15/16.04.1945 No. 11 Operational Training Unit Wellington X LP609 W/O. Erskine
Date: 15/16th April 1945 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 11 Operational Training Unit (92 Group)
Type: Wellington X
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Oakley - RAF Westcott, Buckinghamshire
Location: NNE Oakley, Buckinghamshire
Pilot: W/O. William Erskine 1365096 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Pilot U/T: Fl/Sgt. John Powell Redpath NZ/428253 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Colin William Burt NZ/4312163 RNZAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. George Thomas Matthews NZ/428141 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Christian Hope 2210185 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Oakley, which was a satellite base of RAF Westcott in Buckinghamshire on a night flying operation.
At 00:38 hrs they were struck by another Wellington (LP651) which was coming in for landing. It seems that immediately prior to impact that pilot, F/O. Colin Roy Baker DFC. had received instructions from flying control to overshoot.
With the tragic loss of some 12 aircrew (9 of these from New Zealand) this is the worst single accident within 11 Operational Training Unit of the war. It seems that perhaps the blame lay with Flying Control, RAF Oakley at the airfield.
The New Zealand crew members were buried at Oxford Cemetery (Botley) on the 20th April, with full military honours. The RAF crew members were taken to their homes in Glasgow and Liverpool for burial.
W/O. William Erskine. Cambuslang Cemetery (Westburn). Grave 6321. Son of William and Jessie McLean Carlton Erskine, of Cambuslang, Glasgow, Scotland. Grave inscription reads: "He Died That We Might Live".
Fl/Sgt. John Powell Redpath. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 206A. Born on the 03rd September 1922 at Amberley, Christchurch, the son of Charles Aitcheson Redpath and of Esther Redpath (née Goldien), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. A total of 340 flying hours logged.
Fl/Sgt. Colin William Burt. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 206B. Son of Oliver Charles and Louisa Dorothy Burt, of 11 Buckley Street, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Initially served with the Army as a Temporary Bombadier in the South Pacific, prior to his enlistment in the RNZAF in 1943. A total of 145 flying hours logged.
Fl/Sgt. George Thomas Matthews. Oxford Cemetery (Botley). Plot H/1. Grave 201. Son of George and Kapua Rapiha Matthews, of Kauangaroa and husband of Nada Elaine Matthews (née Wynder), of Kauangaroa, Wellington, New Zealand, but it seems formerly from Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
Fl/Sgt. Arthur Christian Hope. Liverpool Cemetery (Toxteth Park). Sec. 2. Cons. Grave 174. Son of Samuel Richard and Annie Hope, Liverpool, England. Grave inscription reads: "For Ever In Our Hearts".
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Weekly News of New Zealand, also to Steve Potts for grave photos. Other sources as quoted below: