24/25.05.1942 No. 22 OTU Wellington Ic AD625 F/O. Gale DFM
Date: 24/25th May 1942 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 22 Operational Training Unit. 91 Group
Type: Wellington IC
Code: Not known
Base: RAF Stratford, Warwickshire
Location: At airfield
Pilot: F/O. John James Gale DFM. 45149 RAF Age 26. Injured (1)
Pilot: P/O. Vyvyan Roessler Pascoe AUS/404671 RAAF Age 25. Killed
Obs: Sgt. John Syddall Williams NZ/404977 RNZAF Age 26. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Mervyn Wilkinson NZ/405532 RNZAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglass Callaghan NZ/412313 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Llewellyn Gibby 812346 RAF (A) Age 22. Killed (2)
Air/Gnr: P/O. Claude Reginald Frederick Morris J/8794 RCAF Age 26. Seriously injured (3)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Wellington AD625 was parked at the taxying position prior to receiving permission to cross the flare path to taxy to dispersal. At this time they were 200 yards away from the runway used for night flying.
They were waiting for clearance for take off when at 02:40 hrs they were struck by Wellington Ic DV840 flown by 28 year old, Sgt. Charles Robert Whitworth 1202832 RAFVR.
After a cross country training exercise DV840 were returning to the base. The aircraft overshot the runway and swung badly during their approach in a 3O degree crosswind. Control was lost and they struck AD625 which was stationary.
Of the 5 crew of DV840 just one survived, injured.
The resulting enquiry concluded that the accident occurred due to a lack of judgement by the pilot of DV840 as his approach took him over the flare path - even if he had not struck the other aircraft he would have crashed as he was still airborne at point of impact. No blame was placed to the crew of AD625 or ground control.
(1) On Saturday the 25th May 1940 whilst with 102 Squadron crashed on return from an operation to Bapaume, France. Flying Whitley N1420 he overshot the runway and went into a ditch. All 5 crew uninjured. (4 of them were killed in separate incidents during the war)
Then, on Friday the 15th November 1940 also with 102 Squadron on an operation to Berlin hit by flak taking out the port engine. Flying Whitley V P5097 DY-Q crashed near Kings Lynn in Norfolk. He, along with two others were injured with 2 others escaping injury. (3 of them killed in separate incidents during the war)
Sgt. John James Gale 580307 - Awarded a bar to his DFM whilst with 102 Squadron - L/G. 17th January 1941. Commissioned to P/O. on the 04th January 1941.
His burns and other injuries meant that he was hospitalised and received many operations. On Tuesday the 23rd November 1943 at Halton hospital in Cheshire in what was described as his last operation of many, he sadly lost his life due to complications.
(2) Many publications have Fl/Sgt. John Gibby as bring on the other Wellington involved and Sgt. James Hough as being on this aircraft. The accident report (Form 765) shows the crew list as we have shown. Of course, if you have other evidence we would be interested in hearing from you.
(3) 26 year old, P/O. Claude Reginald Frederick Morris recovered from his injuries and returned to service. Sadly he was to lose his life on the 05th September 1942. Whilst with 419 Squadron on Wellington III BJ602 VR-J. Shot down by a night fighter flown by the Luftwaffe ace Oblt. Ludwig Becker of 6./NJG2 some 40 km north of Ameland during an attack on Bremen. All 5 Canadian crew listed as lost without trace and remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.
The funerals at Stratford-Upon-Avon Cemetery took place at 13:00 hrs on the 29th May 1942.
P/O. Vyvyan Roessler Pascoe. Stratford-Upon-Avon Cemetery. Grave 4222. Born on the 18th January 1917 at Toowoomba, the son of Vyvyan Edmondson Pascoe and Lilian Alma Pascoe of Harlaxto, Toowoomba, Queensland, husband of Gladys Pascoe, of Wylie Street, Graceville, Queensland, Australia to whom he was married to on the 29th May 1941. Prior to service worked as a school teacher. Grave inscription: "I'll Walk Beside You To The Land Of Dreams".
Sgt. John Syddall Williams. Stratford-Upon-Avon Cemetery. Grave 4203. Born on the 24th July 1915 at Millerton, the son of Thomas Syddall and Bertha Williams (née Johnson), of Greymouth, Westland, New Zealand. 133 Flying hours logged. Worked as an aeradio operator for the Air Department (civil)
Sgt. Mervyn Wilkinson. Stratford-Upon-Avon Cemetery. Grave 4205. Born on the 01st March 1921 at Huntly, the son of Frederick Wilkinson and of Elizabeth Wilkinson (née Bell), of Huntley, Auckland, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a winch man for Taupin Coal Company.
Sgt. Douglass Callaghan. Stratford-Upon-Avon Cemetery. Grave 4204. Born on the 28th July 1918 at Hastings, the son of Edward and Margaret Helen Callaghan (née Douglass), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. Prior to service worked as a slaughter man for NZ Refrigeration Company. 98 Flying hours logged.
Fl/Sgt. John Llewellyn Gibby. Tunbridge Wells Cemetery. Cons. Sec. 19B. Grave 46. Son of John Rees Gibby and Lillie Gibby, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. Grave inscription: "Peace Perfect Peace".
F/O. John James Gale DFM. Beverley Church Cemetery. (St. Mary). Sec. A. Row M. Grave 9. Son of James Gale, and of Rhoda Gale (nee Staddon) and husband of Joan Elizabeth Gale, of Beverley, Yorkshire, England. Grave inscription: "One Of The Few" Beloved Husband Of Joan Elizabeth Gale".
P/O. Claude Reginald Frederick Morris. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 101. Son of Reginald and Charlotte Morris, of 3576 West Thirty-Fifth, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Australian National Archives, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: