Maxwell Nicholas Sparks

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Maxwell Nicholas Sparks
Maxwell Nicholas Sparks and Mosquito.JPG
A young Pilot Officer Maxwell Nicholas Sparks, standing with his hand on (probably) the propeller of his Mosquito FBVI, serial HX982 (coded EG-T)
Born(1920-12-30)30 December 1920[2]
Auckland, New Zealand
Died13 June 2013(2013-06-13) (aged 92)
John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK
Place of burial
Kingsdown Crematorium, Swindon, UK
Allegiance New Zealand
Service/branch Royal New Zealand Air Force and  Royal Air Force
Years of service1941–~1965
RankFlight Lieutenant
UnitNo. 487 Squadron RNZAF
Battles/warsOperation Jericho
AwardsAir Force Cross (United Kingdom)

Flight Lieutenant Maxwell Nicholas Sparks AFC (30 December 1920 – 13 June 2013) was a former officer and pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal Air Force.[3]

RAF/RNZAF career[edit]

Flight Lieutenant M.N. Sparks AFC gained his pilots wings with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in December 1941. Posted to the United Kingdom he joined the newly formed 487 (N.Z.) Squadron (RAF) in September 1942.

He piloted DeHavilland Mosquito DH.98 reg. HX982 (EG-T) from RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire with his navigator Pilot Officer Arthur Cecil Dunlop during the Operation Jericho raid on Amiens prison on 18 February 1944.[4] The aircraft was damaged by flak and suffered a collapsed undercarriage on landing.[5] The crew were uninjured.

Flt Lt Sparks received the Air Force Cross on 31 December 1960.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 2011, Maxwell Sparks was interviewed by the BBC's Martin Shaw at The Swan Inn at Swinbrook in Oxfordshire. He was asked about his role in the 'daring raid' on Amiens prison in 1944[7] (Operation Jericho). The interview is available to watch on the BBC website.

Flt Lt Sparks spent the final years of his life at his home in Carterton near RAF Brize Norton with his wife Pauline. They had a daughter, Nicola, who died some time before Maxwell's death in June 2013. It is understood his wife Pauline is still alive (in care) as of 2015, though suffering with alzheimer's disease/dementia.

As a tribute to Maxwell's career in the RAF and his contribution to the Allies' win in World War II, the current occupants of his former home in Carterton are currently constructing a flying 1/8th scale replica of DeHavilland Mosquito DH.98 – FB.VI reg. HX982 (EG-T) – the airframe he piloted during the raid on Amiens prison (Operation Jericho). The model will bear the names 'P/O Sparks' and 'P/O Dunlop' on the fuselage. The model will be powered by two 4-stroke internal combustion engines. The scale replica will be built as close to how HX982 would have been on the morning of February 18, 1944 as Max Sparks took off from Hunsdon airfield for the raid on Amiens prison, however the model will incorporate 21st-century electronics to stabilise the craft and mitigate the risk of engine or other mechanical failures.

The aeromodeller constructing the tribute to Max hopes that it will be airworthy some time in 2017.


  1. ^ "Athur cecil dunlop operation jericho Bath". Bath Chronicle. 2009-02-19. Archived from the original on 2015-09-26. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  2. ^ Thompson, Wing Commander H. L. "CHAPTER 6 — Daylight Raids by the Light Bombers | NZETC". Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  3. ^ "Maxwell Sparks". Witney Gazette. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  4. ^ "ASN Aircraft incident 18-FEB-1944 de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB.Mk VI HX982". Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  5. ^ | (HX982 FBVI 613/487/464/487/21 Bounced on take-off and crashlanded in field Gravesend 18.4.44)
  6. ^ "No. 43667". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 June 1965. pp. 5505–5505.
  7. ^ "BBC News - Operation Jericho's last surviving pilot Maxwell Sparks". 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2015-11-25.