21.05.1940 No. 18 Squadron Blenheim IV L9325, P/O. Cyril Light
Date: 21st May 1940 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 18 Squadron
Type: Blenheim IV
Base: RAF Watton, Norfolk
Location: Rancourt, Somme, France.
Pilot: P/O. Cyril Light 33479 RAF Age 22. Missing
Obs: Sgt. Arthur Ernest Craig 358376 RAF Age 33. Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Hawkins DFM. 510166 RAF Age 30. Missing
Update February 2015 - the Ministry of Defence are moving forward to rename the graves, they first need to contact all relatives of the crew to consult them.
Update June 2015 - the CWGC have now recognised the unmarked crew graves as that of the crew - further details follow.
REASON FOR LOSS:
18 Squadron had been very much involved with attempting to stop the German invasion of France for some 10 days before, in May 1940 they were forced to relocate to Lympne, Kent, England. A few days later they moved again to RAF Watton in Norfolk.
L-R: Sgt. A.C. Thomas DFM, Sgt. S.F. Miller DFM, Fl/Lt. G. Wyatt DFC, and LAC George Hawkins DFM. (courtesy Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19400410-41-5 - April 10th 1940)
Above L9325 crash site - we appreciate the assistance of Keith Brooker who sent this into us in November 2015.
Just two days previous to this loss, Sgt.’s Craig and Hawkins DFM were involved in another incident with Fl/Lt. Wheldon as pilot when their Blenheim L9191 crashed at 08.40 hrs during take off at Crécy. All the crew were unhurt, but the aircraft was destroyed.
Above and below German photographs of the wreck and original grave marker near Combles (Ebay)
Some reports list Blenheim L9325 as being shot down by friendly fire from a Hurricane in the Arras area. We understand that the only confirmed loss by friendly fire on this day was that of 18 Squadron Blenheim IV L9185 attacked by 610 Squadron and shot down - all crew surviving. We also have been informed that the Germans who photographed the wreck had written 'shot down by flak'.
It is also known that they took off from RAF Watton at 12.00 hrs with the time of crash placed at around 15.00 hrs.
Loss area of L9325
What is known that for many years a French research group, led by Andre Bauduin, (see credits) recovered pieces from the aircraft at the location shown on the map. Another researcher, Ian Marchant, has convinced the RAF Historical Branch that this aircraft was Blenheim IV L9325 and that the crew were buried at the nearby Cemetery in Rancourt where there are 3 unidentified graves from WW2 (The remainder all WW1).
After nearly 75 years this will prove to be a remarkable effort. Mr Ian Marchant, the Canadian researcher is also taking a very keen interest in order to have these graves named in the correct manner, albeit collective.
Note: DFM awarded to LAC. Hawkins on the 8th March 1940.
Rancourt Military Cemetery and view from road.
Note: CWGC have now recognised (June 2015) the unnamed graves at Rancourt as that of the crew - details follow.
P/O. Cyril Light. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 9. Son of Mr. and Mrs. George Joseph Light. Husband of Lilia Rose Light, of Fulham, London, England.
Sgt. Arthur Ernest Craig. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 13. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist?
Sgt. George Hawkins DFM. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 15. Son of George and Nelly Hawkins, of Aynho, Oxfordshire, England. Husband of Antonia Hawkins, of Sliema, Malta (GC)
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Andre Bauduin, Ian Marchant, Pat Curran, RAF Commands Forum. Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries’ (Updated 2014 version) Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Aircrew Remembered own Archives.