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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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428 Squadron Crest
30.04.1945 No. 428 Squadron Lancaster X KB879 NA-Y Fl/Lt. William G. Campbell

Operation: Training (Cross country)

Date: 30th April 1945 (Monday)


Unit: No. 428 Squadron

Type: Lancaster X

Serial: KB879

Code: NA-Y

Base: RAF Middleton St George

Location: Sandon, NE of Stafford

Pilot: Fl/Lt. William Gavin Campbell J/21450 RCAF Age 23. Killed 

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Walter Graham Ward 1567245 RAFVR Age 21. Killed 

Nav: Sgt. John Henry Kay R/142448 RCAF Age 26. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Stuart Berryman R/186388 RCAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. Thomas Daniel Lawley R/214612 RCAF Age 20. Killed 

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Lester Tweedy R/286646 RCAF Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Edward James Wright R/287664 RCAF Age 16. Killed (1)


Took off at 10:59 hrs from RAF Middleton St George on a cross country training exercise. It was reported from another aircraft flying overhead that KB879 was at an altitude of 18,000 ft and seemed to be side slipping. After about 25 minutes the Lancaster was seen to go into a spiral dive with smoke coming from one of the starboard engines.

Other reports state that it came low over Grove Farm and then clip some trees then, after crossing the A51 burst into flames as it hit the ground.

The official RAF Report stated that KB879 broke up in flight probably due to stress and pressure from the vertical dive at 11:54 hours and dived into the ground at the location shown above. The autopilot was also found to be faulty and that the oxygen supply cock was found to be partly closed which may have caused some or all of the crew to black out.

(1) Fl/Sgt. Wright had previously tried to join the navy when his father found out and prevented him. He then foiled the Canadian authorities and joined the RCAF at about 15yrs old. Over 2000 other "boys" are listed on the CWGC website - he was not alone!

Above and below - funerals for the RCAF airman lost. Fl/Sgt. Walter Ward was buried in his home town.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. William Gavin Campbell. Chester Cemetery (Blacon) Sec A Grave 707. Son of John M Campbell and Katherine E Campbell of Manitoba, Canada.

Fl/Sgt Walter Graham Ward. Selkirk Cemetery (Shawfield) Selkirk. Sec H Grave 2009. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist?

Sgt John Henry Kay. Chester Cemetery (Blacon) Sec A Grave 932. Son of Frank and Elizabeth Kay of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. Stuart Berryman. Chester Cemetery (Blacon) Sec A Grave 842. Son of Edward HJ Berryman and Kathleen Berryman of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

W/O. Thomas Daniel Lawley. Chester Cemetery (Blacon) Sec A Grave 1093E. Son of Daniel J Lawley and Maguerite Lawley of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Fl/Sgt. John Lester Tweedy. Chester Cemetery (Blacon) Sec A Grave 752. Son of Nelson and Margaret Plewes Tweedy of Fabyan, Alberta, Canada.

Fl/Sgt Edward James Wright Chester Cemetery (Blacon) Sec A Grave 1023. Son of James and Alfreda May Wright of Brighton, Sussex, England.

Researched by Emma Scott for Aircrew Remembered. For all the relatives / friends of the crew. With thanks to the following: Veteran Affairs Website Canada for photo's of the crew, other sources as quoted below.

Left: A memorial to the crew on the outskirts of Sandon Village - situated on the A51 to Stone The stone was erected on August 28th, 1999 by the Royal British Legion.

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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), 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', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 23 December 2015, 18:44

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