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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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401 Squadron Crest
27.04.1944 No. 401 Squadron Spitfire IX MJ982 Fg.Off. W.E. Cummings

Operation: Granville Bridge

Date: 27th April 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: 401 Squadron (The Rams) RCAF, 126 Wing, 83 group, 2nd Tactical Air Force.

Type: Spitfire IX

Serial: MJ982 *

Code: YO:?

Base: RAF Tangmere, West Sussex

Location: Montchaton, France

Pilot: Fg.Off. ‘Bill’ Wesley Elmore Cummings J20014 RCAF Age 21. Killed

* Spitfire MJ982 - Built at the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory - fitted with the Merlin 66 engine


We are extremely grateful to François Dutil (438 Squadron Archivist) for supplying photographs and information to Aircrew Remembered in October 2017. All photographs shown within this page are available to relatives at a higher resolution (as are most of those named within this page) - courtesy of François.


REASON FOR LOSS:

The squadron took off at 12:30 hrs on a mission to dive-bomb a bridge at Pont de la Roque, near Coutances. Fg.Off. Cummings did not recover from the dive after releasing his single 500 lb MC bomb on the road bridge, and was last seen diving past the vertical apparently out of control. He crashed near Montchaton which just over 1 km due south of the bridge.

Note: The squadron ORB records that the target was a railway bridge, however, research has determine that the bridge was in fact a road bridge.

Information provided by Sean Claxton from a letter send to Fg.Off. Cummings' mother, described that "Fg.Off. 'Bill' Kiersey was just behind Fg.Off. Cummings, and saw him start to pull out of his dive and then suddenly steepen it again. That is all we knew, but he never rejoined the Squadron when we pulled up".

24 year old, Fg.Off. Clifford Donald Cross J10826 RCAF (shown left) from 411 Squadron in Spitfire MJ140 was also hit during the same attack and was forced to bale out at very low altitude off Selsey. His parachute failed to open and broke both his legs and suffered severe back injuries on hitting the water. He was rescued by a Corvette.

He did return to service but later died at home in Canada during a rest leave - (understood to be from self inflicted injuries) - his brother, 19 year old Glenn Morton Cross was killed just two days previously. Rifleman Glenn Cross B149901 of the Queens Own Rifles, Canada is buried at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.

Burial details:

Fg.Off. Wesley Elmore Cummings. Lessay Communal Cemetery. Row B. Grave 2. Born in Chapleau on the 29th June 1922, the son of George Howard Cummings and Kate Louise Cummings, of North Bay, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Cherished Memories Of Our Son "Bill" Who Gave His Life That We Might Live”.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Francois Dutil. Thanks to Sean Claxton for the correction to the type of target and additional information regarding the loss of Fg.Off. Cummings (Sep 2020), and sources as quoted below:

RS 01.09.2020 - New information added

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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Last Modified: 01 September 2020, 11:40

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