28.12.1941 No. 5 OTU Beaufort I N1086 P/O. Philip H. Isted
Date: 28th December 1941 (Sunday)
Unit: No. 5 OTU (Operational Training Unit - Coastal Command)
Type: Bristol Beaufort I
Base: RAF Chivenor, Devon.
Location: South Coombe Farm, Stokeclimsland, Cornwall.
Pilot: P/O. Philip ‘Peter’ Hastings Isted 89823 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
Obs: Sgt. George Gordon Sinclair 931093 RAFVR Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Edward Robinson 1073271 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Cyril Baker 1073431 RAFVR Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Beaufort N1086 was returning from a training exercise when the port engine stopped. The aircraft crashed at South Coombe Farm, Stokeclimsland, killing all on board.
Above L-R: P/O. Philip ‘Peter’ Hastings Isted, Sgt. George Gordon Sinclair, Sgt. Edward Robinson
No. 5 OTU Beaufort I (courtesy IWM)
If anyone has further information on this loss we would be pleased to receive it. We would also appreciate hearing from any other relatives of the crew.
We understand that the Parish Council at Stokeclimsland had wanted to place a plaque to the crew back in 2009 - not sure if this happened.
Webmaster note: Indeed it did happen. A Mrs Brigitte Cox initiated the remembrance day event at which 8 relatives of the crew, including the wife of the Observer, 89 year old Mrs Olga Smart. Also attending was the son of the pilot P/O. Isted, Mr Peter Lake with six cousins also attending. We would like to thank Derrick Parson for sending us the information and the photographs.
Photo of training at 3. Air Observer / Navigation School Class 4C. Names listed in case other relatives recognise any . Rear: Millidge, Mander, Osborne, Newton, Mackay, Mather, Sinclair (this crew), Ramadan and Stancliffe. Front: Richardson, Samson, Welton, Sgt. Thain,, Sgt. Law, Simpson, Robinson (this crew), Lawson. (courtesy of Gordon Sinclair's widow, Olga - January 2016)
P/O. Philip Hastings Isted. Lymington Cemetery. Grave 1905. Son of Alfred Ernest and Violet Grace Isted, of Lymington, Hampshire, England. Also remembered on the Lymington War Memorial.
Sgt. George Gordon Sinclair. Heanton Puchardon Churchyard (St. Augustine) Row M. Grave 14. Son of George Gordon and Margaret Sinclair, husband of Olga Sinclair (née Nagley), of Moortown, Leeds, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Edward Robinson Heanton Puchardon Churchyard (St. Augustine) Row L. Grave 15. Son of Wilson and Ethel Robinson, of Fence Houses, Co. Durham, England.
Sgt. Frederick Cyril Baker. Hull Northern Cemetery. Screen Wall. Son of Frances Baker, and stepson of John Morrison, of Hull, England.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Derrick Parson who sent us further information and photographs. Plus not least Olga, the widow of Sgt. Gordon Sinclair with whom we are in contact with - January 2016. David Fenton - son of Olga Smart (née Nagley), wife of Sgt. Gordon Sinclair who brought this loss to our attention. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Aircrew Remembered own Archives. With thanks to our 'tech services' for photo re-inhancment work. With thanks to Chris Kelland for geography correction.
The following are extracts from emails received from Olga and reproduced with her kind permission. We wanted to include these with the story of his loss to show how much Olga must have been in love with Gordon.
Gordon was born in Canton China to Scottish parents. He spent his childhood there but latterly the Japanese and Chinese were fighting. He came to live in England with his brother, Ernest on the maiden return voyage of the Queen Mary in 1935. He needed to take the Matriculation exam and to do went on a course at the Regent Street, London Polytechnic, a large very cosmopolitan college which I believe is now renamed University of Westminster. I was there too but in a different building and we never met.
Then as we both finished our courses and went to the last Ball (ballroom dancing) in the Great Hall we met and danced. He was a very good dancer. He looked lovely in 'white tie and tails' and I didn't look so bad myself!!
We were both good swimmers and enjoyed swimming, dancing, walking and of course going to the cinema about three times a week. Where holding hands in the dark was a great thrill! And even though we went camping and slept in one tent in separate sleeping bags.
Am so glad I grew up then and not now.
In short above all we grew with each other and were loyal loving friends ''getting butterflies' looking forward to meeting, etc. we were completely compatible.
With the nightly London bombings from dusk to dawn, like everyone we experienced near misses, dodged shrapnel falling as we ran home in the blackout from the cinema, even stood on the flat roof where Gordon lived and watched the whole skyline of the docks area in flames.
Gordon volunteered for the Air Force and joined December 6th 1940, he died 1 year and 3 weeks later. Eight months after we had married. I feel sure had he lived we would have matured further together and grown old together. But ... it wasn't to be ....
However, I feel the need to add one more incident re Gordon, and then perhaps put a question to you.
I travelled for hours (about 18) on an overnight very slow many stopping wartime train from Yorkshire to Devon on Dec.31st for Gordon's funeral on Jan.1st 1942.
About half an hour before it was due to arrive, I excitedly took my case and me to the exit door. I felt certain Gordon would be waiting there to tell me it had all been a mistake, he was alright.
The train had hardly stopped when I jumped off. Expectantly I looked down the long spick and span platform. It was like a ghost platform. Silent. Not a soul anywhere. Not even a porter. I waited, then it sank in completely, he was not coming. He would never again be there.
But instantly with that came the clear knowledge and conviction that although not now in this world, he was not non-existent, he still existed somewhere in some other sphere.
I had no religious belief. It was nonsense to me and for years after still remained so.
Yet in spite of that, the sureness of Gordon's existence in another sphere remained/remains.
Decades later I became an absolute believer, leaning towards Buddhist beliefs. including reincarnation, the very thought of which fills me with horror. This is not a nice world and getting worse.
On your website, naturally and rightly you stick to facts.
But there is a spiritual question - how many of those who lost loved ones in wars believe they will meet them again one day. How many have had strange spiritual experiences to do with their loved one.?
I for one, 30 years later in strange circumstances and only once but it convinced me for life.
Re the Battle of Britain - the summer of 1940' - I worked in Central London at 21 Cavendish Square not far from Oxford Circus. One day ( I believe history tells us it was Sept 15th.) we were by then used to the constant every night bombing as soon as dusk fell, but then Goering and the Luftwaffe became so cocky they began daylight bombing too and on that day, Sept. 15th we office girls suddenly became aware of planes swooping about right over our heads. We all rushed to the windows, leaning out and cheering as if watching a Hollywood film, it seemed great fun hardly reality, not really taking in that men of both sides would be dying. Or that we might be bombed at that moment. we saw only our own rapidly swooping fighter planes.
That night on the BBC radio the newsman said 149 Enemy planes had been shot down with only a small loss of our planes. What the true numbers were I don't know, but that day a furious Goering changed his mins about invading Britain which history tells us they were about to do. Th brave Battle of Britain fighter pilots who had gone up, exhausted, many times that day, apparently giving the impression we had a great many more planes and pilots than they had thought. Later of course Churchill gave his famous speech Never was so much owed by so many to so few.
It was around early 1970's and I was in my early 50's, 30 years since Gordon was killed. I realised after it happened that it was some time since I had thought of him, I had been unhappy a very long time. And certainly not thinking of him in the midst of all the furniture chaos.
That day a part of the flat was being re-decorated and I felt naturally jiggered with all all the upheaval.
Our large flat on the edge of Putney Heath, London, was in absolute chaos, Charles our regular decorator was there to paint the main living room and after moving the furniture, the books, rugs, vases, everything out into the hall, and his step ladder, wall papering stands several large paint pins including half used ones into the living room, he started the work.
Around 12:30 he said "am off to lunch now" and always although I offered him lunch I knew by then that lunch for Charles meant a few beers.
For me it meant wash up his used cup and saucer, spend a penny and have a nice quiet sit down and a spot to eat.
I went to the door to see him out and locked the door.
The very instant I turned from the door my left hand went up and rested on an invisible shoulder, my right arm went up and was held at the same height in an invisible hand. I was swept along ballroom dancing in and out and around all the paint tins and furniture, my arms in the same high positions feeling no fatigue held by an invisible body and hand. Only Gordon and I ever danced like this. The radio was on in the kitchen playing music, we danced for what turned out to be a whole hour, never stopping, then on the radio Matt Munro started singing "Softly, as I leave you now ..... I can't bear the tears to fall "....... my arms came slowly down, I walked slowly to the kitchen sink to wash Charles's cup, I was filled with a wonderful quiet happiness
..... the door bell rang, it was Charles back from his hour's break.
When I began to think about that extraordinary hour, I thought it had taken over 30 years but somehow Gordon had broken through whatever separates this world from the next. He had chosen a time so ridiculous that I would never be dancing around in, and somehow knew the moment Charles was about to ring the bell and that a couple or so minutes before Charles return Matt Munro would be singing 'Softly as I leave you now.'
Our very first meeting was at a dance, we loved dancing.
I KNOW I danced for that hour with Gordon. I know now one day I will again dance with Gordon, but not in this life.
It does not matter at all to me if anyone cannot believe it.
We always enjoyed walks and of course walks on the beach - however the lovely sands and beach of Newquay were well out of bounds and covered in vert thick barbed wire against invasion. So we could only walk along the cliff tops and look down on barbed wire.
One little thing I remember is the Fee charged by Leeds Registry Office for us to be married was:-
'7 shillings and 6 pence'! Old pre metric shillings.
That was all we needed unlike today's over the top showy weddings costing many thousands and requiring a mortgage.
The wedding cake considered a necessity cost £12, a fortune then but our only indulgence. Nothing compared with no doubt hundreds or thousands these days.
I also bought Gordon a gold signet ring and had his initials engraved on it.
He was wearing it when he died, it was squashed sideways flat by the impact, it was sent back to me. I still have it.
In those days if under 21 you were termed a child, and in law needed a parent's signed written permission to get married. So at 3 weeks off 21 my mother had to give written permission to the authorities (my father was in Canada).
A bit ridiculous considering young Forces men were dying at 18 and younger if they lied about age.
How times have change. And young men have changed. They were made of sterner more mature stuff in those days.
he dress I wore was made by me! To save money and to use less rationed clothes 'coupons'! The flowers were orchids given to me by Gordon.
Gordon was in training so his uniform was an ordinary new recruit's uniform. We married on his first leave.
We were married at Leeds Registry Office and as Gordon was given a special week's leave, we travelled on an overnight train to Newquay Cornwall. Not far from where he was stationed.
After a little wedding reception at home for a few friends, we took the tram to Leeds railway station where we found we had missed our intended train by a couple of minutes and having several hours wait to the next we decided to go to the pictures to see a film!!!!!
When we then eventually managed to catch a train at 10 p.m - it had come from Scotland and was overflowing with uniformed young men going on leave or coming back from leave.
Our wedding night was spent lying on the dirty train corridor floor packed with Servicemen like sardines, with our small suitcases as pillows and people stepping over all of us to go to the toilet. But when you are young and happy everything is funny even if it was your wedding night.
We arrived at our Guest House
pretty tired though and mutually decided our second night as a married couple needed to b spent sleeping. Again we saw the funny side.
So that was wartime Britain, but by then everyone accepted all discomforts and peculiarities as normal.
Hope this elaboration can help make it more personal.
Olga Smart - March 2016
Olga with the canvas photograph reproduced by Aircrew Remembered and sent to her.