Eric William Mitchell Jacombs

Male 1915 - 1943  (27 years)

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  • Name Eric William Mitchell Jacombs 
    Born 28 Oct 1915  Palmerston North, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Nurse Humphries Nursing Home 
    Gender Male 
    _UID E6896B4C654D488297D491FE788929975DCE 
    Died 18 Jan 1943  [2, 3, 4, 5
    Person ID I1579  Treefive
    Last Modified 30 Nov 2016 

    Father William Henry Holmes Jacombs,   b. 7 Oct 1888, Christchurch, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Dec 1958, Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years) 
    Mother Frances Mary Howell,   b. 3 May 1889, Waiwera, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Apr 1982, Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 92 years) 
    Married 21 Aug 1911  Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [6, 7, 8
    St Barnabas Church 
    Family ID F449  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Joan Winifred Hill,   b. 5 Mar 1920, Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 2007, Tauranga, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years) 
    Married 26 Dec 1941  Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [9, 10
    St Andrews Church, Epsom 
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2019 
    Family ID F475  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    00007 Natalie and Eric Jacombs
    00007 Natalie and Eric Jacombs
    00028 Eric, Natalie, Frances and John E. Jacombs  abt 1924
    00028 Eric, Natalie, Frances and John E. Jacombs abt 1924
    On holiday at Waiwera
    00685 Eric Jacombs abt 1943
    00685 Eric Jacombs abt 1943
    Weekly News 24 Mar 1943, page 18

  • Notes 

    • Eric was born in Palmerston North, but grew up in Auckland. He was working as a chemist for Sharlands in 1941, still living at his parent's house at 6 Dunedin St, Ponsonby, Auckland. In early 1942 he married Joan Hill, but they were not together for long. Eric left on overseas service on 8th March 1942, serving as a Flying Officer for the R.N.Z.A.F.

      Eric Jacombs was on 2 manifests for the ship 'Tjitjahengka' which sailed from Netherlands East Indies, Melbourne and Wellington to New Orleans. Eric and another NZ airman, John Charles Elmslie, were on both manifests. The first had passengers from Neth. East Indies and NZ, with about half being military personnel from NZ, but Jacombs and Elmslie the only airmen. The 2nd manifest was only NZ airmen. Both manifests noted that the airmen were in transit to Canada.
      Information on Eric Jacombs:
      First manifest Second Manifest
      Name: Jacombs, Eric William Mitchell Jacombs, Eric Wm Jacombs
      Age: 26y 5m 26y 6m
      Status: Married M
      Occupation: Airman Airman
      Read: Yes Yes
      Write: Yes Yes
      Nationality: British British
      Race: English English
      Last perm. res.: Auckland, NZ Palmerston N, NZ
      Nearest relative: Mrs E Jacombs, Mrs Jacombs,
      8 Plunkett Rd 8 Plunkett Rd
      Mt Eden, Auckland
      Visa or passport: --- No visa
      passport - yes

      The 'Tjitjalenka' arrived in New Orleans on 12 Apr 1942 (US National Archives).

      Eric did not return from a bombing mission. There were reports of him being seen in Europe soon after, but they came to nothing.

      A report on Eric's final mission of 17/18 Jan 1943, under pilot Trevor Leslie Gibson, is on - this is an extract:
      'Taking off at 16:58 hrs from RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. A small force of 187 heavy bombers setting out from various squadrons to bomb the heart of Germany, the second consecutive night the city was to suffer. again the bombers missed the target with the main bombing falling on the southern outskirts of the city. A B.M.W. factory that was making aircraft engines in Spandau was hit by some incendiaries and slightly damaged. The Daimler-Benz factory was also hit but unable to confirm it was from this nights operation or Saturday. 8 people were killed on the ground and 41 injured according to German reports.
      Bombing taking place fairly early in the evening between 20:30 hrs and 21:25 hrs.'

      Eric's wife Joan received official letters when Eric went missing.

      Wing Commander J. M. Smithwell, commanding No. 9 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, wrote from Waddington, Lincoln on 19 Jan 1943:

      Dear Mrs. Jacombs,

      It is with deep regret that I have to confirm the news that your husband Pilot Officer Eric William Mitchell Jacombs is missing as the result of air operations on the night of 17/18th January 1943.

      I know you would wish to have all possible information, but unfortunately there is little I can tell you. Your husband was the Second Pilot of an aircraft engaged on an operational mission, and nothing was heard of the aircraft after take-off. All we can do is to hope that he and the crew are prisoners of war. It will anything from three to five weeks before we can expect to hear any news through the Red Cross. I realise what a terribly anxious time this will be for you, and you have all the sympathy of myself, the officers and airmen of the Squadron.

      Your husband was a very keen and efficient Pilot, who was popular with everyone in the Squadron, and his loss is a great blow to us all. The Captain of the aircraft however was very experienced, and I have great hopes of his being able to save the crew.

      I wish I could tell you how much we in this country appreciate the way New Zealand is helping us in this war, and how bitterly we regret the loss of her sons.

      Please let me know at once if there is anything I can do for you. You will, of course, be informed immediately of any further news.

      The Air Secretary at the Air Department, Wellington, wrote on 5 Apr 1943:

      Mrs W. J. Jacombs,
      8 Plunkett Road
      Mt. Eden,

      Dear Madam,

      Further to my letter of the 27th January, 1943, concerning your husband, Flying Officer Eric William Mitchell Jacombs, I have to advise that the following additional details have been received from the Air Ministry:-

      "The Squadron's report states that the aircraft set out at approximately 5 p.m. on the 17th January, 1943, to attack Berlin and no communications have been subsequent [sic] received from it. No news of crew received through the International Red Cross."

      On behalf of the Air Board, I desire to express my deepest sympathy and to assure you that you will be advised immediately further information is received.

      Yours faithfully

      T. A. BARROW

      Air Secretary

      It appears that the Wing Commander's letter of 19 Jan was forwarded to Joan Jacombs by the Air Secretary on 27 Jan.

      In her sworn affidavit of 5 Dec 1945 for the probate of Eric's estate, Joan noted that the 2 letters were attached. She stated that Eric had corresponded regularly with her during the time he was absent from New Zealand, but that she had not received any letter or other communication from him later in date than 18 Jan 1943. So far as she had been able to ascertain, no-one else had received any communication from him later in date than 18 Jan 1943.

      As well as the War Medal 1939-1945 and the 1939-45 star, Eric was awarded the Bomber Command clasp and ribbon. The medals were awarded to Eric's widow Joan in 30 May 1950. Rex Sinnott applied for the clasp on 16 Feb 2016 , and the clasp and ribbon arrived from the New Zealand Defence Force on 27 April 2016.

      Eric's will, signed on 4 Feb 1942, was straightforward - Eric appointed the Public Trustee as Executor and Trustee of the will, and left the whole of his estate, after payments of debts funeral and testamentary expenses to his wife Joan Winifred Jacombs. The Public Trustee advised the Supreme Court in Wellington, in an affidavit dated 17 Dec 1945, that the widow of the deceased was the sole beneficiary under the will and had requested the Public Trustee not to proceed with the administration of the estate until after the cessation of hostilities. This was the reason for the application for probate not being filed within one year of the death.

      Administration of Eric's estate was granted to the Public Trustee at the Supreme Court on 18 Dec 1945.

      At Runnymede there is a memorial to airmen who have no known grave: Eric is recorded there.
      The Public Record Office at Kew has operational record books, with details of the mission in which Eric died. There may be records relating to Eric at the Air Force Museum, Hendon.

      Eric's wife Joan gave Eric's personal diary and logbook to his sister Natalie Sinnott, who lodged it with Wigram Airforce Base Museum. When the Base closed at Wigram in the 1990s the Museum remained as an RNZAF unit and, as at 2016, is still at Wigram.

      St Andrews Church, Epsom has a memorial - a brass plaque records the addition of a small chapel in memory of the soldiers of World War 1939-1945 - 24 names are inscribed including E. Jacombs.

  • Sources 
    1. [S47] BIR016 Birth Jacombs, Eric William Mitchell, BIR016.

    2. [S1260] DTH375 Death Jacombs, Flying Officer Eric, DTH375.

    3. [S2221] DTH New Zealand Provisional War Death Register, Wellington, New Zealand; Eric William Mitchell Jacombs; 18 January 1943; certified copy of entry in Provisional War Deaths Register; 2057; 31 January 1945.

    4. [S2222] WIL073 Probate - Jacombs, Eric William Mitchell, WIL073., Eric William Mitchell Jacombs; 18 December 1945.

    5. [S1628] DTH Death Index New Zealand, Eric Wlliam Mitchell Jacombs; 63746; 1945.

    6. [S171] MAR008 Marriage Jacombs, William Henry Holmes and Howell, Frances Mary, MAR008.

    7. [S356] MAR073 Marriage Jacombs, William Henry Holmes and Howell, Frances Mary, MAR073.

    8. [S938] MAR Marriage Index NZ - on-line, William Henry Holmes Jacombs; Frances Mary Howell; 4955; 1911.

    9. [S1409] MAR Marriage Index NZ - NZSG CD, Eric William Mitchell Jacombs; Joan Winifred Hill; 10784; 1941.

    10. [S3434] MAR545 Marriage Jacombs, Eric William Mitchell and Hill, Joan Winifred, MAR545., Lower Hutt, New Zealand; Eric William Mitchell Jacombs and Joan Winifred Hill; 26 December 1941; Certified Copy of Entry of Marriage; 0445872; 23 November 1983.