Sprang, James, born Wednesday, 08-05-1912 in Blantyre, Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland (UK), to William Strang and Margaret Robson. On 09-10-1935 James married Wilhelmena McInally. From this marriage born on 28-05-1937 son Malcolm. Before joining the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, James worked as a bread deliverer in County Durham. James enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 23-09-1940 in the 9th RAF squadron on arrival center in Blackpool. On 25-09-1940, he was hired as an air gunner. There after entered the training center at RAF Wilmslow, County Cheshire on 08-10-1940for further training, before continuing his training at RAF Aberporth, on 15-11-1940in the county of Ceredigion in Wales.
On 19-05-1941 he started his Air Gunner training at the 5th Bombing & Gunnery School, RAF Jurby atthe Isle of Man. On 11-07-1941 he transferred to the last phase of his training at 10th Bombing& Gunnery School at RAF Dumfries, Scotland. The next day he was promoted to Leading Air-craftsman. He successfully completed his Air Gunner training on 08-08-1941.
On 30-08-1941, James was seconded to 19th Operational Training Unit, RAF Kinloss, where he trained for the Medium bomber type which he would enter into operational service.flying, the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk V. James was posted to 78 Squadron at RAF Middleton St. George in County Duham on 10-08-1941. The squadron was part of 4th Group, Bomber Command. James became nextday, on 09-10-1941, promotes to Sergeant. He flew in his first operational flight, a bombing mission targeting Nuremberg, on 10-12-1941. After that flew 8 more operational flights as an air gunner on this type of aircraft. On 13-02-1942 he flew his last operational flight in the Whitley.78 Squadron then went into training for the next few months to transition from Medium to Heavy bombers, in the form of the Handley Page Halifax B Mk II. The entire 78 Squadron during the conversion course
On completion of the conversion course for transition to the Halifax, James was appointed tail gunner of the new Halifax W 7698, which was transferred to 78 Squadron on 08-05-1942.The permanent crew of this Halifax were:45071 Squadron Leader G.D. Leyland (Pilot), J/4773 Pilot Officer L.G. Geddes (Navigator), 1307368 Sergeant C.G. Pugsley (Radio Operator/Air Gunner) 335281 Sergeant J.E.R. Lyons (age 40) (Flight Engineer), 1069578 Sergeant W. Brookes (age 28) (Radio Operator/Air Gunner) and 1378938 Sergeant James Strang (age 30) (Tail Gunner). Together they successfully participated in the first “Thousand Bomber Raid” on Cologne on 30-05-1942.
Death and burial ground of Sprang, James.
On 01-06-1942, the crew flew the Halifax W 7698, callsign. EY – ? together in the second “Thousand Bomber Raid”, this time targeting Essen, Germany. They left that evening from RAF Croft station in North Yorkshire, at 10:55 PM LT. The aircraft was probably intercepted and shot down by Oberleutnant Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein of IX/Nachtjagdgeschwader 22. under command of Oberstleutnant Karl Hülshoff. Sayn Wttgenstein claimed this as an outgoing Halifax for his 4th Abschusse (victory) at 00:43.The Halifax was also reported as intercepted and caught fire at 00:23 hours and is said to have crashed on 02-06-1942 about 750 meters from the Dutch-German border at the intersection of Genneperweg and Ketelstraat in the Reichswald, about 3 kilometers south-southwest. van Kranenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, where the aircraft exploded upon impact on the ground .As a result of this incident, James Strang, along with Sergeants Brookes and Lyons, were killed. Squadron Leader Leyland, Pilot Officer Roy Hamilton Geddes and Sergeant Pugsley managed to get out of the plane alive and were subsequently taken as prisoners of war. These three crew members survived the war. Oberstleutnant Karl Hülshoff survived the war with eleven aerial victories to his name. Pilot Officer Roy Hamilton Geddes later was shot down by a night fighter and crashed on Air Operations: (No. 10 Squadron Halifax aircraft HE697), in Netherlands, 29-06-1943, aged 22 and is buried: on Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands
James Sprang was initially buried in the general cemetery in Kranenburg Germany. In July 1945 his remains were transferred to the Canadian war cemetery in Groesbeek and reburied in Section VI, Row A, Grave 2.