1318905 W/O Alexander J.F
W.O. Joe Alexander was the son of Joseph and Constance Alexander, the owners of the coal yard in Station Road, which is now the new car park (120 High Street). Educated at Newbury Grammar School, he always had an interest in farming and worked on the local farms of Mr Hosier at Wexcombe and Roy Chamberlain at North Standen before going on to the agricultural college at Sparsholt. Afterwards he attended Reading University for about eighteen months before he and some friends went into a recruiting centre and asked to join the air force. After basic training, he was selected for pilot training and sent to America to learn his skills in Oklahoma during 1941-2. On returning to England he attended 56 Operational Training Unit at Tealing before joining 56 Squadron.
- Joe examining the damage to the wing of his Tempest, with part of the Me109 he shot down embedded in the wing. (Dec 1944)
- Letter received from Commanding Officer 56 Sqd
Joe Alexander served as a Hawker Tempest pilot with 56 Squadron, forming part of the 122 Wing of the 2nd Tactical Air Force in Holland during the later stages of the war. The Squadron Record Book shows that he was in action during December 1944. The entry of the 17th December records in typical RAF language the action that took place that day.
"…W.O Alexander found himself in the middle of 9 Hun and though he had a shaky do, he managed to damage a 109. On return to base he found a large piece of enemy aircraft embedded in his port wing, between the cannon…" (see photograph).
The squadron had been lucky that day, destroying six and damaging one enemy aircraft. They were also lucky in destroying enemy railway trains because, like tanks, trains were easy targets for the rocket firing Typhoons and Tempests. The above account appeared in the Newbury Weekly News of 15 January 1945 followed by another on 8 March 1945 when it was reported, that whilst flying with the 2nd TAF, he was to share in damaging 74 locomotives, 81 railway trucks and 39 motor vehicles. The account in the Newbury Weekly News also records him as saying that he got separated from the other aircraft and began to make his way home when he saw 8 petrol wagons in the siding of a small station near Einbeck and decided to strafe them, four blew up, a spurt of flame and smoke billowing up to 800 feet. On going round again he saw four trains and after damaging one, went in for a second attack before his guns jammed. He was now under attack from six Flak trucks so continued his way back to his base at Volkel.
Sadly, Joe Alexander's luck did not continue. On 15 March 1945 while testing a new aircraft (SN133) which had arrived that day, he was unable to get the undercarriage down. After many unsuccessful attempts he radioed that he was going to belly land the aircraft, this was not the best thing to do with a Tempest, as it had a large radiator under the propeller. Many had survived this sort of landing but as Joe touched down the radiator dug into the ground turning the aircraft onto its back, exploding and killing him.
Joe Alexander is buried in the Eindhoven Cemetery, in the suburb of Woensel. He was twenty-three years old.