15/16.04.1945 No. 11 Operational Training Unit Wellington X LP651 F/O. Baker DFC
Date: 15/16th April 1945 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 11 Operational Training Unit (92 Group)
Type: Wellington X
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Oakley - RAF Westcott, Buckinghamshire
Location: NNE Oakley, Buckinghamshire
Pilot: F/O. Colin Roy Baker DFC. NZ/42999 RNZAF Age 22. Killed
Pilot U/T: F/O. John Austin Perress Nicholls NZ/413463 RNZAF Age 25. Killed
Nav: F/O. Jeffrey Alexander Millar NZ/425211 RNZAF Age 25. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Douglas James Dickson NZ/4216679 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Samuel Fernyhough NZ/427400 RNZAF Age 30. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. William Wallace Ford 173302 RAFVR Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Eric Douglas Hitchins NZ/4210019 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Oakley, which was a satellite base of RAF Westcott in Buckinghamshire at 00:30 hrs on a night dual operation.
Just eight minutes later they struck another Wellington (LP609) which was coming in for landing. It seems that immediately prior to impact the pilot had received instructions from flying control to overshoot.
With the tragic loss of some 12 aircrew (9 of these from New Zealand) this is the worst single accident within 11 Operational Training Unit of the war. It seems that perhaps the blame lay with Flying Control, RAF Oakley at the airfield.
The New Zealand crew members were buried at Oxford Cemetery (Botley) on the 20th April, with full military honours. The RAF crew member was taken home to Glasgow for burial.
F/O. Colin Roy Baker DFC. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 199. Son of Stanley Roy and Kathlyn Ada Baker, of Palmerston North, Wellington, New Zealand. A very experienced pilot with some 921 flying hours logged and having completed 32 operational sorties whilst with 75 Squadron. DFC awarded whilst flying Sterling II EF236 AA-J for a minelaying operation at Brest, outboard control rod broke and managed an emergency landing at Castle Combe airfield, Wiltshire.
F/O. John Austin Perress Nicholls. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 200. Air Medal (USA). Son of William Henry Austin Nicholls and Clara Alice Eunice Nicholls, of Paraparaumu, Wellington, New Zealand. Another very experienced pilot with 1159 flying hours logged and having completed at least 32 operational sorties.
F/O. Jeffrey Alexander Millar. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 213. Son of Alexander George James Millar and Eliza Jeffrey Millar of Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand and husband of Edith Winifred Millar, of Darlington, County Durham, England.
F/O. Douglas James Dickson. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 206C. Son of John Dickson and of Priscilla Dickson (née Ash), of Hastings, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A total of 187 flying hours logged.
Fl/Sgt. Samuel Fernyhough. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 214. Son of John Fernyhough and of Alice Fernyhough (née Norgan), of Patetonga, Auckland, New Zealand and husband of Roma Hazel Fernyhough, of Petone, Wellington. New Zealand. A total of 386 flying hours logged.
F/O. William Wallace Ford. Glasgow Cemetery (Ridley Park). Sec. A. Grave 2997. Husband of Margaret Gorham of Glasgow, Scotland.
Fl/Sgt. Eric Douglas Hitchins. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 207. Son of William Herbert Hitchins and of Maria Hitchins, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. A total of 387 flying hours logged.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: