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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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115 Squadron Crest
14.09.1943 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster B,II DS780 KO-Z Fl/Sgt. Bradford

Operation: Air Test - new aircraft

Date: 14th September 1943 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron 3 Group (motto: 'Despite the elements')

Type: Lancaster B.II

Serial: DS780

Code: KO-Z

Base: RAF Little Snoring, Norfolk

Location: Magdalan - North of Downham Market

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Edward Albert John Bradford NZ/415742 RNZAF Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. John Murdoch Fearn 1570056 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Harold James Bowen Ashwin 1870675 RAFVR Age 34. Killed (1)

Nav: F/O. Colin Rutherford Morse NZ/422306 RNZAF Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. M. Read RAFVR Age ? Seriously injured - no further details

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ivan John Williamson NZ/416675 Age 21 Seriously injured (2)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Jones 842484 RAF (A) Age 34. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Rex Vernon Griffiths NZ/415077 RNZAF Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

The crew joined the Squadron on the 14th July 1943.

Errol Martyn writes:

Both starboard engines were closed down during feathering practice, but could not be restarted. During an attempted emergency landing in a 300 yard field near Magdalan the aircraft bounced, caught fire and then became airborne again before crashing on a railway embankment on the east bank of the Great Ouse river at 11:15 hrs. 6 of the 8 man crew were killed.

The investigation concluded that the engines could not be restarted as the master fuel cock was closed.

The ORB states:

"During an air test that started at 10:53 hrs, all was going well until the operation of levelling the bombsight, when the Air Bomber told the Captain to maintain 2,000 feet. Pilot reported an inability to maintain height and ordered the crew to crash stations. Unfortunately, the aircraft crashed into a railway embankment at Magdalen (about 4 miles north of RAF Downham Market)".

(1) Sgt. Harold James Bowen Ashwin was on detachment from 1678 Conversion Flight but a serving member of 115 Squadron.

(2) Fl/Sgt. Ivan John Williamson survived the crash. Born on the 26th March 1912, the son of Emma and James Williamson and husband of Mrs. I.L. Williamson of 76 Cook Street, Auckland, New Zealand. Served with 115 and 75 Squadron's and also No. 11 Operational Training Unit as an instructor. Left the service on the 07th July 1946 as a F/O. and awarded the DFC on the 20th July 1945. Passed away on the 23rd March 1981 age 69.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Edward Albert John Bradford. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13539. Son of John William and Lottie Florence Bradford, of Norsewood, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A total of 743 flying hours logged with having completed 13 operational sorties.

Sgt. John Murdoch Fearn. Inverness Cemetery (Tomnahurich) Section L.2. Class 1. Grave 233. Son of John and Catherine G. Fearn, of Inverness, Scotland.

Sgt. Harold James Bowen Ashwin. Golders Green Crematorium. Panel 1. Son of Frank Harold Bowen Ashwin and Irene Stewart Beaney Ashwin and husband of Dora Wesley Ashwin, of Kilburn, London, England.

F/O. Colin Rutherford Morse. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13938. Son of Percy Morse and of Mary Leslie Morse (née Rutherford) of Hanmer Springs, Canterbury, New Zealand.

Sgt.Frederick Jones. Carshalton Churchyard (All Saints). Section U. Grave 323. Son of Walter and Rosina Jones and husband of Violet Ellen Jones, of North Cheam, London, England. Grave inscription reads: "Loving Memory".

Fl/Sgt. Rex Vernon Griffiths. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 13738. Son of Edmund Harold Griffiths and of Olive Mary Griffiths (née Parker), of Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 225 flying hours logged with having completed 13 operational sorties.

Researched by Stephen Hunnisett for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Grave photographs courtesy Sam Dorrington,Len and Julie and Keld, 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, also thanks to sources as quoted.

SH/KTY 26.01.2019

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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