23rd September 1940 17 OTU Blenheim IV L8797 Fl/Lt. Coventry
Date: 23rd September 1940 (Monday)
Unit: No. 17 Operational Training Unit
Type: Blenheim IV
Base: RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire
Location: Quedgeley, Gloucestershire
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Robert George Coventry 33023 RAF Age 30. Killed
Obs: Sgt. 'Jackie' John Stephen Lane NZ/40192 RNZAF Age 23. Seriously injured (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Wilcox Injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off on their last training exercise prior to a posting to a squadron. A cross country exercise with simulated bombing over the Bristol Channel.
During a run over the channel the starboard engine packed up. and so the pilot made for land hoping to land and have the repairs carried out.
After they jettisoned the bomb load over the sea they flew over the south Wales coast. Then the port engine failed. The pilot made a steep dive in an endeavour to start the engine. This succeeded but only for a short while and it kept cutting out.
On the outskirts of Gloucester their luck and and hight ran out and they pulled out of the final dive just in time to miss a church, cottages and trees before stalling and crashing into a field at Quedgeley in the village of Lower Tuffley.
The pilot was killed instantly with the other two crew members being dragged from the burning wreckage.
Quedgeley Town Council has commissioned a memorial, with plans to hold an unveiling ceremony in September 2021.
The brother of the pilot, W/Cdr. Henry Reginald Coventry DFC 33133 RAF was killed on the 14th July 1943. Additional details on his loss and crew here.
(1) Sgt. John Stephen Lane. Born on the 01st September 1917 at Christchurch. Enlisted as an air gunner under training on the 15th January 1940 at Levin. Embarked on the Rangitata on the 07th June 1940 for the UK and attached to the RAF. Commissioned as a pilot from sergeant on the 06th January 1943. Remained in RNZAF post-war and renumbered as 70103 in January 1949 (Sqn Ldr at time)
Still serving, as a squadron leader in July 1955. Managing director of a company in Auckland, 1981 (electoral roll). Died on the 02nd December 2007 age 90 and buried St. Gabriel's Cemetery Arklow, County Wicklow, Ireland. (Information courtesy Errol Martyn - April 2021)
Fl/Lt. Robert George Coventry. Down Hatherley Churchyard (St. Mary And Corpus Christi). North of church, grave 103. Born at Castor, Alberta. Son of The Hon. Thomas George Coventry (25th August 1885 - 09th December 1972) and Alice Coventry (nee Ward), husband of Olga Coventry, father to Anne, of Bath, Somerset, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Francois Dutil, CBC News, BBC, Key Aero, Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, other sources as quoted below: