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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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RAF Crest
11.05.1944 No. 1654 HCU Sterling III LJ524 P/O. R.W. Dunn

Operation: Training

Date: 11th May 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1654 Heavy Conversion Unit (5 Group)

Type: Stirling III

Serial: LJ524

Code: H

Base: RAF Wigsley, Nottinghamshire

Location: Near Harby, Nottinghamshire

Pilot: P/O. Robert Wyndham Dunn AUS/422460 RAAF Age 20. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. E.J. Wild 533689 RAFVR Age ? Injured

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Ernest Arthur Wilmhurst 941200 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: W/O. Harold Eric Hughes AUS/26382 Age 23. Killed

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. William Joseph Lea AUS/418963 RAAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald Walter Ely AUS/26355 RAAF Age 28. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Roy Whimpey AUS/434299 RAAF Age 23. Injured

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Edward Dowling AUS/429881 RAAF Age 20. Injured

REASON FOR LOSS:

The crew were on a long night cross-country exercise. On return the pilot was given permission to land on the 2000 ft runway with a slight cross wind from the port side. The aircraft's port outer engine was feathered. When at aproximatly 20 ft from the ground and after a normal approach the motors were suddenly opened up for an overshoot. The aircraft swung too port and climbed away in a stalled attitude. After returning back through 180 degrees the port wing dropped and the aircraft stalled and crashed at 02:53 hrs.

The air accident report stated that during an attempted 3 engine landing with the port outer engine feathered the aircraft crashed - due to the condition of the engine, the cause was not able to be identified. It is possible also that the incorrect trim was applied.

The accident investigation was headed by 36 year old, Group Captain Roland Eugene de Trevieres Vintras 26127 RAF.

Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Roy Whimpey was thrown clear in the impact, but despite suffering shock entered the burning aircraft to assist in the removal of bodies of the crew away from the wreckage. Sadly 5 were already beyond medical aid. For his action of courage he received the BEM.

Sadly, just two months later, on Tuesday/Wednesday the 05th July 1944 Fl/Sgt's Whimpey and Dowling were 2 of a crew of 7 killed during an operation to bomb a V1 site at St Leu in France. Lancaster I HK536 JO-B of 463 Squadron flown by 31 year old, F/O. Alfred Kyrwood Carter AUS/421887 of Bullaburra, NSW Australia and is buried with his crew buried at Ellecourt Communal Cemetery.

Airframe total flying hours: 221.3. Port outer engine Hercules XVI total hours run: 20.45, Port inner engine Hercules XVI total hours run: 126.15, Starboard outer engine Hercules XVI total hours run: 230.20, Starboard inner engine Hercules XVI total hours run: 228.45.

Burial details:

The crew buried at Botley were interned on the 16th May 1944 - the service was conducted by the Reverend Gordon Gladstone Wood RAAF. Sadly, the following month he was killed during a V1 attack on London. The bomb hit the Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks during a service. 121 were killed during the direct hit with a further 141 seriously injured.

P/O. Robert Wyndham Dunn. Oxford Cemetery (Botley) Plot 1/2. Grave 222. Born on the 26th October 1923 at Ipswich, Queensland the son of Robert Armstrong Dunn and Eleanor Irene Dunn, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "His Duty Nobly Done".

Sgt. Ernest Arthur Wilmhurst. Bottesford Churchyard (St. Peter Ad Vincula). Son of Harry George Alderson Wilmshurst and Violet Wilmshurst, of Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "His Smiling Face And Loving Ways Are Memories That Will Live Always".

Nav: W/O. Harold Eric Hughes. Oxford Cemetery (Botley) Plot 1/2. Grave 224. Born on the 26th September 1920 at Adelaide Couth Australia, the son of Son of Alfred Arthur and Elsie Emma Hughes, of Stepney, South Australia, husband of Jean Hughes, of Stepney, London, England. Grave inscription reads: "Not Just Today But For Always We Will Remember".

Fl/Sgt. William Joseph Lea. Oxford Cemetery (Botley) Plot 1/2. Grave 223. Born on the 05th March 1923 at Richmond, Victoria, the son of Thomas Leonard and Evelyn Lea, of Ivanhoe, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "With Love And Pride We Will Always Remember Him".

Fl/Sgt. Ronald Walter Ely. Oxford Cemetery (Botley) Plot 1/2. Grave 225. Born on the 05th March 1916 at Semaphore South Australia, the son of Son of Oscar Ernest and Rhoda Isobel Ely and husband of Lorna Eugene Ely, of Tailem Bend, South Australia. Grave inscription reads: "His Duty Fearlessly And Nobly Done. Ever Remembered".

Later:

Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Roy Whimpey. BEM. Ellecourt Communal Cemetery. Born on 30th November 1920 at Brunswick, Victoria, the son of Albert Roy and Phyllis Whimpey, of Heidelberg West, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Greater Love Hath No Man Than This...".

Fl/Sgt. George Edward Dowling. Ellecourt Communal Cemetery. Born on the 13th May 1924 at Keswick, South Australia, the son of George Edward and Myrtle Daisy May Dowling, of Port Hughes, South Australia. Grave inscription reads: "His Country Called, "Tich" Answered. He Gave His All".

Reverend Gordon Gladstone Wood. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 4.N.16. Born on the 24th June 1901 the son of Alfred and Janet Wood and husband of Gwendoline Enid Wood, of Beverley Hills, New South Wales, Australia. Father to Grahame Douglas and Enid Narelle. Grave inscription reads: "To Live In Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources shown below.

KTY - 28.02.2018

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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