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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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RAF Crest
08.04.1942 No. 23 Operational Training Unit Wellington Ic R1597 Sgt. Kennedy

Operation: Training

Date: 08th April 1942 (Wednesday)

Unit: No. 23 Operational Training Unit

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: R1597

Code BY-?

Base: RAF Pershore, Worcestershire, England.

Location: Llangammarch Wells, Breconshire

Pilot: Sgt. (Pupil): Jack Matthew Kennedy R/68661 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Obs (Pupil): Sgt. William McLafter Lomax 1076999 RAFVR. Age 34. Killed

Obs (Pupil): Sgt. William Smith 1126014 RAFVR Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: (Pupil): Sgt. Frederick Thomas Ellingham 1262787 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: (Pupil): Sgt. William Haylett Lacey 1263271 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: (Screened): Sgt. Neville Griffin 905561 RAFVR Age 34. Killed

Air/Gnr: (Pupil): Sgt. Desmond Walter Dowling 1311793 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Reason For Loss:

Taking off from RAF Pershore on a cross-country exercise. Last heard transmitting at 14:35 hrs.

Infuriatingly, the Operational Record Book for 23 OTU makes no mention of this crash (or any events on this day) but the file does contain a message sent from 23 OTU to HQ 43 Group and "Accidents Gloucester", which states that on 8 April 1942 at 15:37, Wellington Ic R1597 crashed at Llangammarch Wells in Breconshire.

At first, only Sgts. Dowling, Ellingham and Griffin were confirmed as killed and the remaining crew were posted as missing, but a second follow-up message confirms that all crew were definitely killed and that the bodies had been taken to the Lake Hotel at Llangammarch Wells and that all next of kin had been informed with the exception of Sgt. Kennedy's father in Canada.

It is reported that a violent storm was raging over the Brecon Beacons that day and it is likely that played a major part in the loss.

Burial Details:

Sgt. Jack Matthew Kennedy. Buried at Pershore Cemetery. Plot Q. Grave 396. Born on the 30th April 1918 at Ealm Creek, Manitoba, the son of Matthew Sexsmith Kennedy and Hattie Elizabeth Kennedy of Red Lake, Ontario, Canada.

Jack Kennedy Lake northwest of Fly Lake, Manitoba was named after Sgt. Kennedy in 1995.

Sgt. William McLafter Lomax. Buried at Pershore Cemetery. Plot Q. Grave 399. Son of William and Rose Lomax. Husband of Margaret Lomax, of Liverpool. Grave inscription reads: "Cherished Memories 'Bill' Beloved Husband of Margaret. David's Dear Daddy."

Sgt. William Smith. Buried at Wallasey Cemetery (Rake Lane). Section 7.R. Grave 197. No further details, are you able to assist?

Sgt. Frederick Thomas Ellingham. Buried at Morden Cemetery. Section S.B. Grave 1203. Son of Thomas and Emily Ellingham. Husband of Mary Muriel Ellingham, of Morden. Grave inscription reads: "Memories So Dear Are That Are Left Of One We All Knew As Dearest And Best."

Sgt. William Haylett Lacey. Buried at Charlton Cemetery, Greenwich. Section P. 2nd Cons. Grave 181. Born on the 03rd August 1922, the son of William Haylett Lacey and Nora Lacey of 6 Ormiston Road, Plumstead. Grave inscription reads: "High Above The Clouds, The Fight Was Fought And Your Great Task Was Done."

Sgt. Neville Griffin. Buried at Pershore Cemetery. Plot Q. Grave 420. Son of Charles William and Emily Amelia Griffin of Palmers Green, Middlesex. Grave inscription reads: "The World Is Grander For His Living Our Hearts Are Richer For His Giving."

Sgt. Desmond Walter Dowling. Buried at Pershore Cemetery, Plot Q. Grave 418. Son of Thomas Henry and Nellie Harriet Dowling of Salisbury. Grave inscription reads: "At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning, We Will Remember Him."

Researched by Steve Hunnisett for Aircrew Remembered - May 2019. Page dedicated to the relatives of the crew. Further information from sources shown. With thanks to Julian Tansell and Michael Berrell for grave photographs. Steve Hunnisett for grave photo off Sgt. William Lacey.

SH/KTY 13.05.2019

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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