Hugh Antony Ballantine Baker was killed on 30 July 1944, flying with 97 Squadron, when his aircraft was shot down over France. Of the unusually large crew of nine, only Hunter, Stevens, and Moore survived. Squadron Leader Peter Stevens was 97 Squadron’s Navigation Officer.
Peter was probably flying with the crew to refresh his flying skills (it was not uncommon for the ‘leaders’ of the various trades to fly in order to keep their skills up to date) or was with them as an observer.
F/Lt H A B Baker
WO W H Hunter
S/Ldr P A Stevens DFC* RAAF
FO J W Oldham DFM
PO E H F Moore DFM
PO H Glasby DFC RAAF
FO G E W Howells
F/Sgt J S Mitchell DFM
F/Sgt L A Lenox DFM
THE LOSS OF THE AIRCRAFT, from 97 Squadron’s ORB
NE121E F/L H.A.B.Baker, W/O W.Hunter, F/O J.W.H.Oldham, S/L P.A.Stevens, P/O E.H.Moore (Vis A/B), F/O G.E.Howell (W/Op), P/O H.Glasby (W/Op 2), F/Sgt J.D.Mitchell, F/Sgt J.E.Lenox. Up 0545 18 x 500lb GP. Aircraft missing. Spoke to Section Leader on run up to target – passed over target in close company with two aircraft from same Squadron; orbited with others who then descended several thousand feet through cloud. On emerging from cloud formation was then completely broken up and E/97 was neither seen nor heard again.
The following details and the photograph above of Hugh, taken in Hastings in 1942, have been sent by his nephew, David Baker:
Hugh Baker was born in the UK and went to Jamaica as a child. He grew up there and volunteered for the RAF from Jamaica. He flew Wellingtons in the Middle East and managed to survive crash landing in the desert after losing an engine to flak damage. The crew found and repaired an abandoned Italian lorry which they used to get back to base.
He was not so lucky in France, being one of only 4 (all Lancasters) out of 692 aircraft to be lost on the mission to bomb 6 German positions in front of a mainly American ground attack in the Villers-Bocage Caumont area. I remember my grandmother saying how one of the survivors wrote to her saying how brave he had been in trying to hold the aircraft steady as long as possible so the others could get out. He said that if he had tried to bale out straight away, none of them would have survived.
Hugh’s body was not found (or not identified) and he is remembered at Runnymede. He is also remembered as one of the few Caribbean aircrew. His mother and his father, who was a clergyman, lived at Kellitts, Jamaica.
Squadron Leader Peter Stevens was Australian and survived the war as a POW.