Date of Birth: 12th of July 1908, at Waipukurau
Personal Details: Henry was the son of
Percy Wallace Sampson and Jeannie Palmer Sampson (nee Jones), of Te Miro, Cambridge (who by WWII had moved back to Hawkes Bay).
Henry was the brother of Dick Sampson, who also joined the RNZAF and both were sadly killed in action. Henry was always known to family and friends as 'Chum'.
Chum had attended school at Waipukurau during 1915-1916, then when the family moved to Cambridge he continued schooling at Te Miro School from 1918, and Cambridge District High School during 1923-24.
Upon leaving school Chum became a farmer in the Hawkes Bay, and was by the 13th of December 1939 (when he applied to join the RNZAF) a farm manager on the C.E. Twist estate at Taradale. He enjoyed playing polo, swimming and tennis, and his hobby was hunting. He joined the Territorials during 1930-31 and was a member of the Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles. He never married.
Service Details: Though Chum was very keen to join the RNZAF when war broke out, his education standard, having only attended school to Standard Six level, was not considered up to the minimum requirementl, so he underwent a preliminary education course of 21 papers at night school. On successfully completing this course, he eventually enlisted at RNZAF Station Ohakea on the 29th of April 1941, where he was to perform Aeroplane Maintenance Duties (AMD) as an Aircrafthand General Duties with No. 3 Flying Training School, while awaiting his Air Gunnery course. A assessment at the end of this short few weeks remarked he had was 'very good' in character and proficiency.
On the 12th of May 1941 he was posted to the Ground Training School at RNZAF Station Levin, to begin training basic training, the first step on the path toward becoming an Air Gunner. Once this basic course was completed, he was rated to have a very good character and a satisfactory proficiency in his rank and trade.
Chum embarked for Canada on the 18th of June 1941. Upon arrival in that country he was posted to No. 3 Wireless School at Winnipeg, Manitoba, beginning his posting there on the 5th of July. He then moved to Trenton, Ontario on the 9th of January 1942, where he continued his training.
On the 31st of January 1942 he moved to the next phase of training, at No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario, where he trained aboard Fairey Battle aircraft. he completed the course on the 2nd of March 1942, when he was awarded his Air Gunner's badge and received promotion to the rank of Sergeant.
On the 11th of March he arrived at No. 1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, to await transportation to the United Kingdom on a troopship.
Chum arrived in England on the 28th of March, and was sent to No. 3 Personnel Reception Area at Bournemouth. A month later he began operation training at No. 11 OTU, Bassingbourn, in Hertfordshire where he honed his skills aboard Vickers Wellington bombers.
He completed his training and was posted on the 20th of July 1942 to No. 149 Squadron, who were flying Short Stirling bombers from Lakenheath, Suffolk. He took part in three operational sorties with the squadron. One was to Hamburg, another to Saarbrücken, Germany.
Details of Death: At 00:01hrs on Thursday the 30th of July 1942, Henry took off from RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire, in Short Stirling I R9161/T of 149 Squadron. The bomber was making its way to make a raid on Saarbrücken, Germany. The raid included 291 aircraft, 10 of which were lost.
Henry's Stirling was shot down over France by a night-fighter. It crashed at Regniowez, 15km west of Revin. Everyone on board was killed except for an RAF Sergeant who survived the crash but was taken prisoner. Henry was aged 34
Commemorated at: The six crew members who died were buried in a collective grave in the Communal Cemetery at Regniowez, but later were re-interred to a collective grave (Collective grave 1A. A. 1-6.) at the
Choloy War Cemetery, Meurthe et Moselle, around 5km west of Toul, in north-east France.
Connection with Cambridge: Henry Sampson is commemorated on the Rugby Park Memorial Gates in Cambridge, suggesting that he must have lived in the district and possibly even played rugby for Cambridge or Hautapu. There is a connection with his parents farming at Te Miro, Cambridge, and his brother Richard also lived and farmed in Cambridge. So it is very likely he lived in the town for a period prewar. If anyone can confirm any further links with the town, I'd appreciate it.
Thanks To: Thanks to Henry 'Chum' Sampson's niece, Jenny Boon, for her valued assistance on piecing together his story. Thanks also to the Cambridge Museum, and Errol Martyn for supplying information on Henry Sampson. Also details of this airman's death were sourced from the excellent volumes of 'For Your Tomorrow' by Errol Martyn. See more details on these highly recommended books here.