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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 Bomber Command Crest
03.10.1943 No. 17 O.T.U. Wellington X HE276 Fl/Sgt. George Lamb

Operation: Training

Date: 3rd October 1943 (Sunday)

Unit: No.17 OTU (Operational Training Unit)

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HE276

Base: RAF Silverstone, Northamptonshire

Location: Runway, RAF Silverstone, Northamptonshire

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. George Lamb 655748 RAF Age 24. Killed

Pilot 2: Sgt. Jack Stear Beach 1545047 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Reg. H.J. Hyde RAFVR Survived, Injured (1)

Nav: Sgt. Alfred Longworth 1538877 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Frederick Percy Smith R/166678 RCAF Age 29. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John Buckland Speake 1516058 RAF Age ? Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Harold Smith DFM 628540 RAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. R.J. Wells Survived, Injured (2)


Took off at 19:01 hrs from RAF Silverstone, Northamptonshire on a night navigation training exercise.

The crew ran into difficulties when the Wellington's port engine stopped on landing approach. Expecting nothing more than a bumpy landing, the crew adopted crashed positions.

Unfortunately the aircraft was already committed to land when another aircraft was on the runway and second attempt at a landing by going around again was impossible. They managed to crash land the aircraft missing the other. The Wellington hit two trees crashing at 22:01 hrs and burst into flames.

Navigator / flight Engineer, Sgt. Reg. H.J. Hyde (courtesy Peter Hyde)

Amazing in that Sgt. Hyde was to have been on that other aircraft but changed at the last moment.

Left: Reg Hyde with his pal Jock Tosh at the Guinea Pig reunion, 1978. (courtesy Peter Hyde)

Sgt. Reg Hyde was serving as an instructor after completing a tour with 49 Squadron and survived the crash. He received treatment at the famous Queen Victoria Hospital under the eye of Sir Archibald McIndoe at East Grinstead where he met his future wife, Jean Fuggle, who was a staff nurse working in the recovery ward.

He spent many months in hospital undergoing some 80 operations. Many of them unsuccessful as grafts did not take and the study of tissue matching at the time was very much in the early stages of development. Reg and Jean married about a year after he was discharged from hospital.

Peter Hyde (son of Sgt. Reg Hyde) wrote:

"My father was Reg Hyde who had completed tour with 49 squadron and rested as instructor with 17 O.T.U. at Silverstone - the Wellington was on training flight and story is told in "Mcindoes Army" as my fathers was very badly burned and became a Guinea Pig (Mcindoes at East grinstead ) where he met my mother who was a staff nurse. Ironically he had switched flights with his friend Eddie Warmington (navigator) who was on the aircraft blocking the runway!! Eddie went on to Pathfinders and became a PoW before escaping - another fantastic story."

During service with 49 Squadron (courtesy Peter Hyde)

(1) Sadly Reg died in March 1979 his funeral was held at St. Margaret's Church, Ifield, Crawley. However his ashes were interned at Parkstone Cemetery Poole (where he was born and is interned with his father and Uncle) He once said that they tried to burn me once - so you may as well finish me off!

(2) Sgt Wells received his DFM whilst serving with 75 Squadron and published in the London Gazette, 13th September 1940.

Memorial to members of 17 OTU at Silverstone. Many aircrew were killed during training, before even going into action. Sadly, many details are not recorded - an aim we are trying to redress.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. George Lamb. Penrith Cemetery Sec. Green. Row A. Grave 335. Son of Richard and Mary Hannah Lamb, husband of Marjorie Lamb, of Staveley, Westmorland, England.

Sgt. Jack Stear Beach. Lymm St. Mary Churchyard Row 2. West of church. Son of Harold and Florence Ellen Beach, of Lymm, England. King's Scout: Senior Prefect, Lymm Grammar School.

Sgt. Alfred Longworth. Bolton Astley Bridge Cemetery. Div.L.A. Sec.G. Nonconformist. Grave 55. Son of Alfred and Elizabeth Longworth, of Halliwell, Lancashire, England.

Sgt. Frederick Percy Smith. Towcester Cemetery Ro G. Grave 8. Son of George Frederick and Lilian Edith Smith, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Sgt. John Buckland Speake. Manchester Gorton Cemetery Sec. B.B. Grave 500. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Fl/Sgt. Harold Smith D.F.M. Cornforth Holy Trinity Churchyard Row G.1. Grave 34. Son of Albert Verner Smith and Martha Smith. of West Cornforth, England.

Researched for Peter Hyde (son of Sgt. Reg Hyde) and dedicated to all relatives of this crew. With thanks to Michel Beckers for Sgt. Longworth medal details. Other sources as quoted below.

Acknowledgements: 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 and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 16 August 2016, 19:25