14/15.05.1940 No. 44 Squadron Hampden I P4286 F/O. Ashfield
Date: 14/15th May 1940 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 44 Squadron
Type: Handley Page Hampden I
Code: KM - ?
Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Location: Den Hout, Oosterhout, Holland
Pilot: F/O. Leslie James Ashfield 40198 RAF Age 22. Killed.
Pilot: P/O. Charles Douglas Crawley 41380 RAF Age 24. Killed.
Obs: Sgt. Wallace Francis McKinlay 581187 RAF Age 23. Killed.
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Cpl. Frank Preston 551160 RAF Age 20. Killed.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire at around 01:00 hrs to disrupt communications in Holland.
Crashed off the 'Witte Weg' (name of a street) running through Den Hout, west of Oosterhout. Probably due to anti-aircraft fire.
Above: The crash site showing remains of P4286.
The crew were first buried in a field grave, at the edge of the field where the Hampden crashed.
Memorial on the graves at the crash site erected by the Luftwaffe. At the time of the crash the Luftwaffe were only able to identify one of the crew, Sgt. McKinlay, his name is inscribed on the cross along with 3 as unknown comrades. The memorial also includes one of the fins and rudders from P4286, along with other items of wreckage, note also the flying helmet on top of the cross.
(Grave photographs kindly supplied by Ian Morgan - April 2016)
F/O. Leslie James Ashfield. Oosterhout Protestant Cemetery. Grave 5. Son of Frederick Henry and Stina Ashfield, of Horseheath, Cambridgeshire, England. Awarded short service commission on the 23/24th April 1940.
P/O. Charles Douglas Crawley. Oosterhout Protestant Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of Charles Eustace Finlay Crawley and Margaret Crawley, of Caulfield, Victoria, Australia (Batchelor Arts - honours, Melbourne University) Grave inscription reads: "One Of The Few To Whom So Many Owe So Much". Awarded short service commission on the 14th December 1938, gaining his wings on the 05th April 1939.
Sgt. Wallace Francis McKinlay. Oosterhout Protestant Cemetery. Grave 6. Son of Robert C. and Winnifred McKinlay, of Bearsden, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "In Loving Memory Of Frank Son Of Robert and Winifred Mckinlay, Bearsden, Glasgow".
Cpl. Frank Preston. Oosterhout Protestant Cemetery. Grave 4. Son of Frank and Annie Preston, of Denton's Green, St. Helens, Lancashire, England. Grave inscription reads: "Cherished Memories Of Frank, A Beloved Son And Brother. He Died That We Might Live".
Very happy to share any information we have to promote the memory of these chaps, we also welcome contributions.