10.11.1942 No 149 Squadron Stirling I W7582 OJ-S Sq/Ldr. William C. Hutchings
Operation: Air Test
Date: 10th November 1942
Unit: No. 149 Squadron (3 Group)
Type: Stirling I
Base: RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
Location: Kingsway, Mildenhall, Suffolk
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. William Cyril Hutchings DFC 434811 RAF Age 29. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Cyril Hill 937575 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Nav: Sgt. Louis Victor Fossleitner BEM. 912925 RAFVR Age 24. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: Sgt. James Dwight Pickup AUS/401589 RAAF Age 23. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James Algernon Clough 646433 RAF Age 21. Killed (2)
Air/Gnr: P/O. John Barter Seigne 126740 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank Hughes 1080084 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
During a training flight the aircraft flew across the aerodrome at approximately 200 ft. As the aircraft crossed the boundary it commenced to climb. Shortly after this smoke was seen to come from the starboard outer engine followed by fire. The Stirling continued to climb to a height of approximately 100 ft flying straight. One or two minutes later the aircraft commenced a turn to the right, as if to go to Mildenhall Aerodrome. As the aircraft was on the turn the fire appeared to spread into the mainplane, the aircraft did not recover from the turn and dived into the ground hitting trees and out of control at 16:57 hrs.
Above: Sgt. James Dwight Pickup and letter sent to his parents after the accident.
The aircraft engines running hours: Outer Port - 59.45 hrs. Outer Starboard - 161.55. Inner Port - 102.55 hrs. Inner starboard - 167.15 hrs. Investigations revealed that the con rods of rear master assembly had broken. (At time of failure the engines were running at rated boost and 2400 rpm) Crews had recently been instructed to abandon the aircraft immediately under similar circumstances, but in this case it appears that the pilot was going to make an attempt to crash land the aircraft at Mildenhall aerodrome. (The low height obviously a contributing factor)
The investigating officer (Group Captain J.A. Powell) stated that this was far from an isolated case and that a procedure had now been produced by 3 Group and is constantly brought to the attention to the notice of all captains.
(1) Awarded the BEM - London Gazette 29th December 1942:
"Fl/Sgt. John Philp (3) (1206642 RAFVR) and Sgt’s Reardon (R/73037 RCAF) and Fossleitner were captain, front gunner and navigator respectively of an aircraft which attacked Munich one night in September, 1942. On the return flight the engineer reported that there would only be sufficient spare fuel to operate for 15 minutes on arrival at base. Fl/Sgt. Philp therefore obtained permission to land at a nearer airfield. When nearing the airfield, however, one of the engines failed and it was necessary to descend on to the sea off the coast. Although the aircraft was kept level, it broke into four parts on impact with the water and these three airmen, together with the wireless operator and the mid upper gunner, were thrown into the sea. Fl/Sgt. Philp, who is a strong swimmer, volunteered to swim to shore alone to get help. He abandoned this intention, however, as it was necessary to help the mid-upper gunner, and in company with Sgt. Reardon, started to swim to shore, taking the mid-upper gunner with them. They were picked up by a fishing boat after Swimming for 3.5 hours, but unfortunately the gunner (4) was found to be dead. In the meantime, Sgt. Fossleitner, although badly shaken, had volunteered to remain behind on one of the wings and support the wireless operator (5), whose spine was fractured. He supported him for 2.5 hours, until eventually both were picked up by an Air/Sea Rescue Launch. The courage and fortitude displayed by Fl/Sgt. Philp and Sgt’s Reardon and Fossleitner were of the highest order."
(2) James Algernon Clough prepared a letter to his parents, James and Kate Clough, which he left in a sealed envelope marked "To be opened in the event of my death". Three months later he was killed on a test flight: “I have no regrets dying for my country. It is a grand country, and any man who can call himself an Englishman should be proud to die in the struggle for freedom. Give this message to my friends and yours, and to the people of England if it is possible: Let every Englishman fight to the last drop of blood in his body. Let him keep the golden fields and busy streets clean and fresh, and let him keep the air he breathes free from the stench of Nazism.”
Right: Fl/Sgt. James Algernon Clough (courtesy Graham Stevenson - see credits)
(3) P/O. John Philp BEM 133028 RAFVR of Southsea, Hampshire, England was killed on the 08th December 1942. Returning from a gardening operation with 149 Squadron, when Stirling I W7639 OJ-Q he was piloting crashed at Fenhouse Farm, Brandon Fields, Brandon in Suffolk after suffering technical difficulties. All 7 crew lost their lives.
(4) Sgt. Frederick Henry King 1330708 RAFVR of Upton Park, Essex, England.
(5) Sgt. I.V. Davies - thought to have survived the war.
Researched for the Wimbledon College Roll Of Honour - Aircrew Remembered have offered to provide basic information for the school records. Sgt. James D. Pickup a former pupil.
Left: Sgt. James Dwight Pickup grave at Beck Row. Grave inscription reads: 'Deo Patriae Amicis.(For God, motherland, and friends) Death Came To Us, My Son. But Not To You.'
Sq/Ldr. William Cyril Hutchings. Golders Green Crematorium. Panel 2. Son of Capt. Tom Hutchings. formerly Royal Artillery and Frances Ann Hutchings, husband of Margery Lilian Hutchings, of Winchmore Hill, North London, England. Pilot completed flying training at Advanced Training Squadron No. 4 FTS Abu-Sueir on 07th July 1937 - was never trained at an Operational Training Unit. (1,329 hours flying experience with 99.00 on this type of aircraft)
Sgt. Cyril Hill. Beck Row (St. John) Churchyard. Row C. Grave 10. Son of Frederick and Margaret Hill, of Newbold, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England.
Sgt. Louis Victor Fossleitner BEM. East Grinstead (Mount Noddy) Cemetery. Sec 4. Grave 6. Son of Alois Fossleitner, and of Edith Daisy Fossleitner, of East Grinstead, Sussex, England.
Sgt. James Dwight Pickup. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 4.H.22. Son of Henry and Gertrude Mary Pickup, of ‘Wychwood House’, Enstone Road, Charlbury, Oxford, England. Born on the 18th May 1919, enlisted 1st March 1941 - embarked 22nd April 1941 for Canada and then on to England. Record of service: No. 2 ITS - 01.03.1941, No. 2 ED 29.03.1941, No. 3 Wireless School Winnipeg 16.05.1941, No. 7 BAGS Poulsons 28.09.1941, No 1 ‘Y’ Depot, Halifax 27.10.1941, No. 3 PRC 14.11.1941, No. 2 SS 20.01.1942, No. 14 OTU 21.04.1942, No. 2114 Squadron 19.09.1942, No. 149 Squadron 27.10.1942. Awarded Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Australia Service Medal 1939-45.
Fl/Sgt. James Algernon Clough. Beck Row (St. John) Churchyard. Row C. Grave 9. Son of James and Kate Clough, husband of Mary Clough, of Hutton Rudby, Yorkshire, England.
P/O. John Barter Seigne. Inniscarra Church Of Ireland Churchyard. Son of Maj. Thomas Richard Barter Seigne, formerly Royal Field Artillery, and of Anna Eliza Seigne, of St. Anns, Ireland.
Sgt. Frank Hughes. Salford (Agecroft) Cemetery. Sec 21. Grave 356. Son of Richard and Grace Hughes, of Salford, husband of Ethel Hughes, of Ardwick, Manchester, England.
Researched for Wimbledon College Roll Of Honour. With thanks to Graham Stevenson
for photo and info on Sgt. Clough. Australian Archives and other sources as quoted below.