Name: BAKER Walter Merrill Royal Canadian Air Force
Rank: Flight Sergeant 52699 Group 3 - RAF Bomber Command Squadron: No. 7
“by day and by night”
Oakington Airfield in Cambridgeshire Squadron markings KN Residence: Niagara Falls - Ontario Birth: April 8, 1909 - Montreal - Quebec Died: December 18, 1941 32 years 8 months Cemetery: Plouguerneau Communal Cemetery - Plouguerneau - Finistere - France 2 10 2 Wife: Mrs. Eleanor Graham Baker - Montreal - Quebec Parents: Mr. William and Effie Baker - Goderich - Ontario
Walter was born in Goderich on April 8, 1909. He attended public school at Central Goderich School (1917-1924). Then he attended high school at Goderich Collegiate Institute (1924-1928). Between October-November 1926 he attended the Provisional School of Visual Telegraphy in Goderich. While in high school he took five subjects for his Junior Matriculation. Growing up he had bouts of whooping cough the measles, the mumps and diptheria at age 9. His hobby was photography. He played badminton, tennis, baseball, golf, basketball and liked swimming. He smoked 10 cigarettes a day and smoked a pipe twice a day and drank alcohol from time to time. He was part of the Huron Regiment as a Private in the Signalling . After leaving high school he became employed as a bank clerk with the Royal Bank of Canada from 1929 for eleven years until his enlistment. He was a member of North Street United Church.
Walter enlisted into the Royal Canadian Air Force in Niagara Falls on June 7, 1940. At the time of his enlistment his height was 6 feet, his weight was 155 pounds, he had medium complexion with brown eyes and brown hair. Upon enlistment he received the rank of Aircraftsman 2nd class and earned $1.30 per day, He was then posted to No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto. Approximately two weeks later he was posted to No. 1 Initial Training School in Toronto. On July 19th he received the rank of Leading Aircraftman with the daily rate of pay of $1.50 and was posted to No. 1 Wireless School in Montreal - Quebec where he learned the theory and application of wireless communications. He also had to learn to signal with lights and flags as well as radio. His next posting was to No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School at Jarvis - Ontario on November 23rd where would learn how to be a bomb aimer and a wireless air gunner. On December 12th he was given the rank of Warrant Officer / Air Gunner and received his Air Gunner Badge with a pay rate of $3.20 per day. On December 22nd he was posted to Rockcliffe and was given the rank of Flight Sergeant. On February 3, 1941, he married Eleanor Baldwin in Montreal and then on February 8th he came under Eastern Air Command, Flight Sergeant Baker embarked from Canada on February 15th.
When he arrived in the United Kingdom on March 2nd he was Taken on Service in the United Kingdom with the RCAF. On March 15th he was assigned to No. 11 Operational Training Unit of Group 6 RAF Bomber Command and they were based at Bassingbourne - Cambridgeshire. He would train here for night missions on the Wellington bomber. He was then posted on April 3rd to No. 1 Signals School based at RAF Cosford - Shropshire. When he completed Signals School he was posted to No. 20 Operational Training Unit - Lossiemouth - Warwickshire and would continue with the training for night missions on the Wellington. Then, in the middle of July he was posted to No. 7 Squadron and in August it became the first RAF squadron to fly the Short Stirling bomber. From the time he arrived until the mission of December 18th he was training on the Short Stirling.
In the field
On the morning of December 18th Stirling W 7436 lifted off the runway at 09:48 hours along with 8 other aircraft with the objective of this mission being to attack the German warships in Brest Harbour. It was here the German capital battleships Gneisenhau and Scharnhorst lay anchored. During the attack the harbour was hidden by smoke laid down by the Germans. These capital ships were in drydock and this attack from the RAF kept these two ships out of action for a long period of time. The report was the bombing was very accurate as dark black
smoke could be seen rising from Gneisenhau. Flight Sergeant Baker’s aircraft was attacked and shot down by German Me 109s and the aircraft crashed at Plouguerneau (Finisterre) approximately 12 miles north of Brest. The total number of aircraft involved in this mission numbered 47 and 6 aircraft were lost. One of the lost aircraft was Stirling W 7436 with F/S Baker as part of the crew. They were shot down by a German Me 109. Flight Sergeant Baker was originally buried near the crash site and then re buiried at a later date in a communal cemetery. This squadron was the first to be equipped with four engine aircraft and they flew Short Stirlings. The Stirling was a short winged aircraft and as a result its ceiling was low. It was manoeuvrable and a stable aircraft with a limited bomb capacity. Flight Sergeant Baker was awarded the 39-45 Star; the Aircrew Europe Star; the Defence Medal; the War Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and these would have been sent to his wife. Walter is honoured and remembered on the Goderich - Ontario Cenotaph. He is also honoured and remembered at All Saint's Parish Church - St. Ives - Cambridgeshire where those who lost their lives are mentioned in the Book of Remembrance.