16/17.12.1942 No. 75 Squadron Stirling I R9245 AA-N Sgt. Benjamin A. Franklin
Date: 16/17th December 1942 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit: No. 75 Squadron
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Newmarket, Suffolk
Location: Base - RAF Newmarket
Pilot: Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin NZ/414277 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. William (Bill) Joseph Lawrence R/70294 RCAF Age 22. Killed
Nav: Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe NZ/41561 RNZAF Age 32. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Edgar William Harvey NZ/41902 RNZAF Age 27. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch NZ/41709 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tom Pascoe 1308491 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric James Burbridge 1392526 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Update:- 23d February 2016 - a memorial plaque is to be unveiled at the crash site - 75 Squadron (NZ) Association are appealing for relatives of the crew to contact us to make them aware of the dedication ceremony later this year.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Shortly after take off at 22:11 hrs from RAF Newmarket in Suffolk, England to lay mines off Bordeaux, the Stirling clipped its starboard wheel on the top of Devils Dyke and following this, engine failure. Out of control, the bomber spun into the ground at 22:12 hrs, coming down about a mile from the airfield. Five other aircraft waiting to take off had their missions cancelled.
Sgt. Burbridge and his new bride Freda, with friends, all air gunners, at his wedding - can you name them? (courtesy Eric Baker)
Devils Dyke. The Dyke stretches in a near perfect straight line for 7 ½ miles (12 km) from the Fen edge at Reach, across the open chalk landscape near Newmarket and towards the more wooded landscape on the clay ridges, ending at Ditton Green. (photo courtesy of James Fisher)
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey's grave lies in a very small churchyard in Lakenham, Norwich. Cpl. Dee Boneham who lived near to the church, visited the grave and noticed the original plaque had become damaged. As this airman’s grave was so far from home, she generously decided to replace the plaque.
Kelvin Youngs (webmaster) visited the grave in August 2009 to make sure the plaque was still in place and the grave was in good order. We have made all the pictures taken, available to 75 Squadron Association, with a view that they are able to forward to the surviving relatives in New Zealand.
Mr. Eric Baker being his nephew, recently visited the grave of Sgt Burbridge. (shown above, before and after) Finding it in a poor condition, he decided to contact us for advice.
Following our advice, he then wrote to the Commonwealth Graves Commission in order that he could take it upon himself to clean the grave.
Having received expert instructions on how he should go about it, he returned to clean up the headstone and the immediate area.
An effort to be applauded, we feel, going about this task totally the correct way. He has also advised the Commission the inscription has deteriorated and awaits further news.
Some of the crew graves at Newmarket - if any relative would like a higher resolution, please contact us. (archives)
Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin. Newmarket Cemetery Plot P. Grave 434. Son of Philip and Henretta Franklin, of Mount Eden, Auckland City, New Zealand.
Sgt. William (Bill) Joseph Lawrence. Newmarket Cemetery Plot P. Grave 449. Son of Joseph and Edith Lawrence, of Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe. Newmarket Cemetery Plot O. Grave 399. Son of Eric Whitcombe and of Jane Morton Whitcombe (nee Henderson), of Pahiatua, Wellington, New Zealand.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey. Lakenham (St. John the Baptist and all Saints) Churchyard. Sec. E.Grave 25. Son of John Lambert Harvey and Sarah Harvey, of Milford, Auckland, New Zealand, husband of Josephine Emma Harvey. of Milford, Auckland, New Zealand.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch. Newmarket Cemetery Plot P. Grave 417. Son of Harold Lawrence Vere Welch and May Welch, of Taradale, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe Ashburton (St Andrew) Churchyard Extension Grave A.3. Son of Vivian and Elizabeth Pascoe, of Ashburton, Devon, England.
Left: Grave of Sgt. Pascoe (courtesy of Rob Pearson who sent this into us via our help desk 2014)
Sgt. Eric James Burbridge. Wandsworth (Streatham) Cemetery Block 12. Grave 300. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Burbridge, husband of Freda Joan Burbridge, of Streatham, England.
Researched by Cpl. Dee Boneham for relatives of the crew. Dee spends many hours supporting various charities and bringing various losses to the attention of many.