The crew pictured in Nottinghamshire, Bill Taylor is third from the right – via Jane Bealby
by Howard Heeley
The Newark Air Museum is assisting Jane Bealby from Edwinstowe with research on a wartime aircraft training crash near Edwinstowe, Mansfield, which happened on 26th February 1944.
The aircraft from 1661 HCU at nearby RAF Winthorpe (now home to the Newark Air Museum) was on a training flight.
Five airmen lost their lives in the crash and one survivor was taken to Mansfield General Hospital. We would like to appeal to anyone who might have been nursing at that time in Mansfield and who might remember an Australian airman being brought into the hospital.
As it was wartime, Jane is not sure which of the emergency services would have been called to the scene, but believe that the police, fire, ambulance service crews might have been informed. Other Civil Defence units might also have been involved such as the ARP and the Home Guard.
If anyone has any information regarding this crash could they please respond here, or via email to email@example.com
Account from Acorn Magazine.
Stirling Bomber 1944
The Stirling Mark 3 bomber, lost at Edwinstowe on February 25th 1944, took off from R.A.F. Winthorpe, Newark, at 18.30, Aircraft No. EF127 flight No.1661, a heavy conversion unit, was on a cross–country flight. On its return journey, at 01.30a.m. 26th February, it ran short of fuel and sent a Mayday call, which was picked up by R.A.F. Syerston, but no response or acknowledgement was received from the Stirling.
It was found in the village of Edwinstowe, at Broomhill Grange, at the northern end of Sherwood Forest, near the A6075. The Stirling hit some trees near Archway House. Crashing into a field on a small hill, it slid across the field and into a hollow, breaking up, the main fuselage and tail section landing near the farmhouse. No one in the farmhouse heard the crash: Two of the four engines went through a hedgerow and stopped approximately half a mile away from the rest of the aircraft. The bomber had a crew of seven, of whom five were killed, two injured. The two servicemen who survived raised the farmer Mr Bealby to phone the Rescue Services, the phone number being No.4, the telephone exchange on the High Street.
A convoy of Army lorries, including cranes, was sent with soldiers from Edwinstowe Camp on the Forest to remove the wreckage. Eyewitness, Gordan Kellet, informed me they had to make a new entrance into the field near the farmhouse to get the aircraft out. The fuselage was taken on a Queen Mary, (R.A.F. name for a low-loader), and the aircraft was taken to Newark, to the 54.M.V.U. recycling sheds and workshops, where the Waitrose shop now stands.
The crew who were killed were Flt/Sgt William Victor Maniel service No. 401986 aged 27, a pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force, war grave memorial plot 1 & 2 grave 169, Botley Cemetery, Oxford, son of Kenneth Herbert and Minnie Ann Maniel of Kerang, Victoria, Australia, Flt/Sgt Campbell David Bird, Navigator, aged 30, service No. 418048, Royal Australian Air Force, memorial plot 169 grave at Botley Cemetery, Oxford, son of Edward David and Ester Fredrica Bird of Bassendean, Western Australia; Flt/Sgt George Richard Joseph Macoun, Bomb Aimer, aged 21, service No. 426127, memorial plot 170 Royal Air Australian Air Force, son of Dr Richard Arthur and Jean Dorothea, of Malvern, Victoria, Australia. Flt/Sgt Sidney Edward Christie, wireless operator/air gunner, service No.423650 aged 27, memorial plot 169A Royal Australian Air Force, son of Sidney Francis and Louisa Mahalia and husband to Lilian, of Bankstown, New South Wales; Flt/Sgt Engineer George Davison, service No. 1677871 aged 19, R.A.F. V.R, Palm Terrace, Tantoble, Co Durham, buried Tanfield St Margaret’s Church Stanley, Co. Durham, war graves memorial line W Grave 6, son of Sid and Dora and brother of Joan, Tantoble Co Durham.
The surviving crew were from the Royal Australian Air Force: Flt/Sgt R J Plath, service No. A429483, Mid Upper Gunner, was treated at Mansfield General Hospital, while Flt/Sgt W I Taylor, service No. A434558, Rear Gunner, was treated at R.A.F. Winthorpe, Newark, for minor wounds in the sick quarters. Sadly, having survived a major air crash, he failed to return from Bruunschweig in May 1944 and, with the rest of his 630 squadron’s crew, he is commemorated on Runnymede Memorial, West London, for airmen’s bodies that have not been recovered.
Acorn, Edwinstowe Community Newspaper – 2006 – collated by Micheal Hallam.
Memorial to crew of Stirling Bomber – Photo M Wright
Thoresby air crash – Canadian Vickers Wellington Flight Operation.
On the 14th/15th of May, 1944 the Vickers Wellington aircraft, HE739 82 OUT RAF Ossington, took part in a Nickel Operation (dropping leaflets over enemy territory) against Rennes. It was one of eight aircraft that took off from RAF Gamston satellite airfield. The weather was fair – becoming cloudy with good visibility and slight rain. Seven aircraft completed the mission successfully.
On return, aircraft HE739, was circling over Gamston when the port engine failed due to fuel starvation, shortly followed by the starboard one. The aircraft hit the tops of some trees, followed by crashing into more trees and then bursting into flames. It crashed North West of the ‘The Kennels’ on Thoresby Estate, Perlethorpe near Ollerton.
The Crew of 6, taken outside the Robin Hood Public House in Elkesley. Courtesy W Taylor
Five of the crew were killed and the rear gunner (unknown) was injured:
- F/O Kenneth Scott Johnson, aged 21 RCAF (Pilot) – Son of Forrest Sanford Johnson and Lillian Johnson, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Born Lorain, North Dakota, USA, US citizen.
- F/O George Scott Oliphant aged 28 RCAF (Nav) – Son of John and Jean Oliphant, emigrated from Scotland to Toronto, Ontario, Canada; husband of Jeanne Patricia Oliphant, of Toronto. B.A. (University of Western Ontario). George was a Bachelor of Arts graduate from the University of Western Ontario. He had been a member of the 1942 Grey Cup champion RCAF Hurricanes football team.
- Sgt Joseph Andre Lanouette, age 31 (Air Bomber) – Son of Pierre and Rose Lanouette, of Ste. Anne De La Perade, Province of Quebec, Canada.
- W/O Jack Tass age 29 RCAF – (W.Op/Air Gnr) Son of Eli and Pauline Tass; husband of Theresa Tass, of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.
- Sgt Gordon Keith McLellan age 33 RCAF (Air Gnr) – Son of David Gilchrist McLellan and Isabel McLellan; husband of Annie McLellan, of Milton, Ontario. Canada.
They were all buried at HARROGATE
(STONEFALL) CEMETERY Crew presumably buried at Harrogate instead of Ollerton as they had already been allocated to a squadron of No 6 Group RCAF. Headquarters for 6 Group was at Allerton Park near Knaresborough, Yorkshire.