Beaufighter NE595 – Kefalonia

On the 19th July 1944 603 Squadron Beaufighter NE595 took off from RAF Gambut in Libya with two other aircraft to carry out an offensive sweep over the Aegean Sea. On board were pilot Flt Sgt Harold Edward Yorke, age 26 and Observer Flt Sgt John George Shaw, age 21 of Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The formation flew to Zakinthos and commenced their sweep from there to Kefalonia. A small Caique was attacked at Sami before the flight headed north to Fiskardo. 

As the aircraft approached the small harbour town of Fiskardo two German anti-aircraft guns, one on the old lighthouse and one on the harbour wall, opened fire, hitting NE595 just behind the wing and starting a fire in the fuselage. The navigator, Flt Sgt Shaw, was killed immediately, but the pilot, Flt Sgt Yorke, with much effort was able to pull the aircraft up over the ridge, ditching in the sea beyond.

Yorke was able to get out of his sinking aircraft but was badly hurt, both from burns to his body and having smashed his head on the gun sight on impact. Because of this when he swam to shore, he was not able to get far and was captured soon after and became a POW.

The remaining two aircraft continued on their mission, attacking another Caique just south of Fiskardo before returning to RAF Gambut.

The wrecked Beaufighter remained on the seabed until the 1960’s when local fisherman dragged it closer to the shore where it was blown up for scrap. However, some large sections of the wreck remain there to this day in 17 metres of water. The local diving school in Fiskardo operated by Cedric Georges, run diving trips to more experienced divers.

A marble memorial was placed on the seabed at the crash site by Cedric in 2016 and officially unveiled by the surviving family of Flt Sgt York.

Flt Sgt Shaw was son of Arthur and Jane Eleanor Shaw, of Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne. His body was never found and he is remembered on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt. He was a student of Rutherford Grammar School.

Unfortunately, to date, I have yet to trace any surviving relatives of Flt Sgt Shaw.

The entry from the 603 Squadron Operations Record Book recording the flight. Yorke and Shaw were in Beaufighter NE595, coded S.

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