28/29.08.1940 No 102 Squadron Whitley V N1489 DY-C Sgt. Bott
Date: 28/29th August 1940 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 102 Squadron (Ceylon)
Type: Whitley V
Base: RAF Leeming, Yorkshire
Location: Hayhill Farm, Silsden, Yorkshire.
Pilot: Sgt. Norman Kelvin Bott 742082 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
Pilot 2: P/O. Alexander William Fletcher 42828 RAF Age 19. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Charles William Cavey Fleming Harrison 747970 RAFVR Age 31. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan Steel 550484 RAF Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Len G. Smalley Injured.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Leeming, Yorkshire on a routine night cross country exercise to the Isle of Man.
No details are available for the cause of the crash when Whitley N1489 flew into the hillside at Silsden Farm near Keighley in Yorkshire.
The rear gunner, Sgt. Smalley, was thrown clear during the impact. Later after his injuries had healed, he went back to operations. He never rejoined 102 squadron and was shot down and wounded again in 1941. Then, later that same year on August 12/13th, he was shot down whilst serving with 104 squadron. Again on a Berlin operation in a Wellington II W5461 he ended up as a Prisoner of War at Stalag Kopernikus (amongst others). Len Smalley sadly died in 1986.
P/O. Alexander William Fletcher was engaged at the time to the Grandmother of Jon Clare who requested that we research this loss. His grandmother later married a P/O. Fred Wood who was also tragically killed on the Berlin raids in 1944.
Left: Sgt. Norman Kelvin Bott (Courtesy Mrs M.E. Barnett - nee Bott) Right: P/O. Alexander William Fletcher (Courtesy Jon Clare)
Newspaper report P/O. Fletcher (Courtesy Jon Clare) Grave of Sgt. Steel (courtesy Steve Farnell)
Pt. Jock Welsh (Home Guard) - Eye witness report of crash:
On the night of 28th August 1940, B section, 2 Platoon, Silsden I Company of the 33rd West Riding Battalion, HomeGuard were on duty at the Silsden Reservoir post:
'A plane passed over flying in a westerly direction at 23.00 hrs, flew back again, circled a few times and crashed at approximately 23.07 hrs, about 500 yards away.
We immediately ran towards the plane which was burning furiously and we were about 50 yards awey when there were two explosions which I though were exploding petrol tanks.
Pt. Dobson and myself were first on the scene and managed to get through the petrol, blazing on the ground, to one flyer lying near the trailing edge of the starboard wing and the rear gun turret which had apparently broken off on impact. I sent Pte. Fort back to the reservoir to telephone Maj. Driver.
Ammunition was continually exploding but the flyer was too heavy for us to carry and we could not drag him away because of possible internal injuries. He was badly burned about the face and hands but nothing could be done except try to clean the slight cuts with a field dressing. He appeared conscious but we were unable to get any intelligible replies as to whether there were any more still in the plane or whether they were carrying any bombs. He spoke vaguely about Dishforth, Driffield and Leeming aerodromes which I subsequently found were in the same group of Bomber Command. This was the first intimation we had that it was a British plane.'
Shown left: '
We strongly recommend that anyone interested in reading about 102 Squadron to purchase the history of it written by Chris Goss.
Sgt. Norman Kelvin Bott. Leicester Cemetery. Sec.O.I. Uncons. Grave 683. Son of Horace Winter Bott and Annie Bott, of Leicester, England.
P/O. Alexander William Fletcher. Cumnor Churchyard. Row 11. Grave 5. Son of William and Elsie F. Fletcher, of Farmoor, England.
Sgt. Charles William Cavey Fleming Harrison. Leeming Churchyard. N.o.K. details are currently not available as yet.
Sgt. Alan Steel. Mexborough Cemetery Sec. B. Cons. Grave 351. Next of Kin details are currently not available as yet.
Researched for Jon Clare and for all relatives/friends of the crew. With thanks to the following: Chris Goss 'It's Suicide, but it's Fun', Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol 1, the work of the C.W.G.C.