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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
21.02.1946 No. 115 Squadron Lancaster III PB373 Fl/Lt. John D. Cantrell

Operation: Air Test

Date: 21st February 1946 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 115 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PB373

Code: KO-?

Base: RAF Graveley, Nr. Huntingdon

Location: Red House Farm, Black Lane, Fosse Lane, Chesterto Mill, Leamington Spa

Pilot: Fl/Lt. John Douglas Cantrell 153835 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Donald Frederick Payne 1737531 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: Fl/Sgt. Maurice John Newman 1410814 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Lt. Frederick Reginald Berry 154518 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Dennis William Crutchley 1819939 RAFVR

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Stedman 1811928 RAFVR Age ? Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

During an Air Test eye witnesses state that they heard an explosion and saw the aircraft spinning down from about 1,000 ft. The aircraft continued down until impact at 11:20 hrs, killing all six crew members.

Sadly we are unable †o show †he extent of the area of the crash site within a web page.

Wreckage scattered over a very wide area from as far south as Chesterton Windmill but with the main debris at Fosse cottages on Fosse Lane and the Red House Farm. A hunt was made for the seventh member of the crew as witnesses saw a parachute fall. This was discovered later and it seems that it was empty have been blown out of the aircraft. One body was found within the wreckage, three in an adjoining field, two others about a hundred yards away.

An eye witness, Mr. Tom Neal one of the rescuers, stated that he looked at where three bodies were placed and saw a man trying to remove a wristwatch from one of the crew - he shouted at him to put it back - he did and then disappeared! The police did investigate †his but could not find the man.

F/O. Frederick Reginald Berry of Cambridge with his bride LACW Doris Kelly of Gateshead, after their wedding at Christ Church Gateshead on the 03rd May 1945. Members of his bomber crew formed a guard of honour.

No exact cause for the uncontrolled spin but is was established the elevator rib boons had failed under high stress loads and the wing tips subsequently failed. Examiners of the wreckage stated that it may have caught fire whilst in the air.

A Mr. Tony Snook was the usual rear gunner on this crew but due to recently being promoted he was taken off the rota. He contacted us via our friend and fellow researcher John Hoyte at Sim-Fly, Norfolk.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. John Douglas Cantrell. Fulford Cemetery. Plot 16. Row X. Grave 34. Son of Joseph Benedict and Emily Cantrell, of York, England. Epitaph reads: "O Valiant Heart. To Save Mankind Yourself You Scorned To Save".

Fl/Sgt. Donald Frederick Payne. Stockerston Churchyard (St. Peter) Leicestershire. Son of Frederick George Payne and Alice Payne of Hallaton, Leicestershire, England. The family also lost another son, 29 year old Sgt. Horace Alexander Payne 317030 30th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) Buried in Penzance Cemetery. Sec. J. Block 15 A. Grave 13. Epitaph reads: "Thy Duty Done" His Loving Wife And Daughter Patricia, York". Also both boys commemorated on the Hallaton War Memorial..

Fl/Sgt. Maurice John Newman. Bristol Cemetery (Avon View) Plot Pink. W. Grave 17. Son of William James Newman and Florence Mabel Newman, of St. George, Bristol, England. Epitaph reads: "Also His Father William 6th February 1977 Age 87 And His Mother Florence 28th December 1977 Age 88".

Fl/Lt. Frederick Reginald Berry. Stapleford Cemetery, Cambridgeshire. Row A. Grave 56. Son of Augustus Jack and Alice Berry and husband of LACW Doris Berry (née Kelly) of Cambridge, England. Epitaph reads: "To The World, One To Us, The World. Greatly Loved And Sadly Missed".

Fl/Sgt. Dennis William Crutchley. Burton-Upon-Trent Cemetery. Gen. Sec. Grave 5747. Son of William and Doreen Crutchley, of Burton-upon-Trent and husband of Winifred Gladys Crutchley, of Burton-upon-Trent, England. Epitaph reads: "To Have Him With Me In The Same Old Way Is My Greatest Wish Today. Loving Wife And Kiddies".

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Stedman. City Of London Cemetery And Crematorium, Manor Park. Screen Wall. Square 24]. Coll. grave 108031. No further details, are you able to assist?

Researched for Tony Snook who should have been the rear gunner on this flight but had recently received a promotion. With many thanks to our Kate Tame who assisted in this research. Page dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown.

KTY/KT - 18.05.2018

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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