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Jul 2003
                                  • 956

                                  #17
                                  Moggy and Snapper - many thanks for your help and I will PM you once I have got some info Moggy.
                                  Thanks Again
                                  OG

                                  Comment

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